Lydia – Her Faith in Jesus Seized the Day

by Stephen Lewin

Lydia is a faith heroine and her story is a vital part of Christian history and can be found in the Holy Bible in the Book of Acts, written by Luke through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God.

We find her story in Acts chapter 16, when Paul, Silas and Luke, are redirected by the Holy Spirit to take the message of the Gospel to Macedonia (a region of today’s Greece and Europe). There they spent many days in Philippi, “a leading city” and ”a Roman colony” of that time. (Acts 16:12). Philippi is named after the father of Alexandria the Great and has been a place of historical conflicts over the years – a very strategic location for the Roman empire.


Here at Philippi on the Sabbath day, Paul and his companions venture outside the gates of the city” to the riverside, where ..there was a place of prayer“ (Acts 16:13). At this place, the men spoke to the women who gathered for prayer. It can be determined that there was no synagogue at Philippi for Jews and Jewish converts to gather and worship on a Sabbath day, as they did in other places. Here they gathered by a place of prayer, in this case, a river.

It was at this place there was, as Luke writes: “one who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshipper of God”. (Acts 16:14a). Paul had been redirected by the Holy Spirit not to go to the region that Lydia was from, but now in the plan of God she is here to hear the message of the Gospel. Lydia’s name in Greek means “travail”, which is certainly a word that can be associated with a type of prayer in the midst of suffering. Lydia was a God fearer like Cornelius (Acts 10), and many others, that since the day of Pentecost, had received in their hearts the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


At the place of prayer it is written that “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” (Acts 16:14b). What happened to Lydia is the same as what happens to people who become saved, born again, a new creation, and a member of the family of God. Faith is imparted. Lydia received faith through the Gospel spoken to her, as the Scripture says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). The Bible also says “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”. (Romans 10:9). Lydia and her household were baptised in water (Acts 16:15a), as believers in Christ had been doing in obedience upon being saved, after receiving the message of the Gospel. They had opportunity to do this at the place of prayer, as they were by a river and in the company of ministers of the Gospel.


We can learn a lot from these few verses in chapter 16 of the book of Acts, especially so, in regard to Lydia, and her faith in the Lord. For example, she was at the place of prayer outside the city to worship God. She was not reliant on a synagogue building or men to lead in worship, word and prayer. She gathered there with the other women. She still was a worshipper even though in a foreign country and found herself in a place where there was a very strong following of other gods.

Will we be worshippers of God, when our normal places of worship and fellowship are not available? Would we gather with others for a Christian worship service for prayer and ministry of the word of God, even though we may be gathering in a field, by a tree, or a backyard of a house, or by a riverbank?

What really caught my attention was when Lydia, by faith, seized the moment at the place of prayer and desired more ministry from Paul and his companions. The Bible lends itself to this view, as it is written, ”she urged us saying, if you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay. And she prevailed upon us.” (Acts 16:15b). This word “prevailed” in the Greek language means “constrained by entreaty, and induced”. She was seeking more ministry from Paul and his team and was not going to let this opportunity pass by. Scripture shows us that Lydia, by faith, chose to seize the day. This resulted in Paul writing at a later date about this day, when he supported the view, that a congregation of Christian believers had been established at Philippi. He says, “I thank God in all my remembrance of you, ….because of your partnership in the Gospel from the FIRST DAY until now.” (Philippians 1:3,5).

Lydia is a great example of faith for us today, in that we must make the most of opportunities to be established followers of Christ, in order like her, to partner with others and join with our Saviour as He builds His Church.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV) Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words Matthew Henry, Commentary of Book of Acts