Bible Study Lesson: Lydia, Seller of Purple Cloth
Acts 16: 11 – 15
- Acts 16:14: “One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.”
- Lydia was a dealer in purple cloth and so she probably would have been a wealthy and well known person in the city of Thyatira.
- Women in Jesus’ times were not given the same kind of respect and status in society as in the present day. Women were often considered to be second class citizens. They were allowed to have very minimum education and their role was limited to performing the chores at home and taking care of children.
- In a time period such as this, we see Lydia on the scene as a businesswoman. This reveals that she not only had an education and skill, but she also possessed strength and determination to work in a male dominated society.
- The passage also says that the members of her household were baptized along with her. This shows that she probably was an influential person in her family.
- In those days, Purple cloth was valuable and expensive. Its value was equated with that of silver. It was usually a sign of nobility or royalty.
- This gives a new significance to the passage in Mark 15:17 where the soldiers put a purple robe on Jesus then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to Him, “Hail, king of the Jews!”
- The Bible portrays that Lydia was a woman of prayer, because she met Paul at the place of prayer and also because she was eager to learn from Paul.
- She is also mentioned to be a worshiper of God (v.14). She received the message of Paul which was the gospel and she received it with an open heart. After receiving the message, Lydia also responded to it and showed courage and strength by coming forward publicly and getting baptized.
- She persuaded Paul and the team of missionaries to come to her home. She was a hospitable woman. She is again mentioned in Acts 16: 40. “After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left.”
- Even though, the story of Lydia is mentioned in only a few verses in Acts, she played a prominent role in the early Christian church and ministry.
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