The vast majority of the book of Galatians has as its concern the false teachings of Judiazers. However, it is almost as if Paul in the fifth chapter, pauses from this emphasis to say, “You know, you have other problems in the churches of Galatia than just Judaizing teachers. Some of you have forgotten the basics of Christian behavior.” They were biting and devouring one another like vicious animals (Gal. 5:14-15). In this context he writes of “the fruit of the Spirit”.
The fruit of the Spirit is…
1. Love (Galatians 5:22). This is the King of the Christian graces. Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love to one another” (John 13:35). Paul indicated that without it we are nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3), and he went on to say that in some way it is even greater than “faith” and “hope” (1 Cor. 13:13). John strongly stated “he that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:8). Agape love is not necessarily an emotional closeness, or friendship kind of love; it is concern and Godly living toward others. The behavior of this type of love is spelled out in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; we’d do well to read and re-read this passage often. This love cares enough to risk conflict to help a brother or sister out of sin (cf. Gal. 5:14; w/ Gal. 6:1-2). Brother Jimmy Jividen has written, “Perhaps the strongest test of brotherly love is the willingness to confront a brother who is involved in sin or error” (Koinonia, p. 33). Again, he has written, “One of the most unloving accts that one could do – is nothing – when he knows that a brother is being overcome by sin” (Koinania, p. 147). Once more he said, “It is a shallow and misguided love which prefers to let a brother go to hell rather than correct his wrong. Brotherly love cares enough to correct” (Koinonia, p. 179).
2. Joy (Galatians 5:22). It is possible for the Christian to be filled with inward joy despite harsh and even brutal external circumstances. The brethren at Thessalonica are an example of this; They “received the word in much affliction, with joy…” (1 Thes. 1:6). Roy H. Deaver has written, “Joy is the inward feeling of happiness and contentment which often finds a meaning of outward expression. It does not necessarily demand that outward circumstances be pleasant” (7th Annual Ft. Worth Lectures, p. 127). The reasons the Christian can have such joy is that he understands “the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with “the glory which shall be revealed…” (Rom. 8:18). Moreover, “all things work together for good” (Rom.8:28).
Paul described the afflictions of this life as “light” and “but for the moment” in comparison with the “exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:16-18). The trials of this life must be endured to get to the beauties of the other side (Acts 14:22). Moreover, if approached with the right attitude such can be used to mature us (Rom. 5:2-5; James 1:2-4).
3. Peace (Galatians 5:22). This word may be closely connected with the previous word; that is: regardless what happens in this life a Christian can maintain an inner peace. Jesus spoke of this when He said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
However, it may refer to the way Christians strive to live with others. Hebrews 12:14, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Also, think of Romans 12:18, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you live peaceably with all men.” Moreover, think of Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”
4. Longsuffering (Galatians 5:22). Let’s define the term. Vine’s, “Forbearance, patience, longsuffering.” Thayer, “patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance.”
We as God’s people need to have this quality of longsuffering when wronged. It is so easy to want to take matters into one’s own hands and retaliate in like-kind. Romans 12:21 reads, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” There are times God expects us to turn the other cheek (Luke 6:27-29).
We need to be longsuffering with our brethren. We all have quirks and flaws and it is easy to get frustrated with one another. Paul wrote that we are to be “longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:2-3).
We need to be longsuffering and constant in our Christian life. 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Galatians 6:9, “Let us not grow weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” We are to be a productive people who “bring forth fruit with patience” [perseverance NASB; endurance NKJV margin] (Luke 8:15).
5. Gentleness (Galatians 5:22). The NASB and the NKJV both render this “kindness”. Note: This is not the same word which appears in Galatians 6:1. Arndt-Gingrich gives the primary meaning as “usefulness”. Roy H. Deaver, “The very root of the Greek is the concept of usefulness” (7th Annual Ft. Worth Lectures, p. 128). We as God’s people need to look for ways to be useful to others. Jesus taught that true greatness was found in serving others (Mark 10:42-45). We sing, “Make me a servant, Lord, make me like You, for You are a servant, make me one too”.
6. Goodness (Galatians 5:22). Roy H. Deaver has written, “The word generally refers to everything and every quality that could be called ‘good’. The word also is used to describe the act of taking all of those good attributes and directing them toward another in the way we would use the word ‘beneficence’ … the act of using one’s own goodness for the benefit of another” (7th Annual Ft. Worth Lectures, p. 128). Goodness toward others is shown by keeping God’s commandments (Rom. 13:8-10; 1 John 5:2; 2 John 5-6). Let us follow the Golden Rule (Matt. 7:12). May we be like Jesus, who “went about doing good…” (Acts 10:38).
7. Faith (Galatians 5:22). Both the NASB and the NKJV read “Faithfulness”. Thayer says of the original word, “fidelity, faithfulness, i.e. the character of one who can be relied on”. We are not to be “fair-weathered friends.” Job had such friends (Job 6:15-17; 19:13-19). Instead, we’re taught, “Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not” (Prov. 27:10a). Some brethren, when you need them the most, are no where to be found in times of trouble or need. Don’t be like this.
8. Meekness (Galatians 5:23). Both the NASB and the NKJV reads “gentleness”. Vine’s, “Described negatively, meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self interest”. We might think of it as “strength under control”. Roy H. Deaver, “We gain some insight into its content when we turn secular Greek literature and find our word used to describe a spirited and properly trained horse. The horse has power, he has ability, he has energy, but it is all harnessed and placed under the control of the rider on his back. This is the very heart of the meaning… submission to someone else” (7th Annual Ft. Worth Lectures, p. 129). True Christians are to allow God to control their lives, directing their steps (cf. Jer. 10:23). No longer are we to live solely for self. We are to have to have the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:1-8). We are to let Him live within us (Galatians 2:20).
9. Temperance (Galatians 5:23). Both the NASB and the NKJV render this “self-control”. We as God’s people must learn to control ourselves. This includes our bodies. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 reads, “This is the will of God; even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication. That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor”. This also includes the tongue. James 1:26, “If any… bridle not his tongue… this man’s religion is vain”. This furthermore includes one’s anger. Ephesians 4:26 reads, “Be ye angry, and sin not”. Proverbs 16:32 reads, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city”. Charles Crouch said that self-control meant, “Abstinence from everything harmful and wrong, and moderation in everything else” (Studies in Galatians, p. 83).