So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us
Understanding And Applying the Text
Luke addressed Acts to Theopholus. We know nothing about Theopholus. But we assume he is a Gentile. He had a Greek name. We also assume he was not familiar with Macedonia. Luke had to explain Philipi was a leading city in Macedonia. He also pointed out it was a Roman Colony. This implies he was not a Roman official.
A Roman colony was a city colonized by Roman Citizens. Citizens of the city were also citizens of Rome.
On the Sabbath, Paul and his party went outside the city. They were looking for the place the Jews went to pray. This seems odd. Rome allowed the Jews to worship God. They had synagogues. Why didn’t they worship in the synagogue?
Philippi was a Roman colony. It was a free Roman city. Synagogues were not allowed in the city. It was unlawful for Jews to worship in Philippi. They had a secret place outside the city. For this reason, and the fact Luke commends her for her godliness, Calvin concludes Lydia was a Jewess. I question this conclusion. Luke does not say she was a Jewess. But he says she was a worshiper of God. That is a phrase he used to describe God-fearers. In fact, the NET translation translates it as “God-fearing woman” I assume she was a gentile.
God opened her heart to the Gospel. And she and her household were baptized. This is a historical text. It teaches what occurred. It is not a teaching on baptism. Yet both credobaptists and paedobaptists have used this passage to support their claims. With that in mind let’s examine the text.
Paedobaptism is the doctrine we are to baptize infants of covenant households. Credobaptism is the doctrine only confessing Christians receive baptism. This is not a defense or attack of either doctrine. Rather it is an examination of the passage from both viewpoints. I encourage the reader to study this very important sacrament.
In the ancient world, the head of the household determined the household’s religion. If the head of the household was a Christian the entire household was Christian. This does not mean that everyone converted. It means the head of the household dictated the household’s religion. Paul baptized every one in the household. There is no statement everyone believed. They participated in the covenant by being a member of the household.
Credo and Paedobaptist make similar but opposite assumptions. The Credobaptist assume all believed. Paedobaptist assumes all did not believe. Or at least did not need to believe. Both are assumptions.
The Paedopbatist argue we are to baptize all members of the covenant household. That includes infants.
Credobaptists argue all believed. There is no statement Lydia had children. In fact, it appears Lydia is the head of the household meaning there was no husband. If there was no husband that would imply no children and no infants. To assert there were is to read something into the text that is not there.
The arguments for and against each side are much more complex. The arguments are much more substantive. But we are limiting ourselves to this passage.