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Philippians 4:12

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 1hunger, abundance and 2need.

Philippians 4:12 Meaning and Commentary

Philippians 4:12

I know both how to be abased
Or "humbled"; to be treated with indignity and contempt, to be trampled upon by man, to suffer hardships and distress, to be in a very mean and low condition, to work with his own hands, and minister to his own and the necessities of others in that way; yea, to be in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness, and have no certain dwelling place; and he knew how to behave under all this; not to be depressed and cast down, or to fret, repine, and murmur: and I know how to abound;
or "to excel"; to be in the esteem of men, and to have an affluence of the things of this world, and how to behave in the midst of plenty; so as not to be lifted up, to be proud and haughty, and injurious to fellow creatures; so as not to abuse the good things of life; and so as to use them to the honour of God, the interest of religion, and the good of fellow creatures, and fellow Christians: every where;
whether among Jews or Gentiles, at Jerusalem or at Rome, or at whatsoever place; or as the Arabic version renders it, "every time": always, in every season, whether of adversity or prosperity: and in all things;
in all circumstances of life: I am instructed;
or "initiated", as he was by the Gospel; and, ever since he embraced it, was taught this lesson of contentment, and inured to the exercise of it, and was trained up and instructed how to behave himself in the different changes and vicissitudes he came into: both to be full, and to be hungry;
to know what it was to have plenty and want, to have a full meal and to want one, and be almost starved and famished, and how to conduct under such different circumstances: both to abound and to suffer need;
which the apostle repeats for confirmation sake; and the whole of what he here says is an explanation of the lesson of contentment he had learned; and the knowledge he speaks of was not speculative but experimental, and lay not merely in theory, but in practice; and now lest he should be thought guilty of arrogance, and to ascribe too much to himself, he in ( Philippians 4:13 ) attributes all to the power and grace of Christ.

Philippians 4:12 In-Context

10 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.
14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.

Cross References 2

  • 1. 1 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 11:27
  • 2. 2 Corinthians 11:9