By N. B. Hardeman The evidence from external sources regarding Jesus is indeed meager, but there are reasons for such. At the time he lived, the world was absorbed in military greatness. Only heroes and heroines on the field of battle attracted attention. Worldly glory and deeds of earthly valor were worthy to mention, but moral force and spiritual achievements were passed into obscurity. The weapons used by Christ and his disciples were not carnal. He had no great armies, clad in brilliant uniforms, bearing aloft his unfurled banners. He had no great political powers or men of wealth to sing his praise. He was from a despised town and lived among the poorest of earth, and hence, why should a historian take notice of one so humble?
In my studying for Bible class this Sunday morning, I stumbled across Acts 16:14 while reading the ESV:
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. (ESV)
The HCSB also reads similarly. However, this was not the way I remembered the verse from my previous studies. Notice how some of the other major translations treat this verse:
…and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. (NASB)
The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. (NIV/TNIV)
To me, this is significant difference. The New American Standard and the New International Version both imply that the Lord caused Lydia to respond to the words spoken by Paul. The English Standard Version implies that the Lord did not cause Lydia to respond, but only to have an open heart to listen. The Greek word translated "respond" by the NASB/NIV and "pay attention" in the ESV means:
"figuratively) to hold the mind (H3563 implied) towards, i.e. pay attention to, be cautious about, apply oneself to, adhere to: — (give) attend(-ance, -ance at, -ance to, unto), beware, be given to, give (take) heed (to unto); have regard." (Greek Strong’s)
The Greek word literally means "to hold the mind," which in our language and understanding today would mean "to pay close attention." The scripture is not teaching that the Lord caused Lydia to respond to the words spoken by the apostle Paul. Lydia’s response was by her own free will. Rather, the scripture is merely pointing out that Lydia, who was already a worshipper of God, was open to listening to Paul’s teaching about Jesus as the Messiah. She responds to Paul’s message by being baptized, along with all of her household (Acts 16:15).