The fruit of the spirit verse appears twice in the New Testament: Galatians 5:22-23 and Ephesians 5:8-10.
In Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the Spirit verse is made up of nine attributes.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23 WEB
8 For you were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, 9 for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth, 10 proving what is well pleasing to the Lord.Ephesians 5:8-10 WEB
When I studied these two verses, a few things struck me.
1. “Fruit” is singular
I notice that the word “fruit” is used in the singular form, not the plural form. Nine attributes are listed but they are considered one fruit of the Holy Spirit. I’ve checked other bible translations and singular form is consistently applied.
Does it matter?
I think it does. Think about what it means if all nine attributes belong to a single fruit. Wouldn’t it mean that if you are bearing the fruit of the Spirit, you would have all the attributes? Not just one or the other?
I don’t think it means that we have to exhibit all the attributes all the time but they come as a whole package. You can’t have one without the other.
2. What is a fruit
Wikipedia defines fruit broadly as “a structure of a plant that contains its seeds“. A fruit is, therefore, the means by which plants disseminate seeds and propagate themselves.
The manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit is not for our own benefit. They are not our report card to God. I used to think that if I exhibit love, joy, peace, God will be pleased with me. Now I know that I am always accepted and loved by Abba God. He does not love me more because I behave well. He does not love me less when I do not.
The fruit of the Spirit is the means Abba God disseminate and propagate His love and redemption message. When we exhibit love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control, men are drawn to the God we follow.
3. Self-control is part of the Fruit
I have not fully understood how I bear the fruit of self-control.
Isn’t the idea of self-control about controlling oneself? But the verse is quite clear that self-control is a fruit, not work. It is a mystery. I pray for understanding.