The Nature of Fruit in the Bible
Fruit is an important part of the Bible’s teachings. The Bible often uses the word “fruit” in reference to an abundance of blessings, including physical, spiritual, and spiritual-ethical fruit — each type with its own unique meaning. In the Old Testament, for example, the Lord promises abundant fruit to those who are obedient to His commands (Deuteronomy 8:7-8). In the New Testament, Jesus commands His followers to ask the Father for the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23). So, what is this fruit, and how is it significant to Christians today?
Types of Fruit
When talking about fruit in the Bible, it’s important to discern two types: natural, physical fruit, and spiritual fruit. Natural fruit can represent blessings such as abundant crops, descendants, or a favorable environment. Spiritual fruit refers to the fruits of the Spirit, such as faith, love, and joy. In both cases, fruit symbolizes the abundance of God’s blessings in the lives of believers.
Things Fruit Symbolizes
In the Bible, fruit symbolizes more than just God’s blessing. It also symbolizes the soul’s tendency to bear good or evil things. As the biblical scholar R.T. France notes, “Fruit… could be positive, indicating spiritual fruit of character and action, or negative, when it pictured the emptiness of human effort.” Therefore, fruit can both celebrate God’s gracious blessings and warn against spiritual compromise.
Fruit in the Old Testament
In the Old Testament, fruitfulness was a major theme. God promised His people abundant fruitfulness if they followed the Law (Deuteronomy 28:4). He also warned against unfruitfulness, forbidding those who disobeyed Him to bear fruit (Ezekiel 19:10-14). In addition, fruit represented the abundance of God’s faithfulness to His people (Isaiah 27:6). In sum, the Old Testament has much to say about fruit as a spiritual metaphor.
Fruit in the New Testament
The New Testament provides further insight into the spiritual significance of fruit. Jesus commanded his followers to seek the fruit of the Spirit, which Paul describes as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Paul also instructs us to test the fruit of our actions to make sure we’re living in harmony with God’s will (Philippians 1:9-11). Therefore, fruit in the New Testament represents the spiritual growth and development that’s available to believers through Jesus.
Fruit in Everyday Life
The Bible encourages believers to seek the fruit of the Spirit in their daily lives. This means that each day should bring greater feelings of love, joy, peace, and other spiritual virtues. As we seek to cultivate these virtues, our spiritual lives can be enriched in significant ways.
In conclusion, fruit is an important metaphor used in the Bible to describe both physical and spiritual abundance. In the Old Testament, it refers primarily to God’s faithfulness and the land’s fertility. In the New Testament, it refers to the fruit of the Spirit, which Paul identifies as love, joy, peace, and other spiritual virtues. Lastly, the Bible encourages us to seek the fruit of the Spirit in our daily lives. By doing this, we can manifest spiritual growth, strength, and joy.