Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke head to Macedonia. They hopped on a boat as soon as Paul gave the order to go; that came to him in a vision from the Spirit. Their destination was “Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony” (verse 12).
They didn’t dally on the way there. They moved quickly from one point to the next. They “made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis” (verse 11). We aren’t told how long they stayed at Neopolis but from their other hurried stops; I would guess it wasn’t more than a day. Paul felt urgency in this journey. He had been called to “help” those in Macedonia and he was making haste to do just that.
Once they got to Philippi their frantic pace stopped. “We remained in this city for some days” (verse 12b). Were they looking for who they were supposed to help during that time? Were they preaching the gospel at that point? Where were they staying?
We are told that on the Sabbath they went to the riverside outside the city gate. I’m assuming there was no synagogue in that town; otherwise they would have gone there to teach instead. This is a Roman colony but there may be some Jews living there.
Our small group was looking for a place to pray. Were they looking for where others gathered to pray or for where they could pray themselves? What they found was a group of women gathered by the riverside too.
What was the purpose of the women’s group? Were they there for prayer or some other reason? Did they feel as if they were being intruded upon or did they welcome Paul and company with open arms?
I’m wondering what made Lydia stand out from this crowd. Was she specifically mentioned by Luke because of her invitation to them to lodge with her? Was she one of the leading ladies in this area? She wasn’t even from Philippi but from Thyatira. My bible helps say that she was probably a wealthy woman as a seller of purple, as this was big business in her home town.
I was curious as to the distance between Philippi and Thyatira. The Aegean Sea is between them! So when they say Lydia was from Thyatira, was that her home town and now she lived in Philippi or was she just visiting? God must have orchestrated this meeting! Her home was the birthplace for the church in Philippi, regardless of where she originally came from. Did she also have a home to open in Thyatira to found that church too? Why was it important for Luke to mention her place of origin?
While she was on the riverbank that morning God quickened her heart to really pay attention to what Paul had to say. The Holy Spirit spoke to her heart. She and her whole household were baptized as a result. She was already a worshiper of God but now she took it a step further in identifying with Him in His burial and resurrection.
Lydia didn’t expect Paul and company to stay with her because she was the richest person in town. She asked them to stay, only if THEY judged her to be faithful to the Lord. She didn’t tout her standing with the Lord or puff herself up to try and persuade them. She simply asked fervently if she could serve them in this way. In serving Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke she was serving the Lord.
Father God You opened a HUGE door that day. In a place where there were no synagogues, You still brought people together in Your name. You placed it in the hearts of Your faithful servants to open their hearts and homes in service to You. Just like the Jews in Jerusalem met in home meetings, You prepared places for the Gentiles to meet too. You prepared a place in advance.
Where did the Philippian church meet? Paul wrote to them but he didn’t address the letter to Lydia. Had she had gone home to Thyatira by then. What church was she a part of? So many questions I want to ask You but I will have to wait for answers again. That’s ok God because I love looking into Your stories and asking strange questions. I trust You to take care of all the important stuff and KNOW that Your plans are always perfect. You made me curious so I suppose You expect these kinds of questions. I’m really looking forward to our time together to get them all answered. Or maybe they won’t matter to me then. Only You know the answer to that one too.