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<< Galatians 5:21   Galatians 5:23 >>


Galatians 5:22-24

These qualities are aspects of God's character that we all need to have and use:

Love: Outgoing concern for others. True concern for all of mankind. Not being self-centered. Doing for others what is right, despite their character, appearance, social status, etc. (I Corinthians 13).

Joy: Related to happiness, only happiness requires right circumstances where joy does not. Jesus Christ felt joy though He faced heavy trials (Hebrews 12:2). We should all be joyful having been called by God.

Peace: Peace of mind and peace with God (Philippians 4:6-7).

Longsuffering: Bearing with others who are working out their salvation. Being slow to anger (Romans 15:1; Luke 21:19).

Kindness: Behaving toward others kindly, as God has behaved toward us (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Goodness: Generosity of spirit that springs from imitating Jesus Christ (Psalm 33:4-5).

Faithfulness: Being reliable. This describes a person who is trustworthy and will always stand up for God's way. We can count on, and should work at imitating, the faithfulness of God (Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 13:5).

Gentleness: Considerate and tactful in conduct and correction. Never angry at the wrong time (Matthew 5:22-24; Ephesians 4:26).

Self-Control: Discipline which gives us victory over the wrong pulls of our mind and body (I John 2:15-17).

John O. Reid
Time for Self-Evaluation



Galatians 5:22

The Greek and Hebrew definitions of the words translated as "joy" and its synonyms are virtually the same as their English counterparts, except for one whose specific definition is not "joy" but "blessed." This word, the Greek makarios, reveals much about some of the major sources of biblical joy. It frequently appears as the first word in the well-known Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount, as in Matthew 5:3: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Strong's defines this word as "supremely blessed; by extension fortunate, well off, blessed, happy." The King James version translates it as "happy" five times. In a marginal reference, E.W. Bullinger in the Companion Bible says the word means "happy," and J.B. Phillips translates it as such in his New Testament in Modern English.

Spiros Zodhiates' Complete Word Study Dictionary (p. 937) gives a more comprehensive definition:

Blessed, possessing the favor of God, that state of being marked by fullness from God. It indicates the state of the believer in Christ, . . . said of one who becomes a partaker of God's nature through faith in Christ. The believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit because of Christ and as a result should be fully satisfied no matter the circumstances. Makarios differs from the word "happy" in that the person is happy who has good luck (from the root hap meaning luck as a favorable circumstance). To be makarios, blessed, is equivalent to having God's kingdom within one's heart. Aristotle contrasts makarios to endees, the needy one. Makarios is the one who is in the world yet independent of the world. His satisfaction comes from God and not from favorable circumstances.

The Amplified Bible translates Matthew 5:3 as:

Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Verse 5 reads, "Blessed (happy, blithesome, joyous, spiritually prosperous) . . ." and verse 9, "Blessed (enjoying enviable happiness, spiritually prosperous). . . ."

It appears that for us to experience biblical joy, the fruit of God's Spirit, we need godly inner qualities that we do not possess by nature. As with love—the love that springs from us by nature that is but a pale reflection of God's love—so also is it with joy. Until we come to the point where by faith we are supremely confident of God's presence in our life—of His providence toward us in the past, present, and future—we will not experience the enduring fullness of satisfaction God wants us to have.

A Christian's joy can be just as short-lived as anyone's in the world if we are seeking it for itself as the world does. Biblical joy is a fruit, a byproduct, an additional blessing, not the end in itself. It flows into and grows within the person whose life and energies are not focused merely on being "joyful." The lives of those in this world who are so zealously chasing after it prove this point. If they are still chasing it, they must not yet have it. God's Word also substantiates this.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy



Galatians 5:22

Chrestotes in Greek and hesed in Hebrew are most frequently translated into the English word "kindness." Chrestotes, according to The Complete Word Study Dictionary by Spiros Zodhiates, p. 1482, means

benignity, kindness, usefulness. It often occurs with philanthropy; forbearance, and is the opposite of severity or cutting something short and quickly. . . . Chrestotes is translated "good," "kindness," "gentleness." It is the grace which pervades the whole nature, mellowing all which would be harsh and austere. . . . The word is descriptive of one's disposition and does not necessarily entail acts of goodness.

William Barclay, in The Daily Bible Study Series on Galatians 5:22, p. 51, adds that the Rheims Version translates chrestotes in II Corinthians 6:6 as "sweetness"; that Christ describes His yoke in Matthew 11:30 as chrestos, meaning that it does not chafe; and that the Greeks would describe wine as chrestos, that is, mellow. With these illustrations, it becomes clear that this word emphasizes the spirit in which an act is done.

Hesed is more complex, an especially rich word that is at times translated as "lovingkindness," "mercy," "love," "grace," and even "loyalty" and "devotion" in some modern versions. Some modern critics argue that the word suggests loyalty, something given because of obligation, because the writers sometimes use it in a context with a covenant relationship, such as God's covenant with Israel or a marriage.

Other scholars review the same material and agree that relationships are present (love almost necessitates a subject-object relation), but assert that hesed (love, mercy, kindness, etc.) is freely given. Freedom of decision to give is essential. The help given by the person showing mercy or kindness is done freely. This seems to be the correct usage because the other can reduce love, mercy, and kindness to a merely obligatory, mechanical, legal act rather than an act of free-moral agency of the heart.

A Pharisee could meet the legal demands of a covenant obligation, but the New Covenant requires a spirit considerably higher (Matthew 5:20). The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, vol. 1, p. 306, quotes Hebrew scholar Dom Rembert Sorg as writing that hesed is "really the Old Testament reflex [reflected image, likeness, or reproduction] of 'God is love.'"

God's love is hardly just obligatory, given all the expressions of feeling for Israel and the church accounted to Him in the Scriptures. Thus these two words, rich in meaning and usage, clearly reveal that kindness is an active quality God greatly desires His children to exhibit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness



Galatians 5:16-25

"Bear[ing] fruits worthy of repentance" implies a process. Just as a tree does not produce fruit overnight, a Christian does not fully repent overnight. It is a lifelong process of making changes, and over time we will produce the fruit of the Spirit more consistently than the works of the flesh.

Martin G. Collins
Basic Doctrines: Repentance



Galatians 5:22

The second of the three fruits most directly associated with personal, human relationships is kindness. The translators of the King James Version render this Greek word as "gentleness." Even though gentleness is an aspect of being kind, this choice does not adequately describe the qualities the original word implies.

When Paul illustrated how love acts, patience leaped into his mind first: "Love suffers long" (I Corinthians 13:4). Immediately following, he writes, "and is kind," giving the impression that love and kindness belong together to such an extent that we can conclude that without kindness no act is truly done in love!

Patience is love forbearing. Patience suggests self-restraint under the pressure of provocation, especially undeserved provocation. Kindness, though, implies a more active expression of love toward God and fellow man. Both patience and kindness are bound in the one quality—love. Those who provoke us may never notice patient love, but patient love may reveal itself in acts of kindness so that even our provokers are positively impressed. Kindness is such a rare quality these days that when someone is kind, it has a good chance of making the news!

The love Paul expounds in I Corinthians 13 is the love of God, which found its perfectly balanced expression in Jesus Christ. His love was not only contemplative but also outgoing. Because of His love, He went about doing acts of kindness, healing, and casting out demons (Acts 10:38). The truth He preached also expressed His love. His love was not merely congeniality; it was patient, enduring, and ethical.

In most cases, kindness is not beyond any of us because it usually costs no money. It may take the sacrifice of time and energy. It may require the discipline to be thoughtful of others' needs and to make the effort to act. How much is required to cultivate smiling rather than frowning? to pay a visit? to say a word of encouragement or comfort? to show friendliness by warmly and sincerely shaking hands?

The consequences of kindness are incalculable, for such a spirit can ripple out to touch the lives of those far removed from the original act. Kindness sows the seeds that can only bear good fruit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness



Galatians 5:22

What is love? Keeping the commandments (I John 5:3). Does breaking the commandments bring joy? Are people happy when someone violates them in a rape or by breaking into their homes and robbing them? No. Joy comes when people keep the commandments because there is peace. They do not have to worry about somebody breaking into their homes or knocking them over the head on the street.

Paul is so far away from telling people that the law of God is done away that one wonders how in the world people can come to that conclusion—except we understand that their human nature is causing it. They do not want to be subject to the law of God (Romans 8:7). Their carnal mind has overpowered them and enslaved them. They are in bondage to it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 28)



Galatians 5:22-23

These qualities or virtues are produced by the action of the Holy Spirit in us. They grow in a person who, by faith, obeys God's Word through the guidance and power of God's Spirit. Clearly, elements of this equation must be used so that the right fruit is produced—God's Word, His Spirit, faith, and obedience to God's Word. These, along with some others, produce the major fruits of righteousness.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit



Galatians 5:22

Good is a very versatile word with many uses in everyday English. It is used as a noun, adjective, and adverb and is the root of the word "goodness." The common idea in almost all of its uses is that it suggests a desirable quality, something commendable, reliable, welcome, enjoyable, beneficent, kind, noble, admirable, propitious, exemplary, and very much welcome. In the word "goodness," the inner qualities of virtue, excellence of character, morality, and attitude that we see in a person's behavior come to the fore.

The Hebrew and Greek uses are similar, but the Hebrew, like the English, has a broader application. The Greek word, agathosune, at first glance seems very similar to chrestotes ("kindness"). However, closer examination of its use in the Scriptures reveals a word indicating zealous activity in doing good. Kindness or gentleness (chrestotes) is more passive.

William Barclay's Daily Study Bible commentary on Galatians says of these two words:

It [agathosune] is the widest word for goodness; it is defined as "virtue equipped at every point." What is the difference? Agathosune might, and could, rebuke and discipline; chrestotes can only help. Trench says that Jesus showed agathosune when He cleansed the Temple and drove out those who were making it a bazaar; but He showed chrestotes when He was kind to the sinning woman who anointed His feet. The Christian needs that goodness which at the same time can be kind and strong. (p. 51)

Agathosune is therefore active—even aggressive—goodness. The English word "goodness" includes many pleasing qualities whereas the Greek word indicates one particular quality. It is more than an excellence of character; it is character energized, expressing itself in active good. Agathosune is goodness, but it does not spare sharpness and rebuke to produce good in others. Thus God can correct, sometimes very severely, and it is goodness in action. Thus parents can correct their child, and it is good because it helps produce a responsible adult.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness



Galatians 5:22-23

Note that Paul writes "fruit" in the singular, indicating that we should understand that the fruit has a number of components, but at the same time, all of them will be produced within each person the Spirit leads. This does not mean that each component will be in exactly equal proportions like so many segments of an orange. Nor does it give any indication of its quantity or quality in each person. However, it ought to encourage us to know that some part of each of them will be produced.

Paul pointedly draws attention to the source of the fruit as being "of the Spirit" to make us fully aware that these qualities do not flow from our natures. The vices or "works of the flesh" listed in Galatians 5:19-21 are the product of our human heart. But the spiritual fruit is produced by means of a "foreign" influence, the agency of the Holy Spirit. Even after conversion, our heart is not the source of this spiritual fruit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit



Galatians 5:22

It is not difficult to trace the source of biblical patience in God's children. I Corinthians 13:4 states, "Love suffers long and is kind." Patience is directly associated with love and hope. In the "love chapter," Paul lists patience first among love's works (I Corinthians 13:4). Romans 5:5 adds that "the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit."

This makes it evident that God's patience stands behind His children's patience as its source and pattern and as a link in a chain. Because the Bible lists it with the fruit of the Spirit, it is less a virtue achieved than a gift received. It comes with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and we reproduce it.

However, since we are beings of free choice, we are still obligated to God to activate it, exercise it, and use it as a witness that God lives in us. To this end, Paul writes,

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (Colossians 3:12-13)

"Put on" is literally a dressing term. Used as an idiom, it can also mean to assume the office, manner, character, disposition, or perspective of another. We must "put on" Christ, meaning we must conduct our lives as closely to the way He would were He in our position. We are to practice His way of life because it is eternal life—the way God lives His life. It will help prepare us for His Kingdom, and it enables us to glorify Him here and now.

Patience is a vital part of the process that enables God to work over a long span of time, if needed, to produce in us other important aspects of His image so that we "may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." God is the Source and His Spirit the means of this very valuable fruit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Patience



Galatians 5:19-22

Consider these "works of the flesh," and notice how many of them are elements of disagreement. Do people commit adultery because they agree with the one they are fooling around on? Do people murder because they agree with their victims? How about people who are characteristically hostile, hateful, and contentious? Two of these are on the list. Do people live in agreement with one of whom they are jealous? Can people dwell together in unity when they are filled with such character flaws as outbursts of wrath (explosive tempers), selfish ambition (running over rivals in the rush to attain a desired thing or outcome), dissensions, heresies (holding ungodly opinions or doctrines), envies, drunkenness, and so on?

These actions do not reflect the nature of God, and if one does any of these regularly, then the person is probably unconverted—or converted but carnal and weak, as Paul says in I Corinthians 3—and he is not being led by the Holy Spirit. It is certainly possible for that to occur.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Division, Satan, Humility

Related Topics: Disunity | Division



Galatians 5:22

Various translations use "longsuffering," "patience," or "forbearance" to translate the Greek word makrothumia. This word combines the roots makro, meaning "long," and thumos, meaning "temper," so it literally means "to be long-tempered." It implies the opposite of "short temper," describing the mind holding back a long time before it expresses itself in action or passion. Makrothumia is rarely rendered as "patience" and never as "forbearance" in the New Testament, although both words are considered synonyms of "longsuffering."

Martin G. Collins
Longsuffering



Galatians 5:22-25

Once regenerated by the Holy Spirit from the Father, we must continually be led by it, bearing spiritual fruit throughout our lives. If we are producing the fruit of the Spirit, which exhibit a sound mind, we know it is working in us. The Spirit is the mind and essence of the divine nature, and through it God carries out His will. It empowers the mind to comprehend spiritual matters, producing conversion. It gives us the strength, will and faith to overcome our sins.

Martin G. Collins
The Holy Spirit



Galatians 5:22-23

Paul names nine qualities. This divides neatly into three general groups, each consisting of three qualities. Of course, we can expect some overlapping of application between the groups, but generally the first group—love, joy, and peace—portrays a Christian's mind in its most general aspect with special emphasis on one's relationship with God. The second group—longsuffering (patience), kindness, and goodness—contains social virtues relating to our thoughts and actions toward fellow man. The final group—faithfulness (fidelity), gentleness, and self-control—reveals how a Christian should be in himself with overtones of his spiritual and moral reliability.

Each of these virtues is a quality we should greatly desire, for without them, we cannot rightly reflect the mind and way of God. The fruit of the Spirit reflects the virtues God would manifest before mankind. Indeed, when Jesus became a man, it was by his life He glorified our Father in heaven. God, of course, is far more than this brief listing describes. But seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness by yielding to His Word will produce these characteristics of God in us. Then, as we become like Christ, we will, like Him, glorify God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit



Galatians 5:22

Since love is a fruit, a product, of God's Holy Spirit, could its companion, joy, be produced in us differently? Like love, joy is not the product of the natural mind but the product of the supernatural Holy Spirit of God. If it is not a product of the natural mind, then pursuing it apart from the guidance of the Holy Spirit will produce only very limited and pale imitations of what God experiences by nature and greatly desires to be in us.

David writes, "You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11). It is interesting to compare our joy with God's continual joy and simultaneously think of what destroys joy for us. As long as we are human, joy diminishes and eventually ends. We realize this even as we experience it. I have owned several new automobiles. Each time I took a new one home, I received it with joy as if I had a new toy. But in each case I eventually acquired the same attitude toward the new car as I formerly had toward the old one. The joy was gone, and the car was again nothing more than a tool to convey me from one place to another.

No matter how secure the sources of our joy seem, we know joy does not last long. We may die; a mate or a friend who brings us joy may die; good health ceases; comforts vanish; social tragedies and natural disasters destroy loved things, properties depreciate and wear out; and our senses become dull so that we cannot see, hear, taste, feel, or smell as we once did (II Samuel 19:31-35).

The God who created everything is aware of all the human tragedies that have unfolded before His eyes over the past 6,000 years, and He still finds cause to be joyful. Our great God does not find joy in the tragedies themselves. His Word records times when He expressed regret, sorrow, or anger over the conduct of mankind, and yet He still experiences a vibrant, lasting joy. This seems to imply that His joy generally wells from different sources than mankind's. It is this joy we need to seek.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy



Galatians 5:22

Faithfulness hinges upon what we value as important combined with commitment. Humans have a powerful tendency to be faithful to what they think is truly important, be it a family name, spouse, friendship, employer, school, athletic team, or even certain things like a make of automobile.

This tendency was an issue when the disciples decided to follow Peter's lead and return to their fishing trade after Jesus' death and resurrection. In John 21:15-17, Jesus pointedly asks Peter three times whether he loved Him. The first time He asks whether he loved Him "more than these," referring either to his fellow apostles or the tools of his fishing trade. The inference is inescapable: Jesus wanted Peter to hold Him of greater importance than anything on earth. Considering Peter's weighty responsibility, he could not be faithful to Jesus without the staunchest commitment to Him as most important of all in his life.

The meaning to us is clear. We must love Christ supremely, or we do not love Him much if at all. If we are not willing to give up all earthly possessions, forsake all earthly friends, and obey Him above all others—including our own carnal desires—to be faithful to Him, our attachment to Him is tenuous at best. Is such a proposition too much? Does not marriage require a similar faithfulness from each spouse? Without it, it is no wonder there is so much adultery and divorce.

Holding true to the course God has laid before us is difficult amid this world's many alluring distractions clamoring for our time and attention. This world is attractive to human nature and bids us to expend our energies in self-satisfaction. Jesus warns all who take up their cross that the way is difficult and narrow, requiring a great deal of vision and discipline to be faithful to His cause. Some have completed the course. Those who held God and His way in the highest esteem in their lives are awaiting those of us traveling the path now. Will we be faithful as they were?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness



Galatians 5:22

Joy that is a fruit of God's Spirit has its roots in the realization of God's purpose and its outworking that transforms us into His image. Biblical joy begins when God calls, and we hear the gospel, understand, and believe it.

Biblical joy is bound up in our relationship with Him and our understanding of what is happening to our minds. We walk to the beat of a different drummer than this world because we understand God's overall purpose. We know we have been forgiven and have a place in His purpose because we now have His Spirit. No more life-changing experience can ever happen to a human than when God calls and understanding dawns. It forever alters our perspective on life itself and on the things we formerly trusted to give us satisfaction.

Henceforth our joys must arise from yielding to fulfill God's great creative purpose and seeing it accomplished. This is why we were born! Because of this, we can look forward to hearing Him say:

Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord. (Matthew 25:21)

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy



Galatians 5:22

The Greek word chrestotes is translated "kindness" in the NKJV and "gentleness" in the AV and RV. Chrestotes denotes goodness of heart, kindness, graciousness, and includes gentleness. Kindness has many synonyms: benevolence, generosity, mercy, charity, philanthropy, sympathy, compassion, tenderheartedness, friendliness, etc. Kindness is a major attribute of moral excellence and is intricately entwined with the other fruit of the Spirit. Chrestotes is translated as "goodness" in Romans 2:4 and 11:22 (3 times), so chrestotes is love in tender action, a quality of goodness, and certainly requires gentleness in word and action.

Martin G. Collins
Kindness




Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Galatians 5:22:

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
Matthew 8:26-27
Matthew 13:22
Matthew 13:44
Matthew 21:18-19
Mark :
Mark :
Luke 2:11-14
Luke :
Luke 17:10
John 3:6
John 5:3
Romans 3:28
Romans 8:7-9
Galatians 5:19-21
Galatians 5:22
Galatians 5:23
Hebrews 10:23
Hebrews 10:24-25
James 3:2-10

 

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