by Jack Eberle
Murex was a tiny mollusk found along the shores of ancient Phoenicia and other ancient shores. It was a staple commodity of Phoenician businesses. “Tiny” must be emphasized because it took so many of these tiny creatures to produce enough of the purple dye which may adorn the raiment of only the highest royalty. (See Ester 8:15 and Revelation 17:4.) Its rarity determined its cost. Therefore, only a sprinkling of business people could work “purple” into successful businesses.
Lydia was one of those. She was a seller of purple of the city of Thyatira but lived in Philippi. She may have been of the group of Phil. 4:3. She was not Jewish but probably a proselyte. Her attitude of eagerness to learn was accepted as genuine, and Paul was pleased to spend time with her in her home. She was unquestionably eager to continue in her learning. Paul had no qualms at staying in her home at her request. Business-like as she was, she saw His Word through the teaching by Paul of the utmost importance. “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple of the city of Thyatira, who worshipped God, heard us; WHOSE HEART THE LORD OPENED that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul” (Acts 16:14). Further, her works manifested her belief, right from the beginning! At that time, “baptism” was a public proclamation to all that she had accepted the Savior. No more is said of the woman in Scriptures. She becomes one of the many who through the years began her life with Jesus Christ as her Savior and many also who would know Paul as mentor.
(All of Paul’s wonderful epistles are written to inform the lost of the Savior, the One Who sacrificed Himself as 1 Peter 3:18 tells us.)
Think of the blessedness of having the apostle Paul within your home. How rejoicing it would be to ply him with your questions! How joyous he and God would be to see the sparks in your hearts. How joyous it will be to attend the meeting of all meetings with Christ and the rest of His saints. “And hath raised us up together n heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6-7).
Revelation 2:18 speaks of the church of Thyatira which indicates some time having passed. In your reading, you can assay the durability of the congregation and draw your own conclusion as to the effect a woman of Lydia’s station may have had in such a grouping during the concurring lifespan.
Recap: Lydia was a successful business person. She obviously learned to get along well by herself but rejoiced to hear of the Lord and fellowship with His messengers. How did she know? Verse 14, “whose heart the Lord opened.” God has His messenger there on the spot when this dear lady was open to receive Him. She was obviously “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).
by Jack Eberle