I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
(Philippians 4:18-20 ESV)
The Philippians had sent Paul a very generous gift for which he has thanked them. We know from 2 Corinthians 8:1-3 that the people in Philippi were not wealthy so this gift they sent to Paul in Rome was a sacrifice for them. They may have therefore had some concern about their own future financial stability.
So Paul reminds them that God promises to meet their “every need”. This verse, Philippians 4:19, is one of the most quoted verses in all of the Bible. But like any verse, it needs to be taken within its context. God isn’t promising to do this for every believer in every situation.
Rather, when someone is sacrificially generous towards another in need, as the Philippians were towards Paul, God promises to take care of them by “supplying” what they “need” (not necessarily what they want). The word “supply” in Greek is the word πλεροο (pronounced: play-ro’-o) which means “to fill to the top so nothing is missing”. God will make sure generous people are never in want of the necessities in life.
This theme is seen throughout the Bible. Proverbs 3:9 tells us that when we give sacrificially God will more than replenish us. In Luke 6:38 Jesus says what we give will be returned to us. But notice that we must go first. We have to give up what we have in faith that God will do as He said. When we do God will pay us back “according to His riches”.
The words “according to” are very important here. God gives “according to” His riches, not “out of” His riches. If a billionaire gave a homeless person a dollar he would be giving “out of” his riches. But if he gave “according to” his riches he’d give that homeless person thousands of dollars. God isn’t stingy. He has infinite riches. And He gives “according to” those riches to generous people who are “in Christ”.
God funnels all His blessings through Jesus. Those who don’t know Jesus – who have not been born again and are therefore not part of God’s family [John 1:12] – cannot partake of God’s riches. But those of us who do can count on this promise.
Everyone who has a personal relationship with God through Jesus, as Paul and the Philippians did, can be generous without fear. Such a person never needs to worry about being in need.
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