In Philippians  4:13 the apostle Paul writes, “I can do all this through him who gives me  strength.” The “him” of this verse is the Lord Jesus, and Jesus is, of course,  all-powerful (Colossians  2:10). But does this verse mean that we can do anything and everything we  set our minds to?

The context of this verse focuses on the God-given  power to endure any circumstance. Verse 12 notes, “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.” Paul had faced times of abundance, yet he had also faced  many trials for his faith.

In 2  Corinthians 11:24–27, Paul shares some of his sufferings up to that point in  his faith: “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I  was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been  constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from  bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in  the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false  believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have  known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and  naked.” Despite these and other problems, Paul believed and taught he could  persevere because he could do “all things through him who gives me  strength.”

Also, the focus in Philippians 4 is what the believer can do  through the strength that Christ gives. This is not a promise that  Christians will have superpowers or that they will be invincible or immune to  life’s challenges. Instead, the promise of Philippians  4:13 is that we will have strength from the Lord to faithfully endure the  difficulties that arise in life.

This passage is not about having  financial abundance. Some teach a prosperity gospel that says God will bless us  financially if we are faithful; in contrast, Paul taught that the believer will  endure suffering but can be content in any circumstance, given Christ’s  strength. Just as Christ faithfully endured on the cross, His followers can  faithfully endure the problems they face. In fact, Philippians  4:11 states, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Paul  focused on contentment, not earthly abundance.

Finally, Philippians 4:13 is  part of a larger passage that addresses Christ’s ability to meet our needs.  Christ can give contentment during times of plenty and of poverty. He can help  us do all things through His strength. In Paul’s case, it was the strength to  serve as a missionary despite facing intense suffering. In our lives, this same  strength is available. Whether we serve in another country or help someone in  our own community, Christ’s power can enable us to stand firm on His promises  and endure the most difficult of life’s challenges. As Paul concludes this  passage with these words: “My God will meet all your needs according to the  riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and  ever. Amen” (verses 19–20).

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