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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.

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