One of the hidden treasures found in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians is found in chapter five, verse 22: the word FRUIT. In Greek, καρπὸς, karpos, literally is the fruit growing on a plant, such as on a fruit tree, on a grapevine, or even fruit of the fields, such as a wheat harvest. Figuratively, the word “fruit” expresses the outcome or expression of the planting of good seeds such as good choices or initiatives. Ultimately, all fruit come from God’s creative will and handiwork on Earth, either literally, or spiritually within a human heart.
In the New Living Translation, the word “fruit” is used 160 times, 123 times in the Old Testament and 37 times in the New Testament. God created the Earth with fruit trees and plants that bear fruit. Within the fruit, God places seeds that would be fruitful and bear more fruit for the future. God’s first command to first humans involves fruit: Be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28).
The original temptation in the Garden of Eden involved fruit: “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” (Genesis 3:1) The serpent in the Garden tempted Adam and Eve into eating forbidden fruit, thus disobeying God. They were cast out of the Garden of Eden, and their attempts at farming, and growing fruit became much more difficult. “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:17-19).
In the New Testament, Jesus uses the Greek word, καρπὸς, or “fruit” eight times in John 15, in his parable of the vineyard. In this parable, Jesus describes our lives as fruit bearing branches connected to a grapevine. Jesus is the Vine, we are the branches. Apart from the Vine, we cannot bear fruit. The purpose of the branches, our purpose in life is to bear much fruit. Jesus created us to be fruitful, to bear much fruit. In order for this abundant fruitful life to emerge, God prunes our lives, removing what is not fruitful, focusing and training our lives as the owner of a Vineyard does to the branches.
In Galatians 5:22, we discover a hidden treasure in the word FRUIT: “the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
Paul describes a cluster of nine kinds of fruit. The odd thing about how Paul uses the word karpos, fruit, in Galatians 5:22, is that fruit is singular, though describing nine different kinds of spiritual fruit. We do not produce this fruit (singular), but the Holy Spirit working within us produces “this kind of fruit in our lives.”
Perhaps Paul was envisioning a cluster of grapes when he wrote Galatians 5, seeing a single cluster of nine-fold fruit. The Holy Spirit grows good fruit in clusters in our lives. We do not get to pick and choose which fruit we will grow and reject the rest, as though we are to be loving but impatient, joyful but unkind. That kind of disjointed, hypocritical spiritual life is what God will prune away. Jesus wants us to bear much fruit, to live fully fruitful lives: to be loving and patient, joyful and kind, peaceful and gentle, good and faithful, and in all things, to have the fruit of self-control, which is to say, allowing our lives to be under Jesus’ control.
One of my favorite ways to pray is to simply pray a short prayer from John 15:4, “Abide in me, and I in You.” I pray this prayer along with my breath. I breath in “Abide,” breath out “in me,” breath in “and I,” breath out “in You.” I pray constantly, as regularly as my breathing, that Jesus will deeply abide within my spirit, and I will abide deeply within Jesus. When we abide in Jesus, Jesus abides in us, and Jesus refreshes and renews us inwardly, and train us from within to live under God’s loving, peaceful, joyful control. There is no law against such bold, abundant, fruitful way of living fully for Christ.
For more on Vineyard Spirituality, please visit my blog on this website called VINEA.CHURCH.