“One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God” (Acts 16:14).
There was a business woman whom Paul encountered in Philippi named Lydia. She was an early church entrepreneur dealing in purple cloth, the most expensive type in the 1st century Middle East. Most accounts believe this was Paul’s first known convert. I find it interesting that his first known convert was a woman and an entrepreneur.
“We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home” (Acts 16:13-15a).
This encounter with Lydia and her women associates ultimately opened the way for ministry in that region. God often worked in and through women in the early church. Lydia was an influential businesswoman, and the gospel was affecting all strata of society, just as it does today.
Lydia was a maker of beautiful cloth mainly used by members of the royal families and Roman senators who were required to have a purple band around the edge of their togas, or robes. Purple cloth was both valuable and expensive in the culture of the first century. It was often worn as a sign of nobility or royalty. Lydia’s ministry would be to the upper class business community.
Evidence of her conversion was immediate. She told the men if they considered her a believer in the Lord, she would like for them to come and stay at her house. Evidently she had plenty of room to accommodate the four of them; Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke was with them also. She continued to urge them and they accepted her invitation and stayed at her house.
Lydia’s heart was like the good soil in the parable of the sower. When she heard the word of God, she received it with joy and obeyed the words of the apostle.
Who are the “Lydias” God has placed in your circle of influence? Pray that you will be the instrument, like Paul, to bring the gospel to influential women entrepreneurs.