What is the meaning of Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20 and Matthew 22:1-6?
Many people like to quote Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” But they generally quote it out of context. They quote it in ways where you would imagine that God can give you all kinds of power to do anything.
But the context of Philippians 4:13 is the surrounding idea of learning to be content in every situation. Paul originally discusses how the Philippians have provided for him and he knows how to be content whether he is rich or poor, in the midst of God’s blessing or in trial, and in every other way (Philippians 4:10-11).
This is a matter of Christian maturity. It’s not something you just pick up. Paul says he learned how to do this, how to be content no matter what his situation. The Philippians were concerned for some of his physical or monetary needs.
Paul gently tells them he can handle whatever life throws at him. Because of his faith in God’s provision, he knows that his needs will be provided for by God. God may use the Philippians to provide some of those needs. So he doesn’t tell them not to provide for his needs. But he explains that he is not begging for their money.
God will take care of him and us. Even in supernatural, miraculous ways God provides for us. The more we trust in God the more we will see his provision. But he also provides for us when we barely have enough faith to stand in him.
When Paul says he knows how to be brought low and abound (Philippians 4:12) he means that he has learned how to thank God for his blessings and how to turn to God and his deepest needs. This is different than wants. Needs are things we cannot survive without. It’s not that God doesn’t bless us and what we want.
We must remember in the times we abound that the lavish provision and blessing of God in these times is not by our own ability. It’s God blessing our socks off. And when we are in these times, we must remember to give all the glory and praise to God for his lavish provision.
But in the hard times, the trials of life, the financial difficulties, the bankruptcy, God is with us. He walks with us through these things, and he provides exactly what we need. We may not think we need what he provides, but he gives it to us.
We must learn to trust in him for provision during these low times. His grace abounds in these times just as much is in the abundant times. But we need to learn to see it and thank him for it. We tend to be more sensitive to God’s provision in times of need.
So when Paul says he can do all things, he means that he can abound in the abundant times and give God glory, and he can seek the Lord for provision in the times of need, and receive by faith from the Lord. Doing all things means he can handle every situation, but only by the grace and power of Christ.
It’s not him having the strength. It’s God giving him strength to handle every situation. Paul doesn’t tell the Philippians not to provide for his needs (Philippians 4:14). He goes on to give more background on the beginning of his ministry in that region. He was in need and no church would help. But the Philippians wanted to help him.
We must realize when people are blessing us in our times of need. We must thank them, but thank God as well because he is the one who provided through them. God’s Spirit impresses on people to help us in our need. We must be thankful.
Paul tells the Philippians that God has supplied more than enough for his need. And then we come to the end of the section. Just as he provides an example of how God lavishly supplied all of his needs in a time of need, he says that God will supply every need you have (Philippians 4:19).
But he does it according to his riches in glory. God owns everything. When we need something, he can supply unlike anyone else. We must not be afraid to ask the God who supplies every need.
And every time he supplies whether it is supernaturally or through the help of another person, we must be sure to give God all the glory for what he has done (Philippians 4:20). As profuse as we are for our requests in prayer, we should be doubly prolific and are praising God in the good and bad times.
Matthew 22:1-6 is a parable about the kingdom of God where Jesus talks about it as a banquet. It has a completely different focus then Philippians 4.