5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
Paul is speaking here about the presentation of the gospel. He did not just teach in words but by his actions as well, which we all do. Power often refers to strength and the ability to get something, like wealth. It also refers to strength under restraint.
Jesus could have called on spiritual beings to deliver Him physically from the agonies of the Cross. He told Peter when Peter drew a sword to protect Him.
Matthew 26:52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
A Corinthian woman was told to exercise her liberty with restraint by wearing her hair in a manner that perhaps wouldn’t confuse her appearance with the thousand short-haired and shaven headed temple prostitutes in nearby Acro-Corinth.
1Corinthians 11:10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
Still, in most instances power will be as we understand it; strength and might. Jesus Christ, being God in the flesh, had the ability to lay down His life and to raise it again.
John 10:18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
Think on this principle. Paul came to the Thessalonians, not only with words but with the moral power to back those words up with his actions. Christians today are fond of expressing the gospel verbally but living in such a way as if they didn’t believe it. There is no power in their words because their actions don’t give testimony to what they are saying.
To love violence as entertainment, to fiercely cling to every moment of life on this earth as if no Heaven awaited you, to be bigoted regarding people who are different than you and hateful to those who disagree with you, to act terrified of society, government, current events, and culture when the Bible has foretold how it’s all going to work out is not a good way of delivering the gospel with power or showing your faith with confidence that its really based on something other than itself. In other words, do you really have faith in God or just faith in your faith? “It must be true because I believe it,” is not an argument or a testimony.
Paul expressed the gospel to the Thessalonians with the power of the Holy Ghost displayed, and with much assurance. Paul was able to establish their faith, to comfort them, and to give them confidence in their trust in and reliance upon God. Paul talks about the example he and his fellow-laborers were to the Thessalonians. In this letter Paul will make certain assurances and promises to the Christians here and to us regarding what to expect in the future and how actions must back up words for the words to have meaning.
1Corinthians 4:18 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.
As Paul talks about the example we are to set and the great chapter on our own self-restraint of the liberty we have in Christ, Romans 14, he says;
Romans 14:16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of: 17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
When you are giving your testimony for Christ does the person you are talking to see faith in God or fear of men? Do they see confidence in the promises of God or uncertainty? Do you know the Bible well enough to answer the seeker’s questions or are you just as ignorant as the average unsaved person about what the Bible actually says as opposed to what some celebrity preacher said? Does your life reflect what you say you believe and I don’t just mean what you don’t do, don’t say, or where you don’t go? Is there power in your testimony?