Bible Topics
in the Christian Library
The Philippian Christians:


Acts 16:11-15


I. Note the town of Philippi--

1. This city is famous in both realms of secular and religious history. It played a significant role in the direction of the world's civilization.

a. Founded by Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, it provided precious gold which propelled the armies of Alexander to world conquest.

b. The Romans possessed the city following an intense battle in 168 B.C.

c. It was here that the fate of the Roman Empire hung as Antony and Octavian fought the armies of Brutus and Cassius in 42 B.C. After the battle, and his defeat, Cassius committed suicide on the summit of this city's hill.

d. Philippi became a Roman colony and was thus provided with military roads and fortifications.

2. Yet, as great as was its role in secular history such is eclipsed by its prominence in Christianity.

a. Here, for the first time in Europe, disciples were made who called upon Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour!

b. Here developed a congregation with an intensity and magnitude of love and fellowship that is unequaled today.

c. With the founding of this congregation one can easily see the Providential direction of God.

II. Our design is not to spend the time on the merits of this ancient city, but upon one of its citizens--Lydia "the seller of purple".

1. The great and noted commercial movements; the passing of conquering armies; and the place in secular history are all overshadowed by the life of this one woman.

2. We do not know much about her, except what is revealed in our text.

a. She was a wealthy person: (1) Dealer in the expensive purply dye; (2) owned a large house; (3) possessed a household full of servants.

b. Her character is well defined--one who worshiped God.

c. Some have vainly suggested that she was Paul's wife.

3. It is the life of this woman, and the qualities seen in her that we want to discuss.


I. She was a woman who believed in prayer!

A. It is not merely the ACT of prayer but the HABIT of prayer which draws our attention to her.

1. She and her friends gathered to this place of prayer on a regular basis.

2. Provision was carefully made for a serious effort--a place was fixed for the purpose--an engagement was kept.

B. This fact observed is a most instructive example--the closer you look at it the clearer the application to Christians today becomes! 

1. In all undertakings we should concentrate with prayer--In missionary efforts, in improvements to extend our effectiveness, in the education of our young, in our common daily employments, in times of adversity and prosperity--if we are to hope for God's blessings, we MUST begin with prayer.

2. Although outside of Christ's salvation, this lady knew the effectiveness of prayer. And although sins blocked the answers she prayed often! 

3. Let us be quick to see the greatness of this trait in Lydia (Hebrews 4:16).

II. She was willing to go to worship!

A. Recognizing the appointed day as a day of assembled worship, she willingly went.

1. The Romans thought that taking a day off work was foolish. This small group of women were probably the only inhabitants in Philippi doing such.

2. The other citizens were carrying on daily chores--Roman soldiers parading, women going to market, shopkeepers at business, etc.

3. But these godly women sought out a quiet place, retired from distractions, and prayed!

4. Lydia was instrumental in this! While other dealers continued to sell purple dye and profit, Lydia closed shop and spent the day in prayer!

5. "Such fidelity to God, under circumstances so unfavorable, is not often witnessed in our own more favored times. It was observed from on high, and it met its reward."

6. She was an astute business woman, but she thought enough of the Lord to set aside this day for worship wherever she might be!

B. What a wonderful lady; what splendid goals and guiding principles!

1. Doesn't she put many of us to shame?

2. We need to learn from her--

a. This willingness to worship.

b. The duty to provide for God's worship wherever we might be.

c. This independence of material goods, and the total dependence on the spiritual!

3. May we learn to close shop and assemble whenever the appointed time draws near! (Ps 122:1).

III. She was a good listener!

A. As Paul spoke she listened intently to what he said.

1. Verses 14-15a demonstrate her attention.

2. "To give heed"--"To fix the mind upon a matter, or to put something into practice."

3. The simple description by Luke indicated that three things occurred:

a. She heard what was said.

b. The Lord opened her heart by what she heard.

c. She put into practice that which was heard!

B. How greatly we need to learn this lesson and develop into good listeners.

1. Luke 8:18--We need to be careful HOW we hear.

2. Lydia shows us the proper way--Listen intently and then DO what is said (Romans 2:13).

3. Many lessons are of no use to the majority of those present simply because we are not good listeners!

4. Are you a good listener?

IV. She was a persuasive person!

A. Her persuasive ability is seen in regard to two aspects--

1. With her servants who were persuaded to obey the gospel because of her example.

2. With Paul's company who were persuaded to be her guests.

B. The most powerful instrument of persuasion is one's example.

1. Have we taken care of our influence so that it will be as effective as Lydia's.

2. Do those who behold our lives see the interest and trust in the Bible which will arouse them to an equal trust? (I Corinthians 11:1).

V. Some other points which we learn from Lydia-

A. She was hospitable (vrs. 15b; Rom 12:13; I Pt. 4:9).

B. She was industrious both in secular duties and in spiritual.

C. She kept good company.

D. She was trustworthy.

E. She was faithful in obedience.

F. She was a "worshiper of God" (in the midst of pagans).


I. From this small beginning the church would soon spread over and beyond Europe.

1. But here is the first fruit of Europe!

2. No doubt as she matured she added many more virtues to her spirituality.

II. May the life of this saintly woman be that which prompts us on to maturity in Christ Jesus!

Copyright 1998 by John L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.

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