The Corinthians and the Apostle Paul Page 4 of 5 (series: Lessons on 1 Cor.)
by John Lowe
19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.
But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will,
If it is the Lord’s will, Paul’s plans will take him to Corinth; he wanted to see them again and address the problems in the assembly there that he had been made aware of. (Servants of God who obey the Spirit will operate as the Lord leads and go where he directs.)
• After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. (Acts 16:7; KJV). God saw that that was not the proper time to preach the word at Bithynia; therefore he willed them to go immediately to Macedonia, the people there were ripe for the Gospel. The Spirit being none other than Jesus Christ.
• Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: (Acts 18:9; KJV). It is likely that Paul was at this time very discouraged by the violent opposition of the Jews, and his life was probably in danger; see Acts 18:10; and he might have been entertaining serious thoughts of ceasing to preach, or leaving Corinth. To prevent this, and comfort him, God was pleased to give him this vision.
• For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. (James 4:15; KJV). The proper way is to plan everything subject to the Lord's will.
It was under the authority of the Lord Jesus that the apostles ministered and directed their movements from one assembly to another. But subjection to the Lord in no way weakens the conduct of his servant.
and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.
Paul had the Holy Spirit living within him, and if those who bragged that they could do so much, were all that they claimed to be, he would know it—not through what they said, but through the power present in their preaching and operating in their lives. He would know if they were building with gold, silver, and precious stones and producing fruit to the Glory of God, or if they were building only with wood, hay, and stubble. The true servant of God cannot be confused or confounded—“Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded” (1 Pe 2.6; KJV). Here is another reference to the chosen and valuable cornerstone, Jesus Christ and Paul applies it to the statement, “he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.” The word confounded comes from the Septuagint translation of Isaiah 28:16 which is quoted by the New Testament writers. Paul, in Romans 9:33 and 10:11, seems to define quite well the meaning of being confounded, or being “put to shame”; it means to “fail to be saved.” Whatever the meaning in the Old Testament, the meaning of the quotation in the New Testament and here is, “the person who believes in Him will certainly not fail to be saved.”
Paul’s preaching did not come from human wisdom: “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing (persuadable) words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Co 2.4; KJV). Paul resolved not to speak with lofty oratory, like the Greeks, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. With a deep sense of his own insufficiency, Paul carried on a ministry characterized by modesty and humility. Paul was determined, as was John the Baptist that “he must increase, but I must decrease.” Instead, his ministry demonstrated the Spirit and power. Obviously, the power was not owing to any human facility, but instead to the power of divine wisdom. Paul’s mention of the Spirit here is significant. The Corinthians thought they knew much about the Holy Spirit, since they had experienced the gifts of the Spirit like no other church in apostolic times. But they still had a lot to learn, and Paul will have many things to say about this important subject.
If these powerful Corinthian preachers and dynamic leaders were all they claimed to be, Paul would have no trouble seeing it in the results they were producing; namely, was there life in their ministry, what power accompanied their words, and how effective their preaching was for the conversion of sinners, and the edifying of the church of God.
20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
This statement is
clear and understandable: The energy of the Kingdom of God is not derived from some external source—it is not in the words of men; it comes from the heart, the inner man. The activities of the kingdom are produced by and through the Holy Spirit, and “… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal 5:22-23; KJV). The fruits he named are not our fruits, but the fruits of the Spirit within us. If we display these fruits we show that we have the Spirit. There are four groups: (1) Love, the Christian grace which works out the whole law. (2) Joy and peace, which are the normal state of the Christian. (3) The graces which relate to others, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity (faith), meekness. (4) The last fruit pertains to oneself, temperance, or self-control. It implies not only abstinence from injurious drinks and drugs, but control of the temper, the tongue, the desires, the passion for money or power. Those who bear these fruits find no law interfering with them.
When someone possesses the Holy Spirit, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit will be visible in the life they live. The decisive evidences of a Spirit-controlled life is “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost”—“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17; KJV).
• But righteousness—Pardon of sin, and holiness of heart and life.
• And peace—in the soul, from a sense of God's mercy; regulating peace, ruling, and harmonizing the heart.
• And joy in the Holy Ghost—Solid spiritual happiness; a joy which springs from a clear sense of God's mercy; the love of God being shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost. In a word, it is happiness brought into the soul by the Holy Spirit, and maintained there by the same influence. This is a genuine counterpart of heaven; righteousness without sin, PEACE without inward disturbance, JOY without any kind of mental agony or distressing fear.
When these things are present in a person’s life they are evidence of the Holy Spirit within. But what types of things are not the fruit of the Spirit and are evidence that the Holy Spirit is missing from a life. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is not conceit, pride, smugness, and self-praise. It is not difficult for one Christian to readily recognize another believer who is controlled and permeated by the Spirit; and by the same token, it is not difficult to detect a counterfeit profession.
Here Paul uses the Kingdom of God in a general way, meaning the realm of God’s rule.
Currently, the earth is in rebellion against God; but the sphere in which God rules is acknowledged by individual believers who have entered the Kingdom of God by way of the new birth—“ Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3.3, 5; KJV). These verses are from Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, and I think the reason he came to Jesus was to talk about the Kingdom of God. I see no other reason why our Lord would almost abruptly interrupt him and say to him, “The thing is, you can’t even see the kingdom of God unless you’ve been born again.” Now here is a man, a Pharisee, who is religious to his fingertips, and yet our Lord told him he couldn’t see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again. If this man came to talk about the kingdom and the establishing of it, which I think he did, then certainly this statement of our Lord diverted him. So now he drops the mask of the man of the Pharisees, but he is still a ruler of the Jews. Jesus had said he must be born again. The Greek word for “again” is anothen which means “from above.” This man Nicodemus couldn’t think of anything but a physical birth. He immediately dropped the condescending mask of the Pharisee and asked how this could be. Our Lord wasn’t speaking of a physical birth at all. He was speaking about a spiritual birth. But Nicodemus couldn’t understand about a spiritual birth. The reason was that he had no spiritual capacity to comprehend it. I believe that Nicodemus was saved sometime after this, because he changed; he defended Jesus before the Jewish council, and he helped Joseph of Arimathea take the Lord’s body off the Cross. These men are with Jesus today.