Philippians 4:13 is a simple Bible verse yet people misinterpret it. 🙃
They use it to show others they can fulfill any desire they please through Christ and by faith.
As a result, many people have experienced disappointment, for example, Stephen Curry, whose example you will find at the end of this article.
When you understand Philippians 4:13 in context, it is a power-packed Bible verse.
To correctly interpret it, you have to read the adjacent Bible verses and see what the additional information will reveal. There are many excellent study guides on the Philippians for those interested in gaining a wider knowledge of the context of this verse.
Before we dive into the meaning of this verse, let's look at who wrote it.
1) Who Wrote Philippians 4:13 ?
The Apostle Paul wrote the book of Philippians where you find chapter 4 verse 13 in the new testament. 📜
It is a letter Letter to the Philippians he wrote to the believers of Christ Jesus, bishops, and deacons in the church at Philippi (Philippians 1:1), which was a leading city in Macedonia (Acts 16:12). (Epistle to the Philippians)
Paul went to preach the gospel in Philippi after a vision he had of a man calling him to go to Macedonia and help the people there (Acts 16:19). ⛪
2) What is the Meaning of Philippians 4:13 ?
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
To better understand Philippians 4:13, we have to look at it in the context of the verse preceding it. Philippians 4:12 is key in interpreting the verse that follows it, and it says:
“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.” (NIV)
Let us look at how different Bible versions bring out the meaning of Philippians 4:13.
3) Philippians 4:13 In The Bible
A. Philippians 4:13 NIV
The NIV version of the Bible brings out an important aspect that shows the true meaning of Philippians 4:13. In it, Paul says he has found the secret of being content in every situation and then goes on to say what it is.
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
He is saying that his contentment in any situation is a result of Christ, who gives him the strength he needs, the strength to be content. ☺
Paul’s life was eventful with many trials and therefore needed to learn to be content in all circumstances.
He learned to be content through Christ. Paul was specific about what the strength of Christ helped him achieve - contentment in all situations. He was not talking about doing anything he set his mind on but what he had to overcome to preach the gospel. 🙏
B. Philippians 4:13 KJV
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Philippians 4;13- KJV
The KJV Bible version says "all things" and "through Christ." Where other Bible versions say Him and not Christ, we know Paul is talking about Christ giving him strength.
In the KJV Bible, Paul tells us in Philippians 4:12 that he knows how to live in lack and plenty, and can survive when full or hungry.
He knows how to bear with the circumstances in his life.
The “how” is what he then states in Philippians 4:13 as "doing all things through Christ." Paul was a man who preached the gospel in all kinds of places, some of which were hostile. He drew his strength from the power of Christ.
C. Philippians 4:13 NASB
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:13 NASB
The NASB talks of "doing all things through Him." When we go to the preceding verse we see a different perspective from other versions.
Paul says he knows how to get along with humble means or live in prosperity. He has learned in every circumstance the secret of making it through abundance and need.
In this Bible version, we learn that Paul has found a way to deal with everything he faces: through Him (Christ) who strengthens him. He appreciates the help 🤝 he has received from the Philippians, but he knows that none of them can give him the strength to overcome hardships.
D. Philippians 4:13 MSG
“Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”
Philippians 4:13 MSG
The MSG Bible version puts it in plain language and talks of making it through anything regardless of whatever one has or wherever one is.
Philippians 4:12 describes the "anything" as the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or empty. Verse 13 then goes on to say that this is possible in the "One" who makes me "who I am."
This Bible version says you can make it through anything because of your identity in our Lord Jesus Christ. ✝
Now that we know who the "One" is, how do we describe "who I am ?" John 1:12 tells us who we are in Christ, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
You can make it through anything through Christ because you are a child of God. (Romans 8:38). In a nutshell, Paul is trying to tell us in Philippians 4:13 that it is important to be content in all situations.
It is important to rely on God’s strength even where others are ready to help you during difficult times. In Philippians 4:14, Paul commends the Philippians for helping him through his troubles even as he draws strength from Christ.
“Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.”
4) Philippians 4:13 In Context
A. Why did Paul have to learn to do all things through Christ ?
Paul had to preach the gospel despite the challenges he faced. He had experienced a wide range of circumstances and had to hold on to his faith in the Lord Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:24-26).
He was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and endangered by many things. He was able to overcome all these things through the strength of Christ.
Paul was a man who traveled a lot as he preached the gospel, and this meant he couldn't get cozy in one place.
This required the strength of Christ because moving disrupted his life.
Being content is not easy especially when you are living in lack and trusting God to meet your needs. You will need the strength that only comes with Christ. Your strength will fail you, but God’s strength won’t.
When you grow weary because of the challenges of life, God gives you His strength (Isaiah 40:29).
If we are to apply Philippians 4:13 in our lives today, we will focus on the role of Christ's strength to help us be content in any situation.
5) The Misuse of Philippians 4:13
Philippians 4:13 tells us we can do all things through Christ. Does this mean we can do as we please and ask Christ to supply the strength ?
Many people have misused Philippians 4:13 and taken it to mean that you can do all the things you desire through Christ.
When you take this verse out of context, you will think it means doing anything you want.
This is not true because God only fulfills the desires in our hearts that align with His Word. You can’t pursue ungodly desires (2 Timothy 2:22) and expect God to strengthen you to fulfill them.
We are to live our lives within the context of God’s word. Before you set out to do what you want, and use Philippians 4:13 as the reference, understand what it means.
The adjacent verses will give you the context within which to interpret it.
6) Philippians 4:13 and Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry is a top basketball player for The Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association (NBA). 🏀
He is known for inscribing Philippians 4:13 on his sneakers to remind him that he succeeds by God's power.
One Sunday night, his team lost a game to the Cleveland Cavaliers and he was devastated. He could not understand how his team lost when he always declared "he could do all things through Christ who strengthens him."
He thought this inspirational Bible verse meant he could win as many NBA titles as he desired. 🏆
After the game, he went to his locker and pulled out his Bible and went through Philippians 4:13 again to see whether he had gotten it correct all these years.
To his shock, he found the real meaning of the verse when he read it in context. He read the adjacent verses and discovered that the verse meant learning to be content in any situation.
It didn’t mean doing anything at all because of Jesus. He sat down in his locker room in disbelief.
The good news is that he discovered he had misinterpreted the Bible verse and took it out of context.
At that moment, Philippians 4:13 must have meant being content with losing a game. God used his failure to show him what the verse meant so that his faith could have a sure foundation. ✝
7) Philippians 4:13 Reflection
Always read the Scriptures in context to avoid disappointment when you don’t get the results you expect. For further reading we recommend 'Philippians: Christ, the Source of Joy and Strength' from the MacArthur Bible Studies Series.
Using Stephen’s example above, we see that Philippians 4:13 focuses more on “being” or “bearing” as opposed to “doing anything you choose.”
Read next: When it comes to reading the Bible there are certain passages and verses that are more well known than others. In this article let's see what does John 3:16 mean...
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."