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Galatians 5:22 – suitability and goodness

25-10-2022 - Posted by Hans

Now the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control.

The rendering ‘usefulness’ as one of the properties of “the fruit of the Spirit” deserves an explanation. The Greek word (chrestotes) is rendered “kindness” by one Bible translation and “faithfulness” by another. What is it and what do we mean by this word?

The Greek ‘chrestotes’ is derived from the word for ‘use’ and literally means ‘usefulness’. For example, Onesimus was ‘useful’ to Paul (Philemon:11). In a derivative sense, it also carries the thought of ‘pleasant’. Thus wine that can serve to drink is ‘pleasant’ (Luke 5:39). The Dutch word that overlaps both concepts is ‘suitability’. Someone who (or something that is) ‘suitable’ is useful  and for that reason also pleasant . Likewise, God is ‘suitable’: useful (helpful) and pleasant in every way. That is his ‘kindness’.

He who is led by God’s Spirit, becomes a ‘suitable’ person. This quality indicates an attitude of wanting to make oneself useful and useful to those around us. Whoever has joy and peace in the heart will not want anything other than to act ‘suitable’. And that’s what “goodness” means: it has a beneficial effect.