On the Sabbath, Paul and his co-workers left the city and walked about a mile to River Gangites (cf. Acts 16:13). There they would have expected to find a place of prayer where the few Jews in the area would have gathered for prayer on the Sabbath. On their arrival, they found several women and spoke to them.
Lydia, a gentile convert, is the first person and a female specifically mentioned in the Bible as being baptized in Europe. A merchant of fine purple cloth, she was a woman of some means and wealth (as evidenced by her trade of expensive garment and possession of a house). She was also an example of an upwardly mobile woman who not only became a follower of Jesus, but also one that had a generous heart in opening her home to Paul and his mission. In addition, she would also have, in some ways, provided leadership in the early Christian communities. As such, it is not too far-fetched to think that Lydia's house then became the headquarters for Paul's mission and the newly established church in Philippi (cf. Acts 16:40). In view of this, the narrative in Acts seems to emphasise the significant role women played in the expansion of the early Christian communities.