1 Corinthians 4:18–21 (KJV 1900)
18 Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. 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. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. 21 What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?
Some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. Some in the church are feeling bold in their speech and actions because Paul is not with them in person. It is much easier to build yourself up and pull someone else down when they are not present. That is what makes social media so damaging. People are out of control and puffed up, that is until they meet the person face-to-face.
But I will come shortly. Paul is putting them on notice that he plans to come to see them if the Lord will. When he does, then he will see what kind of power these puffed up church members have.
Paul makes a point about the kingdom of God. The kingdom, he says, is not words, but power. Earlier he accused the troublemakers in the church of thinking they were kings, reigning in the kingdom. They were speaking a lot of words, but the kingdom is not about words, it is about power. The Kingdom of God is literal and powerful, it is not made up of the words (not just talk) of men who think they are kings and better than everyone else.
As their father, he can discipline them or treat them gently. Fathers, led by the Holy Spirit, as Paul was, can discern what is needed for the child to mature.