Lesson 2 of 4

Many Christians have the bad habit of grabbing any verse they want and applying it to themselves without checking the context around it.

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They assume it can apply to them if they want it to.


Phil 4:13, is commonly stated something like this – “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (The name Christ is included in some manuscripts, but the most reliable ones only imply it.)

Do the words “all things” in this verse mean anything we want to accomplish? Is this verse a blank check? Is God promising to make us successful in everything we want to do?

NO! Before applying this verse to some aspect of our lives we need to look at the context in which it is found.

Paul has been talking about how he has learned to be content in any situation, and he mentions several extremes, both good and bad. The passage is not about accomplishing desired goals but about handling every type of situation in a manner that glorifies God.

Here is my attempt to give you the exact reading of the Greek and then what it means to us.

Philippians 4:13


I have strength to prevail

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[in] everything in

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the [one who] enables

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For I can victoriously confront any and every situation by staying closely connected to the one who enables me to.

Because it says “everything,” this verse by themselves sounds like it can relate to anything we want to accomplish, But the context is clearly that of dealing with all types of situations. We should never separate it from its context.

Therefore, we should be more careful about how we use this verse. We should not apply it to anything we want to accomplish, but only to dealing with difficulties of various kinds. Remember that the good times can be even more trying for the soul than the hard times.


Joel 2:25 which reads, “I will restore the years the locusts have eaten.”

Many people today mistakenly apply this to any difficult time in their life or any loss they have experienced, even losses that were caused by their own foolish choices.

But once again, we must look at the context of this statement. The context is that of God’s impending punishment and a chance to repent. In that situation, the locusts were God’s tool for punishing His people and getting their attention. He called the locusts His army.

When we repent, God does not send the predicted punishment. If we do not repent, God will punish because He must punish sin. If we survive God’s punishment, then we have a chance to start over, and, if we have learned anything, we will run to God, not away from Him.

So this is not a promise that any time we experience loss, God will replace what was lost. There are various reasons why we experience hardship or loss. Not all of them will be followed by God replacing what was taken.

We might be able to claim this verse as our own if our situation has clearly been one in which we ran from God, He took severe measures to get our attention, after which He has given us another chance, and we are now seeking Him with our whole heart. In those cases, we can have a general idea that God will restore us, and He might even restore other aspects of our lives. But we cannot demand it of God or tell people that we know God will do this. We cannot predict what God will do. The statement about the years that locusts had eaten fit their situation, but it may or may not fit our situation. We cannot know ahead of time.

We need to be careful to not get our eyes on the wrong things. Most of the times this verse is quoted, it shows there is an emphasis on self or on an easy life.

However, if we look back at what God has done and we see that this patten has been fulfilled in our lives, we can say of what God has done, “Look, God restored to me the years the locusts had eaten.” Such praise for what God has done is an appropriate use of this verse; using it to predict what God will do is not.


There are many more passages that could be given as examples. These would include passages on healing, financial provision, safety, help with problems, etc.

Passages like these teach us about God’s character; they are not intended to be something we can use to predict what God will do in our lives in the future. We cannot put God in a box – He never fits! However, despite the fact that we cannot predict what He will do, we can learn about what He is like and thus know what He requires of us.

We must always keep in mind that things that most people call God’s promises are usually covenant blessings which depend on our obedience to covenant conditions. They are not a blank check.

The habit of grabbing any verse we want and applying it to ourselves feeds our selfishness. We choose verses that make us feel good; we seldom choose ones that make us feel uncomfortable. That puts us in the driver’s seat, as if we determine which truths are for us and which ones are not, or as if truth were what we determine it to be. Many modern Christians, based on nothing more than their own limited understanding and their feelings, are willing to mentally cast aside big chunks of the Bible because they think, “That can’t be right.” They may not take scissors and cut them out of their Bibles, but in their minds that is what they have done.  I ask you, is God truly Lord of our lives, or not?

When we see something in the Bible that seems odd, we should not say, “That can’t be right,” rather we should say, “I wonder why this is here? I wonder what is going on here? I need to look into this one.”

We need to be very careful about how we apply Scripture to our lives. We need to treat it as something holy, something we cannot change or manipulate. Then we need to teach others to be careful as well.



I decided the make this its own lesson because it is such a common problem that I wanted to shine a spotlight on it.

2: "strength to prevail"

Paul uses two Greek words for “strength” in this verse. This first one is a common word for “strength, or power”. It refers to “physical vigor” and it is usually “used of engaging in combative situations, facing opposition” hence it results in “prevailing or overcoming”. In this case the main word for strength is intensified by a preposition which usually means “in or by”. It can only mean “can do” when it is followed by an infinitive, but there is no infinitive in this verse.

3: "in"

This is where we get our preposition “in”. It usually means “in the sphere of, or in the realm of”. But it can also point to agency, or the means by which something is accomplished.

4: "enables"

This is the Greek word from which we get our English words “dynamite, and dynamic”. This one does mean “power or capability to do something” however, context must indicate what is being done.