In order to understand this verse we need to read 1 Corinthians 4:16-20, which says “Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church. Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power” (NASB).

Paul was deeply burdened for the saints at Corinth. They had fallen into a sad spiritual state of pride after listening to the wisdom of men instead of to the Word of God. He was going to come soon to address this issue of pride but before he did he exhorts them in verse 16 to “be imitators of me.” Was Paul himself guilty of pride in saying this? No, for later in 1 Corinthians 11:1 he says, “Be ye followers of me, even as I follow Christ.” Paul longed to see his children in the faith manifesting Christ in their lives! In verse 17 he informs them that Timothy is on his way to them to “remind you of my ways which are in Christ.” In other words, Timothy would remind the saints that Paul wasn’t all talk, but that HE PRACTICED WHAT HE PREACHED! Verse 18 reveals that there were those in Corinth who, in their pride, thought Paul was trying to scare them with words but that he was actually afraid to come to them. He assures them in verse 19 that he was indeed coming, and when he did arrive he would expose their pride and their lack of spiritual power. He knew that some of them were all talk without the power of a spiritual life to back it up. We often say of such people: they “TALK THE TALK” but don’t “WALK THE WALK.” He would have them to know, even before he comes, that “the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power.”

What exactly does Paul mean by those words? He simply means that the kingdom of God is not concerned with WORDS, but with ACTIONS! Again, Paul PRACTICED WHAT HE PREACHED. He lived the truth that he taught. How did he do this? By the POWER of the Spirit of God! Romans 14:17 speaks to this, for it reads, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” The kingdom of God refers here to the spiritual reality, where those in the kingdom prove the reality of their profession by a godly character produced the Holy Spirit. Paul demonstrated the reality of his faith, and his burden for the Corinthians is that they too would back up their words with real power; the power of a holy life lived out in the power and energy of the Spirit of God. (171.3) (DO)