Question and Answer
Fruit of the Spirit
I read a note in one study Bible (American Standard Version—the Open Bible version) for Galatians 5:22, 23 that the fruit of the Spirit is love and that it is manifested in joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I have never heard that before, but thought that that did not sound too far off, and went to 1 Cor. 13 where it says that love is patient, love is kind, supporting that particular note. But this being the first time reading, I wanted to see what other theologians said in their commentaries about it. Matthew Henry's and John Calvin's commentaries both mention fruits of the Spirit. I was wondering what your thoughts were on that.
I agree with you that the Open Bible comment on Galatians 5:22, 23 is "not too far off." Of course verses 22, 23 list a number of distinct virtues as "fruit of the Spirit", and they cannot simply be equated. On the other hand, the word "fruit" in the original is singular—one fruit, suggesting that these qualities are worked in believers as a unity (so your reference to 1 Cor. 13 is right on in that regard).
The underlying thought, I believe, is that the transformation of our character (following the new birth, conversion to faith in Christ) by the sanctifying work of the Spirit is aimed at fulfilling Romans 8:29: "Whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren ...."
The holy, righteous, loving, obedient, serving character of our Lord Jesus in his earthly humiliation (Philippians 2:5-8) was not fragmented but constituted one heart of pure and single-minded devotion to his Father and perfect reflection of his Father's holy and loving character ("He who has seen Me has seen the Father," John 14:9).
In our own lives various aspects of "the" fruit may appear more readily and others more stubbornly, related to our personal complex of besetting sins and weaknesses. We may, therefore, find that we need to pray more earnestly for the Spirit to work in one or two areas more than others. But God's aim in reforming and transforming us as new creatures being made like our Savior (Ephesians 2:10, 15, 4:13, 23,24—both corporately and individually) is the full integrity of our character in conformity to Christ.
And if we can say that "love" shows itself in "joy, peace, patience ... self-control", we can also say that true "patience" (for example) manifests itself in love, joy, peace, etc., as opposed to grimly stoic fatalistic waiting.
I hope this answer is helpful to you. Do feel free to come back with follow up or further questions.
The Lord bless and guide you in His truth and righteousness.
"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)
The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.
The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.
While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.
You will receive an answer by email. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.
The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.
Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been editedall personal references are removed, Scripture references may be added, and sometimes portions are expandedto make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.