Last week I studied the events surrounding a businesswoman named Lydia who lived in Philippi in the Roman province of Macedonia (modern-day Greece).
In the beginning I simply wanted to know about Lydia’s life. But as I studied I noticed something amazing. It had to do with the treatment of women and the relationship between Jew and Gentile.
The ancient world was a different place. A Jewish husband often wouldn’t be seen in public with his own wife. He certainly wouldn’t be seen in public with any other woman. Some of the rabbis said that it would be better to burn the Law then to teach it to a woman.
The relationship between Jew and Gentile was not much better. Jews would not enter into the home of Gentile, and they certainly wouldn’t eat with non-Jews.
Yet in Acts 16, we read about Paul and Silas – – two Jewish males – – traveling with Timothy, the son of a gentile man and a Jewish woman. They were also accompanied by Luke, a Gentile.
When they arrived in Philippi these four missionaries went to the place near the city where Jewish women would gather to pray. They joined them in worship and politely waited for the opportunity to speak and share the gospel.
It must have been a strange sight. They broke all of the normal conventions of the day.
What brought about the change?
It was the movement from B.C. to A.D. The coming of Jesus and the transforming nature of his death, burial, and resurrection with the accompanying gift of the Holy Spirit changed the world.
At least, it changed the world dominated by Christians. Some places in the world today do not even rise to the standard of the Jews of the Old Testament in their treatment of women. Genital mutilation and even female slavery are rampant in many parts of the world.
The Gospel simply changes lives and changes culture.
I often think of the young woman in the Salvation Army: “I’m not all that I ought to be, but thank God I’m not all that I used to be.”
In Christ, we are His new creation, redeemed and set free. Thank God for our newness in Christ.
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