Lydia’s Purple Dye by Reba Becker


 Lydia was a Gentile, but a believer in the true God of Israel.  She was a business woman from Thyatira, but living in Philippi at the time.  She was a dealer in purple cloth and made a fantastic living for herself and her family.  We don’t know her marital status, but that she was considered head of her household.  More than likely single, a widow, divorced or perhaps an ex-slave who had been emancipated.  Whatever her status, we know she was head of “her household,” in an undoubtedly, male-dominated society.  It took a gutsy woman, of strength, determination and integrity to be a successful entrepreneur.  She is only mentioned twice in Scripture, in Acts 16: 14-15 and again in 40.

 Her household worshipped God along with her.  Yet, she was unaware of the salvation message of Christ, until Paul and Silas brought it with them.  While she and the other women who were gathered there, on the riverbank, where Paul and Silas thought people would be gathered for prayer,  the Lord “opened up her heart” to the truth in the message of the gospel of good news that Paul brought with him.

So, Lydia became the first convert in Europe, being baptized along with her household.  Undoubtedly sharing and spreading the gospel to many, as she was influential!

The thing that struck me was the dye, which the Holy Spirit called upon my heart to find out more about.  The dyes used back then were natural, real, not synthetic, as is the case with many today.  Lydia’s purple dye, was the most expensive there was.  The cloth for royalty, and the rich and was regulated by law as to whom and how much could be owned.  And, it did not fade!

This purple dye came from extracting the essential oils of tiny shellfish, mollusks.  The shellfish “juice” remained white while still in the veins of the fish, but when exposed to the sun, it transformed into the most brilliant purples and crimsons!

Ironically, in the same way Lydia’s life had been transformed.  She had been like the fluid of her livelihood.  She had lived a shallow, colorless life.  Her true worth and brilliance had only been revealed when she was exposed to the Son.  Jesus always exceeds our expectations!


Current President of Midwest Conference Women Ministries Board Top things that take up my time: God, family, students and friends. A great day for me is time to play my guitar and learn a new song. I have a number of favorite artists - depends on my day and my mood.

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