Context Is Key: I Can Do All Things

Did you know that using the wrong product on a specific surface or item of clothing could damage it? For example, chlorine bleach is great at removing stains and odors on white clothing, but can wreak havoc on colored fabrics by leaving faded splotches or even burning holes. In the same way, when we take a verse or passage of the Bible out of context, we often wreak havoc on its meaning and purpose. One example where we’ve seen this occur is with Philippians 4:13 (NKJV): “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Despite popular belief, this verse isn’t referring to being able to do anything you want like having the strength to win a sports game or achieve personal ambitions. And it should never be separated from the greater context of Philippians 4, particularly verses 10–12. 

You see, in that part of his letter, Paul is expressing gratitude to the believers at Philippi for the care they showed him. He tells them they did well in sending their generous gift, because they embraced and embodied the gospel. They made his struggle and trial their own. But here’s the thing . . . Paul wasn’t rejoicing because they met his needs. He says, “For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

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” (Philippians 4:11–12 NIV, emphasis added).


Paul had learned the secret to contentment, something that has eluded humanity since the Garden of Eden. You see, way back in Genesis 3, we read how Adam and Eve were deceived by the serpent into thinking that God was holding out on them, that there was something more, something better out there for them than what God had given them. This was a lie, because they already had everything, including being able to walk and talk with God in a perfect paradise. So, becoming discontent with His blessings, they decided to disobey Him in their striving
for more. 


In the same way, how often do we find ourselves dissatisfied with what we have and striving for more? And then when we get that “more,” we find it still doesn’t satisfy, we still lack contentment, and we end up trapped in this endless pursuit of a satisfaction that simply cannot be found in the material world. This is such a serious issue to God that He put it in the Ten Commandments: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17 NIV). 

But Paul had learned the secret of contentment, regardless of his circumstances. What was it? Jesus! As King David declared in Psalm 16:11 (ESV), “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there
is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” In Christ and through Christ, the source of all joy, the giver of all that is good, lovely, and satisfying, true and lasting joy can be found. And this joy isn’t just for the good times; through our relationship with Him, we have everything we need to still experience joy even in the midst of hardship and hurts, trauma and tragedy.

Consider that Philippians 4:13 can be accurately phrased as, “Through Christ, I have strength in all things.” Do you see that? Paul is saying he is able to endure anything, to face any situation, and to suffer through any and all trials and still have joy and peace BECAUSE HE HAS JESUS! Strength, fulfillment, satisfaction, spiritual provision, joy, peace, and purpose are found in Christ (Philippians 3:8). God’s grace alone is what satisfies and suffices. So, even if we have nothing, we have everything we need because He is enough, He is all we need, and His grace is sufficient!

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.