Looking for a place of prayer by the river in Philippi, Paul encounters Lydia and other women gathered there. Lydia, a successful business woman and homemaker, responded to Paul’s gospel message, and her entire household became believers. She opened her home to Paul and his fellow travelers. We are reminded of the importance of showing hospitality to others. The following story is that of a slave girl with an evil spirit that allowed her to foretell the future, and Paul’s releasing her from that spirit. Mrs. Kraft cautions us about believing that miracles are always from God, and warns about harmful Halloween and occult practices.
Read Acts 16:6-40.
1. Look at the maps in the back of your Bible to orient you. What is the province of Asia today? What country is Macedonia in today?
2. What principle about God’s guidance is illustrated in 16:7-10? Has that principle ever been demonstrated in your life?
3. Acts 13:5, 14; 14:1; 17:2, 10 reveal Paul’s usual missionary strategy. Why do you think he went to the riverside in Philippi? 16:13.
4. Describe Lydia from 16:14-16. How is her conversion described? What the immediate evidence of her faith? What did her home become?
5. The other events in Paul’ visit to Philippi had to have had a direct effect on Lydia. Try to imagine what decisions she had to make in light of these events concerning her family, friends and business.
6. 16:16-18. What power gave the slave girl her ability? How was she exploited? Was her message about Paul correct? Then why was he troubled? What does this tell us about people who predict the future even if some of it comes true?
7. 16:19-24. What were the results of Paul’s compassionate action?
8. 16:25-28. What was Paul and Silas’ response to this discouraging turn of events? Since God had led them there, why had this happened? Have you ever experienced trials even though you knew you were in the center of God’s will? What was your reaction?
9. 16:31-34. What was the immediate result of their imprisonment? How did the jailer evidence his faith? What similarity is there to Lydia?
10. 16:37-39. Why do you think Paul exercised his privileges as a Roman citizen now? Where was the last place they met in Philippi? In view of their notoriety what does this tell us about Lydia?
11. Acts 5:42; 12:12-17; Rom. 16:5, 13. How critical was hospitality in those days? Have you used your home to reach children or your neighbors for Christ? Do you entertain missionaries?
12. Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians about 10 years later. Compare the character of the church to its first convert, Lydia. Phil. 1:4, 5, 7; 2:25; 4:15-19; 2 Cor. 8:1-5.
13. What insight does this give us into the influence of women in the early church? See also Phil. 4:2-3; Rom. 16: 1-4, 6-7, 12-15. What do you think their specific contributions were? Are they still needed today?