The Developing Work of the Holy Spirit in Believers: Detecting the Relationship Between Isaiah 11:2 and Galatians 5:22-23

Written by Paul J Bucknell on February, 01, 2020

The Developing Work of the Holy Spirit in Believers: Detecting the Relationship Between Isaiah 11:2 and Galatians 5:22-23

The measurement of the Holy Spirit’s development in a believer mainly characterizes the spiritual growth of the believer. Spiritual growth, for many, is a vague term, perhaps only further clarified (or confused) by referring to the sanctification progress. A closer look at the relationship between the two passages, Isaiah 11:2 and Galatians 5:22-23, can help us step back and gain a broader perspective of the Holy Spirit’s work in believers.

While Christians tend to be familiar with the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23, they are ignorant of the nature of the Spirit from Isaiah 11:2. Take a look at the two passages below and see if you can observe any connections between them?

  • How are they different or the same?
  • What don’t you find that you might expect?

Isaiah 11:2

And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. (NASB)

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (NASB)

The association of these two lists with each other creates an engaging lesson. Isaiah 11:2 stresses what happens to the person upon whom the Spirit of God rests—think of saving faith for the Messiah or New Testament believers. Galatians 5:22-23, however, portrays the changes, results, or fruit of what happens to believers when the Holy Spirit more regularly acts upon our lives

In other words, the second list derives from the first. The newly acquired nature of the Spirit upon the believer brings about inner changes in the Christian’s life. Given time, the Spirit begins to bear the fruit of the Spirit, which is observable when encountering challenging people and circumstances.

My primary question is, how does the nature or presence of the Holy Spirit affect or bring about the fruit and display the power of the Spirit in our lives. For simplicity, I am not touching upon gifts or other effects of the Spirit. Can we, though, by comparing and contrasting these two lists gain insight into how the Holy Spirit works in increasing ways in the lives of believers?

The 7 characteristics of the Spirit of God resting on Jesus from Isaiah 11

(1) The Presence of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2)

Isaiah 11:2 introduces the natural characteristics of the Hoy Spirit that filled Christ and awakens every believer. There are some words like love and holiness, that we might otherwise expect to see. But what does this first list do? It connotes the most fundamental effect of the Holy Spirit that “rests” upon the believer. These impartations are elemental, inherent, and essential when affected by the Holy Spirit.

When the Spirit of God affects our lives, He dwells or rests on us. The Spirit of God passes on to us special insights from the mind of God. These insights into God’s mind, therefore, are a glimpse of God’s perspective, which better clarifies our understanding of the presence and power of God. God’s perspective is the same as what is real or true. Acknowledgment of such is often denied official recognition because some are bereft of this insight.

Description of the Spirit’s presence (Isaiah 11:2)

Here is a brief introduction to the three parallel descriptions (i.e., six characteristics).

  • Wisdom and understanding, for example, help us observe matters with God’s perspective. Wisdom depicts clear results from our decisions—consequences.
  • Understanding gives us a grasp on the issues involved. We might think of spiritual understanding as logic that includes spiritual insights.
  • Counsel and strength is the second parallel pair. Counsel follows wisdom but includes an ability to advise others properly; we can call it applied wisdom.
  • Strength is the inner resolve to take the steps needed to do what God wants of us when we choose His ways.
  • The last pair, knowledge and fear of the Lord, follow the others. Knowledge is the needed life details and observations to understand an issue.
  • The fear of the Lord is the starting place for wisdom (Pr 1:7). With a glimpse of God’s holiness, a natural fear arises within us, helping and motivating us from making the wrong decisions.


The presence of the Holy Spirit gives us a measure of spiritual discernment. This spiritual view is an added perception of what we see and hear around us, giving us a more accurate viewpoint. These insights from the Holy Spirit come with a spiritual awareness of God’s presence by being born again by His Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s work totally integrates into the Christian’s life. By being Spirit-aware, we are equipped and ready to serve Him.

We surmise that the list in Isaiah 11:2 somehow relates to the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). We wonder why the lists are so different? How does the first list relate to the second?

(2) The Power of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-23)

There is a definite link between the two lists. The mindset stemming from the presence of the Spirit of God gives us a common mindset with God. (This does not mean that we have equal knowledge but that God communicates His thoughts to us.)

What happens when we regularly gain an accurate viewpoint of conversations, beliefs, temptations, relationships, and circumstances? The evil becomes evil, while the good and proper become those things that we desire to support. Each of the characteristics listed in Galatians 5:22-23 is dependent upon possessing this Spirit-filled mindset. Let me briefly introduce the way I see the first list produces the second.

Description of the different fruit of the Spirit

  • Love, for example, steps aside from the horrible self-seeking choices for the opportunity to manifest God’s genuine care to others. Joy occurs when a person is thrilled by gaining God’s longterm perspective, being delightfully overwhelmed with His grace.
  • Peace contents itself in God’s ultimately harmonious way with God’s will because of the Spirit’s extra insight into one’s tumultuous circumstances. Patience, meanwhile, can accept God’s timetable since one is able to see the superb ways of God’s will.
  • Kindness is graciously expressed, despite assault and accusation, because we understand how much the evil one domineers those around us.
  • Goodness is that generous heart that has been affected by God’s constant issuance of grace.
  • Faithfulness, due to being able to see God’s expectations and the needs around us, is that consistent commitment displaying God’s grace to others.
  • Gentleness counters the bluff of aggressiveness with the conviction that kindly and patiently caring for people can accomplish God’s will.
  • Self-control is that restraint built on the strength and insights gained by the Spirit, enabling one to withstand temptation and able to pursue God’s goodwill (Rom 12:1-2).


The fruit of the Spirit comes by applying the insights from being aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence to our daily lives and struggles. Only the believer, having the Holy Spirit and gaining insight from Him, can see such a production of beautiful fruit seen in Christ Himself.

Final Thoughts

The ability to rightly handle conflict is through a right relationship with God. Spiritual life starts within and assists us in correctly perceiving the world and other people. Those penetrating insights from the presence of the Spirit enable us to properly relate to challenging people and circumstances, even with those who lack such insights from the Holy Spirit. Jesus remains an excellent model due to the Spirit of God certainly rested on (anointed) Him.

The Isaiah 11:2 list becomes the fundamental developmental key to the Fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23.

Other Resources on the Holy Spirit

A Spiritually Balanced Life: Introduction to Living a Spirit-filled life in ...

  • A Spiritually Balanced Life teaches how to live a Spirit-filled life in a busy modern ... “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, ...

John 7:37-39 The Rivers of Living Water: A Study on the Holy Spirit

  • The Holy Spirit fills our lives as He was designed. ... But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, ...

Spirit Dependent Living: A study on Isaiah 11:1-5 | The OT Bible ...

  • As we depend upon the Spirit of God, He effectively leads us closer to Him and ... will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.

Deuteronomy 6: Raising Godly Children: Biblical Parenting ...

  • Developing and applying biblical principles to provide proper spiritual care for ... and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb (Deuteronomy 7:13).

Walking in the Spirit: Soaring Above

  • Walking in the Spirit: Soaring Above uses the analogy of birds and air to help us ... He desires that we would always walk in the Spirit bearing forth the fruit of the ...

Study Questions for Spiritual Development

  1. Memorize the two lists (from Isaiah 11:2 and Galatians 5:22-23).
  2. Generally speaking, how do they compare or differ?
  3. What essential characteristic of the Spirit from Isaiah 11:2 is most needed in your life?
  4. Do you think it right to think of the “rests” from Isaiah 11:2 depicts a constant presence of the Holy Spirit such as found with all genuine Christians?
  5. Read through the definitions of the fruit of the Spirit above and name one that stands out to you. Why does it stand out?
  6. What fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23 is most needed in your life?
  7. Why do you think that the presence of the Spirit does not bear more of that fruit mentioned in the previous question?


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