“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:23).
The eighth characteristic listed as an aspect of the being a fruit of the Spirit – gentleness.
The Greek word for gentleness is agathosune. The word only appears four times in the New Testament and it appears no where else in secular Greek. It is strictly a New Testament word.
The word agathosune literally means goodness. The root word for agathosune is agathos. agathos is the most generic word for good and appears more than a hundred times in the New Testament.
As relating to believers, the word goodness refers to the goodness that comes from God and shows up in us as a spiritual fruit. As with all the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit, we cannot generate goodness on our own. It comes from God and once we have been the recipients of God’s goodness, we are able to show that same goodness to others.
Why do most New Testament texts translate this word as gentleness and not goodness? I am not sure. That’s the thing about translations: when you’re studying a particular text, it’s always good to check multiple translations to see if there are any notable differences. Those differences often times can be a clue as to what you might want to look up for further study.
I suppose that God’s goodness is demonstrated in the gracious and gentle manner in which God deals with us, and this is the primary reason why most New Testament translations translate this word as gentleness.
Bottom line: this goodness comes from God and is given to us by God. And once we’ve experienced God’s goodness, gentleness, and grace, we are able to treat others in the same manner.
Looking forward to another good week in studying an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit: goodness.