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Acts 16:11-15

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Acts 16:11–15 HCSB
11 Then, setting sail from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, the next day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, a Roman colony, which is a leading city of that district of Macedonia. We stayed in that city for a number of days. 13 On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate by the river, where we thought there was a place of prayer. We sat down and spoke to the women gathered there. 14 A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was spoken by Paul. 15 After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
acts 16

Main Idea

In our context, Paul’s work in Philippi demonstrate how God directs the mission of the church, aiding the missionaries to overcome social, cultural, demonic, political, and legal difficulties and rendering successful their efforts to lead people to saving faith and to establish a community of followers of Jesus. Luke tells the exciting and dramatic story of the creation of the church in Philippi by giving three people who come in contact with the gospel.

1. One is a prominent, wealthy, Gentile businesswoman who is already a Jewish sympathizer and attached to the local synagogue.

2. The second is a low-status demonic slave girl who is being exploited for her abilities. Luke never says that she puts her faith in Christ, but the account of Paul’s encounter with her demonstrates the power of Christ over the realm of the demonic.

3. The final episode involves a Roman official charged with keeping Paul and Silas in custody. He is ready to commit suicide until the missionaries intervene and give him hope rooted in Jesus Christ.

The missionary quartet (Paul, Silas, Timothy, Luke) went to the riverside on the Sabbath instead of a synagogue because there was no synagogue in Philippi. According to Jewish tradition, there had to be a quorum of at least ten male heads of households before a synagogue could be formed. If these requirements could not be met, the faithful were to meet under the open sky near a river or sea. So Paul and company walked outside the city on the Sabbath, to the River, looking for some fellow Jews. They discovered a small group—all women—who met to worship.

I. She was a Word Worshiping Woman

13 On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate by the river, where we thought there was a place of prayer. We sat down and spoke to the women gathered there.
13 On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate by the river, where we thought there was a place of prayer. We sat down and spoke to the women gathered there.

In Philippi Paul looked for what church planters sometimes refer to as a bridgehead. Shenk and Stutzman explain that "in military operations, a bridgehead is formed when troops successfully land behind enemy lines and are able to establish a small, defensible foothold which is expanded as more troops join the force. That first foothold is the bridgehead." Paul's bridgehead here was the place of prayer, where people met to pray to the same God whom Paul proclaimed (v. 13).

II. She was a Wealthy Working Woman

14 A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was spoken by Paul.
A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was spoken by Paul.

Note the interplay between human initiative in witnessing and divine quickening in the evangelistic process. Paul took the initiative to go to the people and began to converse with them (v. 13). Usually people do not come to us in search of Christ, so we must go to them and seek for ways to turn the conversation to the things of God. Witness calls for Spirit-led boldness. We should also, like Paul, seek to persuade the people about the truth of the gospel. But ultimately it is the Lord who opens the "heart to respond to [the] message" (v. 14). Without divine quickening human witness is ineffective. Therefore the witness always depends on the Holy Spirit to bring about conviction and a receptive heart among one's hearers. She was a wealthy working woman who needed someone to share the gospel with her.

III. She was a Willing Witnessing Woman

15 After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
15 After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.

THE MINISTRY OF HOSPITALITY

Lydia practically begged for the opportunity to host Paul and Silas in her home (16:15). Rather than seeing the apostles as a burden and their presence as a disruption of her family's routine, Lydia laid out the welcome mat.

Hospitality can aid in fulfilling the mission of the church.

The notion of hospitality is related to the words "hospital" and "hospice." In other words, we practice hospitality when we generously and cordially throw open the doors of our homes to care for others. In hospitality, we nurture and strengthen and serve. And the result is that others find physical, spiritual, and emotional help. When they leave us, they are healthier and more whole than when they came. Is this your practice? Is your home a "hospital" for hurting or needy souls? Hospitality can aid in fulfilling the mission of the church.

Today, however, with people getting busier and guarding their private lives more, much of what used to be done in homes is being done in restaurants and hotels.

Are our homes as significant for mission as they were in the first century?

"Yes"

The amazing effectiveness of home cell groups as means of evangelism and nurture should elicit a resounding to that question.

Because of the amazing effectiveness of home cell groups as means of evangelism and nurture should elicit a resounding to that question.

So should a consideration of the hazards of a traveling ministry in today's world. The key to returning to this practice in the church is for Christians to open their hearts and homes so that others can benefit from their hospitality. A key to recovering hospitality in the church's life is to liberate it from the performance trap. When hospitality becomes a performance, it becomes a strain on the host, hinders true fellowship, and makes both the hosts and the guests feel uneasy.

LIFE APPLICATION THE ROLE OF WOMEN

The Bible is filled with examples of women who were greatly used by God—Deborah, Ruth, Hannah, Esther, Mary, Priscilla, and Lydia (to name just a few). In contrast to cultural standards where women were often treated as property or at least as second-class citizens, the Judeo-Christian ethic elevated women to a previously unheard-of status. Paul's said in : "There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all Christians—you are one in Christ Jesus" (nlt).

If the church is to become what God intends, women must be allowed to utilize their God-given gifts in keeping with the teaching of the New Testament.

Lydia's Testimony (16:15)

i. Its Public Nature (16:15a)

And when she was baptized...

She not only believed, but she was baptized—maybe then and there. One can well imagine the curious crowd that gathered quickly enough when they saw this well-dressed and obviously well-to-do woman step down into the river along with Paul or whoever it was who performed the actual ceremony. We can believe, too, that Paul lost no time in explaining to the onlookers what was happening and why. Lydia doubtless gave her own word of testimony, too. What an occasion a baptism should be to tell the world of One who died that we might die in Him, and be raised in Him to newness of life.

ii. Its Productive Nature (16:15b)

... and her household.

Lydia's testimony and example emboldened others, notably her own servants and dependents, to make a similar confession of their faith. We can be quite sure that Paul would not consent to the baptism of any who did not have a clear-cut testimony for Christ. But it was Lydia's bold step that prompted the public response by her attendants. Often one person standing up fearlessly for Christ will encourage others to do the same by the sheer force of example.

iii. Its Practical Nature (16:15c)

... she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

Some little time must have elapsed, enough anyway for Paul and Silas and the others to see that Lydia's conversion was genuine, that her public testimony was continued, and that her character and reputation were beyond reproach. There is no hint that Lydia was married. It would have been an incautious thing for four men to have taken up residence in a woman's home were not her credentials above question. Such a move could have stained both her and them. The town gossips would soon have been busy, and we are to avoid even the appearance of evil. The traveling preacher needs to be scrupulously careful in the matter of accommodation. Churches, too, need to make sure that they do not impose upon them situations potentially embarrassing or indiscreet. It is not good for the testimony, for instance, to put the preacher in a home where he is left alone all day with the host's wife. We can be sure that Paul carefully evaluated Lydia's kind offer of hospitality before accepting it. She, too, was aware of the damage scandalmongers could do. So with tact and honesty she made her offer. At length the four missionaries accepted her offer. What thrilling times they must have had around the supper table as Paul and Silas expounded the Scriptures and told about Jesus and of the growth of the church. One can picture Lydia giving a kindly nod to the servants who crowded in at the door to hear more.

Service, Motivation For A

FLIGHT attendant one day wanted to go on a trip and she received a seat that was available in first class. At no cost to her, she was able to fly to Europe. An emergency occurred on the airplane that made it so that they were in need of another flight attendant. She raised her hand and let them know she was a fight attendant, and even though she was on vacation taking a trip to Europe, she would be glad to serve as the additional help that was needed. She was not serving to get to Europe; that had already been taken care of. It was part of the package of being a flight attendant for the airline. But she had no problem serving on the airplane either, because she was just so grateful for the benefit to be able to ride to Europe at no cost to her. That service was a joy and not a complaint. It is unfortunate today that many people are serving Christ in order to earn brownie points to make sure they're saved, rather than serving Christ out of the overwhelming joy of the free ride. God wants your service not as validation for your salvation. He wants your service out of your joy for the assurance of your salvation.

John Phillips, The John Phillips Commentary Series – Exploring Acts: An Expository Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1986), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 323.

Eckhard J. Schnabel, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary – Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Acts, ed. Clinton E. Arnold, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 672-673.
Clinton E. Arnold, ed., Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary on the New Testament – John, Acts, (USA: Zondervan, 2002), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 368.
Ajith Fernando, NIV Application Commentary, The – Acts: From biblical text...to contemporary life, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 447.
Bruce B. Barton et al., Life Application Bible Commentary – Acts, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1999), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: "".
Tony Evans, Tony Evans' Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking, (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2009), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 277-278.
John Phillips, The John Phillips Commentary Series – Exploring Acts: An Expository Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1986), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 323.

John Phillips, The John Phillips Commentary Series – Exploring Acts: An Expository Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1986), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 323.

John Phillips, The John Phillips Commentary Series – Exploring Acts: An Expository Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1986), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 323.
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