I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
You see this verse EVERYWHERE. Athletes recite it before games, pastors encourage their congregations with it, and Christian bookstores plaster it on mugs and t-shirts.
Yet despite its popularity, the Philippians 4:13 meaning is often misused. We might say it regularly, but few people actually know what it means.
As a pastor for the past 12+ years I regularly hear people proclaim, “I can do all things through Christ.” And what they often mean is that they can fulfill any desire they’ve set their mind to.
For many this famous verse is simply distilled to a personal motivation to get through something difficult.
But that totally misses the point that Paul had in mind when he wrote this verse. It misses the depth and beauty of what it is actually communicating.
So, what does Philippians 4:13 mean? We are going to dive into that in this blog post and see how it practically applies to our everyday lives. Let’s start by looking at the context it was written in.
The Context Of Philippians 4:13
When we are trying to understand what a passage of scripture means it’s important to look at the context. Without the context we can miss the depth and beauty of scripture and sometimes misinterpret it altogether.
The book of Philippians was a letter written by the Apostle Paul to a church in the city of Philippi. In Chapter 4 Paul is wrapping up his letter and sharing his final thoughts. In many ways he ends his letter with a similar message that he began with. If you were to go back and read Philippians 1, you would see these same concepts.
Paul ends by telling his readers that their circumstances don’t have to dictate their happiness. He’s saying that he has learned to be content regardless of if his life is going well or terrible. Whether he’s hungry or well-fed. Free or in prison. Has much or nothing. He’s content not based on his circumstances, but rather on a person: Jesus.
In his letter Paul is trying to get across to this church, and us today, that you can have peace, joy, and be content regardless of your circumstances. If you have Jesus and nothing else, you have more than enough.
Paul’s not just saying this, he’s living it. He wrote these words from Rome while sitting under house arrest. He’s in a bad spot, and he can’t rely on his own strength.
While imprisoned, no freedom, likely hungry, and on his way to death, Paul writes these words: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
The Philippians 4:13 Meaning
As we dive into the Philippians 4:13 meaning it’s important that we don’t loose sight of the context of these words. This verse is not hype for the big game or motivation to conquer. Rather the context shows us it is encouragement in almost certain defeat because in our weakness God is strong.
Now, I’m not trying to say that God can’t help us win the game, pass the test, get the job, find healing, etc… He can. But this verse isn’t a promise that he will do exactly what we want. It’s something more.
God never promises all our earthly problems will be fixed or taken away. It doesn’t matter how much you pray, believe, or quote the Bible. Bad things will still happen. You’ll lose the game. You’ll flunk the test. Your spouse will leave you. Your kids will hate you. The job will fall through. You won’t have enough money. You’ll go hungry. Life will happen.
This verse isn’t a promise that things will go your way. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. It’s hope in the midst of your struggles and trials. And I think that’s a reminder we need. It’s powerful, and it can change your life and faith.
So, with the context in mind let’s jump into the meaning of Philippians 4:13 and see what it can teach us.
I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me Meaning
So, what does Philippians 4:13 mean?
Really this verse is the answer to the question Paul asked in the verse prior. In Philippians 4:12 Pauls writes, “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.”
What’s the secret? “I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens me.
Paul’s contentment did not come through an inner determination or power of positive thinking. It was Jesus Christ who gave him strength. And Paul knew that if he had Jesus and nothing else then he had enough.
The Bible consistently tells us that in this life we will have storms, we will face trials, we will go through difficulties. Jesus promises us this in John 15:18.
I hate to be the barrier of bad news, but you will face storms. Maybe you are currently in a storm. Life will not always go how you want.
And that’s where the promise of Philippians 4:13 shines through. Though we will face hardships, we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. We can have peace, joy, and be content even on our darkest days.
Paul is living proof of this. He was beaten, whipped, shipwrecked, jailed, and eventually killed for his beliefs. He didn’t always have a easy life, but he constantly writes about how he is full of joy, at peace, and content. How? Because he has Jesus.
The same can be true for you. You can find peace, you can experience joy, and you can be content regardless of how much or how little you have. IF you have Christ.
3 Practical Ways You Can Do All Things Through Christ
Now that we’ve looked at the Philippians 4:13 meaning, I want to end by giving you three practical ways you can apply this passage to your everyday life.
1. Don’t Let Your Circumstances Determine Your Joy
Most people look at the circumstances of their life and if it’s good they are happy, and if it’s bad they are sorrowful. But Philippians 4:13 tells us our circumstances don’t have to dictate our joy.
This verse challenges us to put things into proper perspective. We think we might need all these other things to be happy and content. But Paul challenges us to view happiness through a different lens. All we really need is Jesus.
It would be understandable if Paul were to complain about his current conditions. After all he’s in jail for preaching the Word of God. No one would blame him if he complained a little bit. But Paul never let his circumstances determine his joy.
This is a challenge for us to do the same today. Rather than looking to our circumstances to determine our joy, we should look to Jesus.
2. Keep Your Eyes On Jesus
Again, Paul wasn’t content because he had some super power. He’s not some self-help guru telling us to dig deep within ourselves. The message of Philippians 4:13 is actually the opposite. Paul is saying he isn’t enough, and he looks to Jesus to give him the strength.
In the midst of his darkest days Paul kept his eyes on Jesus. That’s what got him through. Paul understood that through Christ he could do all things. Even be content in a prison cell.
This passage should challenge us to keep our eyes in the right place. When we get distracted and start focusing on all the problems around us, we lose sight of Jesus and forget that he’s in control. But when we keep our eyes on him we can get through whatever it is that’s in front of us.
Followers of Jesus need to regularly commit time to focusing on Jesus. We cannot abandon times of prayer, studying God’s Word, and meeting with other Christians. We must keep our eyes on Jesus, then we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.
If you are looking for a great resource to help you spend time with God I HIGHLY recommend Mark Moore’s Core 52: A Fifteen-Minute Daily Guide to Build Your Bible IQ in a Year
3. Jesus + Nothing = Everything
This is a simple math equation I think every Christian should memorize. We need this reminder, that if Jesus really is who he says he is, then nothing else matters when compared to him. We can literally have nothing, but if we have Christ we have enough.
The meaning of Philippians 4:13 teaches us that Jesus + nothing = everything.
Closing Thoughts On The Meaning Of Philippians 4:13
When we use Philippians 4:13 as a verse to give ourselves positive thoughts so we can accomplish what we want, it sells these famous words short.
Paul’s words are referring to the ability to endure the trials and hardships when we keep our eyes on Jesus. This is a powerful passage that we should allow to encourage us when life gets us down. Not because we are enough, but because we have God living in us and he is more than enough.
So, the next time you hear this passage read or hear someone quote it out of context, think back to the true Philippians 4:13 meaning.
Remind yourself that whatever you are facing, whatever you might encounter the next day, that God is with you. Recite to yourself, I can do all things through Christ. He will bring me through.
Thanks for reading this blog post! I hope that you enjoyed it, and that it brought greater insight to the true Philippians 4:13 meaning. If you found this post helpful would you share it with a friend or on social media? That way more people can benefit from it as you have.
You might also like: What “Do Not Be Anxious About Anything”Means (Philippians 4:6 Meaning)
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