Worthy Women Series #16: Lydia of Thyatira

Lydia and her family being baptized by Paul

My dear fellow Proverbs 31 women in progress,

Have you heard all your life that rich people couldn’t believe in God?

Do you think that you can’t be an ambitious woman and please the Lord?

Well, if you are in these cases, let me tell you that Lydia’s story will change your perspective. You’ll see that God calls people everywhere and from every social condition.

Let’s examine Lydia’s story in details.

Quick facts

Lydia of Thyatira

Name: Lydia

Meaning: her name relates to the Kingdom of Lydia, located in what is near Izmir, Turkey

Family: the Bible doesn’t give details but we know she did have a family because they were all baptized with her.

Her qualities: energetic, hospitable, persuasive, faithful and open-minded

Motsly known for: being a affluent purple merchant who convert to Christianity and welcoming Paul, Silas and Timothy in her house

Lived during the New Testament Times (Book of Acts 16)

Her story

Lydia listening to the Gospel

Since Paul was called to evangelize the Gentiles by the Lord, he travelled all around the Roman Empire to proclaim the Gospel and salvation through Jesus Christ.

At a moment he arrived in Troas, he had a vision during his sleep where he saw a Macedonian man begging him to come to Macedonia and to save them.

Therefore, he wanted to head to Macedonia to announce the good news of the Gospel. They finally arrived in Philippi and stayed there for some days. During the Sabbath day, they came to the place where prayer was made, according to the customs of the believers who reside there.

Paul and his companions started talking to the women who were present and preached the Gospel. Among these women was a purple merchant named Lydia of Thyatira. While she was listening to Paul, the Lord opened her heart and she was deeply touched by the message of the Gospel.

She and her household were immediately baptized afterwards, and she begged Paul, Silas and Timothy to stay at her place. And she managed to persuade them to stay there!

Interesting facts

Lydia being baptized by Paul
  • Lydia was a purple merchant. Purple was a very luxurious fabric which was mainly worn by royal and aristocratic families. By today’s standards, she would be an entrepreneur in the luxury business. And it means that she was rich!
  • Lydia is the first documented European Christian convert. So, if Christianity exists in Europe today, they can thank Lydia of Thyatira!
  • And this last point is just some speculation of my own. It seems that Lydia was destined to be rich. First, her name refers to the Kingdom of Lydia, whose people invented money as we know it as they were the first to use gold and silver coins in business exchanges. Also, the Kingdom of Lydia is known for one of his kings named Croesus who was so rich that he left the expression “rich as Croesus” in the common language.

What we can learn from Lydia

Lydia welcoming Paul and his companions at her place

Though Lydia’s life is not very well documented, she still can be a great source of inspiration for Christian women, especially those who want to strive to have their own business and want to be successful.

Indeed, as a purple merchant, she mastered the art of sales and negotiation, and she probably carried out her trade at an international level. If you are a Christian woman who wants to be a successful entrepreneur, look up to Lydia. Yes, she was rich. Yes, she was an entrepreneur. But she accepted the Truth of the Gospel and she lived a Christian life.

This should be a great revelation for us. We can be striving ambitious women and still lead Christian lives. We just have to never forget our priorities and put God first in everything we do in our lives.

Also, the story of Lydia shows that the Lord can touch people from all nationalities and all social conditions. Just like Rahab or Ruth, Lydia was a non-Jew who believed in God and welcomed His message of salvation. God des not care about your skin color, your social status or your family origins. When He calls you and that you are willing to follow His ways, he will welcome you.

Finally, Lydia’s story reminds us that we have blessings from the Lord when we are hospitable and that we have to entertain strangers:

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. – Hebrews 13:2

Well, that’s all for Lydia’s life lessons! What do you think we can learn from her story? Please share your points of view in the comments below!

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Stay blessed!

Read also:

Having a business at home like the Proverbs 31 Woman

Worthy Women Series #7: Ruth

Worthy Women Series #4: Rahab


10 comments

  1. Hope Getrude says:

    I have to say that for so long I was dominated by the idea of rich people have no place in heaven thats until I matured and started to personally analyse what ive been taught my whole life. I thought to myself how is it possible to give to the poor if you don’t have enough for yourself? It’s not wrong to have more than enough. What’s wrong is misusing our privileges.

    • angelce says:

      Exactly! I totally agree with you. The fact is being rich is not a sin but it’s being so attached to your riches that they become an idol that is a sin.

    • Myles says:

      Although your article is targeted to a female audience I found it interesting and informative. As a male working with a female entrepreneur (my wife) I get a great deal of insight observing how she approaches and conducts her business. Thank you for this well written post. The advice and encouragement it offers is beneficial to both female and male readers. All the best!  

      • angelce says:

        Thank you! All the best to you!

      • Mike says:

        Wow so many interesting facts! Who would have known that Purple was a very luxurious fabric and that’s why Lydia wore it!?

        I love the quote at the end too.

        Don’t forget to entertain strangers. 

        I like to live closely by this and continually do random acts of kindness as much as possible. Especially to strangers. 

        It may be a selfish reason though… I get a kick out of it! She really does sound like a worthy woman!

        • angelce says:

          Yes Indeed Lydia really was a worthy woman! and thanks for sharing!

        • Robert says:

          I think that many people take the scripture of 1 Timothy 6:10 out of context and think that “money is the root of all evil” and if you are rich with money you cannot enter heaven. However when you read that scripture in context it is “For the love of money is the root of all evil:…”

          There is nothing wrong with being wealthy. There are millions of wealthy people who are true followers of Christ, and use their money for helping others. However those who “love of money” and all they want to do is make more and more without giving back, those I believe are the ones who practice evil.

          God doesn’t discriminate based on how much money you have just like it doesn’t matter which gender, race or religion you follow. If you accept Jesus and follow his commands, which are the same as the Father, than you are pleasing in God’s sight. When we look to scripture it always important to not take things out of context.

          I also believe that when baptized in the Holy Spirit, understanding the Bible becomes more clear. “Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” This sounds a lot like someone receiving wealth from first giving.

          • angelce says:

            I totally agree with you the Bible has been misunderstood for many centuries on this topic…

          • Steve says:

            Lydia is certainly a great example of a successful woman. And yet, it’s not always wealth that defines how successful someone is. That is clear in the case of Lydia. Truly her greatest success was admitting her failure and sin and coming to Christ. As you mention, it is also so important to be hospitable, another true successful trait of Lydia. How we treat people is so important! Thanks for posting this and reminding us of her story! God bless!