Breaking down Galatians 5:16-26 | Part two: Fruit of the Spirit

Last week, I published the first article in a series about one of the most consequential portions of the New Testament- Galatians 5:16-26. The initial post covered Galatians 5:16-21- the works of the flesh– that draw us away from the spirit.

This week, we’ll dive into something a little more uplifting: the fruit of the Spirit. It’s interesting to not the singularity of the word “fruit,” even though nine different adjectives make up the section.

Like the last post, I’ll define each word, and provide commentary on each one and its impact on our relationship with Jesus. Next week, I’ll compare each word side-by-side, and how pursuit of the fruit of the Spirit counteracts the works of the flesh.


Verses 22-23 (HCSB) say: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against these things there is no law.”

  1. Love
    • What is Love? A question asked by so many, to the point that it’s nearly a joke in our society. Love, as defined by Google, is defined as an intense feeling of deep affection. In this context, applied to feelings towards other people.
    • New testament scripture puts an incredible emphasis on love in this life- in John 13:34, Jesus commands us to love one another. In Galatians 5:14, Jesus summarizes the whole law in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus lived this to the extreme. He engaged in the supreme act of love. It’s no wonder why this is listed as the first part of the fruit of the spirit- a life with Jesus, encapsulated through scripture and the life he lived- is defined by love.
  2. Peace
    • Peace is perhaps something that our modern society struggles to find the most. Google has a great definition for peace- especially in this context-
      freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.
    • Jesus tells us in John 16:33 that he has conquered the world. This assurance should provide us great peace. His love and power is bigger than any issue found in this world. He should be our peace. When we feel like we lose control and/or his touch, it’s often times because we look for peace in what we have, and what we understand. The only way to true peace is humility in this regard- and truly trusting Jesus by seeking him only through his word and its application to our lives.
  3. Joy
    • Joy is a true feeling of happiness rooted inside ourselves, unstimulated by anything exterior. When one truly knows Jesus, and relies on him for their peace, often times this comes very easily.
    • Joy is incredibly important in pursuing a Christian life. A relationship with Jesus should make us happy! Christ died for us so that we could live- what a tremendous victory. How can we expect to bring anyone to Christ if we walk through this life sad and unsatisfied?
  4. Patience
    • Patience is perhaps the most difficult pursuit for many on this list. It directly ties back into peace- it’s an increased reliance on God- but especially trusting his timing.
    • God tells us in his word that he not only seeks out good will for those who love him, but also if we uphold his commandments and love him only, that we can expect a long, happy life. In a long life, sometimes it’s tough to trust his timing. We want control over when things happen in our lives, but if we wait on his timing, often times it proves supreme and meets us right when and where we need it.
  5. Kindness, 6. Goodness
    • Kindness and Goodness both tie directly back into love, but is more directed toward personal service. Kindness is a true willingness to serve others without expecting anything in return.
    • In John 13, Jesus shows true kindness to his disciples by washing their feet, something degrading to other church or societal leader of the time period. As his followers, we ought to heed this example. True kindness shatters expectations, and parallel’s Jesus’ love in this life. It’s how we distinguish ourselves as Christ-followers in this self-serving world. Furthermore, our intentions must be true and good- we must serve with good hearts and desire for Jesus.
  6. Goodness (see above)
  7. Faith
    • Faith is belief and trust of God’s plan through Jesus, even though often times we fail, or simply cannot, understand it.
    • This is perhaps the most significant deterrent to a relationship with Christ in our world today. We live in an instant gratification, “prove-it” society. Because we can’t see God nor Jesus in the flesh, many refuse to believe. But upon pursuit, one will find that this is the most rewarding aspect. We cannot base our belief on the sight of Jesus, but the work of his kingdom around us. A relationship with Christ is not an easy pursuit; if it were, it wouldn’t require faith.
  8. Gentleness
    • Gentleness is an elevated understanding and consideration of the feelings of other people, and ties right back into patience.
    • 1 Peter 3:4 tells us that a quiet and gentle spirit is “precious” to God. We must go about leading people extremely delicately, Just like Jesus and his disciples did throughout the old testament. If we pursue this recklessly, like so often happens, people misunderstand who Jesus is. As Christ followers, we represent Jesus to those who don’t know him, and when we approach conversion with anger, self-righteousness, and false prophecy, we turn many off to Christ.
  9. Self-Control
    • Self-control is the ability to manage one’s emotions under duress, especially against societal alignment or human desire.
    • This is so important in a relationship with Jesus. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a difficult pursuit, but being in control of our thoughts and emotions helps us to align ourselves with Jesus’ love for us and God’s plan for our lives. Being better than the norm and different than most is how we elevate ourselves and align with the example of Christ.

It’s interesting to note that the author notes that, then and now, there is no law against these things. We can pursue each element no matter where we are in life. If we understand and pursue these, we can draw closer to Christ daily.

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