I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
Some have called this the Superman verse. People invoke it to say that they can do anything and everything, as long as Christ is giving them the ability to do it. It’s a great motivational verse. As great as that message sounds, it’s not what Paul meant when you read the verse in its context.
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:10-13)
Ben Witherington observes that the Greek does not say “do.” The only verb in the Greek is ischuo, which means “to be able, strong, healthy, valid, powerful.” A literal rendering of the verse is “I am able all things in Him who empowers me.” Read literally, it doesn’t make any sense. Able to do what? The helping verb is missing, and can only be supplied by the surrounding context.