Post your Lesson Ideas for Lydia

Acts 16:11-40

This first post was originally made by Neil MacQueen in 2005 about a Lydia and Paul lesson he had written.

Lydia isn't often taught in Rotation, but her story is worthy for a lot of reasons: 

  • She is a businesswoman in a then "man's world."
  • She is Greek (from the region of Lydia, the town of Thyatira) working in Roman Philippi when she met Paul and Silas.
  • She is described as a "God fearer" who gathered with other women to worship and responded to Paul's call to discipleship.
  • She is an early supporter and organizer of the church, and most likely a key player in one of the strongest churches Paul founded: The Church in Philippi.
  • In the Eastern Church she was elevated to status of Apostle. 
  • She INVITES Paul and Silas to stay at her house and there she and her household are baptized. (hospitality)
  • She INVITES Paul and Silas to recuperate at her house AFTER their imprisonment. (hospitality)

There a good profile of Lydia at

Questions to ask kids: 

  • What's a "God fearer"?  
  • What's the difference between someone who believes in God and someone who follows Jesus? 
  • What preparation did Lydia have (probably) that made her receptive to Paul's preaching?
  • Who might have been in her household and why did she have THEM baptized as well? What does this say about Lydia's feeling of responsibility to her household?  Who has that responsibility in your house?  What will you do with your own children some day to meet your faith responsibility?
  • How could she have used her cloth/dye selling business to help spread the Gospel?
  • Lydia practiced hospitality (openness and kindness to strangers). How did that put her in a position to hear something life changing?  What are YOU doing to put yourself in a position to learn a life changing message?  How are you practicing hospitality?  How does taking care of people's needs make you more open to God's message? What happens to you and your faith when you only think of your OWN needs?
  • Paul's Letter to the Philippians, the church which grew up in the town where Lydia worked, is often called a "Letter of Joy". What does that tell you about the church there? And what does that tell you about Lydia's personality and leadership?
  • How are you being a "joyful leader" like Lydia?
  • Who should YOU invite to your home to be heard and to show your appreciation?  
  • If you invited your pastor to your house for dinner and conversation, who among your friends would you invite to come be with you and the pastor?


Questions from a post by Neil MacQueen

"A certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, one who worshiped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened to listen to the things which were spoken by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and stay." So she persuaded us."

—Acts 16:14-15
Original Post

The purple cross... 

What do the different types/patterns of cloth represent?  (Lydia was Greek, not Jewish. Believers of all kinds).  What individual patterns and shapes of cloth pieces would help to tell her story (like a purple code) ...  God fearer, worshipper, hospitality/invitation, baptized, friend encourager.



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Purple for the Common People Too

It is commonly taught that the purple dye Lydia used for her business was expensive because it was the product of crushing the murex seashell, and thus, was reserved for the wealthy. HOWEVER, substantial modern archaeological evidence, backed by modern scientific methods, have challenged the often quoted "expensive purple dye made from seashells" description of Lydia's business in favor of more varied sources of purple, including from the "madder" root, and for the use of purple in a wide array of clothing for people of all social stratas. See the scholarly citation below.

It should be noted that the madder root produces a more "reddish" purple depending on the dying process. These "madder root" shades are widely found in textiles in Middle East to this day.

Madder Root

How to dye your own wool with madder root.

Drawing with purple yarn on sticky paper

Easy to weave yarn hospitality coasters using a paper plate as the loom

Making Purple Yarn "Hospitality" objects (yarn dipped in glue and
shaped over an object that is removed when glue is dry. How to.)


Excerpts from a scholarly article by Professor David Graves (Ph.D Univ of Aberdeen, Biblical Archaeology)


(via the archaeological findings) It becomes clear that various textiles were dyed using different methods and combination of dyes depending on the color, quality and value. More expensive dyes, such as Tyrian purple, allowed for more expensive clothes, while more economical dyes provided for less expensive textiles. The diverse purple dyed product line, formulated from the various shades of purple, provided a wide range of textiles from various prices to meet the demand in the local and general economy.

Therefore.... It seems likely that Lydia was a wealthy woman who learned her trade in Thyatira and moved to Philippi to carry on her business. She not only dealt in purple textiles, made from madder root, but also from the murex shellfish, since there was a demand from many in Roman society for a diverse quality purple cloth that was also available inland.

Given the everyday use of togas and tunics, with purple clevi in Roman society, along with the more specialty groups, such as the Jewish and military community in Philippi that used purple garments, Lydia would have had a market for a wide price range of products to offer her customers. There seems little doubt that she would have either employed or purchased textiles, dyed from both madder, as well as murex, to meet the demand of her clients.


Photos (3)

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