by M. Jolaine Szymkowiak

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The Season of Pentecost -- Choices Then and Now (7 of 8)
M. Jolaine Szymkowiak

Today we will be studying two ladies of commerce – Lydia Acts 16:9-40 and Priscilla Acts 18. Lydia might have been a freedwoman since she came from Thyatira in the east. She sold purple goods that were luxury items. She was not necessarily a wealthy, high born woman. She did, however, have wealth as she had a house and household. Tradition has it that she was widowed and had children.
Being a seller of purple, Lydia may have been selling either the cloth and/or the dye that was made from shellfish. The fluid from the shellfish when placed on wool and then exposed to sunlight turned the wool green and finally purple. When the wool was washed in water, it became a brilliant crimson. It was a desired and highly priced commodity that at times was decreed only for royalty.
Lydia's market area encompassed the area she was from and is the area of the letters to the seven cities mentioned in Revelations. She now conducted her business in Philippi, a city of eastern Macedonia on the great east-west Egnation Highway between Rome and Asia. Philippi was a Roman colony that out did Rome in dress, life style, class distinctions, etc.
There was a place outside Philippi by the river where Paul and Silas met Lydia and other women worshipping. This river is the modern Angista. It was a legal meeting place for Jews and God-fearers, a place of prayer and worship that had no preaching. There may not have been the ten Jewish men in Philippi that was required for the building of a synagogue. However, when Paul and Silas met with them there was preaching along with the worship and prayer.
I think of Billy Graham being a lot like Paul, never passing the opportunity to tell the Gospel. I remember a funeral I attended of a prominent man in the community and a friend and support of Graham. I expected him to expound on the virtues of the man who died. But No. It was to Christ's Glory ...

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