Theology

What Are the “All Things” Philippians 4:13 Says We Can Do?

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Author Amy K. Hall Published on 06/20/2014

If you went to Sunday School as a child, chances are you heard, sang, and memorized-without-even-trying Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

But without a knowledge of the context of the verse, it’s also likely you interpreted that to mean, “The sky’s the limit to what I can accomplish when Jesus helps me!” and that’s not exactly what this verse is about. In the spirit of “Never Read a Bible Verse,” here’s the passage in question:

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

The secret of enduring all situations—good and bad—with contentment is “Christ who strengthens us.” David Mathis introduces John Piper’s short video (below) on the meaning of Philippians 4:13 this way:

[T]he apostle Paul claims, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11)—and says it again, “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” There is a secret for contentment not just in our greatest triumphs, but also in our deepest devastations.

What is “the secret”? Philippians 4:13 calls it “Christ who strengthens me.” Or, to put it in terms of Philippians 3:8, “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”