…to help determine what a Biblical passage means.
From my last blog we know that translation is a big deal. Once we’ve come to some agreement on the language, we MUST ask (at least) two critical questions to determine what the passage means for us.
For example let’s take a verse that is often misquoted because people violate these rules. Philippians 4:13 ”I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” (MKJV)
Have you ever used this one to lay hold of super-human strength? How many would boldly say “all things are possible” as a motivator to run faster, or go further in some particular exploit? A closer examination of the context (verses before & after the one quoted) and passage (whole chapter) reveal a significantly different meaning than the “power verse” idea. So what DOES this passage really say?
WHAT IS THE CONTEXT?
Philippians 4:10 “I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
The apostle Paul is writing to his church in Philippi, commending them for their financial help. Then he backs up to say he could have gotten along without their help, because he’s learned to be at peace in all circumstances. How? It’s through Christ, who gives him strength. The context here speaks of need, and hunger, ie suffering. Perhaps a more precise translation would read “I am able to endure all such hard situations through the strength of Christ.” (BBV – BBopp Version)
Please take a few minutes to read all of Philippians chapter 4 and see if you agree with my conclusions here.
Now give this chapter a title. ________________________________.
Need to read it again? Take your time, I’ll wait…… :-) ………… Here’s what I came up with. Paul is writing to his church, encouraging them to support one another and stay strong in the Lord. He says ”stand firm,” and ”agree with each other,” and “don’t worry,” and “rejoice always,” and “think on these things,” and encourages them in giving to those who are in need (like him). The passage teaches church unity, and Paul’s comment about strength in Christ is somewhat parenthetical. I think my title would be something like this; ”Here’s how we should stick together.” Please enter YOUR titles for the chapter in the comments below.