***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.***
Christopher J.H. Wright is well-known for his books that connect the world of the Old Testament to mission and the New Testament. This book purports to be something different: a biblical exposition of the fruit of the Spirit, exploring each of the facets in this small, accessible work.
The inspiration for Wright’s book comes from revered pastor John Stott’s morning prayer that asked the Holy Spirit to allow the fruit of the Spirit to ripen in his life. Wright borrows from the British “5-A-Day” fruit and vegetable recommended intake and advocates for Christians to follow a “9-A-Day” model with the aim of “Becoming Like Jesus.” This book is a collection of the biblical exposition done in Wright’s preaching and presentation of the 9-A-Day program.
This small book is saturated with text from the Bible. Wright almost exclusively uses the Bible for illustration of his key points, an approach he commented on in the preface. This use of the Bible only is that he wants others to develop their own illustrations “to illustrate and apply the biblical challenge of the fruit of the Spirit in a way that engages and impacts the hearts, minds, and lives of their own people,” (page 11).
After an introduction on the letter of Galatians and specifically chapter 5, Wright moves into his discussion on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After explaining each of the nine aspects, Wright follows it up by challenging readers who have new life through the Holy Spirit to live a life that allows the Spirit to direct their course.
In each of the nine main chapters, Wright follows a familiar pattern: an introduction of the virtue, usually explaining the etymology of the word in some form or fashion, followed by how that word was made manifest by God in the Old Testament, Jesus in the New Testament, and other biblical figures throughout. He also often explains what the antithesis of that virtue looks like and how that can help us understand better what the virtue is. Finally, he usually offers broad application points that can be homed in to one’s specific context.
The chapter that impacted me the most was on “Peace.” After comparing peace to shalom, Wright recognized the peace God made through Jesus’ death on the cross. Then he dives deeper into what it means to be at peace with God, possess the peace of God, and live out the peace God calls for. In a bid for ecumenism, he asks if our differences will matter when we stand before God. Peace requires hard work, and Wright doesn’t shy away from recognizing that either.
This is a valuable resource for preachers and Bible teachers that serves as a great jumping-off point for those leading a study on the fruit of the Spirit. It functions almost as an in-depth concordance, showing how each characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit is used throughout the Bible and in which passages. As Wright warns in the beginning, this book is bereft of extra-biblical illustrations, but is chock-full of rich biblical exposition that is valuable for guiding readers to consider the text first, then proceed to develop their own illustrations.
Rory Jones is a student at George W. Truett Theological Seminary and a co-editor at Words About God. He enjoys cooking with his wife, Elise, and playing board games.