If you’ve ever wondered what the fruit of the Spirit is or what it might look like in your life, you’re not alone.
In the early years of parenting, I was shocked at how easily I could be grumpy, impatient, and lose my temper.
I wondered what was wrong with me and felt ashamed. As a Christian, shouldn’t I behave better? Shouldn’t qualities like love, joy, peace, and patience be obvious in my life?
I tried my hardest to be a better mother. But my own desires and efforts got me nowhere—in fact, I would get so frustrated that it seemed like I was going backward!
Fortunately, over time, the Holy Spirit transformed me—and continues to do so. Just as growing fruit on a vine takes time and cultivation, the fruit in my own heart and life has come through God’s ongoing presence.
Peace, patience, and other “fruits” of the Spirit have resulted from walking with Jesus, day in and day out. I still have ugly moments. But I get to show my kids what it looks like for God’s strength to help me grow and change.
If you want to learn more about what the fruit of the Spirit is and what role it can play in your life, this article is for you!
Fruit of the Spirit Scripture (Galatians 5:22–23)
The fruit of the Holy Spirit verses are found in Galatians 5:22–23 (NIV):
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Alternately, if you prefer the more familiar King James Version, here is the fruit of the Spirit (KJV):
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
There is value in both of these translations as well as others.
They are translated from Greek, which is the language the Apostle Paul wrote in. If you want to take your fruit of the Spirit Bible study deeper, compare the different translations and see what you learn!
What Do the Fruit of the Spirit Verses Mean? (Context)
Before we get into the specific “fruits” of the Holy Spirit, it’s essential in a fruit of the Spirit Bible study to discuss the context of Galatians 5:22–23.
The Apostle Paul wrote the letter of Galatians to Christians in the region of Galatia who were debating about Old Covenant (Jewish) laws. The hot question of the day was whether Gentile (non-Jewish) men needed to be circumcised in order to join the New Covenant community of believers.
Paul passionately believed that Gentiles did not need to be circumcised.
One of the key points of the letter is that every believer is a child of God through faith (Galatians 3:23–28).
Before he gets to the fruit of the Spirit Bible verses, Paul reinforces his argument in Galatians 5:
- Believers are free from the burdens of the Old Covenant law and instead live by the Holy Spirit (verses 1–6).
- Whoever teaches otherwise is nullifying the power of Jesus Christ defeating sin on the cross (verses 7–12)
- This freedom should be used to love others instead of acting indulgently (verses 13–15).
He ends this section by illustrating what a life of faith looks like in verses 16–26.
A life walking in the Spirit is “fruitful.” It is in sharp contrast to a life lived according to the acts of the flesh, a.k.a sinful nature or animalistic instinct.
Galatians 5:19–21 tells us the acts of the flesh are “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.”
What Are the “Fruits” of the Spirit in the Bible? (Definitions and Practical Examples)
The fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22–23 are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. According to the Apostle Paul, these are expressions of what your life looks like when the Holy Spirit lives inside of you.
For definitions of the fruit of the Spirit, I’ve referred to Blue Letter Bible, which provides the words in Greek and their usage throughout the Bible. I also have some practical examples of the fruit of the Spirit and what it can look like in everyday life.
1. Love (Agapē)
“Love” in Galatians 5:22 conveys affection, goodwill, benevolence, and brotherly love. The definition of love in the Bible describes Christ’s self-sacrifice and the way His followers should relate to one another (see John 15:9–13).
In other words, love is putting someone else’s needs ahead of your own. It’s doing something for someone outside your comfort zone, like serving the homeless or someone with different political or religious beliefs.
2. Joy (Chara)
“Joy” in the Bible is defined as cheerfulness, delight, and gladness. It’s the way you feel and act when you celebrate God’s blessings in your life, big and small.
To choose joy is to focus on what is good and leads to God’s peace (see below). You can do this through practices like praise and keeping a gratitude journal.
3. Peace (Eirēnē)
“Peace” is a mindset that comes from trusting in God no matter what is happening in your life. It describes a sense of quiet and rest.
In the Bible, peace often refers to the lack of strife or conflict for individuals, communities, and nations. The “peace of God, which transcends all understanding” comes from surrendering fears and worries to God and practicing thanksgiving (see Philippians 4:4–7 for the full Scripture about joy and peace). This is done through ongoing prayer.
Related Reading: How to Take Every Thought Captive (This is Life Changing!)
4. Patience (Makrothymia)
“Patience” in Galatians 5:22 means more than just waiting and has more to do with staying steadfast and persevering through suffering. It has several different translations in English, including patience, longsuffering, and forbearance.
This kind of patience is relying on God rather than on your own wisdom and strength when going through trials. It’s choosing to wait for Him rather than taking matters into your own hands, no matter what the circumstances.
5. Kindness (Chrēstotēs)
“Kindness” in the Bible has to do with moral integrity in the way you treat others. God is described as kind in Romans 2:4, Romans 11:22, Ephesians 2:7, and Titus 3:4.
Another way of describing kindness is treating others the way you want to be treated. It’s showing respect even when another person hasn’t earned it.
6. Goodness (Agathōsynē)
“Goodness” as the fruit of the Spirit describes uprightness in someone’s heart and life. In the Bible, it is found exclusively in Paul’s letters when he is talking about living as a Christian.
Practically, goodness is being true to your word and what you believe. It’s doing what’s right even when no one else is watching.
7. Faithfulness (Pistis)
“Faithfulness” in the Bible refers to conviction or belief in the truth that is expressed in action. When Jesus praises people for their faith, he refers to those who trust in Him to heal them or rescue them, like in Matthew 9:2, Matthew 15:28, Mark 10:52, and Luke 17:19.
In other words, faithfulness is trusting in God’s promises through everything—and showing that trust through your actions. It’s staying true to your allegiance to Him no matter how hard it gets.
8. Gentleness (Prautēs)
“Gentleness” means mildness or meekness in the way someone relates to others. It is used several times throughout the New Testament letters from the apostles, describing a way of communicating with love, humility, and respect.
Practically, gentleness is communicating to others in a way that makes them feel valued. It includes listening to them and validating them, even if you have to convey some hard truths.
9. Self-Control (Egkrateia)
“Self-control” is the ability to master passions and desires—particularly sensual ones. It’s also translated as temperance.
As a practical example of the fruit of the Spirit, self-control is stopping yourself when you’re tempted to do something that’s harmful to yourself or others. It includes putting safeguards and boundaries in place that can help you when you’re weak.
How to Have the Fruit of the Spirit
It’s important to note that believers do not create or achieve the fruit of the Spirit out of their own efforts.
That would be treating the “fruits of the Spirit” as a new set of rules to follow or a checklist of characteristics to have. That is the exact opposite of Paul’s argument!
Instead, the fruit of the Spirit comes from the power of the Holy Spirit at work in you.
It isn’t a checklist of qualities you try to reach through your own efforts. It’s the natural outflowing of a life of faith and is a result of God’s grace.
Fruit results from “keeping in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). It can be cultivated in many ways, including Bible study, prayer, spiritual disciplines, worship, and being a part of a healthy faith community.
It takes time to grow fruit, but if you’re consistently seeking to walk with the Lord, it will come.
Related Reading: Sola Fide: Is Faith Alone Enough for Salvation?
Have you ever thought of the fruit of the Spirit verses as a checklist or something to achieve rather than the result of God’s Spirit at work in you? What are some of the ways you’ve seen fruit in your own life? Which “fruits” of the Spirit do you hope to see growth in?