Pastor James J. Barker

Text: ACTS 16:6-15


1.     I am going to speak this morning on the conversion of Lydia.   The book of Acts contains the stories of many remarkable conversions – Saul of Tarsus, Cornelius, the Philippian jailer, the Ethiopian eunuch, and quite a few others.

2.     This morning we will look at the conversion of Lydia, whom is often referred to as “the first convert in Europe” (cf. Scofield Study Bible).

3.     Lydia was “a seller of purple (dye)” (Acts 16:14).  She was from the city of Thyatira (16:14), a city well known for the manufacture of dye. 

4.     But though Lydia was undoubtedly a successful businesswoman, it is her interest in the things of God that are most commendable.  Verse 14 tells Lydia “worshipped God.”







1.     This was Paul’s second missionary journey.   Paul, Silas, Timothy and perhaps a few others (Luke – 16:10, 11, 12, 13, 15, etc.) were traveling throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, preaching the Gospel and establishing churches, but were stopped by the Holy Spirit from going into Asia (Acts 16:6).

2.     Verse 7 tells the Holy Spirit would not allow them into Bithynia.  Next they came down to Troas where the apostle Paul had an unusual vision in the night.  “There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us” (Acts 16:9).

3.     This was a divine call, and of this they were certain (Acts 16:10, 11).

4.     One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is divine guidance.  Our Lord said, “He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

5.     Now let me ask you this question?  Is the Holy Spirit guiding you?

6.     The Holy Spirit closed the door in Asia (Acts 16:6), and Bithynia 16:7).  But He opened the door widely in Macedonia (16:8-10).

5.     The Lord may close one door but He will surely open another. 

6.     The Bible has much to say about open doors.   Paul referred to God’s open door to Europe in II Corinthians 2:12, where he wrote, “Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord.”

7.     Acts 14:27 tells us how the Lord “had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27).  I’m glad the Lord opened that door!

8.     Paul wrote in I Corinthians 16:9, “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.”

9.     He wrote in Colossians 4:3, “Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds.”

10. Our Lord said to the church at Sardis, “Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”

11. We claim these many promises.  God is still opening doors.

12. Paul and his friends were traveling from the east, and the Holy Spirit said, “Don’t go south into Asia.” 

13. So they tried to go north, “but the Spirit suffered them not” (16:7).  There was only one way left and that was west into Europe.

14.And Lydia was apparently the first convert in Europe.  Paul and Silas entered the city of Philippi, which was “the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a (Roman) colony” (Acts 16:12).

15.Philippi received its name from Philip of Macedonia (father of Alexander the Great), who seized it and renamed it after himself.

16. It was here in Philippi that Brutus and Cassius were defeated by Marc Antony and Octavius.  You may recall the ghost of Julius Caesar appearing to Brutus in Shakespeare’s play and telling him, “Thou shalt see me at Philippi.”

17.After Octavius defeated Brutus and Cassius, he turned Philippi into a Roman colony (a military outpost).

18. And it was here in Philippi that the Gospel was first preached in Europe.  And it was here at Philippi that Lydia was saved.

19. Paul, Silas, Luke (cf. 16:10, 15), and the others waited “certain days” (16:12b) until the sabbath, and then went down to the river side because that’s where the Jews met for prayer.

20.Harry Ironside says, “It was a very up-to-date prayer meeting – nobody was there but a few women!  All the men were absent.”

21. So they “went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made” (16:13).  Apparently there were not available ten Jewish men in Philippi (required to establish a synagogue).

22. So first we consider the “open door” to Europe.  Then Acts 16:14 says the Lord opened Lydia’s heart.  This brings us to my next point.



1.     Lydia believed God and worshipped God according to the light that she had.  She went down to the river side to worship God.  She had already been seeking the truth, and so God gave her more light and then He opened her heart.

2.     It was in the providence of God that Lydia would be Paul’s first convert in Europe.  An individual who is willing to learn can be taught.  An individual who is eager to learn usually makes great progress.  This is especially true in the spiritual realm.

3.     Only God can open a person’s heart.  Hudson Taylor said he could not move people so he prayed and asked God to move them.  God moved Lydia.  God opened her heart (16:14).

4.     Please allow me to say a few words to any unsaved friend here with us this morning.  You may be bit like Lydia, and that could be why you are here today.  God can open your heart if you let Him.

5.     Soon you too can sing with us:

What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought
Since Jesus came into my heart!
I have light in my soul for which long I had sought,
Since Jesus came into my heart!


Since Jesus came into my heart,
Since Jesus came into my heart,
Floods of joy o’er my soul
Like the sea billows roll,
Since Jesus came into my heart.


I have ceased from my wandering and going astray,
Since Jesus came into my heart!
And my sins, which were many, are all washed away,
Since Jesus came into my heart!

6.     God opened Lydia’s heart, and Lydia asked Jesus to come into her heart. She was gloriously saved, and then she was baptized, “and her household” (Acts 16:15).

7.     Oftentimes when a parent gets saved, the whole family will get saved – and baptized (cf. Acts 16:30-34).

8.     Paedobaptists have tried to create mischief here by suggesting that these Scriptures allow for infant baptism.  They do not. There is no hint of infant baptism here or anywhere in the Bible.



1.     First God opened the door for Paul and the other missionaries.  Then God opened Lydia’s heart. Then Lydia opened her home to Paul and his companions (Acts 16:15).

2.     This was the beginning of the first church of Philippi.   Later, Paul wrote an epistle to this church, and in Philippians 1:5 he commends them for their “fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.”  This day at the river side would be the first day.

3.     Lydia was very hospitable – she “constrained” Paul and his friends to stay with her.  We need more Christian hospitality like that today.

4.     Romans 12:13 says we should be “distributing to the necessity of saints,” and “given to hospitality.”

5.     First Peter 4:9 says, “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.”

6.     “Let brotherly love continue.  Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:1, 2).

7.     Later on, Paul and Silas had been unjustly beaten, whipped, and thrown into prison.   But God answered their prayers and God opened the prison doors (16:25, 26).

8.     Eventually Paul and Silas were released, and they headed straight to Lydia’s house (16:40).    Lydia’s house was a place for comfort and fellowship and worship and prayer.

9.     Notice who was doing the comforting? (16:40).  Those who had been beaten, whipped, and imprisoned.



1.     Today you can go to the library or a book store and find a number of scholarly books written about the history of Europe.   But you will not see anything written about the most momentous event in the history of Europe.

2.     You can go to college and a university and (unless it is a good Christian school) you will not learn about the most important event in the history of Europe.

3.     That event is recorded in Acts 16:14.  The Lord opened Lydia’s heart and she became the first Christian convert in Europe.

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