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…
Paul had the double knowledge, "How to be abased" and "how to abound." The two are not distinctly separable — each in some way conditions the other. There is far too little of the knowledge how to abound. Few men who abound come asking how to abound. Men think it hard enough to get rich, but a very easy thing to be rich. No man has a right to be anything unless he has the knowledge of how to be that thing. When Paul says, "I know how to abound," he is thinking of anything which makes life pleasant and ample — of money, of scholarship, of friendship, of great spiritual hopes and experiences. Paul did not have all these, and yet he had the knowledge of how to use them. The power by which he could rob abundance of its dangers was the knowledge of the true perfection of a soul in serving Christ. All men do not know how to be rich. The generous, sympathetic, active, kind, rich man knows how to be rich. What is more pitiable than the blunderer who holds wealth and knows not how to use it? There is also needed a knowledge of how to know truth. Here is a scholar who can give you any information, and yet you feel no enrichment. He has no deep convictions, no faith. He has grown less human. He values his knowledge as a botanist his specimens, and not as a gardener his plants. The highest knowledge comes by reverence and devotedness to God.
(Phillips Brooks, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.