Acts Bible Study

Acts: The Woman in Phillippi

A woman in Philippi becomes a believer, 16:11-15

v11 We sailed from Troas straight to Samothrace. The next day, we came to Neapolis. v12 From there, we went to Philippi. Philippi is a Roman colony. It is a city in the first district in Macedonia. We stayed there for several days. v13 On the Sabbath, we went outside the city gate. And we went to a place by the river. We thought that the Jews met there for prayer. Some women came. We sat down and we talked to them. v14 One of those women was Lydia. She was from the city called Thyatira. And she sold expensive purple cloth. She worshipped God. The Lord opened her spirit so that she believed Paul’s message. v15 She and all the people in her house received baptism. Afterwards, she invited us into her home. ‘You may think that I really have faith in the Lord. If you do think so, then come. And stay at my house’, she said. So, she persuaded us to accept her invitation.

Verse 11 The wind was blowing in the right direction for the travelers. So, they sailed quickly across the North Aegean Sea and they finished the voyage in two days. Later, on the way back, it took 5 days (Acts 20:6).

Samothrace was an island with mountains. They did not stay there. They sailed on to Neapolis in Macedonia. Neapolis was the port for Philippi. Philippi was 16 kilometers (10 miles) away from the coast.

Luke kept a careful record of how far they traveled each day.

Verse 12 The Romans had divided Macedonia into 4 districts with different rulers. Philippi was ‘a city in the first district in Macedonia’. It was an important city, but it was not the capital. Thessalonica was the capital of Macedonia. Philippi was on a long road called the Egnatian Way. This road linked Asia with the West.

Luke writes that Philippi was a Roman colony. A Roman colony used Roman law. The Romans governed it. It is important to understand that. We need to remember it because later something difficult happened to Paul in Philippi. And what happened had a connection with Roman law.

Verse 13 There did not seem to be a synagogue in Philippi.

To set up a synagogue, there had to be 10 men or more. This was a Jewish rule. But in Philippi, only women met together. They could not set up a synagogue, so they met by the river. It was probably so that they could wash. This was one of God’s commands in the Jewish Law.

Paul sat down with the women and he taught them. This was very unusual because the Jews did not usually teach women. They thought that men were more clever and important.

In his gospel, Luke tells how Jesus often spoke to women. Jesus cared about women as much as he cared about men. In ancient times, people did not consider women as important. But Luke shows that women are very important to God.

Verse 14 Lydia had her own business. She traded in purple cloth. Purple was a very expensive colour because it was difficult to make. Purple cloth was a luxury. Only rich people could afford it. So, Lydia was probably wealthy too.

‘She worshiped God’ means that she was a God-fearer.

‘The Lord opened her spirit’ means that the Holy Spirit was working in her. When a person believes the gospel, the Holy Spirit makes that happen.

We must tell to people the good news about Jesus. We may be able to do this very well. Or we may think that it is difficult to do. But we must remember this: Paul said that the gospel comes ‘not only with words. But it also comes with power. And it comes with the Holy Spirit’ (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

Verse 15 ‘She and all the people in her house’ means her family. And it also means the people who worked for her. She probably had a large house. So, she invited the missionaries to stay in her home. That is how the church in Philippi began. It began with just one woman, who accepted Christ as her Saviour. It grew and it became a large church (Philippians 1:1). And its members were generous (Philippians 4:15-16).

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