Lydia was the first convert of Paul in Philippi. She was a prosperous woman originally from the Greek city of Thyatira in Lydia, the Roman Province that bore her name. The first gold and silver coins were invented in Lydia. The area excelled in artistic and musical talents and earned the inhabitants enjoyed much wealth. The Acts of the Apostles describe Lydia as a worshiper of God who listens and a dealer in purple cloth (Acts 16:14). She most likely dealt in purple dye as well as textiles dyed purple.
Paul and his companions lodged in Lydia's home both before and after they were released from prison. They stayed with her in Philippi before journeying on through Amphipolis and Apollonia to Thessalonica (Acts 16:40-17:1), leaving Lydia in charge of the church at Philippi.
As a free woman managing a large household on her own, she had the freedom to offer her home as a gathering place for pagan converts she instructed in the faith in Philippi. Lydia is honored as “Equal to the Apostles” in the Orthodox Church. A church with a baptistery was built in her honor on the site where she was baptized in Philippi.