You may have heard about the fruit of the Spirit and wondered what it is and how it relates to being a Christian.
In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul lists nine specific behaviours – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – that are the result of the work of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life.
Where is the phrase “Fruit of the Spirit” in the Bible?
In Galatians 5:22-23, love is translated from the Greek word (agape). Greek has multiple words for love including eros, which is sexual love and philos, which is brotherly love. Agape is perfect love that only God can give.
“In respect of agapao as used of God, it expresses the deep and constant ‘love’ and interest of a perfect Being towards entirely unworthy objects, producing and fostering a reverential ‘love’ in them towards the Giver, and a practical ‘love’ towards those who are partakers of the same and a desire to help others to seek the Giver,” according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary.
Love for God and others is the result of receiving God’s perfect agape’ love. Jesus encouraged his followers.
Joy here is often translated to joy or delight. It often is seen in the Bible with gladness. It is the realisation of God’s favour and grace in one’s life. Biblical joy is happiness that is not dependent on our circumstances. Paul encourages us to: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:1-2).
The Biblical concept of peace (eirene) in Greek is inclusive of life without conflict as well as wholeness and harmony with God and others. A life of peace is safe and secure both physically and mentally.
“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)
Peace is a result of allowing the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts and minds. When we have peace, we are far from fear and worry about finances, our safety, our salvation, and our eternal life. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is seen in the peace that comes even when our circumstances are far from tranquil. Jesus encouraged his followers in John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Forbearance (makrothumia) is not a word that most of us commonly use. The Greek word in Galatians 5:22-23 is often translated using other words such as patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance, longsuffering, and slowness in avenging wrongs. The Holy Spirit empowers believers to withstand challenging situations with perseverance and endurance.
The Greek root of this word relates to two words that mean long and passion. Through the Holy Spirit we are able to wait longer before indulging our passions: we become “long-tempered” rather than “short-tempered.” Paul used this word when he was describing Jesus’ patience with him.
Kindness (chréstotés) conveys the meaning of moral goodness, integrity, usefulness, and benignity. In the King James version, this word is translated “gentleness,” which links it to the meaning of a gentleman or a gentlewoman, someone who behaved properly, with moral integrity and kindness.
Romans 2:4 reminds us that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance not judgment. The Holy Spirit enables us to have moral integrity with kindness and not get trapped in self-righteousness judgment.
Goodness (agathosune) means uprightness of heart and life, goodness, and kindness. Goodness is seen in our actions. This word relates to not only being good, but also doing good things.
The Contemporary English Version of 2 Thessalonians 1:11 highlights this meaning, “We pray for God’s power to help you do all the good things you hope to do and your faith makes you want to do.” Through the Holy Spirit’s work in Christians’ lives, they are upright in heart, and they do good things.
Faithfulness (pistis) is evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. Faithfulness is a character trait that combines dependability and trust based on our confidence in God and His eternal faithfulness.
In the New Testament, faith is the belief in God and the conviction that Jesus is the Messiah through whom we obtain eternal salvation.
“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11)
Gentleness (prautes) was translated “meekness” in the King James version, but because being meek seemed weak, modern translations of the Bible use gentleness to mean mildness of disposition.
Baker’s Evangelical Bible Dictionary explains: “Meekness does not identify the weak but more precisely the strong who have been placed in a position of weakness where they persevere without giving up. The use of the Greek word when applied to animals makes this clear, for it means ‘tame’ when applied to wild animals. In other words, such animals have not lost their strength but have learned to control the destructive instincts that prevent them from living in harmony with others.”
Self-control (egkrateia) is ability to control one’s body and its sensual appetites and desires – physically and mentally – through the power of the Holy Spirit. Self-control relates to both chastity and sobriety, and particularly moderation in eating and drinking. Self-control is the opposite of the works of the flesh that indulge sensual desires.
Culled from www.christianity.com
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