16:11 Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. 14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.
Not much to see here right? Granted there is nothing obvious but there are a few subtle things worth noting. First of all this is the first time in their journeys that they have gone so far "off the map" that there aren't even enough Jews in the area to even have a synagogue. The few believers in God gather on Sabbath by the river. So few that there were only women.
One of those women was Lydia. She was a business woman. She believed their message about Jesus being the long awaited Messiah. She believed so passionately that she and her household were baptized. Clearly she was single so that may have included her children, servants, and/or employees. Either way she was a woman of means and insisted that Paul and his companions stay with her, a considerable commitment.
It is also interesting to note she was originally from Thyatira. Thyatira is in Asia Minor, the very place where they had just come from where the Holy Spirit forbid their preaching. So they went to Macedonia after Paul's vision and the first person they baptized was from Asia Minor. A woman of influence. A woman who travelled. Perhaps the very person God intended to use to open the way in Asia Minor in the future. God always has a plan that is infinitely better than ours even if it makes no sense to us.
One last point. What a cultural difference from Jerusalem and Judea where women were very much second class citizens. They could not own property much less a business. They could not speak in the synagogue much less lead worship which clearly women were doing in Philippi. God does not love us for our cultural norms, he loves us. All of us. From every place on this globe God wants to reach us no matter how different from other cultures we may be. Ironically some of the cultures deemed pagan or godless have aspects and norms much closer to God's character than the places who think themselves "His people".
To travel with Paul through his journeys is to have our eyes opened and minds stretched. Every subtle seemingly unimportant detail is a window into other cultures and ways and beyond it all is a God who has one consistent goal - to call us back to Himself.
Lydia was one of those people and He made sure to bring Paul from Asia to Macedonia to share with her the Good News about Jesus.
If you're interested in reading more about Lydia there is an interesting article here: