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STUDIES IN ACTS      Studies in Acts

19. LYDIA - a woman with an open heart

"One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira" (Acts 16:14).

Lydia was the first of three European converts to Christianity cited by Luke in Acts 16. (The others are the demonised slave girl and the Roman jailer.) All that we know about her is found in Acts 16:12-40.

Consider the person
Lydia was a business person from Thyatira. She traded in a very expensive purple cloth, the material used by people of influence and position (see Mt.27:28; Rev.17:4; 18:12,16). Lydia was a religious woman - a convert to Judaism. As a God-fearer she would attend a synagogue and listen to the reading and exposition of Old Testament Scriptures and join in communal songs and prayers. Lydia became a believer as the Lord opened her heart "to give heed to what was said by Paul" (Acts 16:14, RSV). Her faith and discipleship is demonstrated by her baptism and the way she opened her home for the Christian meeting (Acts 16:15,40).

Study the Scriptures
Like Cornelius (Acts 10) Lydia sought God through Judaism. For her religion was a stepping stone, rather than a hindrance, to faith in Christ. As a business-person Lydia was rich. This gave her the opportunity to serve the Lord. First, as a property owner, she could open her home for Christian meetings. Then she also had the ability to support the work of God financially. In Philippi Paul sought a synagogue in which to share the good news (Acts 16:13). His mission policy was "first for the Jew, then for the Gentiles" (Rom.1:16).

Ask questions

1. Are we too quick to criticise and condemn religious people and good works?

2. Riches can be a snare or a blessing (see Acts 4:36,37; cf. Mt.19:23; Rom.12:13; 2 Cor.9:1-13; 1 Tim.6:17,18).

3. So called 'prosperity teaching' places an emphasis on material blessings. Its advocates cite mainly Old Testament scriptures to support their doctrine. But what does Jesus and the New Testament teach? Study 3 Jn.2 carefully and contextually.

Apply some thoughts

1. Share your personal testimony and compare it with others. Notice how the Lord worked in your lives before your conversion. Did formal religion prepare you for the challenge and reception of the gospel?

2. Is your home open for fellowship and church groups?

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Copyright 2008 Vernon Ralphs

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