The surprising meaning of Philippians 4:13

Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Here’s a deep look at the true meaning of Philippians 4:13 and learn how it is being misapplied by millions of Christians today.


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Athletes who use Philippians 4:13

If you are a big fan of basketball, particularly the NBA, one of the greatest players today is undoubtedly Stephen Curry. He is currently playing as a point guard for Golden States Warriors. 

To give you a background on how good Curry as a player is, here are some of his accomplishments:

  • 3 time NBA champion: 2015, 2017, 2018
  • 1st All-time in 3-pointers made in NBA history.
  • 2x NBA Most Valuable Player: 2015, 2016
  • NBA All-Star Game MVP 2022

As you can imagine, he has achieved a lot of great things in his basketball career. However, if you have been paying close attention to his games, particularly his shoes, you will read these handwritten words:

“I can do all things…”

Philippians 4:13 Can You Really Do All Things Through Christ

For Curry, Philippians 4:13 is a verse that pushes him to achieve greatness every day.

In one of his interviews, Curry said about the reason he has Philippians 4:13 written on his shoes:

“It’s a mantra that I live by and something that drives me every single day,” It’ll hopefully inspire people to find something that drives them, whether that’s a verse or some other motivating force that keeps you hungry and keeps you driven. That’s mine, and you can pick whatever yours is and let that drive you, too, as you continue with basketball or whatever field you’re in in your life.”

Now, Curry isn’t the only famous athlete who uses Philippians 4:13. Tim Tebow, is a famous Christian footballer in the United States who also writes Philippians 4:13 on his face.

Preachers using Philippians 4:13

If that’s not enough, Joel Osteen, the most popular health and wealth gospel preacher of a mega-church in the US has this to say about Philippians 4:13:

Most people tend to magnify their limitations. They focus on their shortcomings. But scripture makes it plain: all things are possible to those who believe. That’s right! It is possible to see your dreams fulfilled. It is possible to overcome that obstacle. It is possible to climb to new heights. It is possible to embrace your destiny. You may not know how it will all take place. You may not have a plan, but all you have to know is that if God said you can…you can!


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Misunderstood and misapplied Philippians 4:13

You don’t need to turn to your Bible to see what Philippians 4:13 has to say. 

We all know what it says:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Brethren, Philippians 4:13 is among the most popular verses in the Bible and yet, it is one of the most misused, misapplied, and abused verses.

Today, I want to ask the question, “Can you really do all things through Christ who strengthens you?” By answering this question, I also want us to see what this really means and its real application in our lives.

Now, let’s set the record straight: Philippians 4:13 does NOT mean that Christ, our Messiah, will empower you to accomplish all things that you want to do in your life.

Do you want to earn more money? Do you want to become the best in your career? Do you want to find the right person for you? Do you want to become a basketball star? Do you want to win the election?

Well, that’s no problem because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

Regrettably, brethren, that’s not exactly what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote these words.

Understanding the true intent of Philippians 4:13

To get a better context, we need not simply focus on Philippians 4:13, but we must also read a few verses earlier:

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. Philippians 4:10-12

As you can just imagine, brethren, Paul was writing this letter in a prison cell. He wasn’t in a stadium playing some sports. He wasn’t in a corporate office trying to win the next big promotion. He wasn’t a politician trying to win millions of votes. He wasn’t a student trying to earn his master’s degree.

Philippians 4:13 isn’t about achieving bigger dreams and conquering the world. This verse doesn’t mean that God will give you the strength to achieve whatever goals you want to achieve.

The real meaning of Philippians 4:13

Listen carefully, because this is the real meaning of Philippians 4:13:

The meaning of Philippians 4:13 is that we can endure all hardships in life because it is Christ who will strengthen us. Whatever difficulties we face in life, as long as we are doing God’s will and purpose in our lives, we can surely overcome them.

Why?

Because our strength doesn’t come from ourselves but from God. 

We can stay strong no matter what happens in life. 

We can become courageous no matter what fearful situation we may go through. 

We can become victorious no matter what challenges come our way.

Why? 

Because God will strengthen us. 

Philippians 4:13 isn’t about us and our dreams or goals in life. It is about God strengthening us so that we will successfully enter his Kingdom.


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The comforting meaning of Philippians 4:13

And for me, brethren, I thank God that that is the real meaning of Philippians 4:13. You and I went through a lot of challenges in life in the past, in the present, and in the future. Every time we go through life’s difficulties, we can always go back to the promise of Philippians 4:13.

Philippians 4:13 is not a promise that we will have the power to accomplish all things or that we will be exempted from life’s difficulties. It is a promise that God will strengthen us to do all things that He wants us to do.

Let’s read 2 Corinthians 11:23-28:

23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.

Now, let me ask you, how was Paul able to go through all these suffering, hardships, and difficulties?

The answer is found in Philippians 4:13. 

He drew his strength, not from himself. 

He knew perfectly that his strength wasn’t enough.

Thus, he drew strength from the Source greater than himself. 

He let God strengthen him through all those difficulties.

The promise of Philippians 4:13

Brethren, you and I have the promise that we can do all things through Christ. We can overcome any difficulty and trials as long as we are doing the will of God.

With this brethren, I pray and hope that we now have a better understanding of Philippians 4:13. 

Are you going through difficulties brethren? 

Are you being persecuted because of your belief? 

Do you find yourself facing enemies because of doing what is right? 

If yes, you can confidently say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

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