I CAN DO ALL THINGS! YOU SURE?

I Can Do All Things!

Nothing sounds more absolute and emphatic than this statement. It’s so intoxicating! Makes me feel I can get to the tip of Mount Everest in 30 seconds.

The writer categorically says “I can do all things”; the operative word being ALL. Meanwhile, the last time I checked my dictionary, the word all suggests entireness, non-exclusivity, leaving no room for exceptions, everything and anything… So literally, to say ‘I can do all things’ suggests that there is nothing I can’t do, especially when Christ is in the mix.

To be candid, this particular scripture is not only one of the most invoked in Christendom today but also one whose application has been most abused. It’s a common faith confession for/in all manner of circumstances. Indeed, it wouldn’t be surprising when you see many believing folk use the golden scripture as pretext for laziness, inactivity and gross irresponsibility.

Here is the question: Is the scripture meant to be understood at surface level (and used randomly as a confession of faith) or does it merely serve an explanatory purpose? Okay, let’s make the question simpler and relatable: Can you really do all things, even through Christ? For instance…

💪 Can you jump off a cliff rest assured you’ll come to no harm? Did you just say that would be foolhardiness? I thought so too. Whoever tries that (even as a believer) will end up forcing himself into glory rather than being called into it. Even our Lord Jesus (during his temptation) knew better than to jump off the temple’s pinnacle.

💪Can you, as a student, do everything except studying and expect to come out in flying colours? I think not. You may have to make do with bleak colours though. Last I checked, it takes a man who is diligent in his business to stand before kings.

💪Finally, how about sit at home all day everyday not doing much except praying and expecting to be fed by ravens? That will be funny/wistful thinking right? After all, he that won’t work should not eat.

💪Oh! Forgive me but one more try… Can you break into the best mansion on your block and announce that you’ve taken it for yourself? You’ll sooner get locked up for breaking and entering. But on the upside, you can begin a prison ministry as you cool your heels.

Oops! Looks like there is a limit to the things we can do after all, even when Christ strengthens us in the inner man. But then, the scripture in question tells us we can do all things through Christ. Going by the various case studies earlier described, wouldn’t this scripture appear contradictory?

What on God’s green earth does this statement mean?

Is there an iota of deceit in the scripture? God forbid! It was inspired of the Holy Spirit (by God) and God be true and all men liars. Was Paul being frugal with the truth? Absolutely not. He was a man who handled doctrine with all diligence and honesty.

What seems to be an exaggeration in the meaning of the scripture is not the doing of the writer. Rather, it’s in the lack of understanding of the writer’s flow of thought and intent. Many have misconstrued this passage and ended up in error because they failed to take cognizance of a basic rule of bible interpretation – the rule of context.

This rule states that the meaning of a text/passage must be understood in the light of the texts that precedes and come after it. In other words, you can’t make sense of a text in isolation. Its meaning hinges on your due consideration/understanding of the context.

Let’s read the passage in context

Php 4:10 The Lord has filled me with joy because you again showed interest in me. You were interested but did not have an opportunity to show it.
Php 4:11 I’m not saying this because I’m in any need. I’ve learned to be content in whatever situation I’m in.
Php 4:12 I know how to live in poverty or prosperity. No matter what the situation, I’ve learned the secret of how to live when I’m full or when I’m hungry, when I have too much or when I have too little.
Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Now, let’s back-up a little to verse 10 of that chapter. Paul commends the renewed generosity of the Philippian saints toward him. At some point, they couldn’t communicate their material resources to him because they were in lack. Lest they think he felt neglected during the period they couldn’t minister to his needs, he assures them (in verse 11) that he didn’t feel deserted at all. And why is that? He (Paul) has learnt to be content with whatever he has (whether little or much) and further expounds on what he means in verse 12. He then ends by saying “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me”.

Paul uses ‘all things’ in respect of verses 11-12. The things Paul could do (Christ strengthening him) is what he highlights in verse 11-12, i.e. his ability to know how to be gratified in whatever financial situation he finds himself. Hence, in saying he can do ‘all things’, Paul wasn’t speaking abstractly but in specific terms.

Actually, the proper rendition of that text says “I can do all (these) things”. All (these) things will be within the context of verses 11-12. Paul is saying “my ability to do the things I just spoke of is hinged on the strength that Christ supplies”.

In reality, Paul wasn’t making a faith declaration here. Rather, he was doing an exegesis; expounding on what he was saying in the previous verses.

The Good News Bible properly translates the scripture in view of the context: I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.

It’s only in the light of this 👆rendition that we can make a faith confession out of this scripture.

Next time you come across a scripture with such a phrase as ‘all things’ or ‘do/know all things’, be patient to read in context to determine what the ‘all’ specifically refers to.


Image Credits:

Bible Study Tools, Prototypr


©ayansolaibukun

45 thoughts on “I CAN DO ALL THINGS! YOU SURE?

  1. Insightful as always. People have always read the Bible without thinking about the context or the situation behind the particular passage. Someone will tell you that wearing a wedding ring a sin because of a misunderstood verse of the Bible. I call it reading the Bible upside down. And I think our pastors are the problem. They should explain these things to us so that we don’t jump off the cliff one day thinking we can do all things. Great pos Ayan.👌

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Smiles. So true. Many have ended up in errors and unpleasant circumstances because they fail to reason along with the writer (to know his intent). And of course, students of the Bible have a great responsibility to be dilligent in their studying of it. It’s understanding requires a high level of dilligence and attention to details.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. oh wow
    its truly just been squeezed into a faith confession and that doesn’t help the believer or make the power in the word to be effective.
    Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re absolutely right Grisele! When scriputres are misconstrued and misapplied, it makes it lose its essence in the affairs of the believer. Hence, the need to be intentional about thorough Bible study and interpretation. Thanks a lot for taking the time to read and dropping this profound thought.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Beautiful! I love that you have dug into the context and given such salient truths. This verse has indeed misconstrued so many times it is refreshing to see it being dissected in the manner Paul explained. I tip the proverbial hat to you sir. Let’s continue digging into the Word 🙏🏽

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad I was able to do justice to the essence of the scripture. God be praised for revelation knowledge into his Word. I’m thankful for the gift of my local church and pastor too.

      Thanks a lot for taking the time to read through.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Insightful.. Was pleasure reading it and reminds me of importance of context. This plays a role even when a person speaks something. Sometimes the context of words is lost in the tone or voice of the speaker and the words are misconstrued by the listener, leading to misunderstandings. It’s vital to keep our prejudices aside and understand.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so right. The matter of context permiates every aspect of discourse (spoken or written). Once the context of a speech situation is lost on the audience, misunderstanding is inevitable. Thanks a lot for taking the time to read through.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This verse indeed has been misused in so many ways over the years. It’s like when people hear this verse, they get so excited but I love the various examples you gave to really show us that context is key. If we don’t understand the context, application can be difficult when expecting a particular result. As usual, i always find something to laugh about in your post. Lol see the headline title. “I can do all things! You sure? 😂😂😂. I am sure I can do all things in Christ. As for those people trying to do “all” things without Christ, hmmm. Serious wahala. Thank you for sharing Blessing. God bless you. Writing skills oo 👌🏿 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ☺. I smiled on sighting the name Karen. I was like “here she comes”.

      You can’t have said it any better. Context is key to unraveling the essence of any writing. Without it, one is sure to make a shipwreck of biblical interpretation and application.

      Smiles. What can I say? I’m working on being witty on both counts when it comes to writing. It gets better with time.

      Thanks always for your continued support and ever profound contributions. Trust you’re doing great.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol you won’t sleep? Is your bed calling your name? You people back home sleep before the birds even fall asleep. Haha to here she comes. Yes that’s me. I don’t get notifications on when people post so I have to actually go and check. Oh I enjoy your writings. It’s so interesting and funny. I look forward to it. I am doing well by God’s grace thank you. And you?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hehe. I’m a late sleeper. This time of the day is the best time to get some things done. And true, as for my folks here, they are long gone (into dreamland). It’s awfully quite already.

          You should check your WordPress settings, perhaps the notification feature. You should be able to turn it on from there. I get notifications when you put of a post.

          Trust me, I used to be an awkward/rigid writer – I guess I can be too serious, even for my liking. I had to consciously start learning how to write even serious matters lightheartedly. I’m still a work in progress. Meanwhile, I’m due to feast my eyes on yet another brilliant piece from you.

          I’m alive and well too. God’s been faithful.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Lol I sleep late. Well depending on the day and if my bed is calling my name earlier than usual. I’m more of a morning person. As for the notification, I will surely look into the settings.

            Lol writing serious matters lightheartedly 😂😂😂. I cannot oo. Keep on. As for me, writing a blog post can be a lot at times. It takes so many hours. I’m actually writing one now 😊

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Uncle Ibukun. 😁

    Smiles. Funny scenarios especially the last one. Him or her will have a graced night rest at the mental health care or something. 😂

    True, we have the power, resource, carriage and all that we need to get through all of life’s waves and phases.

    Thanks for clarifying this and stating it clear. 💯

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We can see in Philippians 4:10 that Paul was refreshed and strengthened by the thought of the attitude of the people towards him. They were unable to express their hospitality but that didn’t stop Paul. Paul wasn’t looking for favor, he was mature enough to handle tough situations. He had said earlier in Philippians 2: 13 “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure”. Saying ‘I can do all things’ was really attributed to the verses before as he expressed in his letter. He had experience all those things stated in verse 12 of the text.
    Sometimes in our Bible Studies the teacher would ask is a particular word use loosely or does it means directly what it say. Doing ‘all thing’ for example, Is it used loosely? I believe so I thing all things that pertain to righteousness.
    In Isaiah 43 the Lord aid when though goesth through the waters I will be with thee and through the rivers it shall not overflow thee, when though walketh through the fire thou shalt not be burn neither shall the flame kindleth upon thee. All these signifies trials but it is God who was with Israel all the way. Right there in Isaiah 43 God was talking about Israel going through their trial, so it also could be a testimony of I can do all things

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  8. Come on with this blog post! This was good Ayansola!

    Ask a Christian to name a Bible verse that suggest that God is with them and they’ll almost certainly trout out Philippians 4:13. Unfortunately many Believers commit the error you talked about in your blog post. It is obvious that we can’t do absolutely everything. Try as I might, I’ll never be the Queen of England. To claim this verse as a universal promise is erroneous. God doesn’t want us to do “all” things. His plans trumps our desires.

    What Paul was talking about in Philippians 4:13 as a Disciple of Christ that proclaims the gospel, God will give me the strength to endure.

    Philippians 4:13 only applies to those who qualify for the criteria Paul defined–if you are a follower of Christ, then:

    If you are unequally yoked and your spouse is causing you grief because of your faith, God will give you strength to endure..

    If you are a Christian who is being ridicule on your job because of your beliefs, Philippians 4:13 applies

    God has given you a vision and you don’t have a clue how it’s coming to pass, Philippians 4: 13 applies.

    Can you do all things? No. Will Christ help you through when you suffer for the sake of the gospel ? Absolutely!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow! This is by far the most accurate feedback I’ve gotten concerning this post. Meanwhile, I love the scenarios you used when it comes to situations that applies to the verse.

      You are absolutely right. Folks are bound to run into errors when they are not careful enough to examine scriptures in the light of the context.

      I’m grateful for this elaborate contribution. You helped make more sense of the post. Thanks a lot!

      Liked by 2 people

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