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A Seller of Purple: Insights from Lydia of The Bible

Updated on December 20, 2017

What does the name Lydia means and what insights and inspiration can modern-day Lydia’s get from the Lydia of the Bible? This is hub is all about Lydia. Here, you will find the meaning and origins of the name Lydia, inspirations from the Lydia of the Bible and the significance of the name Lydia if you are thinking of naming a baby girl Lydia.

Lydia Name Meaning (from the Bible)

The only reference to the name Lydia in the Bible is found in Acts 16:14-15 & 40. Lydia is also known as “Lydia of Thyatira”, “The Woman of Purple”, "a Seller of Purple", and “Purpuraria”. First, the name Lydia is derived from her place of birth which was Thyatira, a city in the region of Lydia in ancient Greek (now western Turkey). The second comes from the Latin word for purple because Lydia is a seller or purple dye. At that time, she was living in the city of Philippi in Macedonia.

It is believed Lydia herself dressed in purple and it was good business for her. She was a seller of purple dye, the almost magical secretion that ran clear and white through the veins of a certain mollusc (shellfish), but which, when exposed to the sun, turned suddenly from deep purple to crimson, and made a permanent, strong dye for fabrics. Lydia inherited her dye-making knowledge and heritage from her family and ancestors who lived in ancient Asia Minor, where her name has been derived from. The Lydian purple market had flourished throughout the Graeco-Roman world.

Lydia - A Professional, God-seeking and Successful Business Woman

Lydia was a professional business woman who also believed in God. It is believed that Lydia was a successful business woman who left her home in Thyatira and moved to Philippi in Macedonia (Europe) after the death of husband. In Philippi, she was greatly respected and loved by her friends and business associates.

Despite her professional success and popularity, Lydia was sensitively aware of a lack in her life and need for spiritual fullfilment. She was a Gentile but in A.D. 50, she had been a part of a small group of Jewish women who met together to worship the God of Abraham, and Lydia came to believe in Him as the One True God. The group met outside the gates of Philippi on the shady banks of the Gangites River, to study the ancient scriptures and pray to the LORD God.

God answered the prayers of Lydia and her friends for more light and encouragement by sending the Apostle Paul, who was then in Troas, to go to Philippi with the Gospel of Christ. They found the women, whose hearts were well prepared to receive the Gospel, and preached to them about Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

Lydia’s self-consciousness of her own status in business and society ended the moment she received Christ as her personal Lord and Saviour. Where she was previously embarrassed of inviting the group of women to the large, spacious and comfortable home completely changed. She immediately invited and insisted that Paul and his friends come to her home. Her home became the meeting place of the growing group of followers of the risen Lord and Paul taught them and prayed with them regularly. Lydia continued her business activities but the centre of life was the indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit.

My daughter Lydia Phoebe
My daughter Lydia Phoebe | Source

Lydia in Christ - An Intelligent, Courageous Woman with Prestige & Power

Lydia was not any ordinary woman. She was a highly successful, cultivated professional woman, with prestige and power in the city of Philippi. She seemed to have everything, but she was perceptive enough to face her inner emptiness and to take definite steps to fill it with the true God. Lydia shared her home and energies with God. Lydia served God where she was – in her business, living her new life in Christ fully in the presence of her customers and her business associates. She did not shy and hide away. Lydia gave God the chance to get into the Philippi business cycles and market place through her, touching their hearts. She lived Christ in Philippi, going about her business as usual. She is said to be the first European convert.

Lydia was an attractive, intelligent, and courageous woman who handled her own prosperous business in an era when women just did not do this, was filled with the new radiant boldness being in Christ. She opened her home for the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ.


The Significance of the Name Lydia and The Colour Purple

The colour purple combines the serenity and cool of blue and the fire and energy of red. Throughout history, including the time of Christ, the colour purple represented royalty and spirituality and was worn by both men and women. It was worn exclusively by members of royal families and leaders of powerful empires. Purple was also the sign of wealth, prestige and power because purple dye was very expensive. Because purple represented royalty, it is also a sign of leadership and nobility. In nature, purple is special as in lavender, orchid, lilac and violet flowers are delicate and precious flowers. Purple is associated with creativity and is an inspiration.

So Lydia, The Woman of Purple, you are royalty. Share your life and energies with God and let God create newness of life in a dying world through you. Live for God wherever you are and in whatever you do, just like the original Lydia of the Bible.

If you are a parent considering baby names for girls, Lydia is a cool baby name.

© 2012 Kejanny


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