“And spake unto the women which resorted thither.” (verse 13) — Apparently there was no Jewish colony or synagogue in Philippi. Ten men was the necessary number to facilitate an official synagogue designation. This, however, was an unofficial meeting place of a group of Jewish women and a number of God-fearers outside the city by the river.
According to the most text, “where prayer was wont to be made” could more accurately be read, “where we supposed there was a place of prayer.”
The word for “a place of prayer” is used in Jewish writings as a synonym for “synagogue.” And the expression “we sat down” delineates the normal position of a Jewish instructor when addressing an audience (note Jesus on the mount in Matthew, chapter 5). (Wycliffe Bible Commentary)
The women who had regularly assembled would be pleased to see a seemingly prominent Jewish teacher among them willing to come and teach them. Faithfully, week after week, month after month, and even possibly year after year, they had met there, praying and reading the Scriptures, aware that no man came among them, and in their tiny women’s group looking off to God, they must often have prayed for male support. They knew that they were in a large world and were looked on as an irrelevance by all but God, but they kept on praying and believing. And now this man, the Apostle Paul, had come. And he had brought Jesus Christ among them, the One Who would never leave them or forsake them. That was why it would be different. (Pett)
“Things that are not” are things that are nothing. They are non-entities in the eyes of the world. The “things that are” are those things and individuals that the world values highly. Paul did not mean that God cannot or will not save the affluent, but the glory of the gospel is that God’s mercy extends to everyone, even the less fortunate. (Constable)
“According as it is written” — from Jeremiah 9:23-24. So then, as all good is of and from God, let him that has either wisdom, strength, riches, pardon, holiness, or any other blessing, whether temporal or spiritual, acknowledge that he has nothing but what he has received; and that, as he has cause of glorying (boasting or exultation) in being made a partaker of these benefits and mercies of his Creator and Redeemer, let him boast in God alone, by whom, through Christ Jesus, he has received the whole. (Adam Clarke)
Church Supply Pastor and Christian columnist, Dr. Wayne M. Williams, presently resides in Athens with his wife of 39 years, Lita. For additional study notes, see the Facebook page International Sunday School Lessons.