The Bible is a big book. Lots of people have trouble reading and understanding it. In this series, “One-Liners From the Bible,” I take a look at a series of memorable quotes from the Bible that manage to distill down some important truths in just a few words.
In this post we actually look at two one-liners, both of which are powerful on their own. But when they are placed side by side, they have an even bigger impact.
First, in John 15:5, Jesus is referring to himself as the Vine and his disciples as the branches. He concludes the plant metaphor by proclaiming, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”
We should probably clarify what Jesus means by nothing. After all, lots of people who know nothing about Jesus or know about him and are not connected to him in any way, do lots of things every day. What Jesus means when he says nothing is that apart from him we can do nothing that is God-pleasing. No matter how good and amazing something my appear to be, if it is not done in Christ it is nothing.
The other one-liner comes from the Apostle Paul in the fourth chapter of his letter to the Philippians: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) Again, let’s clarify what Paul means by all things. Paul was a very intelligent and talented man but he could not literally do all things. No one can. What Paul means is that, with Christ working through him, nothing is impossible.
Each of these one-liner by themselves is strong. But when they are put side by side they become even stronger.
Each of these statements use exclusive terminology. Words like nothing and all things pretty much don’t leave any wiggle room. With Christ we can do all things; without him we can do nothing.