Tag Archive for 'Philippians 4:13'

Philippians 4:13-What Is Everything or All Things?

This is a Repost from 2008 (if you’d like to see the comments), except a comic from Adam4d has been added here that a friend tipped me off to, and an addendum. Also, this post was written when the TNIV was the update of the NIV which they released in 2005, before they changed it back to NIV in 2011. (If that’s confusing, there’s basically an original NIV from 1978 and it has been updated, with the TNIV rendering the same as the [more] updated NIV.)

Comic - Philippians 4:13

Click on the comic to go to his site.

Philippians 4:13 NASB
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13 NIV [’78]
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13 TNIV/NIV [2011]
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

I really like the TNIV rendering. Can you imagine if the TNIV was the standard rendering throughout the years how this wouldn’t be constantly taken out of context (shown below) and/or misinterpreted? Even if it is a little bit interpretive.

Philippians 4:11-13 TNIV
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

I’m not only learning the importance of context [and still am] but also that the word all or everything isn’t always “an amount or quantity from which nothing is left out or held back” even in English:

Everything
1.
a. All things or all of a group of things.
b. All relevant matters: told each other everything.
2. The most important fact or consideration: In business, timing is everything.
American Heritage Dictionary

Addendum:
This has implications for a lot of Bible interpretation.

Two books based on Philippians 4:11 are The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment and The Art of Contentment, both written by Puritans. I’ve read both and they’re excellent. The latter is shorter, but I prefer the former.

Christian Sayings: I Can Do Everything

But, isn’t “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” in the Bible? Yes, that would be Philippians 4:13. However, many people make it into a motto that means something other than what the Bible means. What’s so bad about that?

Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is.

–A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

God doesn’t make us into superheroes, being able to do everything. The main problem here is that it’s taken out of context and given a meaning that people want it to mean. Scholar Gordon Fee said that the worst thing to happen to the Bible are verse numbers, which weren’t added until many hundreds of years after the canon of Scripture was established.

How can someone have the audacity (great sound editing program by the way) to say that they know what a verse really means? Reading the context often tells us and this is something that I’m still learning I need to do. The NIV translation, as quoted above and by Christians all over the English speaking world, has changed the wording in its updated version, which is quoted below. You can see how this helps to understand that its referring to the previous verses.

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:10-13 NIV

Most agree that this is about not being self-sufficient, but relying on Christ or enabled by him. But instead of doing everything I want to do, it’s about being content in every situation God has us in. I’m guilty of having had verse 13 memorized without the preceding context. I’ve since fixed that. Now quote verse 13 as it is above by itself. It begs you to read what’s before it. Some might say that they over-interpreted this verse, but I like the change.

A secular parallel might be parents who tell their kids (or Oprah or Joel Osteen their audience) that they can do anything they set their minds to. That’s not for this blog, other than I would say, “Really? Have you thought about that carefully for just one minute?” (See 1 Corinthians 12:4, 1 Corinthians 12:29-30, and the whole chapter for a spiritual perspective, as one example. This idea would be logical in a secular sense too.)

As an aside, we see athletes use this verse all the time. Part of the reason they can use it incorrectly is because they’ve been successful and can say that yes, it’s true, we can do everything through God’s strength. What about the 99% of people who tried to become a professional athlete and failed? My aside however, is that people often accuse football quarterback Tim Tebow of misusing this verse, simply because he had it on his ‘eye black’ once in college. But I saw two different interviews with him where he correctly, as far as I understand it, explained what this verse means. You can argue as to whether or not it’s appropriate to put the reference by itself on your face for the cameras to see, but we shouldn’t assume that just because someone is a young athlete and quotes it, that they don’t know what this verse is referring to. I write this because I saw it on a Christian blog. Not being the NFL quarterback that he thought he would be at this time, he’s probably benefiting from knowing what it does mean.

I realize it’s not all black and white, right or wrong. Some people use this verse as a way of acknowledging that it’s God who has enabled them to do some things they never thought they could do. Even if they aren’t looking at the whole passage, their perspective is honoring God. I recently saw this in a video of a young, humble, selfless, obedient missionary, and obviously God wouldn’t be at all displeased with them because of a very minor issue with Scripture–nor should we.

In this series, I would like to offer alternate Scripture where appropriate. I won’t be able to go into that Scripture very much. Much of the time, that could be a separate blog post, or even a book, written by someone else. I may link to other posts if I’ve written about them before (or most likely, quoted somebody smarter than me).

Alternate Scripture (all NIV):

The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
Psalm 28:7

Take delight in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

Our desires need to be changed into what God’s will is.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.
1 Timothy 1:12

A particular prayer from a particular person, but the Lord does strengthen us all and chooses good things ahead of time for each of us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

I write the posts in this series with fear and trembling because I know that I’m not perfect, although I’ve yet to make a mistake as far as I know. I hope to pass on things that I’ve learned, and learn more by putting together the posts and hopefully reading any comments. Some may think it’s nitpicking, but I believe that how we handle Scripture and the Lord’s name is extremely important.

(That was a joke about not yet making a mistake. I hate smilies.)

P.S. – most regular readers of this blog, all 13 of you, will already be familiar with many of the things that will be written in this series. I try to add some extra things that might be less widely known. Although you may be surprised at some things that will come up. And I apologize to people like my wife who hate sports and don’t know the difference between a quarterback and an eighthback.

Words with a dotted underline are hoverable on computers or tapable on mobile devices. Like eye black.

Also see:
Christian Sayings – Ongoing Series | Scripture Zealot blog

Tim Tebow Gets Philippians 4:13 Right

I’ve often written how people, often athletes, use Philippians 4:13 as their motto and quote it out of context. Tim Tebow, quarterback for the University of Florida Gators says:

A lot of people know Philippians 4:13 — ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ — but a lot of people don’t interpret that verse the right way, Tebow says. Most people think it means I can do anything … on the football field, or I can make a lot of money. But that’s not exactly what it’s talking about there. It’s [saying] I can be content with anything. When you’re a Christian, you can [be content] because God has put you where you are. That’s really a different view…. I know that I have Christ in me, so I can do whatever He wants me to do, and that’s how I approach everything.

Tim Tebow: (Super)Man of Faith at Baptist Press Sports

Tim Tebow

Philippians 4:13 TNIV

Philippians 4:13 NASB
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13 NIV
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13 TNIV
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

I really like the TNIV rendering. Can you imagine if the TNIV was the standard rendering throughout the years how this wouldn’t be constantly taken out of context (shown below) and/or misinterpreted?

Philippians 4:11-13 TNIV
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

I’m not only learning the importance of context but also that the word all or everything isn’t always “an amount or quantity from which nothing is left out or held back” even in English:

Everything
1.
a. All things or all of a group of things.
b. All relevant matters: told each other everything.
2. The most important fact or consideration: In business, timing is everything.
American Heritage Dictionary

1 Timothy 6:17 and the “Rich”

1 Timothy 6:17-19
Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. 18 Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the age to come, so that they may take hold of life that is real.

I wonder how many times I’ve glossed over this passage. After all, I’m not rich, am I?

According to some statistics I’ve seen, people who earn the median income in the USA are in the top 6% of income earners in the world. If I’m lower middle class I could still be considered rich.

In the last few years there have been times when I have felt poor when income has gone down, health problems have come up and car and cat repairs multiplied along with inflation. At the same time, I have been realizing my spiritual poverty more and more (Matthew 5:3). Although I can’t say I’ve been truly poor materially, I’ve felt like it and I wish everyone in this country could have a taste of what that feels like because it helps to develop a humble perspective and dependence on God (with always much room for improvement).

That said, aside from any caveats we could try to build from the income statistics, and not knowing exactly what constituted a rich person in Ephesus at the time (comments?), many of us reading this blog in the Western world are rich materially. This really stuck out to me the other day while reading this passage. It is indeed easy “to be arrogant or to set [our] hope on the uncertainty of wealth”. My surroundings and narrow worldview can deceive me into thinking I’m not rich.

Those of us who are rich, even if we are lower middle class, need to realize it and heed the warnings given in this passage.

We can of course thank God “who richly provides us with all things to enjoy” with what he has blessed us with materially as long as we are following the instruction “to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share, storing up for [ourselves] a good foundation for the age to come, so that [we] may take hold of life that is real” realizing this is a gift from Him and that we are godly in acting similarly.

God, he [Paul] says, richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment (cf. 1 Timothy 4:3-4; see also Ecclesiastes 5:19-20). Enjoyment, however, does not mean self-indulgent living (1 Timothy 5:6). The reason everything may be enjoyed lies in the recognition that everything, including one’s wealth, is a gift, the expression of God’s gracious generosity.

Gordon Fee, 1-2 Timothy, Titus

In the seemingly upside down world of the Kingdom of God, we are blessed when we are poor in spirit and we lay up treasure (true riches) for ourselves by giving away.

How great it is to be blessed when we are spiritually poor and to be strengthened to be content whatever our temporal circumstances.

Philippians 4:11-13
I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.