1 Corinthians 4:20
For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
The exact point of this affirmation is to be determined by the circumstances that called it forth. The apostle refers in the context to his personal adversaries in the Church at Corinth. They spoke against him, "puffed up" by the spirit of proud hostility. But he will come and put their pretensions to the test. He will "know, not their words" only, but the amount of real "power" that there is in them. This suggests the genera! relation of the "word" to "the power" in the kingdom of God as an organized fellowship. Seen in several particulars.
I. ITS MEMBERSHIP. Not a question of professed creed, or ritual observance, or forms of godliness; but of the energy of a Divine life in the soul, transforming the whole being of a man into a "new creature." "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit," etc. (John 3:5); "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink," etc. (Romans 14:17); "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision," etc. (Galatians 6:15).
II. ITS MINISTRY. Not by the utterance of mere forms of speech, the establishment of ecclesiastical systems, the multiplication of the means of Christian culture; but by the diffusion of the living force of truth, and the silent sovereign power of the Spirit of God. "It is the Spirit that quickeneth," etc. (John 6:63); "Our gospel came unto you not in word only," etc. (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
III. ITS ADMINISTRATION. Not by hollow pretence, or blatant assumption, or self constituted officialism; but by the authority that lies in real personal capacity, distinguished goodness, saintly character, effective spiritual power (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:7-9). - W.
Parallel VersesKJV: For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.