Trees of Life: The Twelve Fruit Varieties of the Spirit
The story of mankind in the Bible begins with the Tree of Life (Genesis) and ends with it as well (Revelation). This indicates that the entire plan of God runs on the principle of 'life.' This tree’s most obvious feature, as indicated by its name, is that it is the source and supply of life.
There are instances in scripture where men are referred to as trees:
“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever…” (Psalm 52:8, NKJV)
The writer reffered to himself by inspiration of the Spirit, as an olive tree. Not only were men referred to in the similitude of trees in scripture, but also women and children:
“Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.” (Psalm 128:3, KJV)
This will help you appreciate this verse of scripture in the account of the Gospel of Mark when the Jesus Christ laid hands on the blind man:
“And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.” (Mark 8:24)
Every tree is known and often named after the kind of fruit it bears; and hence a tree can be termed as good or bad according to the kind of fruit it bears:
“For no good tree gives bad fruit and no bad tree gives good fruit.” (Luke 6:43, BBE)
From the account of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus Christ expounded on the truth that just as trees, men were classified according to the kind fruit they bore:
“The good man, out of the good store of his heart, gives good things; and the evil man, out of his evil store, gives evil…” (Luke 6:45, NKJV)
Trees of Life
In the beginning, most of us know about the two great trees that were in the midst of the garden in Eden – the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve fell when they ate of the wrong tree. They became the personification of that tree; they came to “know good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5, 22).
The goal was then to transform mankind back to being personification of the Tree of Life through Christ who is life. What he did first was to make you righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21). Once righteous, you become a personification of the Tree of Life. Why do I say so?
The tree of life has been used to signify a righteous man. The Word of God affirms this statement in the Book of Proverbs:
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life…” (Proverbs 11:30, NKJV)
The righteous produces fruits, which makes him/her symbolic to a tree (Isaiah 61:3). This fruit that comes forth from the righteous tree then grows into a tree – the tree of life. This makes the tree of life the same as the righteous person producing the fruits. You are a tree of life because you have been made righteous, and you are in Christ who is life (John 14:16).
John the apostle, wrote about the tree of life in his epistle:
“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb in the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:1-2, KJV)
This passage consists of three main parts that I want to tackle.
1. The Pure River
The pure river consists (obvoiusly) of water, however this water is known as the water of life. This water proceeded from the throne of God and the lamb (Jesus). What does it represent? The Holy Spirit.
The first clue given was that only God and the Lamb of God – Christ (John 1:29), was mentioned. The second was that this water of life proceeded from the throne of God. The Holy Spirit, also known as the Spirit of Life (Romans 8:2), was said to proceed from the Father.
“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of me.” (John 15:26)
This river (Holy Spirit) is the main source of nourishment to the trees of life. This brings us to our next topic.
Many Trees of Life
From the passage, there are two trees of life. Each lies on the two sides of the river bank. These two trees could represent righteous people of both the old and new covenant, men and women etc. Let me show you something cool. John saw two trees, but Ezekiel looking at a similar vision, saw a whole lot more. Watch the video of Ezekiel 47 below.
Ezekiel Chapter 47
The most important part of the passage I’d like to touch on says this:
“He said to me, "Son of man, have you seen this?" Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river. When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other.” (Verse 6-7)
These two trees are actually many. These typify every single believer, including you. You are a tree of life. These trees contain fruits; our next topic.
3. Twelve Varieties of Fruit
These trees of life bore twelve different kinds of fruit, which can also be termed as the fruits of the Spirit. This was because the trees gained nourishment from the pure river which was the Holy Spirit.
Paul spoke of something similar in His epistle to the Galatians. He called them "fruit of the Spirit," not 'fruit.' It's quite understandable since a tree is designed to produce one specie of its kind. A mango tree produces mango fruit; not mangoes, oranges and pears. Paul mentioning nine of them In Galatians 5:22 & 23, suggests different varieties of the same fruit/tree.
Most of us are acquainted with the nine fruit varieties of the Spirit that Paul revealed. However, John saw more. He saw twelve. We are going to delve into the scriptures to find them all. Exciting isn’t it?!
The nine which Paul mentioned are listed here in Galatians 5:22 & 23;
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Let us look for the remaining three. In Ephesians 5:9, we get our first lead:
“For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.”
The term did say the ‘fruit of the Spirit;’ and ‘goodness’ had already been listed among the nine. This leaves us with the other two varieties - righteousness and truth. These sums up to eleven different kinds of fruit. What is the last one?
The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 1:3;
“Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father."
The things Paul remembered of the church were their work of faith, labour of love and patience of hope in Jesus Christ, and in the sight of God. These were fruit varieties from the church that were being acknowledged. This verse of scripture placed faith, hope and love in the same category. Another verse of scripture does the same:
“And now abide faith, hope, love; …” (1 Corinthians 13:13, NKJV)
The Word of God revealed the most important three of all the fruit varieties. It mentioned faith and love. But wait, there’s one more – hope. Hope has been tagging along with those two as the one of the most important. This has got to mean that hope is also a fruit variety, and an important one too. We have our twelve fruit kinds now. These are what every believer is expected to produce as each grows into a maturity in Christ. The main verse did say that the fruits varieties are produced each month. This suggests a person may not have all at once. It takes time to grow each. Don’t worry about it, allow God to nurture you through His Spirit and via the channel of His Word and you will be just fine.