I was studying Gl 5.22, and I came across this virtues - kindness and goodness. I am Brazilian, and I looked up in dictionary for these two words in Portuguese (Bondade and Benignidade) and they are often used as synonyms. So I tried to look for it in English, since I know only a few words in Greek. However, they also seem to me pretty similar.

I wonder if any of you could explain what would be the difference between these two virtues pointed by the apostle. I wonder if in Greek there is a bigger difference between these words, or maybe Paul just wanted to reinforce his message...


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

English Standard Version

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

King James

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

  • I like this question Feb 28, 2023 at 16:27

4 Answers 4


One Portuguese translation of this verse gives it:

Mas o fruto do Espírito é amor, alegria, paz, paciência, amabilidade, bondade, fidelidade, mansidão e domínio próprio

The underlying Greek words here are:

amor - ἀγάπη
alegria - χαρά
paz - εἰρήνη
paciência - μακροθυμία
amabilidade - χρηστότης
bondade - ἀγαθωσύνη

fidelidade - πίστις
mansidão - πραΰτης
domínio próprio - ἐγκράτεια

The two words you bring up are χρηστότης (chrēstotēs; gentleness in the KJV, kindness in the ESV) and ἀγαθωσύνη (agathōsynē; goodness in the KJV and ESV).

One Greek commentator, Theophylact of Ohrid (c.1055 - c.1107) writes:

"Chrēstotēs [kindness] is more prevalent than agathōsynē [goodness]. God is kind to all, but goodness benefits only those who are worthy. As the Psalmist says, Do good, O Lord unto them that are good (Psalm 124:4 LXX).

Explanation of the Epistle to the Galatians (tr. Chrysostom Press, 2011), p. 74

Thus one might interpret "kindness" (chrēstotēs) as the disposition to do good. In other words, one must first possess the quality of kindness in order to possess the quality of goodness.


Kindness is a property of how you treat others.
Goodness is a property of how you are.

Clearly they are related, but one is an attribute of you and the other an attribute of your conduct.


Kindness and goodness - fruit of Spirit, what is the difference?

Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB)

22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."

Kindness from the Greek -chrē-sto-tēs'- χρηστότης

Is having real interest for the well being of others and expressing it, in deeds and words

Some examples of kindness in the scriptures.

Acts 9:36 (NASB)

36 "Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called (Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did."

Ephesians 4:31-32 (NASB)

31" Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."

Acts 16:14-15 (NASB)

14 "A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; [a]and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us."

Goodness however involves a lot more.

Goodness - "aga-tho-sy-ne"- ἀγαθωσύνη "

The Greek word," aga-tho-sy-ne - ἀγαθωσύνη " translated in English " goodness", it is the nearest word in the English language , unfortunately it does not do justice to the Greek word. The Greek word has a much richer meaning , it does no only mean good , but also having moral excellence, in the sense of having no wickedness, rottenness, badness or having evil thoughts .Goodness , being "aga-thos" , is expressed in the doing of good towards others , but more so in what we are- having a good character.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words -Good, Goodly, Goodness

[ A-1,Adjective,G18, agathos ]

Describes that which, being good" in its character or constitution, is beneficial in its effect; it is used

Uses of the words "Good" and "Goodness" in the scriptures.

Good Teacher

Jesus refuses to accept the title of "Good Teacher"- a-ga-the - ἀγαθέ, Jesus certainly has the quality of "Good", yet, He acknowledged that only God is " good" in the absolute and perfect sense.

Mark 10:17-18 NASB

The Rich Young Ruler

17 "As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God."

In the following verses "Goodness" has the qualities of graciousness , compassion , loving kindness , and forgiveness.

Exodus 33:18-19 (NASB)

18 "Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” 19 And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”

Exodus 34:6-7 (NASB)

6 "Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth; 7 who keeps loving-kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”


From Mark 10:17-18. I don't see Jesus refusing to be called "Good." He says "Why do you call me good?" I see him trying to let the rich young ruler recognize the fact that only God is good and He is God. He never says He is not "good." In John 10 He does say He and The Father are One. As they are "One," Jesus is "Good."

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. Once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post; instead, provide answers that don't require clarification from the asker. - From Review
    – agarza
    Feb 28, 2023 at 23:33
  • 1
    Welcome to the site, Joy. You make interesting points about Mark 10:17-18 but that is not what the question asks about. If you can stick to the matter of the fruit of the Spirit, and showing a difference between kindness and goodness, then you will have answered the question. Can you do that?
    – Anne
    Mar 1, 2023 at 14:08

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