Summary: Lessons 5 and 6 of a teaching series on the Fruit of the Spirit.

Fruit of the Spirit—Gentleness and Goodness

Fruit of the Spirit Teaching Series

Chuck Sligh

July 7 & 14, 2014

TEXT: Galatians 5:22-23 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”


Illus. – Years ago we had invited one of my former pastors, Bob Cook in Springfield, TN, over to our church in Wiesbaden to preach a family life conference for us. When it was time to take him back to the Frankfurt Airport to return to the States, we arrived late at the airport.

To make matters worse, due to a foul-up in his ticket at the check-in counter of his airline he had to stand in three separate lines and see three separate clerks. I kept watching my clock and counting down the minutes before they would announce his flight and he would have missed it. So at that stage I was more nervous that a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

During the entire ordeal, not one time did Brother Bob ever get impatient or flustered and not once was he anything but the most courteous and kind person you ever met in your life. In fact, he went out of his way to bring a little sunshine into each of these ladies’ lives. He complimented each one on their efficiency and professionalism—even though doing so used up a little more time he didn’t have. He told one how much he appreciated her help and asked if there were a comment card he could have so he could put in a good word for her because of the great job she did.

When I studied out gentleness and goodness for this study, Brother Bob instantly came to my mind. They really are a pair that go together, so that is how I will treat them this morning.

Let’s look at this pair of qualities from God’s fruit basket:


Let’s define gentleness, and then see how it is used in the Bible and then we’ll discover how we can apply it to our lives.

Gentleness—what does it mean?

Q. Give me all the synonyms that come to mind when we use our English word “gentleness?

A. After getting answer, go through the following:

The word “gentleness” here is the Greek word χρηστότης (chrēstótēs #5544).

Here is a simple definition of chrēstótēs: “To have a sweetness of temper that puts others at ease.”

W.E. Vines, in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, defines it as “pleasant, good, gracious, kindness of heart, kindness.”

Note the following quotation from Barnes Notes on chrēstótēs:

The word means goodness, kindness, benignity [the quality of being benign]; and is opposed to a harsh, crabbed, crooked temper. It is a disposition of temper, calmness of spirit, an unruffled disposition, and a disposition to treat all with urbanity and politeness. This is one of the regular effects of the Spirit’s operations on the heart. Religion makes no one crabbed, or morose, and sour. It sweetens the temper; corrects an irritable disposition; makes the heart kind; disposes us to make all around us as happy as possible. This is true politeness; a kind of politeness which can far better be learned in the school of Christ than in that of Chesterfield [or as we would say today, from “Miss Manners”]….

In today’s English, the closest single word that most accurately conveys all that chrēstotēs means would be “kindness.”

Let’s now look at how this word is used in the New Testament.

Chrēstótēs is only found 10 times in the New Testament.

> 4 of those times it is translated in our King James Bible as “kindness” and four times as “goodness,” which is a little confusing, because the word goodness—the next quality of the fruit of the Spirit we will look at here in Galatians 5:22—is actually a completely different Greek word from chrēstótēs.

> Chrēstótēs is also translated “good” one time, and here in Galatians 5:22 is the only time it is translated gentleness.

So though the King James translators were not consistent in how they translated the word, they did an excellent job of conveying all the shades of meaning of chrēstotēs: kindness, goodness, good, gentleness.

In order to best understand this quality, let’s look at three of the places chrēstotēs, or some form of its root word, χρηστός (chrēstós, #5543), is used in the New Testament and see what they teaches us about gentleness, or literally, “kindness”.

Turn first of all to Ephesians 4:32 – “And be ye kind [this is the word chrēstós] one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Just as a lot can be told about a person by looking at who he or she runs around with, a lot can be told about a word by looking at what other words are used around it. The words used “in the neighborhood,” so to speak, of chrēstós (translated “kind”) of Ephesians 4:32 are all pretty good words.

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