Lydia was not a Jew, but she was “a worshiper of the Lord God.” That means that she was attracted to Judaism but had not converted, or was simply a pious Gentile who worshiped the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. She was from the city of Thyatira (if you have trouble with pronouncing Biblical names just do the best you can and pronounce every letter you see – so it would be Thy-a-ti-ra – put the emphasis wherever you want because no one knows for sure). This is interesting because the city of Thyatira was part of the Kingdom of Lydia. Lydia existed as a kingdom from about 1200-546 BC when it was conquered by the Persians. The Macedonians under Alexander took over in 334 BC and then the Romans in 189 BC. The Lydians were the first people to mint gold and silver coins (600 BC).
The Bible tells us that Lydia was a seller of purple cloth. Purple goods were very expensive because they were made with a dye extracted from sea snails in a complicated and lengthy process. Purple cloth was a luxury item and because of its great expense was a status symbol connected to royalty in many societies. The fact that Lydia lived in Philippi also tells us a bit about a community that could be the home of a high-end dealer.
Lydia does not appear to have been attached to any man and was the head of her own household. This is not unheard of in the Roman Empire but it also is not typical. Lydia may have been widowed or divorced and seems to have had some wealth. Lydia listened to Paul and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. She and her whole household were baptized and then she invited Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke to stay in her home and they accepted the invitation.
What is/was your hometown like? How have your early years shaped who you have become?