A commonly misinterpreted verse: Philippians 4:13

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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.

132 thoughts on “A commonly misinterpreted verse: Philippians 4:13

  1. Excellent rendering of the text. We’ve completely twisted his intention. If he meant what we’ve subscribed to, every sproting event would end in a tie. Thanks and God bless.

    • I rarely hear anyone use it in the wrong context… of course I’m in Australia… the more common misinterpretation is ‘turning the other cheek’ interpreted as ‘let them abuse you’… instead of let them be measured by others for their actions (it’s true interpretation.)

  2. Reminds me of a child holding his fathers hand saying ‘we can do anything, right dad!” It may lack humility, but in a strangely familiar way, makes me want to take hold of the hand that I, as a child, so willingly and innocently clung to.

  3. That verse is pretty much the basis of the false preacher’s theology. I’ve heard these “name and claim it” preachers say things like “If you have faith, you can speak to your wallet and it will be filled with money”. It goes along with Psalms 37:4, “Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

    Since God knows our own hearts better than we do ourselves, I believe that means He will give you what your heart desires, which is not necessarily the same thing our brains desire.

    • God HAS provided money when it was needed you should read the book The Cross And The Switchblade to see how God provided money for David Wilkerson when he most needed it.The charlatons and false preachers who infest American Tv is not provided wealth by God but by His adversary..you know who.. and quite a few have been sent to prison for their fraud.

  4. I tell my high school youth group boys, “Do you think you need strength to get an A on a test? C’mon. Non-Christians get As on tests everyday. You need Jesus for a lot more than an A.”

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  6. Id be interested to know how you would interpret Christs teaching on the Sermon On The Mount….or His if you have faith is as grain of mustard seed parable.There have been those who have done things for God beyond their wildest imaginations because of their FAITH.Do we limit God’s power through His Holy Spirit in what a man or woman can do if they have such faith.To actually believe that 2000 years ago a tortured man who was crucified on a Roman cross was actually the Son Of God takes incredible faith especially in this so-called enlightened world of scientific thinking.And the many thousands who have died because of their belief in such a God…The verse “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” means just that.. the emphasis is THROUGH HIM …I can..through Him…who strengthens me.Its all because of Christ and the faith we have in Him that a man or woman can do such things…where exactly is the problem here?

    • The verse “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” means just that.. the emphasis is THROUGH HIM

      Hi Frankie — I agree that God can do amazing miracles. The question, though, is, “What does Phil 4:13 mean?” If you took that verse out of the Bible would that mean God couldn’t do miracles?

      My point from the post is simple: Phil 4:13 means what it means in context of the surrounding verses. And the previous verse sets up what it means, by noting that Paul has a secret of being content. And the secret is to do everything through Jesus.

      • One thing (amongst many) that I love about God is that He can bring revelation and insight about His Word in various ways. Also, He can speak to all of us differently through the same verse; it’s just contingent upon what He wants the reader to take from the verse at the time that they are spending with Him through it. While I absolutely love the revelation you received from Phil 4:13, I would say be mindful that the revelation the Holy Spirit gave you about the verse and in reading it in context is NOT the finite, absolute only meaning of the verse.

      • W.B. Amen. Well said Victoria. Although I somewhat do agree with his exegesis of the passage; I totally agree with a warrant that God still deals with His children individually and each one has his/her own personal level of understanding. Jesus wept, but how? Did He cry physical, visible tears? Did His heart cry out? As we know, He did cry-literally. Howbeit, we wasn’t there, so have to take God at His word. One scripture can cover multitudes of different areas. What we all must learn is to let the bible interpret itself and then shall it be well with our soul and spirit.

  7. The problem is when we use the verse as a back up or a cloke to hide our egoistic man centred pursuits, made to appear like they are automatically backed, sanctioned or rubber stamped by God..!

    • Sorry…a couple years late but not everyone uses this verse as a “back up or a cloke.” This is my favorite verse and I KNOW that ALL THINGS I do should be THROUGH CHRIST. His will is his will not mine, but I know that if I do all things THROUGH HIM….I am all good.

    • Totally agree frontline…people often do use that verse to fuel their own selfish ambition but disguise it in the name of jesus which is pretty dangerous.

    • Yes, Malachi 3:10 is in my lesson of frequently taken out of context verses (as if pastors read the rest of Malachi and apply it to their congregations in today’s terms).

  8. I’ve struggled with that one for a couple of years. It seems my bewilderment was caused by a lack of context for the verse. I suspect I have many compromised interpretations of Scripture from taking the Word out of context.

  9. This interpretation (unfortunately) makes a lot more sense. Perhaps preachers could continue giving their common explanation with an asterisk. “With God’s help, you can do anything you want, granted that it’s God’s will.”

  10. I mean technically even the new meaning can refer to what people usually use the verse to mean… It is God that gives us strength, and helps us to feel content with what we have. Based on this we are able to accomplish things such as avoiding temptations and believing in false ideas because we are simply content with what God has given us

  11. I personally wouldn’t use ” content”. I believe it to be more of an acceptance thing. You should never be content, always strive for better but accept or embrace your circumstances knowing that, in most cases, you have the power to change them, depending on what you’re willing to do. I hope that makes sense.

    • In Philippians 4:11-12, St. Paul writes: “I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.”

      Quaker William Penn observed: “Seek not to be rich, but happy. Riches lie in bags, happiness in contentment.”

      I like being content knowing all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

  12. With all due respect you sound too critical of the strength and hope this verse provides to those that may need it. I don’t think true followers believe ALL things for example moving a fountain with your mind, etc. Rather, at least for me, if you put your faith in God, He will be with you to see you through if it be His will. You said you don’t want to sound “snarky” so you say something else to people. That sounds two-faced and is that how you want to appear in the eyes of the Lord? Thinking one thing and saying another?How can we bring people to.the Lord when we mock them like this?

    • FYI “fountain” I meant mountain. Let’s have more faith in God’s children being able to read and interpret the Word of God for He is the only perfect One. You came off sounding condescending and think your interpretation is the only correct one.

      • Let’s have more faith in God’s children being able to read and interpret the Word of God for He is the only perfect One.

        I don’t follow . . . all you’ve done is explain why you think I can’t read and interpret it.

        You came off sounding condescending and think your interpretation is the only correct one.

        You seem to be the judgmental one here. I offered very specific reasons for my views. Hey, I could be wrong, but instead of just being critical you could actually point to the text. When I note that Paul says he’ll reveal his “secret of being content” and then the next verse lists the “secret,” why am I wrong in noting that the “do all things” is tied to being content?

    • With all due respect you sound too critical of the strength and hope this verse provides to those that may need it.

      Huh? Did you read to the end where I said, “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.”

      That sounds hopeful to me!

      You said you don’t want to sound “snarky” so you say something else to people. That sounds two-faced and is that how you want to appear in the eyes of the Lord? Thinking one thing and saying another?How can we bring people to.the Lord when we mock them like this?

      You sure have a critical spirit. I guess I could have put a smiley face by that joke but those seem trite. I work hard not to mock people and give them a dignified out when they have misinterpreted something. And you call that two-faced and mocking? Wow.

  13. Excellent article. If you look at the latest NIV (2011) version you will see that this is exactly how they have now translated it (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=phil%204:13&version=NIV) – i.e. “I can do all this through him who strengthens me” which is an improvement on the previous NIV translation which was “I can do everything through him who strengthens me”. It was when I read this new translation on the version I downloaded to my smartphone that I realised how I and many others had been quoting/taking this verse out of context for years!

  14. I’ve done a lot of praying and thinking on this verse of the bible before reading this and I’ve known it was always misinterpreted. I still think my interpretation is slightly different. I think you could also read it “I can do all things which strengtheneth me through Christ”. You can’t do all things, but only the things that strengthen you according to God’s will.

  15. I want to re-comment. The King James Version says “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” It does not say “who strengthens me” so it is not Christ actually giving the strength in this verse. He is only allowing you to do anything which strengthens you through him. Strength comes from FAITH in Christ as in Matthew 17:20. It is FAITH that moves mountains.

      • Here is a discussion between my brother and I on the subject. As you can see, he agrees with you; and I don’t totally disagree.

        Chris Carpenter: But I would suggest that Paul is saying that the actual act of doing things through Christ or for His Glory gives him strength. So whatever works Paul is doing makes him content, whether starving or being persecuted, because Christ gives him strength whenever he is acting according to His will and for His glory.

        Grant Carpenter: That is a different interpretation and I am not saying it’s wrong, but it implies that the verse reads Christ who strengthens me and the KJV does not read that way. Good discussion though.

        Grant Carpenter: Quite possibly both interpretations have some truth in them. God is a wise One.

        Chris Carpenter: I get what you are saying…just that Paul acquired strength (spiritual) through performing Gods will. So in essence his faith was strengthened through seeing Gods will at work in his life regardless of circumstance.

        Grant Carpenter: I can buy that.

  16. When I was a child I was completely turned off the bible by over zealous religious family members. However in later life have found myself reading and meditating upon the meaning of the scriptures.with the help of interpretive aids and spirtuallly enlightened friends and family. I would like to give thanks for your analysis which I found to be gracious, insightful and uplifting. I totally agree that when we act through Jesus we may not attain all of our external wants and desires but what we do achieve is a real sense of divine purpose, inner peace and contentment. What more can we want in life?? Jah bless.

  17. When ever I see that verse, I immediately ask, “So, if I can do all things through Christ who stengthens me, does that mean if I pray to Yahweh, will I be able to jump over my house?” Then, they just kinda look at me in a why that shows they are trying to come up with a response, but they can’t think of one.

  18. Dear brother/ sister. Jesus loves you and so do I. But you have missed the relevance of that verse” I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”- in that passage.

    Verse 13 could be left out, and that would not do any harm to his discourse, absolutely.

    But we as readers would be poorer in revelation as to how he could say such things as in verse 12. Now, we know that verse 12 is so because there is an overarching principle- which is verse 13.

    To paraphrase one could add between verse 12 and verse 13- “…,why? Because…”

    thank you

  19. yes you could jump over your house. But you probable won’t be able to, because you don’t believe the ALL. You believe a SOME, which is not in the bible. The devil pulled the same trick on Eve- twist what God says. And it worked, spectacularly.

    • Hi — thanks for visiting and commenting.

      If I could jump over the house then that would be because of some other truth. But it is not what v. 13 means.

      Please feel free to send a link to a video of you jumping over your house, since you believe the “ALL.” I am eager to publish it here.

  20. i think you are so negative. and it is a shame that you Feel the need to criticize rather than teach or help a new believer broaden their bible knowledge. The verse means the same thing regardless. Because as faithful believers we are learning to surrender to God and the true meaning comes with time. No one is that ignorant to think winning races is what the bible means.

    • Hi,

      Couldn’t I say the same thing to you, that you are being negative and feel the need to criticize rather than teach?

      The verse does not mean the same thing. Many people are so ignorant to think it is about accomplishing anything.

      I encourage people to obey 2 Tim. 2:15.

  21. WOW…Nice to hear someone speak truth and or what God has revealed to YOU. Just like when Jesus asked Peter, “Who do YOU say that I am?; and Peter answered, You are the Christ!”. This was something that was revealed to Peter; whereas others had to be convinced, shown etc.

    I am sure that I have and do use this scripture out of context. It is easy for me to misconstrue God’s word in wishful fleshly, thinking. How I (in my flesh) wish that I could deceive myself into interpreting God’s word to fit my own desires? And at times I am guilty as charged. But Thank God for the Spirit of Truth that resides within that knows Truth when it is spoken, and agrees with it.

    It is my experience that God has opened up His word (or shown me Himself through His word) when I was at a humble, broken enough place to receive it. I would encourage you to not feel the need to defend yourself against criticism or others misinterpretation of what you shared. Your revelation (understanding) from the Lord need not be defended for it is yours; and those who do not agree or have their own interpretation, be it wrong, right, indifferent, is theirs….The Lord gives illumination. Like Paul and Apollos, neither one was responsible for the growth of what was planted and watered. It is ok to just be the seed dropper. It is also good to always look for the lesson or what God is trying to tell you/us through others; however indifferent it may be or come across.

    I apologize for my long windedness but when it comes out it just does, you know? I enjoy your writing and its inspiration. I enjoy the reading. Keep up the good work in all sincerity and humility as unto the Lord.

    Amen

      • So…I have been looking up info on this verse because I am getting it tattooed on my arm tomorrow (I know…some say this is wrong, but it is better than the gang tattoos I already have). As a fairly new Christian, I am shocked at what I am reading throughout this whole thread. It is sad to see fellow Christians, trying to outdo each other and proving thier “knowledge of scripture,” especially in regards to something that, to me, seems very simple. NO!!!!!…God is not going to help you jump over a house, gain super human powers, control the universe, win the lottery….ummmm….OH!!!!!!….WAIT A MINUTE!!!!….I think there are many examples in the Bible when God did exactly that! Peter walked on water, Samson killed thousands of men with a Donkey’s jaw bone, Moses parted the Red Sea, God gifted Solomon with wealth, Joshua stopped the sun and the moon…..so on and so on and so on and so on and son….NOW….Once again…I am new to my faith and am not even close to being as knowledgeable about the Bible as those that have commented previously but I refuse to believe that there is anything that I CAN’T do…THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME!!! If it is not his will…I would not have received the STRENGTH from him. Just sayin :) … I am sure I will get torn apart by people that now their Bible way better than I do but I think that is the problem. Let God speak to individuals through the Gospel as HE sees fit and not based on your interpretation. Stop tearing each other’s views and opinions down. That is exaclty what the enemy wants us to do. I might be a little out of my league but sometimes a uninfluence opinion is what may be need. BTW…Thank you Nichole…I really enjoyed your post.

      • Hi Russell,

        Thanks for visiting and commenting. I’m not sure I follow your thought process, though. You seem to be doing exactly what you accuse others of. Please re-read your comments and consider that. For example, you said:

        Stop tearing each other’s views and opinions down.

        But isn’t that what you are doing?

        The post was simply an analysis of what this verse means, in context. Of course we know Jesus could have us accomplish all sorts of things. The question is whether that is what Philippians 4:13 means. Using your logic, I could quote John 11:35 (“Jesus wept”) and then say it means that we can accomplish anything Jesus wants us to. So even if the latter was true, it obviously isn’t because of what that verse says. Same thing with Phil 4:13.

  22. i really thank GOD for the revelation of the word,sometimes we often get the message loud and clear when told by other man and women of GOD.I believe the LORD has spoken to us through you because we people tend to rely on our own understanding and thinkings just to please our fleshly desires.i thank you and continue inspiring us.be blessed.AMEN!

  23. Such interesting dialogue here over the past year and a half. Frankly, I’m grateful this verse has caused me to think about the different meanings it evokes and for me, I revel in the fact
    that through God I find both strength and contentment. Amen.

  24. Oh goodness, I’m very late to this debate, but it’s fascinating. I love Philippians 4:13 and my interpretation of it is that my faith will help me through whatever life flings at me. I see it as a rejection of the ego, in the sense that you relinquish all the petty ambitions and annoyances and go forward in a life that tries to recognise Christ at its centre.
    I’m Catholic and I don’t accept that God punishes people in the sense that He lets/makes bad things happen to them. For me it’s the other way round: when bad things happen, we turn to God, who knows our pain and grief because His only Son died on the Cross.

    • Thank you Victoria. I agree. Being able to do all things through Christ, in my opinion, means that living in Christ, you can take anything life has to dish out. Honestly, I have made a couple comments on this topic and somewhat stand by what I have said but I think that living your life for Christ, prepares you for whatever life has to throw at you. New to my Faith…just thinking out loah :)

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  26. So, what do I think? I think where to make Gods “word” the truth and every man a lair. Yes that means you sweet Brother or Sister in Christ. I think you all should burn your devil catholic bibles and get the “scriptures” that the Holy Spirit authorized in English. No need for Greek or Hebrew. God only wrote one book. And it was translated and preserved perfectly in English as the “Authorized” King James Bible. How do I know. Its proven over and over to be without error and contradiction. it is the infallible, inerrant, perfect written words of the living God. Every word of it. Go ahead and see if you can prove otherwise. You can’t. No one ever has or ever will. What I pray for you my brethren that are stuck in an apostate modern fundamental church of today who will not endure sound doctrine (2 Tim 4:3) to please reveal to me what you believe when you read 2 Tim 3:16 in light of 2 Tim 3:15 and let me know if you are a “Bible believer”. Please someone respond on their belief in lite of those “scriptures”. You probably wont. Sad. We all need to come in together in one mind and be transformed according to his “word”. How can you do that when your not even reading from it. I can prove it in a secular court of law that most Christians on this topic lie. Jesus said if you love him you will keep his words. Anyone who can read can. Get the scriptures and let his spirit transform you and let His righteousness (not yours) His righteousness be revealed through you. I welcome to be corrected by my brothers in Christ according to Gods word but please don’t even attempt if you don’t have it or believe it. Sad that most Christians are stuck in today’s Laodicean type church and don’t feel the same. God bless. Even so, come Lord Jesus.

  27. WOW!!!! SOME OF YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES. IS THIS TYPE OF NONESENSE/BICKERING IS REALLY GOING TO BRING NON BELIVERS TO CHRIST????

  28. Sorry…this is a re post. I didnt realize that I was not at the bottom of the forum when I posted this.
    So…I have been looking up info on this verse because I am getting it tattooed on my arm tomorrow (I know…some say this is wrong, but it is better than the gang tattoos I already have). As a fairly new Christian, I am shocked at what I am reading throughout this whole thread. It is sad to see fellow Christians, trying to outdo each other and proving thier “knowledge of scripture,” especially in regards to something that, to me, seems very simple. NO!!!!!…God is not going to help you jump over a house, gain super human powers, control the universe, win the lottery….ummmm….OH!!!!!!….WAIT A MINUTE!!!!….I think there are many examples in the Bible when God did exactly that! Peter walked on water, Samson killed thousands of men with a Donkey’s jaw bone, Moses parted the Red Sea, God gifted Solomon with wealth, Joshua stopped the sun and the moon…..so on and so on and so on and so on and son….NOW….Once again…I am new to my faith and am not even close to being as knowledgeable about the Bible as those that have commented previously but I refuse to believe that there is anything that I CAN’T do…THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME!!! If it is not his will…I would not have received the STRENGTH from him. Just sayin … I am sure I will get torn apart by people that now their Bible way better than I do but I think that is the problem. Let God speak to individuals through the Gospel as HE sees fit and not based on your interpretation. Stop tearing each other’s views and opinions down. That is exaclty what the enemy wants us to do. I might be a little out of my league but sometimes a uninfluence opinion is what may be need. BTW…Thank you Nichole…I really enjoyed your post.

    • Well, I say “Amen!” to that, brother! :) Well stated. Awesome to hear about the newly gained faith. May it grow stronger everyday!

  29. “As often happens, the real meaning of the verse is better than what we wanted it to mean.”
    And it keeps getting better as we grow and learn from our Heavenly Father who is our Strength in Jesus and our Truth through the Holy Spirit.
    While reading through the posts, it was hard to tell at times if a response was about the article’s information or from a previous post. It seemed as some differences in opinion were more of a communication stumbling block. The dates are important context in following the conversation threads. Many times I think the order is top to bottom with no variation but then I go back and reread to see that Oooops it wasn’t that way and then I understand a different way.
    My point is not for or against the interpretations shared for the verses of the Bible but a reminder that as we try to communicate with each other our interpretations can be misunderstood through the process.
    Many times I think much deeper than needs to be and I enjoyed hearing/reading other viewpoints. I’m so glad that God is constantly helping us to understand more about His Word each day :) I love the ways He guides and helps us through the different insights! These posts are pretty amazing that they started back in 2011 and are still stirring us to search for more understanding to this day. WOW think about the Bible and its existence in our lives.
    I look forward to reading more thoughts from a variety of believers and reading from the Bible for the Holy Spirit’s Guidance! (Special Note- Russell~ Keep up the faith, there will be so many ups and downs in this world, I felt a connection when I read your thoughts)
    Thank you Neil eMatters for this opportunity of sharing with each other!
    In Jesus Name

  30. I have been following this thread with interest and have posted on it before. I agree with the original premise that this verse is frequently taken out of context and misinterpreted to mean something like ‘I can do ANYTHING I WANT TO, through Christ…’.
    I smiled at the post suggesting that interpreting it like this effectively means we could jump over our house if we felt like it! However this morning I was brought up short while reading Psalm 18 where I noticed that according to v29 that we really might be able to do that – ‘For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall.’ (NKJV) !! :-)

  31. I think Jesus performed many miracles simply through the power of faith of those that believed. i.e. the unclean, bleeding woman who only had to touch the seam of Christ’s robe. Nobody else even considered her being healed- but she believed through Christ “all things are possible” and she could be healed.Jesus only needed to sense her faith and she was healed. Just my take. I love to observe the realities of Christ through His works. God is glorified by sick people getting well, but He is also glorified when sick people die well. Be Blessed.

  32. I wanted to offer you some new light related to this verse. Nothing you said is false, but there’s a crucial sister verse to this that makes this verse much richer in meaning.

    Phil. 4:13 I am able to do all things in Him who empowers me.
    cf.
    John 15:5b … Apart from Me you can do nothing.

    Paul’s utterance in Phil. closely resembles the Lord’s utterance in John. Of course Paul is offering the corollary. You asked the question, “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.?” Great point. Now turn that question to John 15:5. When Jesus says, “You can do nothing,” is He saying that without Himself we can’t tie our shoes? Comb our hair? Go to work? Many people do many thing apart from Christ. How is it that Jesus said we can do nothing?

    The answer is: it’s not that we can do nothing, but rather everything we do without Christ is considered nothing. The flip side is: if we are in Christ (Phil. 4:13) then everything we do is… Everything. :) This is why Paul talked about being “found in Christ” (Phil. 3:9 – a very very rewarding nugget of enjoyment awaits the student who examines the Greek word “found” in that verse). We need to live and dwell in Christ all the time. If we are in Him who empowers us, then EVERYTHING we does considered everything and profitable in the eyes of God. Even mundane things like tying your shoes. On the flip side, everything we do outside of Christ is nothing. Even going to church or being a good person. It is all refuse without Christ.

  33. Hi all Philippians 4:13 comes with a condition it is not for everyone its only for a truly born again BELIEVER who has an intimate relationship with Jesus through his word and has the mind of Christ.
    God will not violate His word, and the simplicity of His word.is the reason we missed the point.
    If we think we master the word of God we deceive ourselves
    Isaiah 66
    This is what the LORD says: heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.
    where is the house you will build for me/ where will my resting place be?
    Has not my hand made all these things,and so it came into being? declares the LORD
    this is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word
    THAT IS THE CONDITION
    IT IS NOT HOW MUCH WE THINK WE KNOW
    BUT IT IS HOW MUCH WE LOVE AND HONOR GOD IN EVERYTHING
    LET HIS WILL BE DONE AND ALL THINGS WILL BE POSSIBLE FOR US
    AND THAT IS THE SECRET THAT PAUL IS TALKING ABOUT IN THESE VERSES

    BLESSINGS
    Napz

  34. I find my source of strength to get through hard times when I would otherwise be tempted to fall into despair is through Him. I find my source of strength to wisely handle myself in good times when I would otherwise be tempted to be lazy or wasteful is through Him.

  35. I was going to use this verse to help me battle my alcohol addiction, but after reading this blog I’m a little unsure . Are you telling me that i shouldn’t lean on God to strengthen me during hard times? What exactly is the point of this article?Because it’s scaring me away from leaning on the Lord to see me through my addiction.

    • Hi Angel — the point of this article was about reading the Bible properly. Of course God can help you with your addiction. As the full passage notes, by living through Christ you can be content in any situation, good or bad, so you don’t need to rely on alcohol. Also remember Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

      Just keep reading all of the Bible and praying to God.

  36. I’m making scripture bookmarks for my GA (Girls In Action) girls and am using this verse as our first verse we will memorize this year. It seems after reading numerous opinions that were posted that a mountain has been made out of a mole hill. I’ve enjoyed reading all of them but it just seems like we are missing the point. What this verse does for you personally, what it does to your heart and how it makes you feel safe, loved and empowered by His Holy Spirit. Loving this verse and using it to calm a weary heart or shore up our faith when we feel overwhelmed by this crazy world. Using it as a memory verse for a beautiful group of little girls from 1st grade thru 7th and explaining to them that when they feel that something is too hard for them or they are not smart enough or brave enough to deal with something life is throwing at them that they CAN do it! Not that they will automatically succeed at whatever the task or obstacle BUT that Jesus Christ has their backs and they will ALWAYS be able to count on Him. To rely on Christ’s strength and undying love. Which will lead them to always remember to put Him first in their lifes. Don’t even try to do something without asking God for guidance, wisdom and strength to do it. I’m not deterred at all in my choice for my girls. Tomorrow we boldly make our first Bible verse and bookmark and it will be Philippians 4:13. Thank you for listening . Peace and blessings to ALL.

  37. Perfect, im teaching sunday school today but left home my copy of “the most misused verses in the bible” by bargerhuff
    I knew this verse was out of context but not what it meant IN context
    Thanks for picking up the slack!

    Maybe next time ill man up and pickup a bible b4 googling….

  38. This text was preached in our church this morning. Long before, I too am very cautious not to misuse this passage, as compared with lots of prosperity gospel teachers that we hear today, this is one of their favorite quotes. I will not be surprised if you see this printed on a banner at UFC fight night haha :). Anyway, I’m glad that my pastor nailed the context of contentment and emphasized it deeply.

    On the balance, I don’t want to be extreme. So my question as a christian is this..
    If we cannot quote this verse for gaining personal general goals like finding jobs after a lay off or other very basic essential earthly human needs, Is it wrong then to rely on God’s strength or trust in His grace or even involve Him in our temporal needs and small details of our life? Are we on our own when it comes to basic needs for survival, say like finding a job after a lay off?

    • Hi — thanks for visiting and commenting! I’m very glad to hear that your preacher got it right.

      Good question about relying on God. We should absolutely do that, but we would use other verses to support that truth. He is our all in all, so yes, we should rely on him for big things and small and good times and bad.

  39. Pingback: Awana and one of the first Bible verses people should learn | Eternity Matters

  40. I’m pretty sure it says “all things”. How can that be misconstrued. If you are not doing Gods will or do not have Christ in your life, then the verse will not mean a thing to you to begin with. Those with wisdom know the limitations.

  41. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” speaks for itself. I think most people understand the it’s “through Christ.” It is unnecessarily intellectual to add the question “really?” to the end. It serves no meaningful purpose. I also believe that “with God all things are impossible.”

    • Hi Carl,

      I’m not sure what you mean when you say it speaks for itself. The context is that we can be content in every circumstance if we do everything through Christ. That’s what the words say.

      Re. all things being possible with God, what is the context of that verse? It is about salvation, not about getting an A on the test that you didn’t study enough for or for getting a promotion or whatever.

  42. It is not surprising so many of us get this wrong by the way it is translated. I would suggest a better translation would be ‘I can do it all through Christ who empowers me’

  43. Neil, haven’t posted for a long time. I hope you and your constituents are doing well. Thanks so much for blogging and interpreting this quote with such amazing accuracy. King Jesus is our awesome ruler and has blessed us with unique gifts and we must remember that we are as good as dust without him! It’s also important to remember that we have the free will to delude ourselves and think we have superpowers to walk on water or ride a stork through the air when of course only Jesus can do this!

  44. If I may ask a question, I also very much agree with this, I was praying, and the Holy Spirit revealed that to me and also lead me here :) But how would be able to prove that this meaning right, as opposed to popular way of seeing this verse

  45. 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?

    • 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.

      • 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.

  46. 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.

    • 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.

  47. 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.

  48. “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.

  49. 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.

  50. 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.

    • 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 ;-).

      • 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)

      • Ok well ill agree with you there. I guess the title doez explain it. still ya not my fav post :-/

      • 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….

      • I’m really sorry to hear that you get judged for your appearances. Good for you for standing up to bullies. Hope you stick around here.

      • 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)

      • 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.

      • 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!

  51. 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”.

    • 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.

  52. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  53. 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.

  54. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

      • “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!

      • “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.

      • “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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  55. 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!

    • 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?”

So, what do you think?

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