I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. – Philippians 4:13
Meaning of Philippians 4:13
Philippians 4:13 is one of the most used verses as a reminder to gather one’s strength in difficult times. The verse means depending on God’s strength even if you have others willing to help you. Apostle Paul used this verse to explain how he overcame all the highs and lows of his life and used ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me’ for comfort as well as strength. The verse can also mean to convey courage and have a positive thought in every situation of your life. He or she can derive the needed strength from their faith to achieve any goal in life, such as education, career, or even physically daunting tasks.
Interpretations of Philippians 4:13
The verse, Philippians 4:13, is one of the most quoted Bible verses from the New Testament. Most of the time, the churches emphasize memorizing this verse to make the speaker increase their confidence.
Interpretation #1 You can be content
One of the lesser known interpretations of ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me’ is to be satisfied in all circumstances. Some believe that Apostle Paul is asking the reader to be content through Jesus Christ. It could mean that when he or she is doing everything as guided by God, it is more than enough to draw strength when things are going bad. The verse does not imply that your problems and hardships will disappear but that you will find yourself content through it all because Jesus Christ gives you that contentment.
Interpretation #2 You don’t need to worry about circumstances
Throughout the Bible, there are plenty of incidents that might seem impossible but happened only when God intervened. In this interpretation, a few people also believe that they do not have to worry about anything and even do anything in times of difficulty. Thus ‘through Christ’ is assumed that God will take care of their needs, and they just have to believe in Him. While it is not the most accurate version, it is taken as a verse for comfort as well.
Interpretation #3. Humans are generally weak, and God offers strength
In this interpretation, the reader believes that human strength always fails because they are inherently weak. Humans are also believed to be fearful of circumstances, other people, physical tiredness, mental fragility, etc. This is when, instead of giving up, Apostle Paul reminds the reader that it is important to look up to God for help. Human strength is bound to fall short when we set out to achieve something big or something powerful on our own. This interpretation doesn’t discourage people to be courageous but allows them to experience their fear. This version also sounds antagonistic and hostile, and some believe it is unwelcoming. On the positive side, it encourages the reader to always maintain a strong relationship with the divine and to draw his or her strength from the power of Christ.
Interpretation #4 Humans are capable of doing the hardest task
One of the most used interpretations of this verse is usually the first part. ‘I can do all things through Christ’ and doesn’t place an impact on the second part of the verse, ‘who gives me strength’. It means the reader is believed to that just by being a Christian, he or she usually gains all the strength, knowledge, and wisdom. Many readers understand that being confident is the key. Hence they usually use this part of the verse as a constant reminder, like speaking positivity when they are less sure of their own strength and may also find themselves overconfident and try to avoid taking any help. Such persons might also be preferred to be isolated and be without any personal or professional relationships.
Interpretation #5 Work hard and be confident in God
In this interpretation, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me’ means learning to put all the efforts as a human. Through this version, Apostle Paul teaches his readers to learn how to fight, work hard and survive with both bare minimum means and live in prosperity. He or she must, however, also learn to believe in Christ and draw strength through faith in God while not giving up on hope. He or She must continue their life as usual, which is important to make it through hardships and lacks in life. To simplify, believe in God but without being overconfident, continue to put all your efforts into building your life and career.
Historical Background of Philippians 4:13
The book of Philippians was written by the Apostle Paul and is part of The New Testament. This book is known as a letter to the Philippians. He had written this letter to the believers of a church in the city of Phipp, addressing it to the deacons and bishops. Philippi was a city in Macedonia at that time. Paul had gone to preach the gospel in Philippi when he had a vision of a man asking him to go to Macedonia and help the people out there. To come to the point of writing Philippians 4:13, Paul had to preach the gospel regardless of the challenges he met. He had experienced a wide range of situations and had to hold on to his faith in the Lord Jesus to overcome all of them.
Literary Devices in Philippians 4:13
Philippians 4:13 is a verse taken for an epistle, or a letter addressed to the regular people who were new to the Christian religion. Though it sounds like a simple statement, you can find literary devices in them too.
Hyperbole – I can do all things is clearly an exaggeration because if the reader does not pay attention to the entire verse, they may become overconfident and believe that he or she is capable of doing the hardest task on their own.
Biblical Chiasm – As there are two ideas in one sentence, it can also be considered as Biblical Chiasm. One is ‘I can do all things’, and the second is ‘through Christ who strengtheneth me’.