Because of context.
Context ALWAYS matters.
It is one thing to remember a phrase or a verse – such as ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. ‘
This is a great verse. Many people have clung to this verse and it’s been a source is strength and comfort for them. But what was Paul really talking about?
Here is the verse in the CEB (Common English Bible) version – 13 I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength.
Paul talking about ENDURING all THESE things is somewhat different than someone saying I can do anything and Christ will give me strength. What is Paul referring to when he refers to himself enduring all these things? – if you go back to Philippians Chapter 1, you will learn that Paul is writing this letter to the Philippians from PRISON.
Brothers and sisters, I want you to know that the things that have happened to me have actually advanced the gospel. 13 The whole Praetorian Guard and everyone else knows that I’m in prison for Christ. 14 Most of the brothers and sisters have had more confidence through the Lord to speak the word boldly and bravely because of my jail time. (Phil 1:12-15)
Context provides additional meaning
So what is Paul actually trying to tell the Philippians to do? Was Paul trying to tell them that they can do anything? If you read earlier in the chapter, the message he is actually trying to impart is found in verse 4 – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice
He goes on to say that he has always rejoiced and expands on that further in verses 11-13
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.
Context helps provide deeper understanding of what you have learned.
When all the writing in the letter (all the chapters and verses in Philippians) become ingrained in your head, and the words roll around in your brain like a melody, the Spirit provides wisdom and understanding. He reveals things that are not at first evident.
Context helps reveal the big picture
God’s story woven throughout all of Scripture. If we go back to what Paul is saying in the first chapter – he is excited about being in prison because this has helped to advance the Gospel. What is the common thread throughout the Bible – the Gospel.
Context helps the brain retain the information in the long term
Context helps us internalize what our brain learns – and live it every day. When we live our day to day lives with the big picture of advancing the Gospel in mind, we are ready to do His work. This is what soaks into our brains, it is precious and we retain it.
One more quick example from the same chapter in Philippians – And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:19
This is another fantastic verse, but what does the whole paragraph say?
15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Paul is saying a blessing over the Philippians who were faithful supporters and contributors to his ministry. This is not to say that God cannot or will not supply MY needs or YOUR needs, I just think it is important to know that this blessing over the Philippians was in response to their faithful giving.
The authors of Scripture wrote words, inspired by God, but they did not write individual verses. These authors wrote stories, songs, poems, letters, detailed accounts of events etc. that were divided into verses thousands of years later.
Whenever I hear a neat verse, I always want to learn more – what is the context? what is God’s message in this? Memorizing full passages of Scripture are an incredible way to get deeper insight into his Word.
See my other posts about memorizing Scripture.