Epistles of Thomas

January 25, 2010

There is only ONE Fruit of the Spirit

I mention this because all too often people refer to the “fruits of the spirit” or separate the various aspects of the Fruit of the Spirit. Let’s begin with Galatians 5:22f.

NIV “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

NASB “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

NLT “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Obviously all three of these translations are clear in that the fruit is singular and encompasses seven different aspects of how we interact with our world. The Message translation is a mess and does seem to pluralise the fruit by referring to “gifts” being brought into our lives:

Message “But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.”

Unfortunately, this misses the point that the Fruit of the Spirit are a package. You cannot have one fruit/gift and not the others. I was just reading a book by Mark Buchanan in which he falls into the trap of separating the gifts. He writes about someone’s rough day: “Inside, you feel the fruits of the Spirit, one by one, shrivel and drop off the branch, pushed out by their opposites: loathing, sourness, worry, impatience, rudeness, rotteness, faithlessness, gruffness, wildness.” Your God is Too Safe: Rediscovering the Wonder of a God You Can’t Control (Sisters: Multnomah, 2001). 99-100. Not only has Buchanan pluralised the Fruit but he fails to announce that the opposite of the Fruit of the Spirit is not those other concepts but is rather the desires of our sinful nature (5:19-21). There are not just nine fruits or nine opposites, but rather two ways of life which are contrasted in all areas as shown by how we live.

How many fruit of the Spirit are there? All together now — ONE!

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