1 Corinthians 4:19
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.
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4:14-21 In reproving for sin, we should distinguish between sinners and their sins. Reproofs that kindly and affectionately warn, are likely to reform. Though the apostle spoke with authority as a parent, he would rather beseech them in love. And as ministers are to set an example, others must follow them, as far as they follow Christ in faith and practice. Christians may mistake and differ in their views, but Christ and Christian truth are the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Whenever the gospel is effectual, it comes not in word only, but also in power, by the Holy Spirit, quickening dead sinners, delivering persons from the slavery of sin and Satan, renewing them both inwardly and outwardly, and comforting, strengthening, and establishing the saints, which cannot be done by the persuasive language of men, but by the power of God. And it is a happy temper, to have the spirit of love and meekness bear the rule, yet to maintain just authority.But I will come - It is from no fear of them that I am kept away; and to convince them of this I will come to them speedily.

If the Lord will - If the Lord permit; if by his providence he allows me to go. Paul regarded the entering on a journey as dependent on the will of God; and felt that God had all in his hand. No purpose should be formed without a reference to his will; no plan without feeling that he can easily frustrate it and disappoint us; see James 4:15.

And will know - I will examine; I will put to the test; I will fully understand,

Not the speech ... - Not their vain and empty boasting; not their confident assertions, and their self-complacent views.

But the power - Their real power. I will put their power to the proof: I will see whether they are able to effect what they affirm; whether they have more real power than I have. I will enter fully into the work of discipline, and will ascertain whether they have such authority in the church, such a power of party and of combination, that they can resist me, and oppose my administration of the discipline which the church needs. "A passage," says Bloomfield, "which cannot, in nerve and rigor, or dignity and composed confidence, be easily paralleled, even in Demosthenes himself."

19. Alford translates, "But come I will"; an emphatical negation of their supposition (1Co 4:18).

shortly—after Pentecost (1Co 16:8).

if the Lord will—a wise proviso (Jas 4:15). He does not seem to have been able to go as soon as he intended.

and will know—take cognizance of.

but the power—I care not for their high-sounding "speech," "but" what I desire to know is "their power," whether they be really powerful in the Spirit, or not. The predominant feature of Grecian character, a love for power of discourse, rather than that of godliness, showed itself at Corinth.

But I will come to you shortly: Paul intended in his journey to Rome to pass through Macedonia and Achaia, but he knew that God could hinder him, and therefore he adds, if the Lord will: neither did Paul go to them so soon as he intended, but had time before he went to write another Epistle, as we shall afterwards find. All Christians are bound, when they promise or resolve upon any journeys, to understand, if God will, and to have in their thoughts the power of God to hinder them, and to speak with submission to his pleasure, who counteth their steps and telleth their wanderings, and ordereth their steps; though they be not strictly bound at all times to use this form of speech.

And will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power: and when I come, then I shall understand these teachers of yours, who so vilify me; I shall not regard so much their fine words and philosophical reasonings, as what there is of spiritual life and power in them; either in their doctrine or life, how conducive it is to the ends of the gospel, and how consonant to the truth of the gospel, what good they do amongst you, what manner of lives they live: these are the things that my eyes shall be upon, and which I shall regard.

But I will come to you shortly,.... This he said as threatening them, but not by way of prophecy; for it is not certain that he ever did come to them after this; but by way of promise, as it was then the real intention, inclination, and resolution of his mind, though with this condition,

if the Lord will; which is rightly put, and what the apostle had a continual regard unto, in all things he was concerned; see Romans 1:10 and though it is not absolutely necessary that this should be expressed by us always in so many words; though should it, as the sentence is short and full, there would be no impropriety in it; yet this should always be the sense of our minds and conduct in all the affairs of life; see James 4:13

and will know not the speech of them that are puffed up, but the power; meaning chiefly the false teachers; and that his concern would be, not so much to observe their masterly language, the eloquence of their speech, the quaintness of their expressions, the cadency of their words, how nicely they were put together, and how fitly pronounced; but what life there was in their ministry, what power went forth with their words, and how effectual their preaching was to the, conversion of sinners, and the edifying of the church of God.

But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the {k} speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.

(k) By words, he means their fancy and elaborate type of eloquence, which he contrasts with the power of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 4:19. Ἐλεύσομαι δέ] the contrast emphatically put first: come, however, I will.

ταχέως] Comp Php 2:24; 2 Timothy 4:9. As to how long he thought of still remaining in Ephesus, see 1 Corinthians 16:8.

Ὁ ΚΎΡΙΟς] to be understood not of Christ, but of God. See the critical remarks on Romans 15:32. Comp Romans 1:10; Jam 4:15.

ΓΝΏΣΟΜΑΙ] what and how the boasters speak (τὸν λόγον), Paul will, on his approaching visit, leave wholly without notice; but as regards the amount of energy put forth by them in producing results for the kingdom of God, of that he will take knowledge.

τὴν δύναμ.] namely, their power of working for the advancement of the βασιλ. τ. Θεοῦ, 1 Corinthians 4:20. To explain it as referring to the power of miracles (Chrysostom, Theophylact; not Grotius), or to the power of their virtues (Theodoret, Pelagius, Justin), is contrary to the context. Comp what Paul says of himself in 1 Thessalonians 1:5. This practically effective might, which has for its primary condition the true power of the Spirit (of which de Wette understands it; we may recall Paul himself, Luther, etc.), was what the boasters seemed to have, but they let the matter rest at words, which were altogether lacking in the strength to effect anything. How wholly otherwise it was with Paul himself! Comp 1 Corinthians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 6:7.

19. if the Lord will] See James 4:13-15, who “justly derides that rashness among men, in that they plan what they shall do ten years hence, when they are not certain that they shall live another hour.” Calvin in loc. The Roman Catholic commentator, Estius, makes a similar observation.

not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power] The power that is derived from Christ, which He Himself possessed to influence the heart of man. Such seems to be the more usual meaning of the word δύναμις in St Paul’s Epistles. Cf. Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 2:4, &c. It includes, no doubt, the power of working miracles, for with one or two exceptions, the miracles of the gospel were manifestations of Christ’s power to deliver humanity from the dominion of evil and its consequences.

1 Corinthians 4:19. Ἐλεύσομαι, I will come) Paul writes to the churches everywhere about his coming to them, and thus keeps them in the discharge of their duty.—ἐὰν ὁ Κύριος θελήσῃ, if the Lord will) He wisely adds this condition. Afterwards some things occurred to prevent his immediately going to them.—γνώσομαι, will take cognizance) A word used in courts of law. Here, and at 1 Corinthians 4:21, the man, who was such an outcast abroad in the world, shows his paternal authority, see 1 Corinthians 4:9-10.—οὐ τὸν λόγον, not the speech) big, but empty.

Verse 19. - I will come to you shortly (Philippians 2:24; 2 Timothy 4:9). He came soon after writing the Second Epistle. At this time he was preparing to leave Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:8); his actual departure was precipitated by the tumult (Acts 20. l, 2). If the Lord will. The apostolic use of the phrase was something more than a mere form (Romans 15:32; Hebrews 6:3; James 4:15); it expressed a real and humble spirit of dependence. Not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. He will use his gift of spiritual discernment to discover whether the haughty self assertion and sounding phraseology of these inflated partisans would not collapse when confronted with real authority. The "speech" was there in abundance; but was there anything genuine, any real spiritual force, behind it? 1 Corinthians 4:19
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