Need or Needs?
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:19.
Perhaps there are few things that can be done to undermine trust more than to subtly alter a promise so that those receiving the promise no longer understand it and eventually become disappointed in the promise giver's inability to keep his promises. Such is the case with Philippians 4:19. The new versions are pretty unanimous in making that promise into a plural of the word word "need".
The New American Standard Version just adds an "s". NASV: And my God will supply [a]all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. You will notice that they add a footnote. They think that it also can mean; Or every need of yours. In either case, the promise morphs into a promise to supply many needs. That is not what God promised.
Likewise, the ESV says the same thing; ESV: And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Once again, the promise of God to supply all your need (singular) is altered to make believers think that God is obligated by promise to see that they suffer no lack of any needful item. How unlike Paul's declaration; Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace, 1st Corinthians 4:11!
A Christian has one and only one true need. He needs a good relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and he needs that relationship to grow into every part of his life. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live, Deuteronomy 8:3.
It is not outside of God's care for any believer for God to distinctly withhold from them certain perceived needs to instruct them about what truly matters. It is common for me to find people who at one time tried to serve God through a local church or even on a mission field, who in their heart of hearts believe that God failed them. They don't immediately say that, it often takes a while to see the bitterness that they hide deep within.
At the core of that bitterness are memories of a time of great need wherein they perceive that God abandoned them. God did not abandon those mentioned in Hebrews 11: 36-38. And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
If we were deluded enough to get our promises from God out of the new versions, we could quickly conclude that God hated those martyrs of Hebrews 11. When Jim Elliot and four other missionaries stood in front of frightened and distrustful South American Indians, I'm sure that they felt a distinct need for the protection of God. They got none. Instead their names became a launching pad for countless missionary endeavors, and those Indians for whom and by whom they died came to know the salvation of Christ Jesus.
God supplied their need. They had surrendered years earlier to perform whatsoever duty that God required of them. After our third or fourth trillion years in glory, do we honestly think that any of those men would regret the 30 or 40 years that they sacrificed to fulfill God's perfect will for their lives?
I remember the first week of special preaching that I ever sat through sometime in 1979. The preacher recounted the story of an English sea captain who in the 1700s transported some English missionaries to an island in the South Pacific. As they approached the island, war canoes filled with spear carrying men began to launch from the Island. The captain told the missionaries that he could not in good conscience allow them to take a boat to the Island. He told them it was certain death. They replied that they had died five years earlier when they gave their lives to God at an altar in England.
When a child of God sits and feels despair over what he lacks, all who know him notice. It is similar to Paul being bit by a serpent in Melita. All who saw it supposed that he was an evil man. Instead when he shook it off without harm, they supposed him to be of God. God receives much glory from the life willing to live in necessity while others look on and wonder. When the world has determined that God has abandoned a child of God, God begins to move. We will probably never know how many Christians abandoned their God-given duties because they had learned Philippians 4:19 from a misquote of the word of God (which is very common even in King James circles), or learned it from another version.