We have a practice of quoting God’s promises during our time of need and in this process quote a few hearsay verses to fulfill our heart’s desires. Using such verses without understanding their context jeopardizes the meaning intended to be conveyed by its author. If this practice is repeated in due course of time, it might end up distorting the little faith into unanswered doubts.
Today we will discuss on the most misquoted verses
I can do all things through him who gives me strength.Philippians 4:13
When we lack strength to achieve our goal, using the above statement of Paul, is a mockery of his testimony. ‘All things‘ referred by Paul and ‘all things‘ referred by most believers mean the opposite. If we trace the routes of how this transition happened, we can understand how some words of Paul have been notionally replaced.
When Paul meant ‘all things‘, Christians understood it as ‘anything‘ and when Paul expressed his experiences ‘through Christ‘, Christians thought this to mean we can achieve all things not through the lessons taught by Christ, but by using His name. Many believe that they can do all the things they want, as they are with Jesus.
The disciples chosen by Jesus Christ were with Him all the time. Yet, they were unable to cast away demons when the father of a possessed boy approached them.
I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.Matthew 17:16
The disciples were always with Jesus, yet they were unable to feed the crowd. They were traveling with Jesus, yet were unable to calm the storm. Above all, they were right next to Jesus listening to Him explaining what will happen to Him and the redemption plan of God, yet they were unable to grasp any of it.
Luke in his book, ‘Acts of the Apostles’, introduced Saul from out of nowhere, as a daring character, exposing Saul’s wickedness against the disciples of Jesus Christ. Saul’s past mission was portrayed in volumes in Luke’s single statement, ‘Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples‘. Luke tried his best to quickly show us the encounter of Saul with Jesus and he concentrated only on Saul’s spiritual conversion.
Though the letter to Philippians was written while Paul was under house arrest, but throughout his lifetime, Paul spent a significant amount of time in prison. Imprisonment during the Roman regime was beyond our imagination. The cells were dark with no ventilation, the environment was unhygienic but one has to get accustomed to live in such a condition.
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.Philippians 4:12
The spiritual transformation in Paul’s life had a direct effect on his personal, official, social and material life. The visible authority that he carried in letter and spirit, was converted into the inscriptions of his Savior’s scars and the financial backing was substituted with his ever growing faith in Jesus.
Acts 18:3 gives us an account of how Paul earned his livelihood by making tents. Paul did not want to put any financial burden of his evangelical work on others shoulders. But when he was in prison, he requested financial support for two deserving women named Euodia and Syntyche.
The letter to the Philippians was not a reminder to donate continually but to encourage the believers, because they had given financial support and other aid to Paul while he was in prison (Philippians 4:15).
Paul was not boasting by saying ‘I can do all things’, rather, encouraged his fellow believers to become like him in ministering the word with utter humility that he gained through Christ.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.Philippians 3:7-9
Paul wrote that in all the above things, Jesus Christ strengthened Him. Paul encouraged us that we too can do all these things through Jesus Christ. The below given statement of Paul will give us a clear understanding of Paul’s context of using the phrase ‘All things’.
To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.1 Corinthians 9:22-23
Peter, James and John were able to manifest the healing power of Jesus when they did not have the physical presence of Jesus with them. They were able to do that through Christ because they understood that the material blessings were not going to help the lame walk.
Above all, Peter was confident about the truth that Jesus was dwelling in him, as his life was dissolved with Jesus.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”Acts 3:6
We might think that we are with Jesus but the question is, how much we are able to serve Him? Serving our Lord Jesus Christ is possible only when we learn humility through His teachings. We have to dissolve our lives in the life of Jesus.
The creator of this world is taking care of the birds and the bees who neither toil nor recite Philippians 4:13 but still looks after all their needs. We have to become all things for the sake of Gospel rather than expecting to do all things according to our own needs.