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The Meeting of Lydia and Apostle Paul

Johanna Lumijärvi, Translation: Eeva Kariniemi | The Voice of Zion July 2021 --

Who was Lydia? The women of the Bible were just as varied and interesting as women today. While most of the women that come to mind when we think of biblical times were mothers who worked in or near the home, there were also women living in many situations, specifically workers who helped forward God’s message by giving time and monetary resources to apostles of the Word. One such woman was Lydia, a merchant of purple cloth, which was valuable at the time when Apostle Paul made his journeys, about 40 AD. Perhaps Lydia’s business produced income which she was then able to use to benefit the early church.

In SRK’s book Raamatun naisia Eevasta Priscaan (Women of the Bible from Eve to Priscilla), Ed. Marja-Liisa Sivula and Raili Ojalehto (SRK, 2011), we read that Lydia was the first European believer in Europe who was named in the book of Acts. In this excerpt, Johanna Lumijärvi tells of Lydia’s meeting with Apostle Paul, and of her repentance.

Paul, who previously persecuted Christians, made several missionary journeys with other apostles after his conversion to Christianity. There were altogether three missionary journeys to various destinations. The meeting of Lydia and Apostle Paul occurred early on the second missionary journey. Luke, the author of the Acts of Apostles, relates that the journeys of Paul or of other apostles did not always go according to plan, but rather the Spirit of God prevented a planned journey and directed them elsewhere. This is what happened also at the beginning of the second missionary journey. Paul and Timothy along with their companions first attempted to go to Asia Minor and then proceed to Bithynia. Since those plans were thwarted, they ended up in Troas on the Aegean Sea. While in Troas, Paul had a vision at night in which he was asked, “Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” Paul and his companions set off and arrived in Philippi after a couple days.

On his missionary journeys, Paul usually went in each new city to the synagogue, to the site where Jews worshipped God. There it was good for him to proclaim the message of the risen Jesus. During a Jewish service any Jewish man could ask for the Bible scrolls and give a sermon on some text in the Old Testament. In Philippi, when it was the Sabbath day, Paul and his companions went to the riverside to find a place to pray, because the city did not appear to have a synagogue. If there had been even ten Jewish men, there would have been a synagogue. Ten males above the age of thirteen were required to hold a Jewish worship service. Paul knew that a site for a prayer meeting might be found on the shore of the river, because alongside running water it was easy to perform purification rites, for instance.

Luke relates, “And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she received the message that Paul spoke.” In this rudimentary way the Bible describes the most important event in the life of Lydia. Lydia believed the gospel proclaimed by Apostle Paul.

Lyydian ja Paavalin Kohtaaminen

Paavali, joka oli entinen kristittyjen vainoaja, teki kristityksi käännyttyään lähetysmatkoja muutamien muiden apostolien kanssa. Eri puolille suuntautuneita matkoja oli kaikkiaan kolme. Lyydian ja Paavalin kohtaaminen ajoittuu toisen lähetysmatkan alkupuolelle. Apostolien tekojen kirjoittaja Luukas kertoo, etteivät Paavalin tai muiden apostolien omat suunnitelmat aina toteutuneet, vaan Jumalan Henki esti suunnitellun matkan ja ohjasi toisaalle. Näin kävi myös toisen lähetysmatkan alussa. Paavali ja Timoteus seuralaisineen yrittivät mennä ensin Aasiaan ja sitten Bityniaan. Suunnitelmien estyttyä he päätyivät Troakseen meren rannalle. Troaksessa Paavali näki yöllä näyn, jossa häntä pyydettiin: ”Tule meren yli tänne Makedoniaan ja auta meitä.” Paavali seurueineen lähti matkaan, ja he saapuivat parissa päivässä Filippiin.

Lähetysmatkoillaan Paavali meni yleensä uudessa paikassa synagogaan, juutalaisten jumalanpalveluspaikkaan. Siellä hänen oli hyvä julistaa sanomaa ylösnousseesta Jeesuksesta. Juutalaisessa jumalanpalveluksessa kuka tahansa juutalainen mies saattoi pyytää kirjakäärön ja pitää puheen jostakin Vanhan testamentin tekstistä. Filippissä sapatin tultua Paavali tovereineen meni rantaan etsimään rukouspaikkaa, koska kaupungissa ei näyttänyt olevan synagogaa. Jos Filippissä olisi ollut kymmenenkin juutalaista miestä, siellä olisi ollut myös synagoga. Juutalaisen jumalanpalveluksen pitämiseen vaadittiin näet kymmenen yli 13-vuotaista miestä. Paavali tiesi, että rukouspaikka saattaisi löytyä rannasta, koska virtaavan veden äärellä oli helppo suorittaa esimerkiksi puhdistumismenoja.

Luukas kertoo: “Sapattina menimme kaupungin ulkopuolelle joenrantaan; arvelimme, että siellä olisi rukouspaikka. Istuuduimme sinne ja puhuimme naisille, joita siellä oli koolla. Meitä kuuntelemassa oli myös muuan Lyydia, jumalaapelkäävä nainen, joka oli kotoisin Tyatirasta ja kävi kauppaa purppurakankailla. Herra avasi hänen sydämensä ottamaan vastaan sen mitä Paavali puhui.” Näin koruttomasti Raamattu ilmaisee tärkeimmän Lyydian elämässä tapahtuneen asian. Lyydia uskoi Paavalin julistaman evankeliumin.

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