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The Fruit of the Spirit Is Love


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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

—Galatians 5:22–23

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Now we come to the plain meaning of the text. “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” I can well understand some of you saying, “Why do you take this one word ‘love’?” Because when this one word is uttered there is no more to say. It is perfectly correct to take all the words which follow. The Apostle wrote them under inspiration and with deep significance. You will see at once there is difficulty in the text. It reads, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance.” You feel there is difficulty in saying, “The fruit of the Spirit is,” and then reciting nine words. Men have recognized the grammatical difficulty of the “is,” and quote the passage, “The fruits of the Spirit are . . .” That is grammatical. That reads smoothly. Hence the popular supposition that there are nine fruits of the Spirit.

But we have no right to interfere with the text in that way. Our business is to find out what the text really means. The Apostle wrote, “The fruit of the Spirit is love . . .” It is one, not nine! It may be objected that the affirmation does not remove the difficulty in the text. The one thing in your Bible which is not inspired is the punctuation. If I were writing this text out for myself I would feel I was perfectly warranted in changing the punctuation, and I would read it like this: “The fruit of the Spirit is love,” and then I should indicate a pause by some means other than a comma, say a semicolon and a dash, and then read on: “joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance.” The Apostle reaches his climax, and he writes the full and final fact concerning Christian experience in the words, “The fruit of the spirit is love.” Then there breaks upon his consciousness the meaning of love, and in order that we may not treat the word as a small word, that we may not pass it over and imagine there is nothing very much in it, that it is merely a sentimental word, he gives us the qualities and quantities and flavors of the fruit by breaking it up into its component parts. To change the figure, the Apostle writes the word “love,” and there surges through his soul all the harmonies of the Christian life. It is a great orchestra—love—and he listens and picks out one by one the different qualities of the music, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance.

If you have love you have all these things. If you lack love you lack them all. If that can be proved, then I think it is proved that love is the all-inclusive word, and the words which follow break it up and explain its meaning.

—G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: The Fruit of the Spirit) (Baker, 2006), 1:171–172.



Posted 2018·06·04 by David Kjos
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Posted in: G Campbell Morgan · Galatians · Westminster Pulpit

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