I was reading Galatians 5:22-23 earlier in the Schlachter 2000 Bible, because I was planning on writing a short little guide on "what makes a biblical man," in German, then translating it into English just because, and I am glad I chose to. I noticed that it said die Frucht (the fruit) as opposed to die Früchte (the fruits.) So I thought about it, and I looked at in my Bible and it says "the fruit." I have never noticed this before, because in my dialect, "fruit" is understoond as plural and singular of one kind of fruit, like an apple, and fruits of multiple types of fruit.

So to be specific, is it within the Greek grammar to say "One type of fruit (of the spirit,)" but in different forms of fruits?

  • The text is oft misquoted as 'fruits' because the qualities are plural and because of Phil 1:11 - fruits of righteousness.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 16, 2017 at 22:34
  • @NigelJ. Actually, both passages have καρπος in the singular.
    – fdb
    Nov 16, 2017 at 23:39
  • @fdb The Received Text has καρπων, the genitive plural, in Phil 1:11.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 17, 2017 at 3:05
  • @NigelJ. That is true, but the critical editions (from Tischendorf onwards) have acc. sing. καρπον.
    – fdb
    Nov 17, 2017 at 10:01
  • @fdb I only refer to Stephens, Elzevir and Scrivener 1881, myself.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 17, 2017 at 10:11

8 Answers 8


It is normal in conversation to use fruit as a "noncount" noun. You use "fruits" to refer to different species of fruit.

I, too, could find no source text variants with Gal 5:22 (in either the Byzantine or Alexandrian sources), so "καρπὸς" is, surely, what Paul said, and intended to say (a~fruit, N-NSM) in this verse. But like Matthew says (above), in the German and English dialect, "fruit" can be understood as both plural and singular ... and, apparently in the Greek. With Paul being a Judean, perhaps this word can be understood both ways, in the Hebrew language, as well?

And, if the above distinction between the noncount fruit, and that of "fruits" is valid, then one might conclude that all nine of the different fruit mentioned in verses 5:22-23 are of the same "spiritual species?"

Note: There is a text source variant in verse 5:23, with the fruit of "forbearance," but this is simply a difference in the spelling ("πρᾳότης/ praotEs" and "πραΰτης/ prautEs")

There was a subsequent discussion about "fruits" being misquoted, here, because of the plural being used in Phil 1:11. But then it was pointed out that this isn't the case (in Phil 1:11) with every source text. Good observation; and so I checked on this further and found a rather interesting twist. That is, the variant(s) involves not just the one word, but also it's associated definite article:

karpOn dikaiosunEs tOn [see note below]

of~fruits {2590 N-GPM} of~a~righteousness {1343 N-GSF} of~the [ones] {3588 T-GPM}

karpon dikaiosunEs ton [see note below]

to~a~fruit {2590 N-ASM} of~a~righteousness {1343 N-GSF} to~the [one] {3588 T-ASM}

But what makes this interesting, is that it appears that "righteousness" is not itself a "fruit," but rather, that which brings about said fruit/fruits.

And, this seems to bear fruit (pun intended), when comparing this with what's said in Gal 5:22. That is, of the nine fruit/fruits mentioned, "righteousness" is not one of them (a spiritual fruit).

So the subsequent question is, might we then conclude, comparing the two verses, that "the fruit of the spirit" is equivalent to "the fruits of righteousness;" that is, might righteousness, also, be said to bring about these nine different (but of the same species) fruit?

Addendum: Hold on, just had another thought, perhaps it's a little too convoluted, but if indeed, the plural "fruits" is indicative of other species, then might Paul have really been saying, trying to tell us, if we pay close attention, that:

a) there is one species of "spiritual fruit," and

b) yet another species of "righteousness fruits?"

Ha! And yet another noncount word; first "fruit" and now "species" Is there any way that we could incorporate "fish" into this topic?


καρπῶν δικαιοσύνης τῶν

Ψ Byz ς NR CEI ND Riv Dio TILC

καρπὸν δικαιοσύνης τὸν

p46 ‭א A (B omit τὸν) D F G I K L 048vid 6 33 81 104 326 1175 1739* 2464 al it vg >cop? WH Nv NM

  • A most humorous and informative read, thanks!
    – user36337
    Nov 7, 2021 at 5:44

The Greek text is καρπος του πνευματος. καρπος (karpos) - "fruit" - is in the singular.

There don't appear to be any variations in this verse across manuscripts, so it appears to be most definitely in the singular.

  • I am interested in which manuscripts you refer to. Which do you have access to ?
    – Nigel J
    Nov 16, 2017 at 22:35
  • @NigelJ - the apparatus of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament is one source. It lists the manuscripts supporting variant readings when such are present. This particular verse, according to this source at least, has none.
    – user33515
    Nov 16, 2017 at 22:40
  • @user335159 Thank you. I am interested in obtaining a copy of the Beza manuscript.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 16, 2017 at 22:42
  • What about John 15:8? " ἐν τούτῳ ἐδοξάσθη ὁ πατήρ μου ἵνα καρπὸν πολὺν φέρητε καὶ γενήσεσθε ἐμοὶ μαθηταί " Nov 17, 2017 at 13:51
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    No problem. So I guess it is an innumerable singular? Kind of like fish vs. fishes, and people vs. peoples? 1 fish, 2 fish, 2 types of fishes, 2 clownfish and 1 angelfish. Nov 17, 2017 at 16:42

Isn't the key to this the verb?: ὁ δὲ καρπὸς τοῦ πνεύματός ἐστιν, "the fruit of the Spirit is". Paul wouldn't put a singular verb with a plural subject, right? The verb choice indicates that this is one thing with multiple aspects.

  • Hi Raymond, welcome to the site! You can click the question mark at the top right for more information. Not a bad answer for your first one but generally answers here are a little more elaborate. You might explain in more detail what your idea of one thing with multiple aspects is. How might the meaning change if it were "fruits" of the Spirit? Nov 8, 2021 at 7:56

It is a so called "collective singular" that entails many, but united under one denomination, like, when a tennis coach tells to the owner of a tennis club: "We need a new model racket, please buy it to the entire team!", of course the coach does not mean that the entire team will share one racket, but in singular of the "racket" is meant many rackets for each member of the team.

Here, in difference from rackets, which are the same, the "fruit" is not the same, for there are the shades of differences, but still they are united in one big union and are so inter-implicating that one cannot be even imagined without the other; for instance, does not love imply the long-suffering? Of course, it does (I mean the Spirit-led love, not its baser and egotistic forms)! Or does not joy imply love? For where is joy without love? And when one loves supra-earthly things through Spirit, does not this imply moderation with regard of everything earthly? Thus, all those features are embracing each other, they are a family of features, in which each member is implied in another member, and they never abandon each other's tightest embrace.

Yet, while in the Spirit Himself those eternal features, those uncreated operations of the Spirit, are in a complete balance, in humans there can be a preponderance of one of those features over the others, so, for instance, in the Apostle Peter there can be a preponderance of an ardent love, while in the Apostle John of a contemplative vision, or of courage in St George and of mercifulness in St Martin. These disbalances in men makes such a wonderful kaleidoscope of beautiful characters.


I think it doesn't matter whether it is singular or plural, as long as we are referring to what the spirit produces. It seems to me that what we have is a description of what the fruit/fruits is/are like. So whether it describes the work of the spirit as individual fruit or whether it talks describing the characteristics of a single fruit, the meaning is the same. The work of the spirit is evident in what He produces. I lean towards a description of the characteristics of one fruit that is produced by the spirit, with multiple characteristics. This seems to make more sense as a tree produces one kind of fruit which has particular characteristics.


Some have argued that the fruit of the Spirit is “love” and the rest of words (e.g., joy, peace, patience, etc.) are just explanations of what love is all about.

However, the word for fruit, καρπος, in the singular, needs to be understand in the context of what Paul is writing about. Ephesus was a major viticulture region at the time of Paul’s letter (Strabo. 14:1:15). So Paul is likely thinking about the different varietals that were grown in the area of the Ephesian church. So, one can think of it as analogous to saying in our modern era, “the fruit of the grape vine is Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon,….” Several varietals (i.e. types of fruits) exist under one fruit of the vine.

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    Very nice contemporaneous nugget there..!
    – user36337
    Nov 7, 2021 at 5:48

I strongly believe that it is "fruit" in singular.

In its analogy, you can compare it to the studies of some nutritionists that a fruit is to be consumed whole, inclusive of seeds and skins (in case of the pineapple, its crown). However, we tend to not eat the whole fruit, as we can't eat the other parts of it. But most of the time, the more essential parts of the fruit are what we always throw away.

Now, regarding the fruit of the Spirit: the fruit itself is a whole "singular" fruit, and has to be consumed wholly (meaning, all of its essential nutrients [love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control] we must have; otherwise, we really don't have the fruit of the Spirit at all). In relation to our Lord Yahusha's (Jesus') command to "be perfect, for the heavenly Father is perfect", it signifies that the fruit of the Spirit is our basis of His perfection, and that we must have all of those "nutrients", otherwise, we are not "perfect" nor "Christ-like" at all. And if we are not striving for YHWH God's perfection, we are already sinning. But this is how His grace works, for us to be perfect in His character and obedience unto Him and His Law and Commandments.


We must be careful to only read what is in Text, not what is not in the text. The Greek word for fruit “Karpos” is used in the singular, with the article, therefore I believe Paul is conveying by the Holy Spirit, that ONE fruit is produced in the believer’s heart by the Holy Spirit. This one “fruit” has several characteristics. I.G. If someone placed an apple in front of me and asked me to describe it, I could say the Apple is red, round, shiny, bright, plump, colorful and beautiful, yet it’s ONE Apple. JMHO

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