Monday, August 22, 2022

Lydia: The First European Convert

By Sherri Stewart

Paul was on his second missionary trip when he had a vision of a man who told him, “Come over to Macedonia to help us.” He gathered his men and headed across the Aegean Sea to Macedonia (Northern Greece), then traveled to Philippi, a Roman trade city.

As was his practice in all the cities he traveled to, Paul waited for the Sabbath to meet with the members of the local synagogue, which was normally located near the river so there’d be water for ceremonial cleaning. Surprisingly, he found no synagogue but a group of women instead. Since a synagogue could only be formed by ten or more men, we can infer that there weren’t ten Jewish men in Philippi. (Acts 16:9-15) Paul must have wondered why it was a man who appeared to him in the vision.

The only named woman of the group that met by the river was Lydia, also known as Lydia of Thyatira. Lydia was actually the name of the region where Thyatira was located, and usually people who were named by their city or region of origin were slaves. That doesn’t seem to be the case with regard to Lydia, who is described in Acts 16. Lydia was a seller of purple; that is, she sold luxurious garments dyed purple or trimmed with it. We can assume Lydia was a wealthy merchant because only the elite could afford purple. There were two types of the dye: Tyrian purple, an expensive dye derived from marine molluscs, and a lesser expensive reddish-purple dye from Thyatira, extracted from the madder plant. We can assume Lydia moved to Philippi from Thyatira for business, which most likely involved the madder-plant dye.

Lydia was also a worshiper of God (Acts 16:14), and, when Paul found her, she was honoring the Sabbath, which means she was likely a Gentile who was seeking the Lord through Judaism. Perhaps it was her prayers to find God that led to Paul’s vision. The Bible says that God opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying. After she committed her life to Christ, Lydia was baptized, along with the rest of her household. We aren’t told who comprised her household, but either she or Paul must have shown them the way to Christ.

After Lydia and her household were baptized, she begged Paul and his men, which perhaps included Silas, Timothy, Luke, and others, to stay at her house. Her house must have been spacious. Her home was also large enough to hold church meetings after Paul and Silas were released from prison. We have no idea if Lydia was married, but it is unusual for a married woman not to be identified by her husband. Therefore, she may have been a single woman or a widow. We do know she had a household which may have included relatives, children, and servants.

In this story, we see a perfect example of a seeker of God in a godless land. God moves Paul in a vision across the sea to meet with a woman and tell her about Jesus Christ. She eagerly leads her whole household to choose Him and be baptized. It is because of Lydia’s quest and Paul’s obedience that the Gospel reached Europe and the United States. An influential woman? 


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Sherri Stewart loves a clean novel, sprinkled with romance and a strong message that challenges her faith. She spends her working hours with books—either editing others’ manuscripts or writing her own. Her passion is traveling to the settings of her books and sampling the food. She loves the Netherlands, and she’s still learning Dutch, although she doesn’t need to since everyone speaks perfect English. A recent widow, Sherri lives in Orlando with her lazy dog, Lily. She shares recipes, tidbits of the book’s locations, and pix in her newsletter. Subscribe at

Deer Eyes

Her eyes reflect fear, but looks can be deceiving.

From the moment high-school principal, Judd Trudeau, sees the fear-filled eyes of the beautiful woman in Acadia Park, he knows he must tread lightly. If he wants to get close, Judd must gain her trust. But those deer-in-the-headlights eyes remain, and his need to protect her trumps his better judgment. She’s running from something. The more he learns about Selah Brighton, the more he realizes looks can be deceiving.

Selah Brighton has reason to be wary, which is why she chose to hide in Bar Harbor, Maine. The fewer people who know her story, the less danger she’ll bring to their lives. It’s not wise to stay in any place for long, but something about Judd Trudeau makes it hard to tamp down her feelings.



  1. Thanks for this post and for contributing faithfully to the blog. I always appreciate your topics. You brought out some interesting details that I wouldn't have thought of, especially how unusual it was for no men to be present in Lydia's group. And your book sounds very interesting!!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thanks, Connie. You're always so faithful about writing comments.

  2. I appreciate this post about Lydia, Sherri. Thank you so much for sharing. Your book sounds great.

    1. Thanks, Marilyn. It's a short book, and the first I've written from a male pov.

  3. Sherri, Thank you for sharing this fascinating post!

  4. I had never heard Lydia's story told in this way. Thank you for sharing.

  5. What a wonderful article, Sherri! Very interesting story. Thank you for sharing.