11 Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis,
12 and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days.
13 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.
14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.
15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.
straight course (v.11) — before the wind
Samothrace (v.11) — An island northwest of Troas, and south of the coast of Thrace. It is mountainous in character, and was formerly famous for the mysterious worship of the Cabiri (pagan deities). It lay, roughly, half way between Troas and Neapolis, and Paul’s ship anchored there for the night en route, probably at the north extremity of the island, where the chief town was situated.
Neapolis (v.11) — Meaning “new city.” It was the seaport of Philippi and was situated at the northern end of the Aegean Sea. Its distance from Samothrace was about 30 miles. It is usually identified with the modern town of Kavalla.
Philippi (v.12) — A city founded on the site of an earlier town (Crenides) by Philip of Macedonia in the fourth century B.C. and called by his name. It lay on the great Egnatian Road, just at the spot where the chain of the Balkan Mountains sinks into a pass. After it had passed into Roman hands, Augustus made it a Roman colony, with the title of “Colonia Augusta Julia Philippensis,” to commemorate his victory there over Brutus and Cassius (42 B.C.). It was about 10 miles inland from Neapolis, a ridge of elevated land being crossed by the Egnatian Road between the two. We read of it again in Acts 20:6; Philippians 1:1 and 1 Thessalonians 2:2).
colony (v.12) — As such, Philippi enjoyed special privileges, amongst others the “Jus Italicum” or immunity from the ground tax levied by the romans on all provincial lands. Its magistrates bore titles borrowed from the imperial city; and its laws, coinage and official language were all Latin. Its colonial features and dignities are clearly reflected in the Epistle to the Philippians. — The Acts of the Apostles, by Thomas Walker, pages 346-347.
some days (v.12) — probably they arrived early in the week and waited for the next Sabbath.
It took 10 Jewish men to start a synagogue, so obviously Philippi had a small Jewish population.
riverside (v.13) — The river Gangites, a tributary of the Strymon. It flowed about a mile west of the city. The Jews often preferred the sea side or a river bank for purposes of worship, because of the need of water for their ceremonial purifications. — Walker, page 348.
prayer (v.13) — perhaps in a walled enclosure
Lydia (v.14) — not a Jewish name. She may have been named for the place she was from. She may have been a proselyte.
seller of purple (v.14) — One word in the Greek, a compound noun. The country of Lydia in general, and Thyatira in particular, were noted for purple dyeing. Inscriptions show that there was a guild of dyers there. It was such purple-dyed garments, etc., which Lydia sold in Philippi. She had clearly settled there for trade purposes, and, engaged in such a business, must have been well-t0-do.
Thyatira (v.14) — A rich city in the north of Lydia, a country included in the province of Asia and south of Mysia. It lay in the valley of the river Lycus, having been refounded by Seleucus Nicator during the third century B.C. It owed its prosperity chiefly to commerce, and the dyeing trade there, in particular, was flourishing. One of the “seven churches of Asia” was afterwards founded there (Revelation 1:11) — Walker, pages 348-349.
heard (v.14) — imperfect tense — a regular hearer. She might not have been saved on this first Sabbath.
house (v.15) — large enough to house the four missionaries and be a place of meeting for the whole church in Philippi (v.40)
persuaded (v.15) — almost to the point of force (see Luke 24:29, the only other place where the word appears in Scripture)