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

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


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 '17 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 '17 at 22:40
  • @user335159 Thank you. I am interested in obtaining a copy of the Beza manuscript.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 16 '17 at 22:42
  • What about John 15:8? " ἐν τούτῳ ἐδοξάσθη ὁ πατήρ μου ἵνα καρπὸν πολὺν φέρητε καὶ γενήσεσθε ἐμοὶ μαθηταί " Nov 17 '17 at 13:51
  • It is also singular. -ον is the accusative case ending for καρπος, which is the direct object of φέρω in this case. In German, the articles change depending on the case (e.g. "Der Rock ist mein", but "Ich habe den Rock"); in Greek, both the article and the word ending changes.
    – user33515
    Nov 17 '17 at 14:04

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.

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