To get a proper understanding of this verse, let’s read Philippians 4:10-12, “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”

As one who had given his life to the service of the Lord, the Apostle Paul was dependent upon the Lord to supply all his needs. Acts 18:3 tells us that Paul had learned the art of tent making and could provide for his needs at times, but with his busyness and travels, the Lord most often supplied his needs through the generous giving of the saints. In this epistle to the Philippians, Paul thanks the saints there for their gift of support to him. He realizes that they had desired to minister to him before, but they ‘lacked opportunity’, or were not able.

Paul then goes on to speak three very remarkable words, “I have learned”. There were times that Paul was abased, or humbled by his needs. There were times that Paul abounded, yet that did not distract from his service to the Lord. Let’s read verse 12 again from the NASB, which makes the meaning a little clearer. That says, “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Paul had ‘learned’ these valuable lessons through his life experiences. He wrote of some of his experiences in 2 Corinthians 11:25-27, “Thrice have I been scourged, once I have been stoned, three times I have suffered shipwreck, a night and day I passed in the deep: in journeyings often, in perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in perils from my own race, in perils from the nations, in perils in the city, in perils in the desert, in perils on the sea, in perils among false brethren; in labour and toil, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” These were very harsh lessons, but because of them, Paul could say, “I have learned.” May we be wise enough to learn from our harsh experiences rather than just try to survive and escape troubling times! May we also be able to say, “I have learned!

Paul then goes on to say in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Through his experiences, Paul had learned the faithfulness of his savior to strengthen him for whatever he might be called upon to endure.   Paul also wrote to the saints in Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 5:24, “Faithful is he that calleth you…” As some say today, “If the Lord brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” Whatever it was that Paul had to face, he realized he could do it because the Lord would give him the strength. Is that not true of each one of us? Does not the Lord give us needed strength daily? Can we not trust Him to empower us to do whatever He has called us to do? We certainly can! I pray that we all might be able to say, “I have learned” so that we can say assuredly, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (164.3)