Philippians 4:19 makes a bold statement: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (NIV). At first glance it seems that Paul is saying that each believer will be taken care of from a financial point of view, and that we will not be lacking. At least that is the way many read this verse: that God will not allow his people to remain poor. But is this really what’s going on, or is there more than meets the eye?
Joe Hellerman says, “Whenever you see a command or promise, or read the word “you,” read it as an address to a community (“you,” plural), rather than to an individual. Consistently applied, this will completely transform your understanding of Scripture and your view of the Christian life.
Let’s try it out on Philippians 4:19 — And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Notice what happens. Suddenly, every need of yours become the needs of the church, and the promise is given not to individual believers in isolation from one another but, rather, to a community that has sacrificially contributed to the ministry of the gospel (see 4:15–18).”
It’s helpful to keep in mind that while modern Western people tend to read Scripture with the individual in mind, those belonging to the ancient world wrote and read letters with “we” in mind. Philippians 4:19 is a promise first and foremost to the local church, written with a community and not an individual in mind. Rather than being written to individual American Christians in our modern era, Philippians was penned in order to bring assurance to a suffering community in ancient Philippi.