The Power of the Gospel – Acts 16:11-15

As for Paul, despite the inconvenience of having to change his missionary strategy and so moving outside his comfort zone; despite seeming barriers of customs concerning social, racial, and gender relationships; despite the barrier of a sinful heart … Paul pressed forward following the Lord’s lead, letting the Lord blow through every barrier. Thus, he found himself having a conversation with Lydia, a brand-new disciple of Christ, saved by faith in Jesus Christ.

We are told several things about Lydia in the text. She was from Thyatira—an immigrant to Philippi from a location across the Aegean Sea. She was a businesswoman, a merchant who sold “purple cloth.” Purple was associated with royalty, and she dealt in a lucrative trade. She was also successful at her trade, evidenced by her substantial household and property (v. 15), which would have included servants and family. So, as for her personal qualities, she was a remarkable woman. Lydia was intelligent, savvy, responsible, wealthy, and a cosmopolitan. 

Verse 15 tells us a little more:

15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, 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.

Having believed, the immediate next step for her was to be baptized, consistent with the practice of the apostles and the command of Jesus. Notice there is no wait time here. I’ve always wondered (and I have my theories) why it takes so long for people to get baptized when they believe these days. The consistent biblical model is that it is to be done ASAP. Anyway, we also see that, since Lydia was the head of her household, her entire household was baptized with her—just like with Cornelius and his whole household. Everyone was baptized—man, woman and child—whether they personally confessed Christ or not.

Think on that one for a while.

As it was, Lydia believed, and her loyalty, her allegiance, and all those to whom she was responsible (men, women, and children) were committed to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Even more, Lydia invited the four missionaries to come and stay at her house. Notice she urged them, and she prevailed upon them. She was persistent, and her strong personality was showing. I can imagine it:

“Now don’t give me any excuses. You are all going to come and stay at my house. Don’t argue with me. Paul. Don’t argue with me. It’s the least I can do. Young man, Timothy, is it? Gather up these gentlemen’s stuff, and ya’ll come with me.”

For her, this was a way she could demonstrate to the missionaries that she truly had converted—exercising hospitality, which must have been a spiritual gift for her. Talk about not waiting around to use a spiritual gift! Anyway, I’m sure this turned into a great time of discussion and teaching, fellowshipping, and breaking bread together in communion with one another and the Lord.

Later, we’ll see, she continued to exercise her spiritual gift of hospitality in Acts 16:40. Her house had become a gathering place for the Christians in Philippi. This remarkable woman’s home became the first church in Europe (of which we know).

Jesus’ command to us—his disciples—in the Great Commission was this: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Paul’s faithfulness to the Lord’s commission led him to this beautiful situation with Lydia.

What possible Lydia’s are out there that you come in contact with every day who don’t know Christ? Perhaps you have been faithful and shared Christ with them. Praise God if that is so! But if not, what boundaries keep you from obeying Christ in this area and sharing the gospel with those who need to hear it?

Some boundaries that come to mind might be various selfish interests, or perhaps personal hang-ups, definitely, though, there is the pressure of others to keep our mouths shut about Jesus. Do we let these and other pressures keep us from being obedient to the Lord’s command?

Are any of your friends unbelievers? Have you shared with them the good news of Jesus Christ? You know, don’t you, that if they are not believers then they are separated from God with hell looming over them—right? So, how are you their friend if you don’t tell them about Jesus so that they might be saved?

Perhaps you have told them time and again, praying for them, and doing your duty there. Praise God for your faithfulness! May he open their hearts to Christ.