Oct 17

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One of the greater dangers in reading the Bible is taking a “text out of context!” A text out of context” is nothing more than a pretext; that is, making a text teach what it never taught and was never intended to teach! This means that it is now a false teaching.
One such text is: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13). We have been taught, and correctly so, when studying the Bible to ask certain questions as a starting place. Such as: 1) who is talking or writing; 2) to whom are the words addressed; and 3) when was it said? Why, even some of the best among us, fail to apply these simple rules is unknown to this writer!
Using the three rules above, let us look at the text of Philippians, four verse thirteen. The word is “I.” Just who is this pronoun referring? The apostle Paul is the writer; therefore, the pronoun refers to him! This one fact changes the whole meaning of the verse, as it is so often used today. You see, so many take the “I” and apply it to themselves, or someone elses like themselves; meaning they themselves or others, “can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth” them. Missing applying the pronoun, makes this text into a pretext. Meaning, the text has been used to teach what Paul was never teaching! Does it surprise you, that you are not the apostle and that words applied to the apostle do not mean that we, you, can do what he could do!
On one occasion Paul was stoned. Here is the report made by Luke: “And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead” (Acts 14:19). More than likely, not one of us has been stoned, just take this to start with. But, notice that those who stoned Paul, “supposing he had been dead,” as in no life in him! At least generally speaking, stoning was for the purpose of putting one to death! It was not just to put bruising on a person! What would happen to you today, if you were stoned, to the point that those doing so, thought you were dead? Would you just get up and walk away as did Paul? No!
Well, what did Paul do? Luke continued to write: “Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe” (verse 20). Is this what you would do after being stoned to death? Of course, not! You would be dead, or so near death, that you would not be able to get up and go into the city. You and I would have to be carried to the doctor, who might be able to bring us back to health; but more than likely, we would just die! Say, what happened to that, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me?” Paul needed no doctor or anyone else to help him; “he rose up, and came into the city.” Not only so, but Luke wrote: “the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.” In all honesty, if you were stoned, as Paul was, would you be able to get up and go into the city, then, travel to another city, and this without ever seeing a doctor! No, of course, not!
Looking at another event in the life of Paul, we see Paul on a ship. Here is what Luke wrote as Paul was in the midst of a shipwreck: “But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss” (Acts 27:21). Is there any reason for me to believe that I should give ear to what you would say as the ship we were on is nearing a shipwreck? No! What power to you have? Oh, I forgot, you “can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth” you! Let us continue with the text in Acts as Luke wrote of Paul: “And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship” (verse 22). Amid a shipwreck, is there any reason that I should hear your words? Would you have the power, to say in honesty, “I exhort you to be of good cheer?” Next, Paul said: “For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve” (verse 23). Should I believe you, if you were to tell me, in the midst of a shipwreck, “there stood by me this night the angel of God?” No!
Friends, I am not Paul and you are not Paul; and neither of us can do what Paul did and say what Paul said! Therefore, when Paul writes: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” The pronouns, “I” and “me” in this verse do not refer to me and you! We must be oh so careful to keep a text in its own context and please, notice the pronouns!

Frank R. Williams

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