Amplified: For the fruit (the effect, the product) of the Light or the Spirit [consists] in every form of kindly goodness, uprightness of heart, and trueness of life. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
NLT: For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: The light produces in men quite the opposite of sins like these - everything that is wholesome and good and true. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: for the fruit of this light is in the sphere of every beneficence and righteousness and truth, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth,
(FOR THE FRUIT OF THE LIGHT CONSISTS: o gar karpos tou photos: (Galatians 5:22,23)
Note: All verbs in bold red indicate commands, not suggestions! Also hold mouse pointer over underlined links for pop up of Scripture which stays open and can be copied.
Note that the Textus Receptus has Spirit in place of light, the latter being favored by what most scholars feel are the more accurate manuscripts. This is not a major difference for Paul describes goodness as part of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians writing…
For (gar) is a term of explanation that we do well to learn to observe and interrogate. As explained by John Eadie for "is used here, as often, to introduce a parenthetic confirmation. The verse not only explains what is meant by walking as children of light, but really holds out an inducement to the duty = “The fruit is” (Ephesians 5 Commentary)
Fruit (2590)(karpos) is used in its literal sense to refer to fruit, produce or offspring, which describes that which is produced by the inherent energy of a living organism. Karpos is what something naturally produces. Figuratively, karpos is used of the consequence of physical, mental, or spiritual action. In the NT the figurative (metaphorical) uses metaphorical uses predominate and this is particularly true in the Gospels, where human actions and words are viewed as fruit growing out of a person's essential being or character.
Karpos refers to that which originates or comes from something producing an effect or result (benefit, advantage, profit, utility).
Karpos is used 67 times in the NT - Mt. 3:8, 10; 7:16, 17, 18; 12:33; 13:8, 26; 21:19, 34, 41, 43; Mk. 4:7, 8, 29; 11:14; 12:2; Lk. 1:42; 3:8, 9; 6:43, 44; 8:8; 12:17; 13:6, 7, 9; 20:10; Jn. 4:36; 12:24; 15:2, 4, 5, 8, 16; Acts 2:30; Ro 1:13; 6:21, 22; 15:28; 1Co. 9:7; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 5:9; Phil. 1:11, 22; 4:17; 2Ti 2:6; 4:13; Heb. 12:11; 13:15; James. 3:17, 18; 5:7, 18; Rev. 22:2
The fruit or effect of divine illumination consists in all the forms of goodness, righteousness, and truth.
Light (5457) (phos) in context speaks of spiritual light that God is and which He has bestowed on believers, making us light in the Lord.
The Fruit of Light
The story is told of the time when the great missionary to Burma, Adoniram Judson, (or here) was home on furlough, and happened to pass through the city of Stonington, Connecticut. A young boy playing about the wharves at the time of Judson’s arrival was struck by the man’s appearance. Never before had he seen such a light on any human face. He ran up the street to a minister to ask if he knew who the stranger was. The minister hurried back with him, but became so absorbed in conversation with Judson that he forgot all about the impatient youngster standing near him. Many years afterward that boy—who could never get away from the influence of that wonderful face—became the famous preacher Henry Clay Trumbull. In a book of memoirs Trumbull penned a chapter entitled:
"What a Boy Saw in the Face of Adoniram Judson"
That lighted countenance had changed his life. Even as flowers thrive when they bend to the light, so shining, radiant faces come to those who constantly turn toward Christ! (Read the original story in context of H C Trumbull's life story)
IN ALL GOODNESS AND RIGHTEOUSNESS AND TRUTH): en pase agathosune kai dikaiosune kai aletheia: (Psalms 16:2,3; Romans 2:4; 15:14; 1Peter 2:25; 3John 1:11) (Philippians 1:11; 1Timothy 6:11; Hebrews 1:8; 11:33; 1Peter 2:24; 1John 2:29; 3:9,10) (Eph 4:15,25; 6:14; John 1:47)
Eadie feels that the idea of the phrase in all goodness (etc) means "that the fruit is always associated with goodness as its element or sphere. These qualities uniformly characterize its fruits.
Goodness (19) (agathosune from agathos =benevolent, profitable, benefiting others) describes active goodness, virtue, excellence or beneficence. It is high moral character reflected in to being good in both nature and effectiveness. Agathosune finds its fullest and highest expression in that which is willingly and sacrificially done for others. It is moral and spiritual excellence manifested in active kindness. Agathosune describes a positive moral quality characterized especially by interest in the welfare of others. Agathosune refers to active goodness as an energetic principle. It is the generosity which springs from the heart that is kind and will always take care to obtain for others that which is useful or beneficial. Thayer says that agathosune is found only in Biblical and ecclesiastical writings.
Goodness then describes behavior that benefits others instead of self. A good person is concerned for the well-being of others, spiritually and in every way. The child of light who walks in daily dependence on the Holy Spirit, brings forth goodness as a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). Since it is fruit, it takes time to develop, but over the years, children of light are to be growing in all goodness.
Agathosune according to Eadie signifies "that moral excellence which springs from religious principle (Gal 5:22-note; Ro 15:14-note), and leads to kindness, generosity, or goodness. It here may stand opposed to the dark and malignant passions which the apostle has been reprobating (kakia). (Ephesians 5 Commentary)
Wuest writes that agathosune refers "to that quality in a man who is ruled by and aims at what is good, namely, the quality of moral worth. (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)
Agathosune is a fruit of the Spirit and a fruit of the Light. Agathosune is moral goodness found only in believers and only as the result of the working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who submit to His divine will and power. Paul prayed for this fruit of goodness to be manifest in the lives of the believers at Thessalonica and was convinced it was being manifest in the lives of the saints (the body of Christ) at Rome. Paul had heard about their goodness, implying that the way they lived and interacted with others gave proof of their possession of the Spirit and His fruit.
Barclay writes that agathosune "is a peculiarly Bible word and does not occur in secular Greek). It is the widest word for goodness; it is defined as “virtue equipped at every point.” What is the difference? Agathosune might, and could, rebuke and discipline; chrestotes can only help. Trench says that Jesus showed agathosune when he cleansed the Temple and drove out those who were making it a bazaar; but he showed chrestotes when he was kind to the sinning woman who anointed his feet. The Christian needs that goodness which at one and the same time can be kind and strong. (Ephesians 5 Commentary)
Agathosune is found 13 times in the Septuagint (LXX) (Jdg. 9:16; 2Chr. 24:16; Neh. 9:25, 35; 13:31; Ps. 52:3; Eccl 4:8; 5:11, 18; 6:3, 6; 7:14; 9:18) and 4 times in the NAS (see below).
And righteousness - Righteousness (and goodness) is the fruit of the Light and of the Spirit Who motivates our will to consider and then enables or empowers (Php 2:13-note) the rightness of character (ultimately Christ-likeness) before God and rightness of actions before men. Both goodness and righteousness are based on truth, which is conformity to the Word and will of God.
Righteousness (1343) (dikaiosune from dikaios = just, righteous = root idea of conforming to a standard or norm) is derived from a root word that means “straightness.” It refers to a state that conforms to an authoritative standard or norm and so is in keeping with what God is in His holy character. Righteousness is a moral concept. God’s character is the definition and source of all righteousness. God is totally righteous because He is totally as He should be. The righteousness of human beings is defined in terms of God’s. Righteousness in Biblical terms describes the righteousness acceptable to God and thus which is in keeping with what God is in His holy character. Rightness means to be as something or someone should be.
In short, the righteousness of God is all that God is, all that He commands, all that He demands, all that He approves and all that He provides (through the gospel of Jesus Christ, the perfectly Righteous One.) So here the fruit of light is a life that is righteous, rightly related to God and rightly interacting with men. We are now light in the Lord and as we walk in that truth in the power of the Spirit, He bears fruit one component of which is righteousness.
Eadie says that righteousness "is integrity or moral rectitude (Ro 6:13-note; 1Ti 6:11), and is in contrast not only with the theft and covetousness already condemned, but with all defective sense of obligation, for it rules itself by the Divine law (cp how this is possible in Php 2:13-note), and in every relation of life strives to be as it ought to be—and is opposed to adikia. (Ephesians 5 Commentary)
Truth (225) (aletheia from alethes = true in turn from a + lêthô = that which is hidden or lanthanô = conceal, this combination meaning out in the open, containing nothing that is hidden) describes the body of reality (facts, events, etc) or the content which is true, or which is in accordance to what actually occurred. Truth is the unveiled reality lying at the basis of and agreeing with an appearance; the manifested, the veritable essence of matter. Truth is the correspondence between a reality and a declaration which professes to set it forth. Truth is a declaration which has corresponding reality, or a reality which is correctly set forth. Since God is Himself the great reality, that which correctly sets forth His nature is pre-eminently the Truth. Obviously whatever God says is "the truth", and in fact "the Truth" is actually embodied in the Person of Christ Jesus!
Eadie writes that "Truth stands opposed to insincerity and dissimulation—pseudos. These three ethical terms characterize Christian duty… For the good, the right, and the true, distinguish that fruit which is produced out of, or belongs to, the condition which is called “light in the Lord,” and are always distinctive elements of the virtues which adorn Christianity (cp the idea of "adorn" in Titus 2:10-note). (Ephesians 5 Commentary)
Words are true when they correspond with objective reality and Paul has just spoken of speaking the truth in love as well as laying aside falsehood and speaking truth with our neighbor. As we walk in light, the fruit that comes from lips will be truth or words spoken in truth.
Persons and things are true when they correspond with their profession. So we as believers are walking in the light, letting the Spirit empower us, we are demonstrating to the world that our walk corresponds to our profession of Christ as our Lord. We are a living demonstration of the truth of the gospel that takes an "old man" and clothes him in a robe of righteousness, making him a "new man" in Christ.
In the context of Ephesians truth stands in stark contrast to the life of unbelievers, who are deceived (Eph 4:22; 5:6). Believers having been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Eph 4:24) are able to speak the truth in love (Ep 4:15, 25). Practically, we as believers are to be people of our word, maintaining integrity in all that we say (and do). And because walk in the light, we are people of all truth and are to have nothing to hide (this even includes our thought life dear saint -- no secret thought life allowed for that is darkness and not light!)
Charles Hodge explains that "the fruit or effect of divine illumination—consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth. Here goodness is what makes a person good, and righteousness is what makes a person righteous. The Greek words differ from each other just as the corresponding English terms do. Goodness is benevolence and beneficence; righteousness is adherence to the rule of right. Yet both are used for moral excellence in general. The evil and the good included all classes of the vicious and the virtuous. “Good works” are works of any kind which are morally excellent (Ed: They are good if they are initiated by and empowered by the Spirit of Christ - cp Jn 15:5. Some "works" look good but they are not genuine "good works" for they originate from the heart and mind of fallen man, and include base motives - see 1Cor 4:5). When, however, the words are contrasted, as in Romans 5:7 (note), or distinguished, as in Romans 7:12 (note), “good” means benevolent or beneficent, and “righteous,” just or upright. Goodness is that quality which adapts a thing to the end for which it was designed and makes it serviceable (Compare the Greek word arete). Hence we speak of a good tree, of good soil, as well as of a good man. Righteousness can correctly be predicated only of people or of what is susceptible of moral character, as it means conformity to law; or if predicated of the law itself, it means conformity to the nature of God, the ultimate standard of rectitude (Ed: Ultimately such acceptable righteousness is in Christ and is worked out as we allow Him to life His righteous life in and through us - cp 1Co 1:30, 2Co 5:21, Php 3:9 -note - based on these truths we can carry out Ro 6:13, breastplate of righteousness = Eph 6:14-note). Truth here means religious or moral truth, or religion itself. The fruit of the light, therefore, includes all the forms of piety and virtue. (Ephesians 5 Commentary)
Wayne Barber writes regarding goodness, righteousness and truth that…
Here is a devotional from Our Daily Bread: A Daily Devotional entitled "Seeing the Gospel" -
Jesus bids us shine, first of all for Him;
The only sermon that never wearies us is that of an eloquent life!
Kent Hughes offers all those who have been delivered from darkness into God's marvelous light to walk as light in the Lord for…
The Light of Boris Kornfeld
One is reminded of the Russian Jewish doctor, Boris Kornfeld, who one night in prison in Siberia sat up with a man who was desperately ill and told him the story of his conversion to Christ, shining forth the light and love of Jesus. That listening man's name? The future Nobel Prize winner, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who later came to saving faith in Christ. In his modern classic The Gulag Archipelago Solzhenitsyn recalls the Dr Kornfeld's light and how it paradoxically shown forth in an almost completely dark room …
That very night Kornfeld had shone so brightly the light of Christ, he was clubbed to death. We must shine wherever and whenever the Lord gives us a venue, redeeming the precious moments for the days are evil.
Beloved, have you ever had someone who saw the light of Christ in you later turn to the Lord? It is a wonderful, glorious, mysterious gift of grace to experience. Dr Kornfeld knows this today in glory in a way that we cannot even imagine. May his tribe increase!
Phil Newton has the following illustration…
Amplified: And try to learn [in your experience] what is pleasing to the Lord [let your lives be constant proofs of what is most acceptable to Him]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Let your lives be living proofs of the things which please God. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: putting to the test and then approving what is well pleasing to the Lord. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: proving what is well-pleasing to the Lord,
TRYING TO LEARN WHAT IS PLEASING TO THE LORD: dokimazontes (PAPMPN) ti estin (3SPAI) euareston to kurio;: (1Samuel 17:39; Romans 12:1,2; Philippians 1:10; 1Thessalonians 5:21) (Psalms 19:14; Proverbs 21:3; Is 58:5; Jeremiah 6:20; Romans 14:18; Philippians 4:18; 1Timothy 2:3; 1Timothy 5:4; Hebrews 12:28; 1Peter 2:5,20)
Hodge writes that…
David prayed a prayer that he would be pleasing to the Lord "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer. (Ps 19:14-note)
Regarding pleasing the Lord we read that "without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Heb 11:6-note)
Paul writes to young Timothy that living in live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity "is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior (1Ti 2:3)
Trying to learn - means putting to the test for the purpose of approving, proving , commending or accepting as good and authentic. As our minds are renewed through God’s Word, we prove in our experience what pleases God.
Eadie explains that "The participle (trying) agrees with the previous verb walk (Eph 5:8-note), as a predicate of mode, and so used in its ordinary sense—trying—proving. Compare Php 1:10 (so that you may approve the things that are excellent) (see note). As they walked, they were to be examining or distinguishing what is pleasing to the Lord. (Ephesians 5 Commentary)
MacDonald writes that "Those who walk in the light not only produce the type of fruit listed in the preceding verse, but also find out what is acceptable to the Lord. They put every thought, word, and action to the test (1Th 5:21,22, Ro 12:2). What does the Lord think about this? How does it appear in His presence? Every area of life comes under the searchlight—conversation, standard of living, clothes, books, business, pleasures, entertainments, furniture, friendships, vacations, cars, and sports.
Two good tests of whether something is pleasing to the Lord…
(1). Will it make others stumble?
Steven Cole - We do not determine what pleases the Lord by our own feelings, which fluctuate, or by what the world or other Christians say or think. We don’t even determine it by our own conscience, in that our conscience may be improperly informed. Rather, we learn what pleases the Lord through growing to understand His Word. Living to please the Lord is a fundamental difference between the believer and the unbeliever. An unbeliever may be a good man and even be somewhat righteous or upright, at least outwardly. He may be truthful. But, he does it all out of selfish motives, for his own self-respect, or so that others will think highly of him. But, only believers live to please the Savior. We have a new personal relationship with this One who snatched us out of a horrible pit. We now evaluate everything we do by the question, “Does this please the Lord, who loved me and gave Himself for me?” So, the first requirement for living in this dark world is to be children of light and to walk as children of light, doing everything to please the Lord. (Ref)
Trying to learn (1381) (dokimazo from dokimos = tested, proved or approved, tried as metals by fire and thus purified from dechomai = to accept, receive) (Click word study on dokimazo) means to assay, to test, to prove, to put to the test, to make a trial of, to verify, to discern to approve. Dokimazo involves not only testing but determining the genuineness or value of an event or object. That which has been tested is demonstrated to be genuine and trustworthy. Dokimazo was used in classic Greek to describe the assaying of precious metals (especially gold or silver coins), usually by fire, to prove the whether they were authentic and whether they measured up to the stated worth. That which endures the test was called dokimos and that which fails is called adokimos. Dokimazo means to put to the test for the purpose of approving, and finding that which is tested meets the specifications prescribed, and thus one can approve of that which is tested.
There are 20 uses of dokimazo in the NT - Lk. 12:56; 14:19; Ro 1:28; 2:18; 12:2; 14:22; 1Co. 3:13; 11:28; 16:3; 2Co. 8:8, 22; 13:5; Gal. 6:4; Eph. 5:10; Phil. 1:10; 1Th 2:4; 5:21; 1Ti 3:10; 1Pe 1:7; 1Jn. 4:1
Dokimazo means to make a critical examination of something to determine its genuineness. Dokimazo was used in a manuscript of 140AD which contains a plea for the exemption of physicians, and especially of those who have "passed the examination (dokimazo)". Dokimazo was thus used as a technical expression referring to the action of an examining board putting its approval upon those who had successfully passed the examinations for the degree of Doctor of Medicine. Dokimazo was also used to describe the passing of a candidate as fit for election to public office.
Pleasing (2101) (euarestos from eu = well + arésko = please) (Click word study on euarestos) means that which causes someone to be pleased. It is something which is well approved, eminently satisfactory, or extra-ordinarily pleasing.
Here are the 9 uses of euarestos in the NT - Rom. 12:1, 2; 14:18; 2Co 5:9; Eph. 5:10; Phil. 4:18; Col. 3:20; Titus 2:9; Heb 13:21
Eadie explains that pleasing refers to "what the Lord has enjoined and therefore approves. The obedience of Christians is not prompted by traditional or unthinking acquiescence, but is founded on clear and discriminative perception of the law and the will of Christ. And that obedience is accepted not because it pleases them to offer it, but because the Lord hath exacted it. The believer is not to prove and discover what suits himself, but what pleases his Divine Master. The one point of his ethical investigation is, Is it pleasing to the Lord, or in harmony with His law and example? (Ephesians 5 Commentary)
Paul is instructing the Gentile saints to be putting every thought, word, and action to the test to discern "What does the Lord think about this?" "How does this appear in His presence?" Every area of our life should come under this searchlight, our… conversation, standard of living, clothes, books, business, pleasures, web surfing habits, friendships, sports, etc. The ultimate question should be… Will it be well pleasing (euarestos) to the Lord? Will it bring forth the fruit of goodness, righteousness and truth? And so, before you think, do or say it always ask…
Will it please my Lord?
Wayne Barber explains the idea of "trying to learn" (dokimazo) writing that it means "proving what is pleasing to the Lord. Every day I say, "God, the light is in me. Show me now. If I make this choice, if I make that choice, if I say this word, if I say that word, what is it that pleases you?" Remember the prayer in Eph 3:17 (note)? I have to learn to accommodate His presence in my life. I have to learn what it is that pleases Him. So daily I am living a life seeking out those things that bring pleasure to my Lord. That is the way we are supposed to walk. (Walk As Children of Light)