Debunked: I Don't Think This Verse Means What You Think It Means

By Jake Sletten
You might have seen Philippians 4:13 on one of Steph Curry's basketball shoes. You've probably heard 1 Corinthians 10:13 misquoted a multitude of times, but when you went to look for it in your Bible, you couldn't find it.
Last summer at the Higher Things Concordia conference in St. Paul, I was privileged to present a topic that I'm very passionate about: setting the record straight on certain passages of Scripture that are woefully and dangerously misinterpreted.

First Things First

Before attempting to interpret any passage of Scripture, the FIRST thing that we must do is pray. We must pray to the Holy Spirit that we read Scripture through the lens of Jesus and Him crucified, dead, buried, and resurrected. After all, Scripture itself is very clear: that it ALL points to Jesus. John 20:31 says as much: "…but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."
The second and third things are linked: we must understand that Scripture always (and only) interprets itself. We cannot simply pluck passages out of their context and think that we will know what they really mean. It is sort of like that scene in Return of the Jedi when Han Solo gets really bummed because he thinks that Leia loves Luke. . .romantically. If he had been paying attention, he would have figured out that Leia is actually Luke's sister. . .eww.
There are also these important verses from 2 Peter 1:19-21: "And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."

Philippians 4:13: Context Is Everything

Athletes have been putting this verse on their shoes and eye black for as long as sports have been around, to motivate them and others, while also earnestly desiring to give a witness to their Christian faith.
Let's begin with what this verse DOESN'T mean. What this verse DOESN'T mean are things like this: "You can do anything you set your mind to!" "Set your goals and you will achieve them!" "Dream it. Believe it. Achieve it!" Or, the even more ludicrous: "There's no possible way I can die while climbing El Capitan without a rope because, well, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!"
The first three are all examples of the kind of positive attitude that any well-intentioned parent would want to instill in their children. The last one is just crazy talk, although there are some who believe it to be true! According to the context of the book of Philippians, however, none of these examples apply to what Paul was writing about.
So, what DOES Paul actually mean in Philippians 4:13? First, we must understand what the "things" are that Paul is talking about. Allowing the context to help us, verse 12 gives us the answer: "…facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need…" NOT the ability to be the best tent maker ever. NOT the ability to one day be Caesar (though he ever wanted such a thing). NOT the ability to do anything he wanted as long as he set his mind to it. He was able, however, to face having plenty and to face being in need.
And what gave him this ability? In the previous chapter, verses 7-8 tell us. "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of knowing Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…"
So for Paul, the "“secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need"” that he wrote about in 4:12, and the reason why he can confidently write "I can do all things…" is because he KNOWS that Jesus Christ is Lord!

1 Corinthians 10:13: All About God's Promises

Let me just get straight to the point. Nowhere in this verse (or anywhere else in Scripture for that matter) will you find this sentence: "God will not give you more than you can handle." It. Doesn’t. Exist.
The importance of correctly reading and interpreting this passage cannot be understated. If it gets interpreted as "God will not give you more than you can handle" it is setting up the hearer for dangerous disappointment.
Try telling the mother of four whose cancer has returned for a second time that God will not give her more than she can handle. Try telling it to the father who has lost his job and isn't sure where his family's next meal is coming from. Try telling it to the child whose parents are getting a divorce and she thinks it's all her fault. Even the apostle Paul tells us he was given more than he could handle! 2 Corinthians 1:8: "For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the afflictions we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself."
You and I both know that what life throws at us is often more than we can handle. But our comfort lies in this: God knows that. And that’s why 1 Corinthians 10:13 is such an awesome verse. It reminds us that our God is faithful to the promises that He has made to His people—and it is this reminder that is the key to interpreting this verse.
You and I will always face trials and sufferings this side of heaven—and sometimes it WILL be more than we can bear. So, Paul reminds us, "God is faithful." Another way to put it? God keeps His promises. This is not the first time that we have heard this message from Paul in this letter! He writes the same words in chapter 1 verse 9: "God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."
The Corinthians were struggling with divisions in their church which had caused their consciences to become weak. Consequently, they forgot the Gospel that Paul had taught them. He wanted to remind them that God is faithful, and He will keep His promise to them, and will provide the way of escape from temptation, though not from hard times.
Today, we struggle with a host of different things that cause us to suffer emotionally, physically, and spiritually. When times of trial come upon you, remember these three words: God is faithful. When your season of suffering is more than you can bear, remember that God is faithful and He keeps His promises to you.

Know the Truth

The next time you see a misapplied Bible verse scrawled on a football helmet or featured in a social media meme, don't hammer the person passing it on. Instead, make sure YOU are clear when you communicate the truth that ultimately, Scripture is about Christ for us.
Editor's Note: This article originally ran in the winter 2019 issue of Higher Things Magazine but we're reprising it here because it sparked the concept of a Debunked! column. We're excited to have Pastor Sletten on board as a columnist!
Rev. Jake Sletten is the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church and School in Freistatt, MO. He thinks the mission of Higher Things is exciting: to help raise up new generations of believers for the Gospel. He is husband to Courtney, and dad to MJ, Bradley, and Emma. He loves going on dates with his wife,  grilling on his Weber, coaching his kids' basketball teams, watching basketball (mainly his Los Angeles Clippers), and reading books about dragons.

Related Posts

Recent

Archive

 2020
 June
Reflections: June 2, 2020Under the Cross: Living in the Light of ChristReflections: June 3, 2020This Just In: Countering Chaos with ChristReflections: June 4, 2020Dean's List: Jesus Ain't Done YetVideo Short: The Athanasian CreedLive Bible Study: June 4, 2020Reflections: June 5, 2020Debunked!: The Unreachable CarrotLive Bible Study: June 5, 2020Live Bible Study: June 6, 2020Reflections: June 6, 2020Reflections: June 7, 2020Reflections: June 8, 2020Video Short: June 8, 2020Foundations: You Are What Jesus Says You AreHymnal 101: June 9, 2020Live Bible Study: June 9, 2020Reflections: June 9, 2020Under the Cross: Baptized, Not GayVideo Short: June 9, 2020Reflections: June 10, 2020Foundations: Preface and Proper PrefaceVideo Short: June 10, 2020Reflections: June 11, 2020Speaking of Faith: How to Defend Infant Baptism and Have Fun Doing ItVideo Short: June 11, 2020Live Bible Study: June 11, 2020Reflections: June 12, 2020Video Short: June 12, 2020Foundations: No You-Gotta with JesusLive Bible Study: June 12, 2020Reflections: June 13, 2020Reflections: June 14, 2020Reflections: June 15, 2020Video Short: June 15, 2020This Just In: The Real EnlightenmentLive Bible Study: June 15, 2020Live Bible Study: June 16, 2020Reflections: June 16, 2020Helpful Things: Spilling the Tea on Generation ZVideo Short: June 16, 2020Video Short: June 17, 2020Reflections: June 17, 2020Live Bible Study: June 17, 2020Foundations: Your Father's LoveReflections: June 18, 2020Video Short: June 18, 2020Live Bible Study: June 18, 2020Dean's List: You're Covered on Judgment DayReflections: June 19, 2020Video Short: June 19, 2020Debunked: I Don't Think This Verse Means What You Think It MeansLive Bible Study: June 19, 2020Live Bible Study: June 20, 2020Reflections: June 20, 2020Reflections: June 21, 2020Reflections: June 22, 2020Video Short: June 22, 2020Under the Cross: Hope in Suffering, Not Apart from ItLive Bible Study: June 22, 2020Foundations: Better Than BulletproofReflections: June 23, 2020Video Short: June 23, 2020Speaking of Faith: Tell What Jesus DidVideo Short: June 24, 2020Reflections: June 24, 2020Live Bible Study: June 24, 2020Reflections: June 25, 2020Musica Sacra: College Hymn FailVideo Short: June 25, 2020Live Bible Study: June 25, 2020Reflections: June 26, 2020Digging Deeper: By Design: Creation and RedemptionVideo Short: June 26, 2020Reflections: June 27, 2020Live Bible Study: June 26, 2020Reflections: June 28, 2020Live Bible Study: June 29, 2020Reflections: June 29, 2020Video Short: June 29, 2020Under the Cross: The First Time I DiedVideo Short: June 30, 2020Foundations: Can, Cannot, and VocationHymnal 101: Church SeasonsReflections: June 30, 2020
 July
Reflections: July 1, 2020Digging Deeper: Mixing It Up with Religion and PoliticsLive Bible Study: June 30, 2020Video Short: June 30, 2020Live Bible Study: July 1, 2020Live Bible Study: July 2, 2020Dean's List: Your Permanent RecordReflections: July 2, 2020Video Short: July 2, 2020Debunked: Enough Isn't EnoughReflections: July 3, 2020Reflections: July 4, 2020Reflections: July 5, 2020Reflections: July 6, 2020Video Short: July 6, 2020Under the Cross: Beautiful, Heartbreaking WorldVideo Short: July 7, 2020Live Bible Study: July 6, 2020Flex: Christ's Cancel CultureReflections: July 7, 2020Speaking of Faith: Third Article EvangelismReflections: July 8, 2020Live Bible Study: July 7, 2020Video Short: July 8, 2020Live Bible Study: July 8, 2020Video Short: July 9, 2020Under the Cross: The Sophia Worthy of ReceptionReflections: July 9, 2020Live Bible Study: July 9, 2020Helpful Things: Get Your Youth Talking!Reflections: July 10, 2020Video Short: July 10, 2020Reflections: July 11, 2020Live Bible Study: July 10, 2020Reflections: July 12, 2020Reflections: July 13, 2020Video Short: July 13, 2020Digging Deeper: Approaching Feminism with the Mind of ChristLive Bible Study: July 13, 2020Musica Sacra: Hymns Are for ProclamationReflections: July 14, 2020Video Short: July14,2020Video Short: July 15, 2020Live Bible Study: July 14, 2020Foundations: Stand by MeReflection: July 15, 2020Live Bible Study: July 15, 2020Dean's List: Your Vote Is a Gift for your NeighborReflections: July 16, 2020Video Short: July 16, 2020Live Bible Study: July 16, 2020Debunked: The Truth about Jeremiah 29:11Reflection: July 17, 2020Video Short: July 17, 2020Reflections: July 18, 2020Reflections: July 19, 2020Video Short: July 20, 2020Reflections: July 20, 2020Foundations: The Life You Now LiveReflections: July 21, 2020Video Short: July 21, 2020Foundations: Heaven on Earth TogetherLIVE BIBLE STUDY: July 21, 2020Speaking of Faith: The Curious Case of AgnosticismLive Bible Study: July 22, 2020Reflections: July 22, 2020Live Bible Study: July 20, 2020Video Short: July 22, 2020Video Short: July 23, 2020Reflections: July 23, 2020Under the Cross: Pushing Back with CompassionLive Bible Study: July 23, 2020Video Short: July 24, 2020Digging Deeper: SpiriligiosityReflections: July 24, 2020Live Bible Study: July 24, 2020Reflections: July 25, 2020Live Bible Study: July 25, 2020Reflections: July 26, 2020Live Bible Study: July 27, 2020Flex: Lutherans on FacebookReflections: July 27, 2020Video Short: July 27, 2020Video Short: July 28, 2020Foundations: CrucifloodLive Bible Study: July 28, 2020Reflections: July 28, 2020Video Short: July 29, 2020Speaking of Faith: Campus ChristianReflections: July 29, 2020Live Bible Study: July 29, 2020Dean's List: Baptized, Ready to DieLive Bible Study: July 30, 2020Reflections: July 30, 2020Video Short: July 30, 2020Video Short: July 31, 2020Debunked: The End Times--Still All About JesusReflections: July 31, 2020

Categories

Tags

1 John 4 1 Peter 3 1 Peter 5 1 cointhians 1 1 corinthians 10 1 corinthians 1 1 corinthians 3 1 corinthians 4 1 corinthians 5 1 corinthians 6 1 corinthians 7 1 corinthians 8 1 corinthians 9 1 john 1 1 kings 19 1 pete 3 1 samuel 10 1 samuel 12 1 samuel 13 1 samuel 14 1 samuel 15 1 samuel 16 1 samuel 17-18 1 samuel 17 1 samuel 18 1 samuel 19 1 samuel 1 1 samuel 20 1 samuel 23 1 samuel 24 1 samuel 25 1 samuel 26 1 samuel 28 1 samuel 2 1 samuel 31 1 samuel 3 1 samuel 4 1 samuel 5 1 samuel 6 1 samuel 8 1 samuel 9 1530 1corinthians 1 1corinthians15 1corinthians1 1john 2 1john 3 2 Nations 2 corinthians 5 2 samuel 1 2 samuel 20 2 samuel 21 2 samuel 22 2 samuel 5 2 samuel 6 2020 2peter 1 9/11 ;unishment Abimelech Abraham Absolution Acts 10 Acts 11 Acts 12 Acts 13 Acts15 Adam Air Force Angelou Apostles' Creed Areopagus Athens Augsburg Augustine Ben E King Benedictus Bethel Bethlehem Bethuel Bible study Blesses Jacob Boaz Boggess Book of Life Book of Prayer Broadway Buddha CDC COVID CTCR Called Out Culture Canaan Catholic Charles V Christ crucified Church Communion Concordia Corinthians Corona Corrow Curry DNA Daniel Daughters of Canaanites David Divergent Divine Service Drosendahl Eden Ehrhard Eighth Commandment El Capitan Emmanuel Enlightenment Ephesians 2 Esau maries Ishmaelite Esau marries Hittites Esau Eucharist Eve Exodus 3 Ezekiel Facebook Father Fenker Fifth Commandment First Article Fisk Flood Galatians 2 Gen Z Generation Z Genesis 12 Genesis 13 Genesis 14 Genesis 16 Genesis 17 Genesis 19 Genesis 1 Genesis 20 Genesis 21:10-21 Genesis 21 Genesis 22 Genesis 24-25 Genesis 24 Genesis 25 Genesis 50 Genesis 5 Genesis 6 Genesis 7 Genesis 8 Genesis George Floyd God's Word God's promise Good Friday Good News Goodman Greek Grim Reaper Hale Han Solo Hill Holy Baptism Hosanna Hunger Games I am IGen Instagram Isaac lies about Rebekah Isaac Isaiah 64 Isaiah Issues Etc Jacob flees Easu Jacob sent to Laban Jacobs ladder Jacoby Jacob Jairus Jeremiah Joanna Joel 2 John 15 John 17 John 18 John 1 Johnson John Joseph Joshua 10 Joshua 23 Joshua 24 Joshua 4 Joshua 6 Joshua 7 Joshua 8 Joshua Judges 2 Judges 3 Judgment Day Kahoot Keith Kopitske Kosche Kruschel LCMS-U LGBTQ LSB Laban Last Day Lazarus Leah Lord appears to Abraham Lord's Supper Luke 15 Luke 16 Luke 1 Luke 6 Luke 9 Luther Lydia Magnificat Mandelbrot Mark 13 Mark 5 Mark 9 Martha Martin Luther Mary Mass Matthew 15 Matthew 16 Matthew 4 Matthew 7 Matthew Memorial Day Micah 7 Michelangelo Minneapolis Mize Monty Python Morales Muhammad Nain Nicene Creed Nicodemus Nones Nunes Old Testament Onesiumus Ostapowich Paradise Passover Patmos Pauls Pelikan Pew Research Pharisees Phil 4 Philemon 17 Philemon 18 Philippians 2 Philistines Pierson Plano Polycarp Preface Preus Proverbs 14 Proverbs 15 Proverbs 16 Proverbs 17 Proverbs 20 Proverbs 22 Psalm 123 Psalm 18 Psalm 23 Psalm 27 Rachel Rebekah Revelation Romans 1 Romans 3 Romans 5 Romans 6 Romans 8 Rosebrough Rouser Ruth 2 Ruth Sabaoth Sacraments Salome Salomi Sanchez Sanctus Sarah laughed Sarah Sayers Siddhartha Sletten Snapchat Social shaming Sodom Son St Paul St. Paul St.Peter Star Wars Supper Taylor Swift Ten Commandments Test Texas Third Article Tribulation Trickery Turkey Twitter Uzziah Vieker Well of Shibah Woelmer Word Zachariah abortion absolve academic active acts 14 acts 15 acts 16 acts 18 acts 19 acts 20 acts 21 acts 22 acts 23 acts 24 acts 25 acts 26 acts 27 acts 28 acts 2 acts 8 acts 9 acts2 acts addiction adultery adults advice aerospace agnostic alcoholic all christians who have been baptized almighty altar guild altar angels animal answer anti-christian antinomians antioch antiphonal anxiety apologetic apostles apostle archaeology archangels arius ark assurance athanasian atheism atheist audience augustana authority babies babylon baby banquet baptism baptized barnabas beliefs betray bible bigots birthright blessing blind blood blues body bonhoeffer borghardt borg borhgardt bread bride of Christ bride brothers brown buetow burial calendar cancel culture cancel candle casket catechism catechize change chant children choir christianity christ clerical cling codependency coin college colors colossians 1 colossians 2 colossians 3 colossians 4 comfort of forgiveness comfort compassion conferences confessions confession confess confidence confirmation conversion coronavirus corporate council covenant creation creed cross crucified crucifix cruciflood culture current events cwirla daily bread dan brown danger darkness dash dead dean death debtors defense defensiveness deistic deliverer demons depression deserve destroy deuteronomy 18 disagreement disaster disciples dishonesty dispensational disruption diversity divorce doctrine donkey door doubt doxology dream dystopian earthquake easter ecclesiastes 1 ecclesiastical egypt election elizabeth embarrassment emotions endure enemy engineering enlightened ephesians 4 ephesians 5 epistle equilibrium estates eternal life evangelism evil evolution excuses exhortation exile exodus 20 experience extra nos ezekiel 1 failure faithful faith fall false teachers false teaching family famine fate fear feast feeling wheel feelings feminism fire font foolishness foolish for you foreigners foretaste forgiveness forgiven forgive fortress fractal freedom freshman fringes fulfillment funeral fun future galatians 1 galatians 3 galatians 4 galatians 5 galatians 6 gay gender generations generosity genesis 15 genesis 2 genesis 3 genesis 4 genesis11 genetic gerhardt gifts gift girlfriend gloom gnosticism golf good fruit good work good gospels gospel government grandma gratitude greatness groom guard haiti happiness harmony healingl heinz heirs hell heresy high school historic history holy spirit holy trinity holy homework homosexuality honor hope hostility humility hurt hymnal hymnody hymn hypocrites i never knew you i samuel 15 iPad iPhone identity idolatry image-bearer imitate imposters imputed incurvatus inheritance intentional forgiveness internet interpretation invitation irreducible complexity isaiah 6 isolation israel jeremiah 23 jerusalem jesus jewish job38 job john 10 john 12 john 13 john 14 john 16 john 19 john 20 john 21 john 3 john 6 john the baptist joshua 1 joshua 2 joshua 3 joy judas judgement judges 13 judges 14 judges 15 judges 16 judges 4 judges 6 judges 7 judging judgment seat justification justin martyr karma katrina keep keseman keys kind kingdom kohlmeier kuhlman lange large catechism laugh law lectionary legacy lemon lentil stew lex credendi lex orendi liberation life-changing light lion liturgical liturgy live lord's prayer lord\'s prayer lord\\\'s prayer lord\\\\\\\'s prayer lord\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s prayer lords prayer lords supper lost love your neighbor love lowly luke 11 luke 14 luke 18 luke 19 luke 21 luke 22 luke 23 luke 24 luke23 luke24 luke5 lust lutheran madden magruder manifestation mark 10 mark 16 mark 6 mark 8 martyrdom martyr mary magdalene masks matthew 28 matthew 5 matthew28 matthew3 means of grace measure mental health merciful mercy metaphor mietzner millennium missionaries missionary modernism money moses mountaintop movement multiply offsprings murder musician mythology myths name nations nation natural disaster natures nature negative neighbor new life new man news nicea noah non-masked numbers 21 numbers 22 numbers 23 numbers 24 numbers 35 numbers27 numbers32 obedience obey old Adam omans 3 omans 6 onesimus opposition orders ordinary ordination overcome pandemic panmillennialist papacy papyrus paraments passive pastoral care pastors pastor patriarch paul peers pentecost people perfection persecution persons person peter philemon 8-9 philemon philippians 4 philosophy politics poor pope positive post-Christian postmodern poverty power practices praise prayer pray pregnancy pregnant presence pride procrastination prodigal son prodigal professor promised land promises promise prophecy prophets prophet proverbs 10 proverbs 13 proverbs 24 proverbs 25 proverbs 27 proverbs 31 proverbs 3 proverbs 5 proverbs 8 proverbs 9 proverbs22 provision psalm 13 psalm 20 psalm 25 psalm 28 psalm 2 psalm 48 psalm 51 psalm 54 psalm8 psychologists public punishment punish purity questions quid pro quo racial racism rags ransom rapture receiving reconciliation record reformation refuge rejoice relationship relativism religion repent rescue response resurrection rich man richard rich righteousness riots risen rock romans 11 romans6 routine rubbish rubies ruth 1 sacrament sacrifice sadness saint salt salvation sanctification satanic saul school science scripture seasons sea self-esteem senior seraphim sermon servant service sexual immorality sexual orientation sexual shaltanis shatlanis sheep shepherd shield shrewd sight singleness sing sinners sinner sins sin slavery slaves small catechism snowflake social distancing social media sola sophia soul speaker sphere spiritualists star steward strength stress strong student loan substance suffering suicide supernatural surreal task-oriented teach technology temple temptation tertullian tetelestai texts the Promise thomas time titus 3 titus3 toil tomb tongues tragedy trap trials trinity triune trust in God trustworthy trust truth tweets type A unbelief unbelievers unity university unwoke vestments victory video vine virgin virology visitation vocation voice vote waiting watermarked water weakness weak wealth wedding wept why will wisdom wise witness woke womb working worldview worship yahweh youth ministry youth zealots zechariah