What is the “Fruit of the Spirit” in the Bible?

The fruit of the Spirit includes nine attributes of a godly life that the Holy Spirit works to develop in the lives of those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior.

The nine attributes are:

Learn how we help instill these values in the children we serve!

Where is the Fruit of the Spirit Mentioned in the Bible?

Paul’s writing about the fruit of the Spirit is found in Galatians 5: 22-23. In the New International Version of the Bible, these verses read:

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.

Galatians 5:22-23, NIV

Who is Galatians Written To?

Paul wrote Galatians to the early Christian congregations in the province of Galatia, located in modern-day Turkey, about A.D. 47.

The Apostle Paul wrote several letters to new congregations in the ancient world, such as the Ephesians, Thessalonians, Colossians and Corinthians. These letters are included in the New Testament of the Bible.

The most strongly worded of his letters in the New Testament was the one to the Galatians. It was a response to the influence of Jewish convert teachers who insisted that in addition to faith in Christ, non-Jewish believers in Galatia (gentiles) must also follow the Jewish law to receive salvation.

Paul was distraught by this influence, which he saw as undermining the very foundation of salvation — that it is God’s gift to anyone who believes in Jesus Christ.

Why Does the Apostle Paul Write About the Fruit of the Spirit?

Paul presents the nine attributes of a godly life, a life led by the Holy Spirit, as a contrast to the attributes of an ungodly life. He refers to the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit as “acts of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19), or “works of the flesh” as the King James Version of the Bible (KJV) describes them.

An ungodly life is one controlled by the sinful nature that every human is born with. Paul describes it as follows:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: 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.

Galatians 5:19-21, NIV

Paul’s purpose in writing Galatians 5 is to encourage his readers that those who “belong to Christ” (verse 24) are no longer slaves to their sin nature.

When a person accepts Christ as Savior, they receive the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome their sin nature and develop the character of Christ. And the character of Christ is marked by the fruit of his Spirit.

Why is the Fruit of the Spirit Also Called Fruits of the Spirit?

Some people refer to the nine Christlike attributes in Galatians 5 in plural form: “fruits” of the Spirit.

It is true that each attribute is distinct, but the Scripture refers to them as a united, singular “fruit.”

These nine attributes come together in a Christian’s life to reflect a complete picture of the character of Christ.

What is the Meaning of Each Attribute of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit?


It is no coincidence that Paul puts “love” first in the fruit of the Spirit. The Greek word for love in this instance is agape. It is the highest form of the different kinds of love expressed by distinct Greek words, including eros (romantic love), philia (friendship love) and storge (familial love).

Agape is the kind of love God has for his creation. It is pure, selfless and self-sacrificing. It always seeks the best for others — even enemies —, at all costs. A beautiful description of agape love is found in the Bible verses of 1 Corinthians 13.

God showed his agape love for us in sacrificing his only Son to save us from our sinful nature.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8, NIV

The joy Paul refers to in Galatians 5 is much deeper than a sense of happiness or gladness from life’s circumstances. It is a profound delight and rejoicing that comes from knowing and serving God.

The Bible describes the importance of this divine joy to the Christian’s life:


Peace is an unshakeable inner calm that can be a rare quality in turbulent times.

The peace that comes from the Spirit is not just a small comfort. Paul describes it as beyond human understanding in this reassuring passage:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7, NIV

Also called longsuffering, forbearance has the common synonym “patience.”

Patience can be in short supply in a fast-paced world where everyone wants what they want, when they want it.

But the Holy Spirit has a never-ending supply of patience to flood the Christian’s heart at those times when it is needed most.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Ephesians 4:2, NIV

This fruit of the Spirit is a natural result of love.

When God’s Spirit begins to develop love in the Christian’s heart, treating others with kindness, compassion and forgiveness follows.

In fact, once the foundational fruit of love is flowing through one’s life, not only kindness but also gentleness, forbearance, goodness and other attributes listed in Galatians 5 will naturally follow.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32, NIV

This fruit of the Spirit is an attribute of action. It means living one’s life with good morals and motives as well as doing good things for others.

Producing the fruit of goodness is a true mark of godliness.

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Galatians 6:10, NIV

Trustworthy, loyal, constant, dependable. The Christian who produces the fruit of faithfulness embodies all these attributes.

Faithfulness is an especially important to God. No matter what life brings, he expects his disciples to be unwavering in their faithfulness to him as well as to the people in their lives.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12, NIV

The way a Christian engages with others is what the fruit of gentleness is all about.

The ability to discern when to use a gentle word is a valuable gift of the Spirit. Especially in tense moments, when unkind words or manners are the typical first response, the Christian who responds with gentleness is a true reflection of Jesus and the kingdom of God.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1, NIV

Paul concludes his list of the fruit of the Spirit with self-control.

Because of the human sin nature, everyone’s personality has negative impulses and qualities. Overcoming them can be a constant tug of war.

But Christians have the power of God’s Holy Spirit in their lives to help them identify and overcome areas of weakness.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

Titus 2:11-12, NIV

How Do You Develop the Fruit of the Spirit?

It's important to note that Paul doesn’t write that the nine attributes of Christ’s character are “the fruit of your own efforts.”

These nine attributes are “the fruit of the Spirit.”

It is the Holy Spirit alone through God’s grace who develops the fruit of the Spirit.

The moment a person accepts Christ as Savior, the Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence in that person’s life. And it is the Spirit’s power that transforms and molds the person into Christ’s likeness.

What does that mean? How, exactly, does the Holy Spirit do this miraculous work in a person’s life?

It doesn’t just “happen.” The believer in Christ has an important role to play in this transformation. In Galatians 5:25, Paul reveals the secret to making sure the Holy Spirit can cultivate the fruit of Christ’s character in one’s life.

It is this: “Keep in step with the Spirit.”

Keeping in step means trusting and following the Spirit’s lead. To discover the Spirit’s leading, the Christian must be in close relationship to God.

How? By spending time in God’s presence and being immersed in prayer and his Word.

How Do You Apply the Fruit of the Spirit to Your Life?

The fruit of the Spirit is meant to be shared!

An important way that the Holy Spirit develops the attributes of Christ in the Christian’s life is by leading them to act on behalf of others.

Around the world, millions of people have responded to the Holy Spirit’s call to action by sponsoring children living in poverty. As sponsors with Compassion, they are demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit in a powerful way with children who truly need it the most.

For example:

  • A sponsor’s kindness and goodness, demonstrated through financial support, provides for a child’s basic needs, including nutrition, education, medical attention and spiritual nurture.
  • A sponsor’s faithfulness, demonstrated by consistent prayers for the Holy Spirit to work in their child’s life.
  • A sponsor’s love and joy, shared through writing letters, brings a sense of value to their child, as well as hope for a brighter future.

As a sponsor shares the fruit of the Spirit with their child, those amazing aspects of Christ’s character increase in the sponsor’s own life!

Share the Fruit of the Spirit in Your Life With a Child in Need.

Child sponsorship through Compassion International is one of the easiest — and most powerful — ways to express and cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in your life. It is also one of the most successful and cost-efficient ways to meet the needs of impoverished people.

In fact, economists have recognized child sponsorship as the most effective long-term development intervention for helping those in poverty.

Sponsor a child today! >

When you sign up for sponsorship, you will be connected to a specific child who will:

  • Know your name.
  • Write to you.
  • Cherish the thought that you care about them.

Your child will come under the care of a local church that will make sure they receive the medical care, education assistance, nutritious food and other life basics needed to grow and thrive — all in the context of a safe, nurturing environment.

Most importantly, your child will have the opportunity to hear about God’s love for them and his great gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

A child is waiting for you. Take action and the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life by sponsoring a child today.

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