The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Joy


Before one can understand ‘the fruit of the Spirit,’ one must understand the context of Galatians 5 where ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ is revealed. In this chapter, Paul exhorts Christians not to allow their liberty to degenerate into a ‘yoke of bondage.’

Some individuals in the Galatian church had ‘fallen from grace’ because they sought to be ‘justified by the law.’ The Judaizing teachers were binding the old law upon the church and, by such, had hindered some in obeying the truth, Galatians 5:7. These false teachers of Judaism were troubling the church, Galatians 5:12.

However, as Christians, we have been called to liberty, liberty from the old law, from sin, and from the bondage of sin. Thus, Paul exhorts, ‘do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh,’ Galatians 5:13.

One reason we ought not to use our liberty as a license to sin is because ‘we walk in the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:16. To ‘walk in the Spirit’ means to walk according to the Spirit’s teaching through His sword ‘which is the word of God,’ Ephesians 6:17.

This is the same as being ‘led by the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:18, and it is the opposite of walking after the flesh. The Spirit and the flesh are at odds, Galatians 5:17. They are in constant conflict. They are opposed to one another.

To further illustrate this conflict, Paul contrasts ‘the works of the flesh,’ Galatians 5:19-21 with ‘the fruit of the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:22-23. In verse 16 of Galatians 5, Paul commands, ‘Walk in the Spirit.’ Let’s be sure, that there are certain results of walking in the Spirit. There is the benefit of not fulfilling the lust of the flesh, Galatians 5:16.

The same thought is declared by David in Psalm 119:11, ‘I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.’

When we engraft God’s Word upon our hearts, it will protect us against the fiery darts of Satan. Jesus knew this lesson when He was tempted by the devil, Matthew 4. Jesus guarded Himself against each temptation by the Word of God. He answered the tempter’s temptation with ‘it is written,’ Matthew 4:4 / Matthew 4:7 / Matthew 4:10

Also, if we ‘walk in the Spirit’, we are ‘not under the law,’ Galatians 5:18. ‘The law’ in this verse is the Mosaic Law. Earlier in this chapter, we are told Christ becomes of no effect unto those who justify themselves by ‘the law,’ Galatians 5:4. To return to the Mosaic law is to abandon the law of Christ and to fall from grace. Some believe this means we are not under any law.

However, we are under ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ which frees us from ‘the law of sin and death,’ Romans 8:2. We are to ‘fulfil the law of Christ’ by bearing one another’s burdens, Galatians 6:2. And, we are to look into ‘the perfect law of liberty.’ James 1:25.

Also, consider this, since ‘sin is the transgression of the law,’ 1 John 3:4 to say we aren’t under law is to say we haven’t nor cannot sin. Clearly, we are under law, the law of Christ, but we are not under ‘the law’, the Law of Moses. Further, ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ results from walking in the Spirit.

Again, when we engraft God’s Word upon our hearts, ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ will be seen within us. The qualities of ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’ will characterise us. The Spirit will produce these qualities within us by the Word He has inspired.

‘The fruit of the Spirit’ is the produce of the Spirit

In other words, it is the product that is produced by the Spirit’s influence. ‘The fruit of the Spirit’ isn’t a Christian nor the fruit of a Christian which some have mistakenly taught. In fact, the fruit of a Christian is more than just a Christian.

It is true that in the natural world, mankind, animals, and plants produce after their kind. Christians should also produce after their kind, and in this sense, the fruit of a Christian is another Christian.

However, Christians produce other fruit besides Christians. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, ‘Thus, by their fruit, you will recognize them.’ Matthew 7:20

Within the context, Jesus is speaking concerning false teachers who come ‘in sheep’s clothing’ but inwardly are ‘ravening wolves,’ Matthew 7:15.

To illustrate how we can know a false teacher, He taught a good tree produces good fruit, whereas an evil tree produces evil fruit.

Is the only fruit of a false teacher, other false teachers? Of course not! False teachers cause division, false hope, and disillusionment to only name a few. So, it is with Christians. Christians should evangelise, but there are other fruits which they should bear, and one such fruit is the fruit of the Spirit.

Since the fruit of the Spirit is the produce of the Spirit, then how does the Spirit produce the qualities of ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’ in Christians today? The Spirit influences Christians today through the Spirit-inspired Word.

Peter wrote, ‘For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.’ 2 Peter 1:21

It is this Word that will make us ‘wise for salvation,’ 2 Timothy 3:15 and ‘it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes,’ Romans 1:16. It provides us with ‘everything we need for a godly life,’ 2 Peter 1:3.

Thus, nothing else is needed for it is all-sufficient and will produce the right fruit.

In the parable of the sower, Jesus taught that a sower sowed seed by the wayside, upon a rock, among thorns, and on good ground, Luke 8:5-8. Later, Jesus told us what the seed represents. He said, ‘The seed is the word of God,’ Luke 8:11

So, the Word was sown in the hearts of men, but sadly the hearts of some men were like the soil of the way sidewayside, the rock, and the thorny ground.

Thankfully, when the Word of God is sown in other men whose hearts are like the soil of the good ground, it ‘brings forth fruit with patience,’ that is with constant perseverance, Luke 8:15.

What is the fruit of the Spirit?

It is what the Word provides and produces in the good soil of a person’s heart.

Contrasted to the Spirit produced fruit, ‘the works of the flesh’ are ‘the unfruitful works of darkness,’ Ephesians 5:9 / Ephesians 5:11. In other words, ‘the works of the flesh’ don’t yield a valuable or desirable fruit. The works of the flesh are the evil fruit of the evil tree. They bring forth no blessings and no real benefits.

Please take careful note that unlike the plural ‘acts of the flesh,’ ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ is singular. ‘Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’ aren’t separate fruits but are characteristics or attributes of the singular ‘fruit of the Spirit.’

Besides these nine characteristics, Paul adds ‘all goodness and righteousness and truth’ in Ephesians 5:9. Thus, giving us a total of eleven attributes of the fruit of the Spirit all of which are virtues of the highest moral and spiritual qualities.

These qualities or characteristics will be manifested in the lives of those ‘who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit’, Romans 8:1 / Romans 8:4 / Galatians 5:16.

Like the ‘graces’ of 2 Peter 1, if ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ ‘be in you, and abound, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ 2 Peter 1:8.

In contrast, if they aren’t manifested in our lives, then we aren’t being ‘led of (or ‘by’) the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:18 / Romans 8:14. And again, like the ‘graces’ of 2 Peter 1:5-7, if they are lacking, then we are ‘near-sighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 2 Peter 1:9. Thus, the proof of the tree is in the fruit.

Jesus said, ‘the tree is known by his fruit’, Matthew 12:33. And, ‘Thus, by their fruit, you will recognize them.’ Matthew 7:20. So, let us determine to always ‘walk after the Spirit’ by following His Word in order that we may manifest these marvellous traits, the fruit of the Spirit.


The singular fruit of the Spirit is characterised by ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’, Galatians 5:22-23

These aren’t different fruits but various characteristics of the same fruit.

As one would describe an apple or an orange, he would begin with the most prevalent characteristics, those that stand out above the others. So it is with the fruit of the Spirit. The characteristic that stands out the most is love and then ‘joy’.

‘Joy’ is delight or to experience great pleasure. It is the opposite of weeping, lamenting, and sorrow, John 16:20-22. Some synonyms of joy are gladness and rejoicing. From the accusation made against Jesus, Matthew 11:19, we know that he was a man of joy.

He was, in many ways, a man of sorrow, yet, ‘for the joy that was set before him,’ He ‘endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ Hebrews 12:2

The anticipated joy of being exalted to the right hand of God helped the Lord to overcome the sorrows He endured.

Because Christians are followers of Christ, we need His joy, a joy that will help us endure the trials of this life. When Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, they were undergoing persecution and were suffering for Christ’s sake, Philippians 1:28-30.

Thus, Paul exhorts, ‘Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord,’ Philippians 3:1 and ‘Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice,’ Philippians 4:4.

How could they rejoice when they were suffering?

In the same way, Jesus rejoiced.

By pressing ‘toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’ and by looking to their reward in heaven’ Philippians 3:14 / Philippians 3:20 they could rejoice. The anticipated joy of being with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit throughout all eternity will help us to overcome the sorrows inflicted upon us by the trials of this life.

Yes, joy can lift us above trials and tribulation. James exhorts, ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,’ James 1:2.

How can this be?

How can we have joy while enduring various kinds of trials? Because true joy is independent of external forces. Externals can bring joy and sorrow, but they are usually short-lived.

Many of the Hebrew Christians had lost property, and, yet, they joyfully accepted it because they knew that they had ‘in heaven a better and an enduring substance,’ Hebrews 10:34.

Paul and Silas could rejoice through prayer and song with their feet in stocks in the inner prison of Philippi because they had true joy.

It is for this reason, that Peter could exhort, ‘Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.’ 1 Peter 4:12-13.

Notice how this idea is further expounded upon in the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount. In the last Beatitude, Jesus said, ‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.’ Matthew 5:11.

Blessings or happiness, joy, promised to the persecuted? Yes!

Jesus explains in the next verse, Matthew 5:12 ‘Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for, in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’

The anticipated joy of heaven brings great joy to those who are persecuted for Christ’s sake. So, when the trials of life seem to get us down, let us remember the heavenly reward which will bring us great joy.

After exhorting the disciples to keep His word, Jesus said, ‘I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.’ John 15:11.

Jesus knew that true joy comes by keeping the commandments of God. Thus, He exhorted His disciples to obey the commandments of God in order to have joy. ‘Joy’, therefore, is a natural outgrowth of keeping God’s commandments.

David wrote, ‘Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.’ Psalm 1:1-2.

Again, in Psalm 112:1, he wrote, ‘Praise the LORD. Blessed are those who fear the LORD, who find great delight in his commands.’

Surely, we would agree with David when he said, ‘The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart.’ Psalm 19:8.

Keep in mind, that in order to properly obey God, one must know His will. In John 15, Jesus first instructed His disciples, then He told them the benefits of obedience, ‘that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.’ John 15:11

In the first of seven beatitudes of Revelation, John pronounced a three-fold blessing upon the reader, the hearer, and those who keep those things which are written, Revelation 1:3. Instruction comes before obedience. In John’s introduction of his first epistle, he said he wrote those things ‘that your joy may be full’, 1 John 1:4

Again, instruction comes first, obedience follows, and joy results.

The Book of Acts is sometimes called ‘the book of joy’ because within its pages we find the joy of obedience. After the church was established on the marvellous day of Pentecost, the disciples ‘did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,’ Acts 2:46

After the Ethiopian eunuch confessed and was baptised, ‘he went on his way rejoicing.’ Acts 8:39. After the Philippian Jailor repented and was baptised, ‘he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house,’ Acts 16:34

Also, within the pages of Acts, we find the joy of being persecuted. After the apostles were beaten and brought before the Sanhedrin, they were told not to ‘speak in the name of Jesus.’ However, the apostles ‘rejoiced’ because ‘they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name’ and ‘ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ,’ Acts 5:40-42

Joy also comes when priorities are properly set. Many have probably seen the acrostic for JOY. Jesus first, others second, and yourself last. This simple acrostic illustrates the importance of properly set priorities. When priorities are mixed or confused, the result is tragedy and sorrow, but when kept, they bring a harvest of joy. Properly set priorities begin with putting Jesus first. Jesus said the first and great commandment is ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’. Matthew 22:36-38.

Next on God’s chain of priority is others second. Again, Jesus said, ‘and the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Matthew 22:39.

In application, Paul exhorted the Christians in Philippi to have the mind of Christ by esteeming others ‘better than themselves’ and looking ‘on the things of others,’ Philippians 2:3-5. By putting others before ourselves, we place ourselves last. This is the golden rule of Luke 6:31, ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’

With these thoughts, let us heed the admonition to rejoice by following Christ’s example of overcoming suffering, by obeying God’s commandments, and by setting our priorities in order, Romans 14:17 / Romans 15:13.

The fruit of the Spirit is made up of qualities to which all men should aspire. They are qualities that need no law, need no regulation, and need no restraint. They are godly qualities that issue from the foundational principle of love for God and for His creation. If these qualities are applied properly to our lives, they will build a good relationship with God, family, and friends.

Every godly person of the past was characterised by them, and every godly person in the future will be characterised by them. Let us, therefore, strive in earnestness to possess the fruit of the Spirit which is ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, righteousness, and truth’.