Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Acts 16:13-15 – Paul finds worshippers of the true God

When he came to a new location, Paul usually made his way to the synagogue because he realised that the Jews and proselytes had an existing framework in which they could fit his message about Jesus being the Messiah. It seems that there was not a synagogue in Philippi, which may be connected to it being a city for veteran soldiers.

In order for there to be a synagogue, it was necessary to have ten male members. When Paul and his friends discovered the location where Jewish worship was taking place, they would have seen that no men took part in it. I wonder were they surprised at this because it is likely that they would have wanted some male converts. What happened was another example of the surprise that sometimes accompanies God’s ways.

The reason why the group of ladies would have met at the river side was probably the need of water for the various cleanings that were part of the Jewish ritual. Since there were no men in the synagogue, the women met for prayer. Within a synagogue there would be three different groups: there would be Jews, there would be proselytes (Gentiles who had become full members of the Jewish faith), and there would be God-fearers (Gentiles who were interested in the Jewish faith but who did not adopt all the rituals). Lydia belonged to the third group.

Although only Lydia’s conversion is mentioned, it is possible that this group became the nucleus of the fledgling church in Philippi. Paul mentions in his letter to the church ‘women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life’ (Phil. 4:3). Perhaps Euodia and Syntyche were members of this small prayer meeting (Phil. 4:2).  

When the four men arrived at the place of prayer, each of them spoke. They may have told who they were and how they had found the Messiah. Paul may have given an extended address; in any case it was during his address that Lydia sensed that a change was taking place. We will think about her tomorrow.

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