A commonly misinterpreted verse: Philippians 4:13

Hello visitors!  I hope you enjoy this post and come back regularly.  If you go to the main page you can subscribe via email in the upper right hand corner.  Also see another commonly misinterpreted verse, Jeremiah 29:11.

Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through him who strengthens me”) is one of the most misinterpreted verses in the Bible. I used to misuse it. I can’t remember the last time I heard it used correctly. It is one of the top 10 searched verses on biblestudytools.com, along with another frequently misused verse, Jeremiah 29:11.

We can’t ignore 2 Timothy 2:15 (Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.).  Getting Bible verses wrong isn’t a felony, but if we love God and our neighbors we’ll want to be careful with his word and humbly change our views once we realize we’ve been mistaken.

I enjoy the Pyromaniacs blog and agreed with the basic premise of Self-esteem, Possibility Thinking, and Philippians 4:13 .

That verse is not a manifesto for self-esteem and possibility thinking —although it is often used that way. People quote the verse as if it meant “With Jesus’ help you can achieve whatever dream you have for yourself.” That’s not the idea at all. Paul is speaking as a man who wants to do the will of God and knows he is too weak and sinful to do it, but he is laying hold of Christ’s power to do in him what he knows he cannot do on his own.

I agreed with the first part but not as much with the last part. Yes, people misuse the verse to mean that they can accomplish all sorts of things through Jesus. It is technically true that we could accomplish great things with Jesus, of course, but that isn’t what Philippians 4:13 means. The verse refers to Christ’s power doing something very specific in the believer, not some sort of general power.

I love using Phil 4:13 as an example of how to read in context. You don’t need to be a Greek scholar.  You don’t need to read the entire Bible, or all of Philippians, or chapter 4 or even a paragraph to get the real meaning. Just go back one verse!

Philippians 4:12-13 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Verse 13 is Paul’s secret for being content in all situations. That’s it. Do every thing through Jesus and you can be content in everything. It isn’t about what you accomplish, it is about how you do whatever you do.

For starters, remember that Paul wrote this letter from prison.  Having done prison ministry for years I assure you that if the believers there could do “all things” in the context most people us it, they would start by getting out of prison immediately.

I would never actually say this to someone because it would come across too snarky, but when people quote Philippians 4:13 I’m tempted to ask, “Really? You can do all things through Christ? Does that include reading scripture in context?”

Instead, I say something like, “Oh, yes, Paul’s secret for being content in all situations. I love that verse.” I usually get a slightly puzzled look in return, but I hope they re-read it themselves and see what I meant.

Some people may think they’ve lost something special when they realize they’ve misinterpreted the verse. But did they really think that Jesus was going to help them win every race, get every job, get A’s on every test, leap tall buildings, etc.?

This theme of contentment and being strengthened by Christ is found in other passages as well.

Being content sounds bland compared to our worldly desires, but what a phenomenal blessing the real interpretation of Philippians 4:13 is! How wonderful would it be to have contentment in every situation in life? That’s the true promise of scripture that we seek and rejoice in.

As often happens, the real meaning of the verse is better than what we wanted it to mean.

Also see Reading the Bible in Context for a very important lesson and other examples.

Advertisements

134 thoughts on “A commonly misinterpreted verse: Philippians 4:13”

  1. I just heard this verse for the first time today. I never went to church as a child, but now I go to a counseling session once a week and we discuss the Bible. I never read or understood the Bible until September 2013 when I started attending church. This verse spoke to me, as I was feeling content with mediocrity in life. Going to church and having faith got me to reassess my life and I am now studying to become an EMT (my life-long passion) and building a stronger relationship with my girlfriend. This verse brought a tear to my eye when I read it because of how it spoke out to me personally. I am highly considering having it engraved on a cross/ dog tag that my girlfriend gave me for Christmas. Is my interpretation of this verse wrong?

    Like

    1. Hi Justin — thanks for visiting and commenting! I’m nore sure if your interpretation is right or not. Please elaborate on what you think it means.

      I am glad you are following your passion and exploring your faith. I highly encourage you to read the Bible carefully and in context.

      Like

      1. Well taking the context of the verse before, it talks about struggle and being able to have faith in Jesus during those times of need. Also thanking Him during your times of abundance. And it is all tied together with 4:13, saying that you can do anything through Him, because he gives you the strength to persevere.
        Of course I just moved from where I was living before when I was going to church, and have yet to find a place where I can go where I feel comfortable.

        Like

  2. Obviously you know everything so my question will be short. If someone reads the bible and decides to turn their life around based on how they interpreted a certain verse what is the problem? I was under the assumption that’s what christianity was all about.

    Like

    1. Hi Nick,

      I was going to delete your comment because it didn’t appear to be very sincere or productive, then I realized how it answered your point. You used particular words to convey a message that was obviously sarcastic. Words mean things, as do the context in which they are written. It is the same with the Bible.

      God’s word is indeed powerful and can change lives even when used out of context. But as 2 Timothy 2:15 teaches us, we should strive to use them properly.

      If by “turn their life around” you mean to repent of your sins and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then yes, that would be what Christianity is all about.

      Like

  3. I really appreciate the fact that christians now can medidate on whichever verse they have read without assumption of its interpretation to real life through the Holy spirit.

    Like

  4. “Really? You can do all things through Christ? Does that include reading scripture in context?”

    HAHA! Oh man I’m going to have a hard time not saying that to those with this scripture on a poster, bumper sticker, etc. who are extreme conservative Republicans.

    Snarky yes, but brilliant none the less.

    I love it when I come across compelling evidence of the true intent and context Bible Scriptures, especially after learning howI grew up in church that was all about context and going back to the original language were wrong on so many. Nothing salvation related, but it was no different than the majority of Christian churches today that follow a common collective ideology on too many issues influencd by American culture, approved social norms, and worse of all – politics.
    So thanks for this post, I enjoyed it.

    Like

  5. I would like to thank you for this concise article which I have just come across as I was trying to encourage a friend going through a difficult period of exams. While my original intention was to encourage him with the idea that he can “do anything” (i.e. get through these exams!) through Christ, I have now realised that the encouragement and hope offered in these verses is so much more valuable than that, and have now shared that with many others as well. I really appreciate this article.

    Like

  6. U assume a lot. Your assuming everyone uses it out of context. even without knowing that was pauls way of being content no matter what doesnt mean i dont get the verse. because the spirit is in me i already knew what it meant as far as knowing it may be referring to obeying him for one. i knew it wasnt your dumb assumption.

    Like

    1. If you read the title carefully you’ll note that I said it was commonly misinterpreted, not universally misinterpreted. But I’m glad you understand it and can be content even though you didn’t like my post ;-).

      Like

      1. I know this is a bit ‘off-topic’ but what I find rather sad is how ungracious and rude some ‘Christians’ can appear to be. I am not sure that someone who has the Holy Spirit in them and is really following Jesus would talk like that to other Christians (i.e. using statements like ‘dumb assumption’). These are fellow believers who are on the same path, doing their best to understand, interpret and apply the same scriptures within the bounds of the same imperfect human understanding that we all have. Perhaps (I hope) it is just their command of the English language that is lacking?

        Responded to as usual with grace and humour by eMatters/Neil 🙂

        Neil K (UK)

        Like

      2. It just touched a nerve with me. Maybe because i already get judged by the way i look already. I get tired of ppl assuming i dont know christ just cause im not your typical nicey nice christian. i am a kind acting person when i see the need like someone thats bullied etc….

        Like

      3. I am also very sorry if I judged you (Ic_frosti) by the plain way you put things. The internet is great but it is far too easy too misinterpret things from a few written words. God knows our hearts and in the end that is the only thing that matters.

        Neil K (UK)

        Like

      4. Thanks for your welcome. I made bad choices a lot in the past, have some innappropriate tattoos, dress different but i gave my life to Jesus at 7 because he loved me & i loved him. I strayed big time but looking back he still was able to use me. There are many forms of worship thankfully.

        Like

      5. Thanks for sharing that. I met one of my best and most trusted friends when doing prison ministry. He is covered in tats, including his eyebrows, had a nearly shaved head at the time, missing lots of teeth, and a generally imposing figure. Yet in getting to know him he is one of the kindest, big-hearted servants you’ll find. He is truly redeemed and has very sound theology. He loves to read the old theologians. He now goes back into prisons to share his love and the Good News. A great lesson not to judge just on appearances. Yet many still judge him for how he looks and where he has been, and he rolls with it.

        My prayers for you:

        1. That more people would see beyond your mistakes, that just happen to be more visible than mistakes others have made, and see you for who you are: Someone bought with the blood of Christ.

        2. That God would use your appearance to reach others who might not be as comfortable opening up to a tat-free corporate guy like me.

        Blessings to you!

        Like

  7. YES that’s good. Makariosity, I call it (tongue in cheek only a little) being blessed regardless of material events, circumstances, ostensibly traumas. I got diagnosed with cancer a month or so ago, and it’s Christly Makariosity that’s given me the unbroken joy in it. This is also the idea of being more than conquerors : winning every prize, fight, race, job etc is something even the heathen seek after. We give these contests to Christ, because he overcame them for a reason. Remember “if you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat these 2 imposters just the same”.

    Like

    1. Thanks for visiting and commenting! Very sorry to hear about your cancer but so glad to know you have the joy of Christ through it. Prayed for your health and continued work for the kingdom.

      Like

  8. You did fairly well, but you left out some factors but now is not the time to give a thorough Bible study. Scripture can be used with other Scripture to complement and present a larger picture, so while you’re simply and technically correct, you gave no credit to the various Scriptures that promote the idea of “all things are possible to him who believes” with which one can add this verse and you commented how people do.

    Even the context suggests the all-inclusiveness of accomplishment no matter what the circumstances, which isn’t foreign to the idea of accomplishing a great thing.

    Therefore, in your honoring context, don’t “throw out the baby with the bath water.” Though the Scripture is rarely used contextually, it’s not wholly invalid to use it the way people use it. After all, the key factor is faith and if you haven’t seen people use Scriptures in faith but outside of context, you’ve not seen enough people operate in faith! It’s a treat to see someone misuse Scripture in their believing and watch God give them their request! It illustrates how good God is. I could give you numerous examples that I’ve seen.

    Think of a little child calling his mom’s, dad’s or sibling’s name. Though it is pronounced wrongly, he still gets credit! God doesn’t look for excuses to disqualify our faith, though others have, do and will continue. Faith is of God and is frequently less than perfect in any number of ways. But we have a gracious God!

    My real point in commenting was not that, though. It was that the word “through” is inaccurate. The Greek word there is “in” not “through.” So, what it really says is “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me” and notwithstanding the context, “all” still includes “all” so it’s not wrong for a Christian to say “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me” as self-encouragement in their attempt to accomplish something that is beyond them.

    Like

    1. Actually, although the word ‘en’ in the Greek is often translated ‘in’ it can also be translated as ‘with or ‘by’. Since here it is followed by words in the dative case these are indicating in this case the instrument/means/agency by which something is happening. I therefore think that the intended meaning here is probably ‘by’ rather than ‘in’ or ‘with’ and in that case the word ‘through’ is a quite reasonable and accurate English word to use.

      For what it’s worth, I think an accurate translation into English of this verse is:
      “I am able to do all through the one strengthening me.”

      Note that the later (but earlier compiled) manuscripts also add the word Christ on the end – i.e.”I am able to do all through the one strengthening me: Christ”

      God is above all concerned with our hearts and I certainly agree (as indicated by Rom 8:28) that He can and will use anything, even our own dodgy theology for good. It is still better to translate and understand the scriptures as accurately as possible (which of course means in context) so that we get the full truth and detail of what God is saying and avoid falling into erroneous ways of thinking.

      Like

      1. I appreciate your input regarding the dative case, but considering that the better rendering of Luke 1:37 is “For no word of God shall be void of power,” I think that had God meant “through” that He would have used “dia,” don’t you think?

        Add to that the fact that all that we are is by faith “in Christ” and one’s faith is encouraged and strengthened when one considers that John told us to “abide in Him” (1Jn 2:28) (I don’t think that translates nearly as well with “abide by Him”) and when one does a study of all the references in the NT of “in Him” and “in Christ,” etc., I think “I can do all things in Him…” stands up very well.

        Like

  9. Since editing isn’t possible, I’d like to add the emphasis that the Lord places on faith. While technical accuracy is always preferable to sloppiness and carelessness, God’s greater pleasure is always had and found when we are sensitive to where faith leads us. Seeing Him as our all sufficient One and our success as being found “in Him,” (Phil 3:9), the very concept of “abiding in Him” helps set and establish as a goal, to “be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”

    Seeing this very weighty verse as such a treasure, of through our faith, being able to handle successfully, whatever we encounter, my faith is helped by seeing myself “in Him” more than “through Him” or “by Him.” “In Him” does it for me! It encourages and strengthens my faith and gives be a better “image” than “through Him. I don’t see the prevalence of this “image” of “through Him” in Scripture as coming anywhere close to the dominance of the image of “in Him” we repeatedly see in His holy Word.

    Like

  10. I would like to start with saying I hope everyone is having a blessed day. The bible is made of holy messages that were created to guide us. I don’t like when people say the bible verses are being used wrong, because it’s all about faith in the Lord and doing his work through yourself. If the verse helps someone in bad situation or gives them hope when all else is lost then it is doing exactly what is written to do. Share the Lord’s message of love and to have faith in Christ our Lord. I know that everything good in my life came through God and that without him I would have nothing good in my life without him. He is my strength everyday. That’s my opinion. I’m only saying we shouldn’t judge others on how the Lord’s message helps them.

    Like

    1. Hi — thanks for your input. But I’m confused. Aren’t you judging me for how I interpret verses like 2 Timothy 2:15? “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

      I want to help people in bad situations and give them hope, but I want to use the right verses. I don’t want them to find out later that they didn’t rightly handle his word.

      Like

      1. I think you completely missed his point. I don’t think he was “judging you” at all .He was emphasizing something that you didn’t acknowledge (but should)–the importance of faith. As I’ve already emphasized, both are of major importance but a see-saw doesn’t work with a 40 lb. child on one side and a 260 lb. guy on the other. This is where “rightly dividing” comes into play. As I have emphasized, there is a dearth of understanding the place of faith in everything we do. In each of our lives, there should be things where we’re “sitting on ready” to act but we’re “waiting on the Lord” which is another way of saying that we have enough knowledge of the ways of God to know that we should not proceed until our faith says “go.”

        What I’ve found so many don’t understand is the point I made about Romans 14:23b. We make too many decisions “off the top of our head” without engaging our faith. When people say “pray about it,” this is simply another way of communicating this dynamic of making all of our life one of faith in everything we do. When we operate by faith, WE ARE IN THE WILL OF GOD. I perceive the critic who says, “that’s what’s wrong with you fruitcakes–you ignore God and emphasize faith all the time!” Such criticism is worse than stupid; it’s contentious and ignorant. If “faith is of God,” which it is, because it’s the only way we have of pleasing God, then the person who is operating in faith is more attentive to the Lord’s voice, His Spirit and His will than the person who is not walking in faith. It’s not “make sure you don’t forget God while you’re doing all this stuff “in faith.”

        That is about as close as one can get to ABSURD. FAITH IS OF GOD! One can forget God in his work, in his imagination, in he recreation, in EVERYTHING IN HIS LIFE, EVEN IN CHURCH! But one cannot forget God and walk in faith because FAITH IS OF GOD, as the Scripture so VERY CLEARLY SAYS: Jesus is the AUTHOR of our faith! (Heb 12:2) So many DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS! They wrongly and falsely accuse people who tout faith as greedy, grubbing, selfish people who are “using God” to get what they want. Now, of course, anyone is capable of being selfish in any given situation, but the person who IS ACTUALLY WALKING BY FAITH IS SUBMITTING TO THE WILL OF GOD! This is not understood. Jesus is the “author and finisher of our faith.” We CANNOT do anything in faith without the approval of God. This too is NOT UNDERSTOOD by far too many. I’ll say it another way: Faith IS guidance! Now, anyone who doesn’t agree with that, is not just a spiritual babe in the area of faith; they don’t understand faith AT ALL. Faith is the basis of our relationship with God. EVERYTHING we do should be done in Faith. We hear God by faith and we’re heard by faith. Again, “Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith” and “without faith, it is IMPOSSIBLE to please Him!

        I can hear the critic again, this time quoting from the love chapter. But you’re not listening. Note what Paul said about faith there. He NEVER addressed WALKING IN FAITH. He only addressed SINGULAR ACTS of faith. There’s a big difference. Refusing to walk in love will significantly hinder walking in faith. Note that I’m NOT talking about the gift of faith because the gifts are without repentance and one can operate in the gift of faith and not walk in love and get judged by God for refusing to repent.

        I’ve only been talking about operating in one’s personal faith that is developed in the process of maturing as a Believing one. Operating in faith addresses or covers every detail and aspect of one’s life from one perspective, yet not from another. This is where Christians get confused by mixing paradigms (like mixing metaphors). A man wears many hats, Businessman, father, husband, son. While one disposition is required in one paradigm such as exercising authority as a businessman, that man wouldn’t go before his father and behave with the same demeanor. Everyone understands this in life but many lose it in applying different perspectives to different Scriptures. Here is where the critic cries “Contradiction!” and the novice or naive Believer is confused.

        We can be walking in faith in one minute and suddenly remember some responsibility we need to address and we’re now in fear because we have some issue there we’ve not dealt with equitably and we’re unsure how to handle it. That’s the time to engage faith before the Lord and say, “Help me, Lord; I don’t know what to do about this, but I’m trusting your to show me,” and cast our care on the Lord for He cares for us.

        Faith, being OF GOD, isn’t a magic wand. There is no power in the word “faith.” It’s not a magic talisman. It’s a way of functioning that pleases God but it’s not the whole of our life. Now abides faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is love. Interestingly, with very few exceptions, the critics who slap people about not walking in love aren’t walking in love in their criticism. I didn’t say that criticism is a lack of love; I said the critics are almost never walking in love. They usually have an ungodly offense “stuck in their craw.”

        To hear the Lord give us revelation on a doctrine (or Scripture passage) TAKES FAITH. Yet, once the doctrine is understood, it might not take any faith at all to parrot it, discuss it, argue about it, defend it and/or slap someone with it! Yet, the Lord wants is to do EVERYTHING IN FAITH. Am I correct about that? If I am, then why is it that it’s very, very rarely ever an aspect of any discussion? And I am correct, for Rom 14:23b unequivocally says, “…whatever is not of faith is sin.” Therefore, it’s not enough to hammer the truth of a doctrine, even our discussion NEEDS TO BE DONE IN FAITH! Why? Because we NEED HIM in the midst of everything we endeavor and SELF-confidence is not a good substitute to “walking in the Spirit” which is so closely associated to “walking by faith” they could almost be called synonyms. Almost. But, as we see in Job, “Does not the ear test words as the palate tastes food?”

        Apologies for being so wordy, but having seen the plethora of arguments that satan has, through unbelief, put in people’s minds, it requires detail to help some people see the errors with which many have tried to brainwash the Church. That the Church is brainwashed is evident in the enormous numbers of Christians who choose butchers and drug pushers (“doctors”), REFUSING to recognize the stark truth that the Scripture reveals that the doctors completely devoured the wealth of the woman with the issue of blood YET SHE WAS WORSE 12 YEARS LATER and notice that it was her faith that healed her, not the Lord! This too IS NOT PREACHED!

        These people neglect the name the Lord give Himself of YHWH-Rapha “YHWH-Your Doctor” (and this was to the Jews WITH A LESSER COVENANT!!!!!!) who refuse to recognize, accept and believe that “Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases (Matt 8:17) and that “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” (1Pet 2:24)

        Those Scriptures are too clear to misunderstand. They’re rejected because of UNBELIEF, which is SIN.

        Again, “When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Knowing Greek tense and/or literal rendering is no replacement or substitute for BELIEVING WHAT IS WRITTEN. In other words, all our exegesis is offensive to God if we walk in unbelief. Remember what Jesus said in John 13:17? “If you know these things you are blessed IF YOU DO THEM.” It’s NOT enough to know the truth. Genuine faith obeys BY FAITH.

        Like

      2. I think you completely missed his point. I don’t think he was “judging you” at all .He was emphasizing something that you didn’t acknowledge (but should)–the importance of faith.

        Ugh. You are both doing the same thing, nit-picking and hypocritically, passive aggressively judging. Not every blog post has to cover every topic. Of course faith is important. But you only understand that by reading verses properly!

        I stopped reading halfway through your post. Please stay on the topic of the post. Thanks.

        Like

      3. “I want to help people in bad situations and give them hope, but I want to use the right verses. I don’t want them to find out later that they didn’t rightly handle his word.”

        Interestingly, I chose to respond to what I have quoted above BEFORE I read your response to me because I realized that I had wandered from the point that I wanted to make to you, so I will address this and then your response.

        What I had intended but failed to do was contrast your point with the emphasis I made earlier to point out priorities and understanding the position and place of the faith of the one to whom we’re ministering. For example, I was pretty strong at the end of my last post about believing God AS OUR PHYSICIAN! Yet, if I was talking to someone very weak in the faith, who had a malady that worried her, I would speak the same truth but I wouldn’t SLAP her with it as bluntly as I put the previous message, because we don’t want to overwhelm people beyond what they’re capable of receiving but this is a blog where anyone can walk away and stop reading without feeling that they’re being rude (walking away and ignoring), so I have more liberty to speak candidly here in generalities than I would if I knew someone’s frame of reference. Love would dictate that I speak in ways they can receive.

        Now, the problem I have with your above point is that you don’t seem to understand the place of individual faith. Notice the word “seem.” I’m not accusing you of anything, just saying that your words struck me in such a way that is appears that you think your grasp of a Scripture’s meaning is the end-all of how that verse can be used and what comes to my mind is that you’re imposing your understanding and failing to see other relevant issues.

        Now, you have to hear that the way I mean it. I mean it to help you see beyond your perspective; I’m NOT TRYING to suggest that you’re stupid or wrong in your understanding, but surely, you’ve seen a situation where, in hindsight, you think, “Wow, I never even thought of that. It would have been so much better to add such and such.”

        I’m also suggesting that someone else, who is uniquely designed by God, can see things differently EVEN TO THE POINT that you might not be able to understand how that person arrives at their conclusion!

        Have you ever notice someone “ministering” to another and you could tell they were completely botching it? We’re all learning and we all started from complete ignorance and we only need to look around and see that some are far more perceptive than others and some are so thick almost everyone marvels and most want to stay away from them.

        Consider that for a moment. Some people would be adamant. “I’m telling you that you’re wrong. This verse means such and such and you can’t interpret it any other way!” Now, that might be a legitimate position (depending on the specifics); Since it’s a hypothetical, we cannot judge it, because I assume you have heard and/or understand the complete lack of wisdom involved when we try to deal with hypotheticals in absolute ways. We run into error easily and quickly. Real life has meaningful extenuating circumstances and this is why critics (atheists mostly) love giving absurd hypotheticals to novice believers to give themselves mocking fodder.

        You see faith and hope are tangible spiritual realities yet we often refer to such things as “intangibles” because we can’t touch them, but the spiritual man CAN PERCEIVE by the Spirit, the wisdom to give a person in a given situation.

        Let me say it this way. One could take two seemingly identical situations using the same Scripture(s), yet the Lord would lead the counsel to one person in one way and in a completely different way to another. As jes and I pointed out (and I’m putting a slightly different slant on it here) we must perceive where a person’s faith is when we minister to them in order to give them the right counsel.

        Let me demonstrate. I was just a few feet away from a couple of women at church years ago and one of them said to me, “Would you agree with us in prayer?” Now, let’s assume it was the friend of the requester, who said, “She wants the Lord to do such and such for her.” Now, I perceived by the Spirit that she was asking BEYOND HER FAITH! Not far, but she was just adding together what he wanted and wanted agreement based on Matt 18:19. Now, that’s a sure way to fail. So, perceiving by the Spirit, I knew where my faith was and what I could believe and told them both frankly, “Well, I can’t believe for that, but how about…,” and I described where my faith was, in alignment with her desires. They both perked up and eagerly agreed and we prayed in faith and I’m sure the lady got her request and their joy of recognition that they were praying in faith was demonstrably evident.

        So it is with others. Technical accuracy HAS ITS PLACE and that’s what I didn’t want to seem to undermine in my previous remarks but SENSITIVITY TO THE HOLY GHOST, or “perceiving where your faith is” (another way to describe it) is the key to getting things accomplished in the Spirit in ministering to others.

        I want to say that again. Learning how to flow in the Spirit (moving in faith) is the key to getting specific answers to prayer when ministering to others and the effective minister is also demonstrating this to the astute learner. It almost goes without saying that one needs to be baptized in the Holy Ghost to be able to walk with this much sensitivity to the Lord’s Spirit. People who aren’t baptized in the Spirit do not even know why the Bible says they should be. 1Cor 2:12 says Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God.

        Now, if you’re one who doesn’t understand that the Scriptures clearly teach that the new birth and the baptism in the Holy Spirit are separated by water baptism… well, I’ll go ahead and give you those Scriptures here now. Acts 2:38-39, 8:12-18, 19:2-6. The OT pattern is addressed in 1Cor 10:1-4 (but vs.5 is a good Scripture to read to be reminded of the importance of fearing God)

        Consider Ps 12:6 “The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.”

        Now, my reason for giving you that verse is that past meditation on it suggests to me, not only that His words are perfect, but it also suggests to me that continual meditation will reveal new insights. Now, not knowing you, I don’t know if you’re seen verses one way and then one day you saw something entirely different. Sometimes this means rejecting to old perspective which was carnal reasoning but OFTEN we’re just seeing greater wisdom from God and new applications of the same verse.

        Do you see my point? We want to drive home to someone what a verse means and ten years from now, we might laugh at ourselves for our very limited understanding. Now, couple that with the importance of perceiving where someone’s faith is and wisdom might dictate our taking the person to a DIFFERENT Scripture to use for what they’re desiring.

        So, succinctly, “what the verse means” might well be the least important issue in a given encounter, but then again, maybe not. It depends on the details and that insight may come only from the Spirit of God.

        I hope that helps.

        “I agree, unless you are accusing me of lording it over people – because, of course, that’s what you would be doing right now.”

        The idea of your “lording it over people” never entered my mind. As I said in this post at the beginning, I wandered from my point to you to cover the things related to my points that I’ve seen over the decades that people struggle over, largely because unbelieving preachers put such garbage in people’s minds. Just as there are tares in the pew, there are tares in the pulpits.

        Unfortunately, these preachers have respect from far too many, for anyone who undermines others’ faith is doing the devil’s work for him.

        I hope I proofread well enough!

        Like

      4. “Now, the problem I have with your above point is that you don’t seem to understand the place of individual faith”

        Again, stopped reading halfway through. We just “met” but you seem to be the kind of person who has a pet issue and works that into every conversation.

        This post was remarkably simple: Lots of people misinterpret this verse, but just going back half a verse clears things up. It is Paul’s secret of being content in any situation! I’m not sure where you get off with these extended criticisms about not understanding faith. Verses mean many things but you don’t get an individualized message.

        Like

      5. “I’m not sure where you get off with these extended criticisms about not understanding faith”

        That’s because you don’t want to. You’re hardheaded and hardhearted. I should meditate on Matt 7:6 more often.

        Like

    2. Your point about faith was the very point I was trying to make. I’ve heard people use Scripture CLEARLY and obviously out of context, but the Scripture says, “be it unto you according to your faith” not “be it unto you according to the strictest understanding of the text. Many don’t consider or perhaps they forget that the grace of God extends to people mentally handicapped who have trouble reading. How much more trouble would they have studying the grammar rules of the original languages and if they’re struggling at that point, how are they going to do with the societal idioms of which they’re ignorant.

      Indeed, the Word of God IS TRUTH and we must “rightly divide” it yet, we should never lose sight that we’re not to “lord it over” other people’s faith and we need to remember that in our exegesis.

      Like

      1. I agree, unless you are accusing me of lording it over people – because, of course, that’s what you would be doing right now.

        I never said it was a felony if you got it wrong. I conceded that I’ve had it wrong myself. My point is that we should seek to get it right. Not sure why that is so difficult for people to understand.

        Like

  11. I also love the ‘in Him’ and ‘in Christ’ scriptures. I absolutely agree that every word is important (which is why I am currently trying to improve my understanding of NT Greek!) so the problem I have with using ‘in Him’ here is that the original does not use the word ‘Him’. Literally it says ‘…in/with/by the [One] strengthening/empowering me [Christ]’. This differs from almost every other (80+) ‘in Him’ scriptures that I could find which all actually do use the word ‘Him’ (i.e. ‘autos’ in the masculine). The only other possibly similar use is in 1 John 5:20. You can also see that of the 50 English translations available on BibleGateway, only a handful use ‘in Him’ in this verse. It is probably justified to add the word ‘One’ or ‘Him’ to the verse (since the gender here is masculine) but I do think my original point stands. This is not really an example of an ‘in Him’ scripture and is better translated by the word ‘through’ (meaning ‘with the help/aid of’) as used in a much greater number of the available English translations. I do apologise in advance if this is all considered a bit too detailed for this forum!

    Like

    1. Several points: First, you’re obviously not using the KJV manuscript (which is okay–but it does say “Christos”). Yet, that is, I think, a very minor point because it’s clearly understood that the Lord’s grace enables us to handle every situation.

      What seems odd about your remark is that you revert back to your previous focus on “through” vs. “in” on the basis of it not saying “Him.” I don’t understand that logic.

      The last point is your not acknowledging the point made by at least two of us (I didn’t read the entire thread, so I don’t know it the emphasis was ever made previously.

      Why this is SO IMPORTANT was emphasized in my previous post to jas but it bears repeating, just as an emphasis of proper exegesis bears repeating because it’s extremely important that though jas and I strongly emphasized that God has been emphatic that “without faith it is impossible to please Him, but anyone who has been a serious student of His Word should know and understand that every error we make is directly attributable to our not believing what His Word says! So many don’t understand that and I don’t want anyone to get the false impression that my emphasis on our faith means we should not esteem our accurate understanding of the Word of God to be paramount in our faith, for the favor and blessing of God comes BECAUSE WE BELIEVE HIS WORD and I’m absolutely certain that “picking and choosing” is a sure way to live our lives wondering why God doesn’t do more for us.

      Now, I feel like I need to explain what I mean by “picking and choosing.” I find “Christians” (including both the real and the phony and everything in between, [which I hope doesn’t make anyone stumble]), which includes all of us, do as Peter said and “wrest” the Word is every place where the Scriptures conflict with “our” doctrine. Far too many “believe” what they “believe,” not because they believe the Spirit of God gave them wisdom, understand and/or revelation on a given subject, but because “that’s what we believe.” Not enough people understand that God did not authorize any denomination to tell us what the Word of God means and that our doctrine needs to be “of the heart,” that is, we need, each one of us, to establish what we believe by Spirit of God and most people simply don’t know the Spirit of God well enough to do that!

      40 years ago, a very noteworthy thing became apparent to me. I saw that each denomination seemed to have A doctrine which seemed to be more in line with Scripture and seemed to be a strength. I saw this is every major denomination that I examined and I felt compelled to attribute it to the grace of God. Now, meditation on that fact reveals some very interesting thingsl, which I won’t go into other than to point out one.

      This phenomenon gives me an image of God sitting on His Throne laughing and saying, “Ya’ll play nicely together.”

      Now, I imagine many won’t appreciate that and I won’t go any further but, being God, He COULD HAVE eliminated the disagreements over doctrine if He wanted to, so there is clearly something within and behind this perpetual conflict that the Church is missing.

      Back to the faith issue. One of the greatest errors of the part of the Church that doesn’t speak in tongues is their lack of understanding of faith. Almost to the man, I see them putting off on God the decision of everything they receive from Him and a careful and attentive examination of the subject reveals that’s completely ludicrous! I can’t count the people who say silly things like “well, that’s up to God; if He wants me to have “that” He can “give” it to me, TOTALLY DISREGARDING the numerous clear teachings on faith. The first one that came to my mind was the two blind men who cried out for mercy and Jesus didn’t address the will of God. In fact NEVER did Jesus do that when someone asked for healing. He only addressed the Father’s will when they wanted position and authority. Why is that? Because healing is in the atonement and it’s up to us to believe the Bible!.

      In fact, note Jesus’ response: “Do you believe I am able to do this? To which they said “Yes.” But then notice His response. He touched their eyes and said, not “According to the Father’s good pleasure,” but “Be it unto you according to your faith!”

      Now, take the Baptist Church, the Bible Churches, the Methodists and the Presbyterians. You’ll be looking for a very long time to find ONE pastor from any of those churches who’ll preach that passage and emphasize the truth of what it says IS APPLICABLE TODAY IN A CHRISTIAN’S LIFE! They just won’t do it! Unbelief in the American churches IS THE RULE OF THUMB when God says so clearly that “without faith it is impossible to please Him” and even said, “When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

      Like

  12. It was amazing and interesting to read you through, from the top to the bottom commentaries. What a great enlightenment! Thank you so much, dear people of God from every corner of the world. Various views are held on Phil. 4:13. I personally think that it is a wondreful advance in Christian life, to interrogate our faith. Enriching adventure! Well, permit me now to give you my opinion, not as one holding the truth, of course no! Only to He who strengthens us belongs the truth. Many of you have said it, I think we read the Word of God in context. Paul was a prisoner at the moment he wrote the Letter, and remember in the previous verses, he wholeheartedly thank everyone for having contributed in his joy though in prison. That is contentment! Taking the verse in context requires what I may call here reading with the paraverses. Once we disconnect from the paraverses, we fall into any kind of analyses. We are call upon to put Christ at the centre of our life, for with Him, even in face of troubles and confusions, we find hope, joy, fullfilment. What matters here according to me, is not what we achieve, but how we achieve it. For anything that is seemingly achieved out of Christ is not Christian worth. I thank you all, and receive the abundant blessings of He who strengthens us in all troubles.

    Like

  13. I believe Paul was referring to Philippians 4:4-7 when he said he had discovered the secret to contentment. What could be a better definition of contentment than, “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”? Here he basically saying the same thing he said in 1 Thess 5:16-18, be joyful always, pray continually and be thankful in every situation. These three things will result in the peace of God in your life. They are the path to contentment. It’s really no secret anymore.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s