Everyone agreed: the doors to preaching the Gospel in Asia clearly seemed to be closed to the small band of missionaries. Then there was this unusual night vision that Paul had of a man begging them to come to Macedonia. The confirmation came in the wind-assisted crossing that provided smooth sailing right into the port near Philippi, a leading Roman city in that province. But now to find out there is no synagogue in Philippi?! Not even ten male Jews in this significant city to form the quorum of a synagogue? Perhaps if any Jews existed, they would be praying by the riverside, like the Jews did in the days of the exile in Babylon.
As might be expected with the lack of a synagogue, there was only a small group of women praying that day by the river. But these were women the Lord had prepared. The first convert in the group—the first convert in all of Europe, to be exact—was a woman named Lydia. She was a successful businesswoman, trading in the luxury item of purple cloth. Upon her conversion, she insisted that Paul and his apostolic missionaries share her home and receive her hospitality, evidence of her faithfulness to the Lord (Acts 16:15).
It appears Lydia was also a single woman, head of a household consisting mainly of servants. It was probably in her house that the first church in Philippi began to meet. Perhaps it was in her house that the church gathered to take up a collection to send Paul as he endured house arrest in Rome. Maybe they were there to hear the letter from Paul that contained his effusive thanks for their generosity, and wherein he shared his secret for being content in any and every circumstance. It's hard to know what precisely happened in Lydia's home, except for this fact—her first act of ministry as a believer was to offer her home and hospitality.
Keepers at Home
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children; To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:3-5)
It’s easy to understand the Titus 2 command to be “keepers at home” as focusing on the quality of home life in the context of marriage and family. But I don’t think Paul intended only for the married women to display the fruits of sound doctrine in their lives through being keepers of the home. The Greek word that Paul uses here is oikourgous, which is a compound word meaning “homeworker.” Paul is charging older women to teach younger women that among “good things” that keep God's Word from being blasphemed is tending to the home. The implication is that there is valuable work to be done through and in the home.
As Proverbs 14:1 emphasizes, wise women build their homes, but foolish ones tear theirs down. There is no qualification there regarding marital status. Women in all seasons of life can either be wise or foolish about the work that is done in their homes. Why? Home is where we care for those who live with us, and where we can reach out to care for the needs of others—the saints and the lost alike. As single women, we may or may not have people living with us to care for, but we typically have an abundance of opportunities to care for others in our homes in a way that promotes the glory of God.
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