Acts 16:11-15
Acts 16:11 (KJB)
Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;
Samothrace is a small mountainous island which is about 30 square miles and contains a mountain 5,000 feet high (1524 meters) which was a guide to those on the Aegean Sea. It was about 56 miles (90 km) west of Troas. It was straight course from port to port. The next day they had arrived at Neapolis. Neapolis was about 66 miles (106 km) from Samothrace. Neapolis was a very short distance from Philippi, on the southeastern coast of Macedonia.
Acts 16:12 (KJB)
And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.
When they landed at Neapolis, they had gone directly to Philippi which was about 6 miles away. Philippi was named after Philip who was the father of Alexander the Great. It was a Roman colony as they had settled a garrison of Roman soldiers who were Roman citizens. A garrison is a body of troops designed to defend the place where they are. In this case it was Philippi which was strategically located where they could be dispatched up and down the coast as needed. The constitution of Philippi was modeled after Rome. When Caesar Augustus made Philippi a military colony, many Romans made it their home. Philippi was important because it was located at the end of the famous Egnatian Way, the famous Roman road. The emperor gave them the “Italic right” which means they had the same rights as the cities on the Italian peninsula.
Acts 16:13 (KJB)
And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
Jewish law required that there be at least ten men available to have a synagogue but apparently there was not even that amount in Philippi. So Paul had heard there was a place less than a mile outside of town where some Jews gathered on the Sabbath. He encountered a group of women there but no men. Apparently some had been widows, some may had been married to Gentiles and there may have also been some Gentile women who were interested. Paul made his way to this gathering and then engaged them in conversation.
Acts 16:14 (KJB)
And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
A woman named Lydia had attended the meeting. She was from Thyatira which was in the province of Lydia, so maybe she was named after the province. She had probably settled in Philippi because the business would have been better or she may have been on a business trip. Thyatira had a guild there called the “dyers guild.” The water in the area was of such quality that it was made for dyeing clothes especially brilliant red. They were also famous for the purple dye made of madder root which was made in that area and caused the city to be famous. Like when we think of Cheese Steaks, we think of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Lydia was like Cornelius in that she worshipped God according to the Jewish understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures. Thyatira had a Jewish colony so she may have attended and learned of God. Now she had heard the things the Apostle Paul was proclaiming to them about the Lord Jesus Christ and she readily accepted them because the Lord had already prepared her by opening up her heart, just like He did to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24:32 KJV) And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
Acts 16:15 (KJB)
And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
Constrained - Constrained by entreaty, prevailed, or compelled
Lydia had believed and became a Christian. Since she had become saved, she was now baptized along with those in her house, which would have been her servants since there is no evidence that she was married. Her servants also became saved which showed the faithfulness of Lydia bringing them the true gospel. She desired that her home would be a place established in the Lord. It was in the house of Lydia that a church would soon be established. While Paul and his company were there, she had urged them to stay at her place until they finally did. The word “constrained” carries with the meaning of a strong urging or entreaty, which means they couldn’t refuse the offer.