The First Christian Convert in Europe
Her native place was Thyatira on the borders of Lydia in Asia Minor. Her city was celebrated in ancient times for its purple dyes and fabrics. Among the ruins of the city has been found in recent years an inscription relating to the “Guild of Dyers,” showing the accuracy in unimportant details of this scripture narrative.
She may have borne a different name at home, but among strangers she was known as Lydia or the Lydian. She was a business woman, dealing in color matter, or more likely goods already dyed. The color purple was highly prized among the ancients.
Lydia had settled in the city of Philippi, which was a miniature Rome. Here she carried on her business, surrounded by her household, which seems to have included many servants.
She was not a Jewess by birth, but had come to a knowledge of the true God, and was a proselyte and a devout worshiper.
Philippi was the scene of the first labors of Paul in Europe. One Sabbath day he found a company of Jews worshiping outside the city, near a river. He preached to them, and Lydia’s heart was opened to receive the truth. She at once urged the missionaries to make her house their home. Paul hesitated to do this, as he made it a rule not to be dependent on anyone, but he finally accepted here hospitality.
For having cured a poor, half-crazed slave girl, who brought her masters much gain by fortune telling, Paul and Silas were cruelly beaten and cast into jail.
By means of a mighty earthquake, the prisoners were released from their bonds, and the jailer was converted. On the following day the magistrate dismissed Paul and Silas. A farewell meeting was held at the home of Lydia, and we may suppose that the converted jailer was one of the company. Paul then departed to carry the Gospel to other cities of Europe. His most loving epistle was written from the prison in Rome to the church at Philippi.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.