A Tale of Two Hearts
In 356 B.C. a city known as Krenides, which means springs or fountains, was conquered by Philip II of Macedon. He immediately changed the name of the city to Philippi to honor himself. Humility was not in his character. He was the father of Alexander the Great.
The estimated population of Philippi when Paul, Silas, and Timothy, came to speak the gospel of God’s grace was approximately 10,000.
To pray certain Jewish prayers at least ten Jewish men are required. Then, in a sense, this becomes a rule of thumb for a city to have a synagogue. The Mishanh, or oral traditions of Judaism, stated you needed ten men before you could have a synagogue. Remember though, synagogues came to pass from Judea’s time in captivity in Babylon, God never gave directions for a synagogue in His Word.
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.
Here in Acts 16 God inspires Luke to call Philippi the “chief city” or the first city of that district of Macedonia. Macedonia was made up of four districts. The word translated “part” is meris in the Greek and means district or a portion. Philippi was the chief or first city of their district. Philippi was situated on the Roman road Via Egnatia, and it is logical to assume it brought some trade to Philippi. However, Philippi was not known as a trading center.
I supposed we should get the normal question out of the way concerning Paul’s revelation about a man of Macedonia. Why when he saw a man in his vision does his witnessing begin with a woman? Some have pointed to this as a contradiction in God’s Word, but it is not a contradiction if you allow God’s Word to speak for itself.
There are certain sections in the book of Acts that are called “we sections” because those are the times when Luke, the writer of the Book of Acts, is traveling with Paul. Acts 16:10 begins the first “we section” when Luke is traveling with Paul. Luke travels with Paul from Troas to Philippi, When Paul, Silas, and Timothy leave Philippi, Luke stays.
And they went out of the prison and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.
The next “we” section is toward the end of Paul’s third journey. After Paul leaves Ephesus he travels to Macedonia and then down to Achaia. After wintering in Achaia, Paul is headed back to Jerusalem traveling back up through Macedonia, at which point Luke joins him once again all the way to Jerusalem. Notice the city where Paul and Luke once again meet up, Philippi.
And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days, where we abode seven days.
The third “we” section is on Paul’s journey to Rome.
And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band.
These “we sections” only refer to the time covered in the Book of Acts which ends around 63 A.D. From what is stated in these epistles, we know Paul wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon during Acts 28. We can also tell Luke is with Paul as he writes Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. However, Luke is in Colosse when Philemon is written.
From the verses in Acts 16 we see that Paul and Luke met for the first time in Troas and that Luke is from Philippi and is probably the man from Macedonia Paul saw in his vision. It would also be a logical conclusion that this first meeting, in Troas, is when Paul began to teach Luke the gospel of grace.
Further, we learn in Timothy that as Paul awaits his execution in a Roman prison, Luke is by his side.
2 Timothy 4:11
Only Luke is with me. Take Mark and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.
Luke, the probable man from Macedonia in Paul’s vision, was with Paul as he awaited his execution. We do not know if Luke traveled with Paul from Nicopolis or met him in Rome. We just know they are together after Paul has been condemned.
and thence to Philippi, which is [the] first city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city certain days.
Part of Rome’s defense was to have colony cities scattered throughout the Empire, ready on short notice, to stand and defend the honor of Rome. Philippi was first set up as a colony city in 42 B.C. after Marc Anthony defeated Brutus and Cassius, the main conspirators in the assassination of Julius Caesar. Marc Anthony retired veterans from his 23rd Legion, and his praetorian guard, in the city of Philippi. Then, after the Battle of Actium, where Octavian defeated Marc Anthony, who had been seduced by Cleopatra, Philippi was re-founded as a colony in 31 B.C. by Octavian.
“As a colony, Philippi was considered an extension of Rome. The citizens enjoyed Roman citizenship and lus Italicum, a legal status which permitted self-government and tax-exemption to its citizens.” The lus Italicum, Latin, is also known as the Italic Rite or the Italic Law. This, Italic Law, could only be conferred upon a colony city.
So, in 51 A.D., about the time Paul would have reached Philippi, to walk in Philippi was like you were walking in Rome itself. Other colony cities in the book of Acts are Antioch in Pisidia, Lystra, Iconium, Troas, Corinth, and Tarsus in Cilicia.
When Paul writes to the Philippians, in the epistle that bears their name, he also speaks of citizenship, a greater citizenship than Roman.
For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,
New International Version
The word “conversation” is politeuma and is better translated citizenship. Being a citizen of Rome had its advantages, Paul demonstrated the advantage of being a Roman citizen while in Philippi. But nothing exceeds the blessings and advantages of being a citizen of heaven! The next verse in the Epistle to the Philippians declares one of those advantages of being a heavenly citizen.
Who [the Lord Jesus Christ] shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
This will occur when Christ returns to gather those who have believed in the Administration of Grace, we will see more about that when we look at Thessalonians. Other advantages to our citizenship being in heaven that Paul mentions to the Philippians in the epistle are:
Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Nothing is greater than the advantages of being a citizen of heaven!
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.
Why by a river?
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
When a place of worship, like the Temple or a synagogue, was not available, Judeans would pray by a river for the many washings required in the Mosaic Law. A traveling teacher would be very welcome at one of these locations so that the people could hear God’s Word taught.
Philippi did have temples; they were just the wrong temples. There was a temple of Dionysus; there was a temple to Apollo, which we know because of the spirit of divination in verse 16; Diana was on their Acropolis; a temple to the deified Julius Caesar; a temple to Bacchus, the god of wine and revelry; a temple to the Imperial Cult, meaning the worship of Rome. Many temples but all to false gods.
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.
Lydia was a seller of purple. God’s Word does not specify whether Lydia sold the dye or the purple cloth she dyed. But consider these facts.
“Purple can represent royalty, majesty and high officials (Judges 8:26, Esther 8:15) as well as conveying the meaning of wealth, prosperity and luxury (Song of Solomon 3:10, Luke 16:19, Revelation 17:4, 18:16).
Anciently, the production of this type of dye was a long and laborious task. The liquid used to create it came from a tiny Mediterranean Sea snail gland. Each snail produced only a single drop of the needed fluid. To produce one pound of dye, during ancient Roman Empire times, took the acquiring of four million mollusks.”
The remains of the snail, after extracting the fluid for the dye, would leave quite a pile of rotting snails. Between the disposal of the snails and the smell of the rotting flesh most were willing to leave it to the professionals. Add to that there was also a union of those who carried out the process of dyeing the cloth. They kept their secret of dyeing the cloth in house. It was not something shared with others.
From these statements it would logically appear that Lydia sold purple cloth.
Lydia was not a native of Philippi, she was from a city, Thyatira, in Asia Minor. Thyatira was the unquestioned capitol of the purple dye trade in the first century A.D. Before hearing what Paul had to say, God declares, Lydia worshipped God.
What does it mean that Lydia worshipped God?
God does not tell us if Lydia is a Judean or a proselyte but to use the word sebo, translated worship, tells us a great deal about the heart of Lydia. As stated earlier, there were plenty of temples in Philippi where Lydia could have worshipped. Any one of the pagan temples could have also been viewed as a means to advance her business. Any help a woman running a business in the first century could be advantageous. But Lydia chose to pray (proseuche read verse 13 again) to the One True God and she prayed by a river.
Proseuche prayer is your personal devotion to God, your personal commitment to God. You are praying to God because of your esteem for Him. It is a compound Greek word consisting of pros meaning toward and euchomai meaning a vow. Proseuche is a prayer offered only to God and before such a prayer is prayed you must wash your hands in Judaism. Lydia was praying by a river.
Lydia chose to turn to God to advance her business. Lydia chose to pray to God for whatever was important to her life. That is the relationship you see in proseuche. So, God chose the word sebo, worship, to describe Lydia. Sebo means to revere, to have awe for, to esteem highly.
Helps Word-studies defines sebo as, “properly, personally esteem; to hold something (someone) in high respect; showing the reverence or awe (veneration) of someone who is devout.”
Then, while listening to Paul, God opened her heart. Every poet has mused about the heart. Philosophers ponder the existence of the heart. The world moves to control, to confuse, to destroy the heart through fears, innuendos, lies. God is the only one who knows, and understands, and sees the human heart.
1 Samuel 16:7
But the LORD said unto Samuel, look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
1 Chronicles 28:9a
thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts:
Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.
God could work in Lydia’s heart when Lydia heard the words of Paul because she had prepared her heart with God’s Word and with devotion toward God. God does not control for either good or evil. But God can work in a heart prepared with humility and His Word.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
New International Version
Keep thy heart more than anything that is guarded; for out of it are the issues of life.
Darby Bible Translation
God brings forth the increase (auxano) in a heart that is prepared.
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.
Lydia’s business was prosperous as she owned her own house. We do not know if Lydia was a widower or a mother, God’s Word says nothing on those points. That her whole household was baptized in holy spirit could refer to only servants, which a prosperous business woman would have.
Lydia then asked Paul, Silas, and Timothy to abide with her, she constrained them. Constrained is the compound Greek word parabiazomai. Para meaning along side of and biazo means, to compel, to urge. Lydia encouraged Paul, Silas, and Timothy to stay beside her in her home.
And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:
The word divination in the text is python and should be translated spirit of python. A python was the serpent that protected the oracle at Delphi, which was slain by Apollo. It is associated to soothsaying because the oracle at Delphi was supposedly speaking for the gods about future events. The Greeks believed the future could be revealed at Delphi. Later, it was related to ventriloquism as though a god was speaking from within the person. Over time, the spirit of python and knowing the future became associated with worship of Apollo.
The word “possessed” is echo in the Greek. Echo means, to hold, to have. It is not that the damsel had a devil spirit at her beck and call. The devil spirit is in charge not the damsel. As spiritual law is greater than physical law, so too, spiritual bodies are more powerful than physical bodies. Thankfully, those who have believed in the Administration of Grace, have spiritually risen above the Adversary’s entire kingdom.
Between the words damsel and masters, it appears this girl was a slave that had a devil spirit and tried to tell the future. She must have been right often enough that her masters made a profit from what she said. But the girl was twice over a slave. She was a slave to the devil spirit that controlled her, and then to her masters that owned her.
Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.
This is how the heart of the girl with the spirit of python was prepared. She traveled with wicked and evil men. The Hebrew word for wicked is rasa and is defined in Lexicons as, “hostile, against God and man.” Evil is the Hebrew word ra and means, “malignant, disagreeable, bad, unpleasant.”
1 Corinthians 15:33
Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
The word “communications’ is the Greek word homilia and means companionship. “Manners” is the Greek word ethos and, in this context, means character.
1 Corinthians 15:33
Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
New International Version
This context of Proverbs 4 leads to the statement we have already seen concerning guarding your heart because out of it are the issues of life. In contrast to Lydia, the heart of the damsel was closed to God, for she had evil companionship, inside and out.
The damsel, like Lydia, heard the preaching of Paul, but her heart was not moved as Lydia’s. God could see the heart of the damsel. God knew what was in the heart of the damsel. But God could not open the heart of the damsel because it was prepared for and with evil.
I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
Even after hearing Paul preach, the damsel had nothing in her heart for God.
But she proclaimed they were the servants of the most high God.
No, the damsel did not.
The devil spirit proclaimed they were the servants of the most high God.
The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, these men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
Was his woman, with a devil spirit, proclaiming that Paul and Silas where servants of God? No. She was speaking for the devil spirit. It was the devil spirit who recognized Paul.
Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the LORD Jesus, saying, we adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
The word “the” in Acts 16:17 is not in the text, therefore, the devil spirit was saying these men show us a way of salvation. Not THE way or the only way, but a way. But why would this bother Paul to the degree that he cast out the devil spirit?
And in the synagogue, there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, Saying, let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.
Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.
For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues. And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known.
Devil spirits recognized Jesus during his earthly ministry, and Jesus did not allow them to testify on his behalf. Why? Why would Jesus and Paul not accept confession from the other side spiritually? Wouldn’t that be a great witness?
First, it is only flattery to curry favor since the spirits heart is rooted in fear. But more importantly, we have a greater witness.
But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
1 Thessalonians 2:10
Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:
God is our witness! Our lives are our witness! We have no need of what a devil spirit says!
And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned, and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
Grieved is the Greek word diaponeomai and means displeased, offended, to have an intense desire. It is only used twice in God’s Word. The other time is also in the Book of Acts.
Being grieved that they taught the people and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
How “grieved” do you think the religious leaders were as the apostles kept teaching about Jesus and the resurrection from the dead?
Paul turned and said to the spirit; he did not speak to the girl, the damsel. The damsel was uttering the words that grieved Paul, why didn’t Paul speak to her? Paul had an issue with the devil spirit, the one that forced the girl to follow them and harass them. The girl was not in charge, the devil spirit was in charge. It was the girls voice, but the words came from the devil spirit.
And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,
Read the rest of the context and see what is said about the girl and her masters. The damsel’s masters expressed no concern for the state of the girl, only the state of their wallets. Consider again the words of Proverbs 4:14-17.
The Greek word for heart is kardia. Everything you believe, which means, everything you hold as true, is held in your heart. That is why Proverbs declared, out of it, the heart, come the issues of life. But there is a difference between what is believed to be true and that which is Truth.
The heart is the rudder that will steer your course through life.
The storms will come to everyone, but there is only one compass.
Choices made along the way will determine your destination.
A permanent second death or a glorious eternal life.
1 Timothy 2:4
Who [God] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
© Auxano Ministry 2022