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For the kingdom of God [is] not in word, but in power.
Note 9 at 1Co 4:20: There were some in Corinth who had challenged Paul's apostolic authority (1Co 1:12, 3:4, and 4:3). In Paul's absence they were bold to speak against him, but here Paul was promising to return to Corinth and settle all disputes, not with words, but through the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is comparable to what Paul said in 1Co 2 (see note 1 at 1Co 2:1 and note 2 at 1Co 2:2). Paul used persuasive words, but his faith was in the power of the Holy Spirit to convict people's hearts. One of the ways the Holy Spirit demonstrated His power through Paul was by miraculous healings and deliverances (see note 4 at 1Co 2:4). Paul used the miraculous manifestations of the Holy Spirit through him as a verification of his apostolic calling (2Co 12:12).
Therefore, Paul was proposing a test similar to what Elijah did with the prophets of Baal in 1Ki 18. Those who opposed Paul would have to demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives or shut up. Talk is cheap, but actions are powerful.
"The Life and Epistles of Paul" by W. J. Conybeare and J. S. Howson says it this way, "For mighty deeds, not empty words, are the tokens of God's kingdom."
Today, if we would discern people's authority by their power instead of just their words, very few cults would exist.