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Stained glass window at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, depicting the Fruit of the Holy Spirit along with role models representing them, i.e. the Good Shepherd representing love, an angel holding a scroll of Gloria in excelsis Deo representing joy and Jesus Christ, Job representing longsuffering, Jonathan faith, Ruth gentleness and goodness, Moses meekness, and John the Baptist temperance. Executed by Hardman & Co. in the 1870s.[1]

The Fruit of the Holy Spirit is a biblical term that sums up nine attributes of a person or community living in accord with the Holy Spirit according to the Epistle to the Galatians: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."[2] The fruits is contrasted with the works of the flesh which immediately precede it in the chapter.

Catholic tradition follows the Vulgate version of Galatians in listing 12 fruits: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity.


Early CommentaryEdit

Aquinas pointed out that numbered among the fruits of the Holy Spirit are certain virtues, such as charity, meekness, faith, and chastity.[3] Augustine defined virtue as "a good habit consonant with our nature." [4]

Though traditionally discussed as nine attributes of the Fruit of the Spirit, the original Greek term translated as "fruit" is singular. Aquinas explained, "Consequently fruit is mentioned there in the singular, on account of its being generically one, though divided into many species which are spoken of as so many fruits."[3] Augustine's commentary on Galatians 5:25-26, says, "the Apostle had no intention of teaching us how many [either works of the flesh, or fruits of the Spirit] there are; but to show how the former should be avoided, and the latter sought after."[3]

Love (Greek: agape, Latin: caritas)Edit

Agape (love) denotes an undefeatable benevolence and unconquerable goodwill that always seeks the highest in others, no matter their behavior. It is a love that gives freely without asking anything in return, and does not consider the worth of its object. Agape is more a love by choice than philos, which is love by chance; and it refers to the will rather than the emotion. Agape describes the unconditional love God has for the world. Paul describes love in 1 Corinthians 13:4–8:[5]

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

Mystic Evelyn Underhill considered love to the "budding point" from which all the other fruits come, referencing 1 John 4:16, "God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him."[6]

Joy (Greek: chara, Latin: gaudium)Edit

The joy referred to here is deeper than mere happiness, is rooted in God and comes from Him. Since it comes from God, it is more serene and stable than worldly happiness, which is merely emotional and lasts only for a time. The fruit of joy is the awareness that God is one's Strength and Protector.

Paul wrote in Philippians 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!"

Joy proceeds from the theological virtue of charity. George Campbell Morgan wrote that "Joy is love's consciousness."[7] In Augustine's Discourse on the Psalms he says, "We are an Easter people and our song is 'Alleluia'"[8] Noted preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon in his sermon, The Fruit of the Holy Spirit: Joy cited Psalm 144:15, "[H]appy the people whose God is the Lord."[9]

This does not mean that a person may not experience sadness on occasion through the death of a loved one, financial trouble, the actions of others, or depression; but underlying the sadness is the sure knowledge that one is still loved by God.

Peace (Greek: eirene, Latin: pax)Edit

Peace is the result of resting in a relationship with God.[10] Peace is more than an absence of conflict. It is the tranquil state of a soul fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of what so ever sort that is. It is a kind of equilibrium that comes from trusting that everything is in the hands of God.[11]

The word "peace" comes from the Greek word eirene, the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew word shalom, which expresses the idea of wholeness, completeness, or tranquility in the soul that is unaffected by the outward circumstances or pressures. The word eirene strongly suggests the rule of order in place of chaos. When a person is dominated by peace, he has a calm, inner stability that results in the ability to conduct himself peacefully, even in the midst of circumstances that would normally be very nervewracking, traumatic, or upsetting...Rather than allowing the difficulties and pressures of life to break him, a person who is possessed by peace is whole, complete, orderly, stable, and poised for blessing.[12]

Jesus is described as the Prince of Peace, who brings peace to the hearts of those who desire it. He says in John 14:27:[13] "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid".

When having peace with God through the sacrifice of Jesus, we are then able to make peace between men, and also between men and God, also called "evangelism". It is understood that those who have peace with God, and are therefore sons of God, will act like their Father in heaven and become those who are able to make peace, or be peace makers, as Jesus says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God"[14] and "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me".[15] So by saying this, Jesus is stating that only those who have received peace with God through Himself, the "Sons of God", are able to make peace, no one else. These sons of God are specified by John when he says, "None of those who are children of God continue to sin, for God’s very nature is in them; and because God is their Father, they cannot continue to sin".[16] Paul also says, "Never pay back evil for evil. Take thought for what is right in the sight of all men".[17] Peace, in the Bible, is much more than just a lack of yelling or lack of war, it is the presence of YHWH allowed into a place and a person.

Patience (Greek: makrothumia, Latin: longanimitas)Edit

Generally the Greek world applied this word to a man who could avenge himself but did not. This word is often used in the Greek Scriptures in reference to God and his attitude to man.[11] Exodus 34:6 describes the Lord as "slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity."

Patience includes the concepts of forbearance, long-suffering, and the willingness to bear wrongs patiently.[18]

Patience, which in some translations is "longsuffering" or "endurance", is defined in Strong's by two Greek words, makrothumia and hupomone.

The first, pronounced (mak-roth-oo-mee-ah) comes from makros, "long", and thumos, "temper". The word denotes lenience, forbearance, fortitude, patient endurance, longsuffering. Also included in makrothumia is the ability to endure persecution and ill-treatment. It describes a person who has the power to exercise revenge but instead exercises restraint. (Strong's #3115)

The latter, hupomone, (hoop-om-on-ay) is translated "endurance": Constancy, perseverance, continuance, bearing up, steadfastness, holding out, patient endurance. The word combines hupo, "under", and mone, "to remain". It describes the capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances, not with a passive complacency, but with a hopeful fortitude that actively resists weariness and defeat, (Strong's #5281) with hupomone (Greek ὑπομονή) being further understood as that which would be "as opposed to cowardice or despondency"[19]

"With lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love".[20]

Kindness (Greek: chrestotes, Latin: benignitas)Edit

In Greek, old wine was called "chrestos" which meant that it was mellow or smooth.[11] Christ used this word in Matthew 11:30, "For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

In contrast, kindness is acting for the good of people regardless of what they do, properly, "useable, i.e. well-fit for use (for what is really needed); kindness that is also serviceable".[21]

Strong's #5544: Kindness is goodness in action, sweetness of disposition, gentleness in dealing with others, benevolence, kindness, affability. The word describes the ability to act for the welfare of those taxing your patience. The Holy Spirit removes abrasive qualities from the character of one under His control. (emphasis added)

The word kindness comes from the Greek word chrestotes (khray-stot-ace), which meant to show kindness or to be friendly to others and often depicted rulers, governors, or people who were kind, mild, and benevolent to their subjects. Anyone who demonstrated this quality of chrestotes was considered to be compassionate, considerate, sympathetic, humane, kind, or gentle. The apostle Paul uses this word to depict God's incomprehensible kindness for people who are unsaved (see Romans 11:22;[22] Ephesians 2:7;[23] Titus 3:4[24]).

One scholar has noted that when the word chrestotes is applied to interpersonal relationships, it conveys the idea of being adaptable to others. Rather than harshly require everyone else to adapt to his own needs and desires, when chrestotes is working in a believer, he seeks to become adaptable to the needs of those who are around him. (Sparkling Gems from the Greek, Rick Renner)

Kindness is doing something and not expecting anything in return. Kindness is respect and helping others without waiting for someone to help one back. It implies kindness no matter what. We should live "in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left".[25]

Goodness (Greek: agathosune, Latin: bonitas)Edit

  1. The state or quality of being good
  2. Moral excellence; virtue;
  3. Kindly feeling, kindness, generosity,joy in being good
  4. The best part of anything; Essence; Strength;
  5. General character recognized in quality or conduct.

Popular English Bibles (e.g. NIV, NASB, NLT) translate the single Greek word chrestotes into two English words: kindness and goodness. "Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power".[26] "For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth",[27] with agathosune being "found only in Biblical and ecclesiastical writings, uprightness of heart and life"[28]

Faithfulness (Greek: pistis, Latin: fides)Edit

Faithfulness is committing oneself to something or someone, for instance, to one's spouse, to a cause, or to a religion. Being faithful requires personal resolve not to wander away from commitments or promises. It's not always easy to be faithful. True faith requires trust in God. "O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth".[29] "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith".[Eph 3:16-17]

The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews describes it this way: "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God".[30]

The root of pistis[31] ("faith") is peithô[32] that is to persuade or be persuaded which supplies the core-meaning of faith as being "divine persuasion", received from God, and never generated by man.

Gentleness (Greek: prautes, Latin: modestia)Edit

Gentleness, in the Greek, prautes, commonly known as meekness, which is "a divinely-balanced virtue that can only operate through faith (cf. [1 Tim 6:11]; [2 Tim 2:22-25]).[33]

. The New Spirit Filled Life Bible defines gentleness as

"a disposition that is even-tempered, tranquil, balanced in spirit, unpretentious, and that has the passions under control. The word is best translated 'meekness,' not as an indication of weakness, but of power and strength under control. The person who possesses this quality pardons injuries, corrects faults, and rules his own spirit well".

"Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted".[Gal 6:1]

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love".[Eph 4:2]

Self-control (Greek: egkrateia, Latin: continentia)Edit

The Greek word used in Galatians 5:23 is "egkrateia", meaning "strong, having mastery, able to control one's thoughts and actions."[34]

"...make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love".[2 Pet 1:5-7]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ "CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CHRISTCHURCH PLACE, CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL (CI)". Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720–1940. Irish Architectural Archive. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  2. ^ Galatians 5:22-23
  3. ^ a b c Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica, Second and Revised Edition, Fathers of the English Dominican Province, 1920
  4. ^ Waldron, Martin Augustine. "Virtue." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 5 May 2015
  5. ^ Quoted from the New International Version: 1 Corinthians 13:4–8
  6. ^ Underhill, Evelyn. Fruits of the Spirit, Church Publishing, Inc., 1989 ISBN 9780819213143
  7. ^ Morgan, George Campbell. "The Fruit of the Spirit", Classic Sermons on the Fruit of the Spirit, (Warren Wiersbe ed.), Kregel Academic, 2002 ISBN 9780825496387
  8. ^ Augustine of Hippo. Ps. 148, 1-2: CCL 40, 2165-2166
  9. ^ Wiersbe p.63.
  10. ^ Morgan, Elisa. Naked Fruit: Getting Honest about the Fruit of the Spirit. Revell, 2004. ISBN 978-0-8007-1873-2
  11. ^ a b c Pope, Charles. "A Brief Treatise on the Fruits of the Holy Spirit", Archdiocese of Washington, January 27, 2013
  12. ^ Renner, Rick. Sparkling Gems from the Greek., Teach All Nations, 2007. ISBN 978-0-9725454-7-1
  13. ^ John 14:27
  14. ^ Matthew 5:7
  15. ^ John 8:42
  16. ^ 1John 3:15
  17. ^ Romans 12:17
  18. ^ Michael, Chester P., An Introduction to Spiritual Direction, Paulist Press, 2003 ISBN 9780809141746
  19. ^ [1] Thayer's Greek Lexicon - STRONGS NT 3115: μακροθυμία
  20. ^ Eph4:2
  21. ^ [2] Strong's Greek Concordance 5544. chréstotés
  22. ^ Romans 11:22
  23. ^ Ephesians 2:7
  24. ^ Titus 3:4
  25. ^ 2Cor 6:6-7
  26. ^ 2 Thessalonians 1:11
  27. ^ Ephesians 5:9
  28. ^ [3] Strong's Greek Concordance 19. agathosune
  29. ^ Isaiah 25:1
  30. ^ Heb 12:2
  31. ^ [4] Strong's Greek Concordance 4102. pistis
  32. ^ [5] Strong's Greek Concordance 3982. peithó
  33. ^ [6] Strong's Greek Concordance 4240. prautés: gentleness
  34. ^ Graham, Billy. "The Holy Spirit: Activating God's Power in Your Life", Thomas Nelson Inc, 2011 ISBN 9781418515690