18Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 19But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. 21What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?
Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you.
There was a great sense of pride (being “puffed up”) in the Corinthian church. They assumed that Paul would not come back and deal with that pride.
But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills,
Paul fully intended to come to Corinth under the will of God. We should always put one restriction on our plans – “if the Lord wills.”
Ja 4:15, Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”
and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power.
Paul will not be fooled by the pride of words when he comes, but he will expose where true authority lies in the church. He will lay bare all false pretensions.
For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.
The nature of ministry in the kingdom of God is not oratory or speaking ability but in the reality of what it can effect. The “kingdom” is the place where God governs.
What do you want?
Paul calls the Corinthian church to two choices.
Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?
The alternatives that Paul gives the Corinthian church are two: (1) he can come with a rod of discipline or, (2) he can come with love and a spirit of gentleness. The word “rod” stands for rebuke and discipline. The word “gentleness” is meekness. This is the quiet power of depending on God’s grace. Paul’s options are peace or war, but you choose.
Christians should accept the corrections of spiritual discipline.
The believer will never face eternal condemnation (Ro 8:1), but he will encounter temporal discipline in his Christian life if he does not deal with pride and other sins.