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1 Corinthians 4:19

ESV But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power.
NIV But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have.
NASB 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.
CSB But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk, but the power of those who are arrogant.
NLT But I will come — and soon — if the Lord lets me, and then I’ll find out whether these arrogant people just give pretentious speeches or whether they really have God’s power.
KJV 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.

What does 1 Corinthians 4:19 mean?

Paul has described some arrogant people among the Corinthians: those who will not respond to instruction to them to change their ways. In part, this resistance is because they don't think Paul is coming back to see them in person. Having described their relationship as that of a father and little children, he creates a picture of kids who are rebelling because dad is away from the house. They disobey because they don't think their "father" will catch them in the act.

Paul now insists, though, that he is coming to see them, if the Lord wills. Paul often describes his travel plans as being open to change by God's will (1 Corinthians 16:7; Romans 1:10; 15:32; 1 Thessalonians 3:11; Philemon 1:22).

Paul says that he wants to find out how much power these arrogant people will have when he stands face-to-face with them. He's not worried about their tough talk, but with what power they will demonstrate it. This is an interesting thing for Paul to criticize. The error is parallel to much of the "brave talk" seen on social media. People are often more aggressive, arrogant, or "tough" when they don't think they'll be confronted with another person, in person.

Paul is not trash talking or threatening anyone. The Corinthians will remember the impressive displays of the Holy Spirit's supernatural power that God used to back up Paul's preaching of the gospel (1 Corinthians 2:1–5). Paul is reminding his readers that same power continues to show that God's authority is with Paul. Will those living in rebellion against Paul's teaching in Corinth continue to resist when faced with this power once more?
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