18 Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you.
19 But 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.
20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.
21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?
puffed up (v.18) — Apparently, some were bragging that Paul wouldn’t come to Corinth because of the opposition to his apostleship.
I will know (v.19) — a judicial term, expressing authority
not the word (v.19) — not their bragging
but the power (v.19) — if they are accomplishing spiritual results (1 Corinthians 2:4)
kingdom of God (v.20) — Here Paul uses “kingdom of God” in a general way, meaning the realm of God’s rule. Just now, 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 (John 3:3, 5). At this present time the kingdom of God “cometh not with observation” (Luke 17:20). The kingdom of God is not made manifest at this time as it will be when Jesus Christ sits on the throne of David in Jerusalem — His King upon His holy hill of Zion (Psalm 2:6). When Jesus Christ sits on the throne in Zion, the kingdom of God on earth will be in glorious and universal manifestation (Matthew 25:31-34; Revelation 11:15).
To be in the kingdom of God at this present time brings reproach, persecution and suffering (Acts 14:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:5). Individual believers who are faithful in bearing the cross and suffering with Christ will share in the eternal reward for endurance and faithfulness (2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 3:21).
In the gospel of Matthew we read concerning “the kingdom of heaven,” literally the heavens. The Kingdom of Heaven will be upon this earth, as promised to Abraham and Israel. There will be one thousand years of righteous government on earth, and the Church will reign with Christ over the millennial earth.
The Millennium is promised primarily to Israel, and God will keep His promise. When Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bring forth a Son, he also announced that the Son would sit on the throne of His father David in Jerusalem, and this will literally come to pass. — Greene, pages 176-177.
rod (v.21) — rebuke and discipline
in love and a spirit of gentleness (v.21) — with a quiet spirit in contrast to hard discipline — The question wasn’t whether he would come, but how.