Opinion

Parson to Parson

All things through Christ

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13, ESV

I can td all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13, NIV

A favorite verse for underdogs wanting to win the big game is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ!”

A surefire tip for reading the Bible is to read any verse within its context.

What is the context for Philippians? Paul is writing a letter to the church at Philippi thanking them for partnering with him in his missionary endeavors (Philippians 1:5).

Explicitly in Philippians 4:10-18 Paul says that he is addressing the Philippians’ concern for him, namely the matter of giving and receiving financial gifts for his missionary work.

Paul declares that he has learned to be content regardless of whether he has much or little. Namely, Paul can do all things through him, Christ, who strengthens me.

Hence, Paul’s specific context is not winning the big game, or passing the test, although we may want to expand the contemporary application.

Nevertheless, we should be careful to get at a text’s meaning first, and that starts with the literary context of the verse under consideration.

Interestingly, the NIV (New International Version) clarifies that the “all” does not mean anything as if we can turn the verse into a proof text for sports, or academics, or personal wealth.

Rather the “all” clarifies the “this” specific context of financial contentedness whether there is an abundance of funds and food, or whether the funds and food are limited.

Not a bad reminder because most of us go through lean times and better financial times. Importantly, problems are not always a result of too little money. Sometimes folks get into difficulties with too much money.

Learning contentment through those times when the budget is in the red, and learning contentment when the budget is in the black is worth it.

What is the source of that contentment? Christ is. Jesus Christ is the one who gives us strength to get through those tough financial times and when we are flush with finances.