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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

1. Context. -Various words correspond in the original to the word ‘joy’ of the English Bible, its derivatives and synonyms. The terms χαρά and χαίρειν (etymologically allied to χάρις, ‘charm,’ ‘grace’) denote pleasurable feeling experienced in the mental sphere. On the other hand, ἡδονή, ἥδεσθαι (the verb not found in the NT) largely denote joy in the sphere of the senses. Alongside of this distinction runs the other difference that χαρά stands for the wholesome, unreflecting joy which occupies itself with the object of its source, whereas ἡδονή designates the joy which subjectively dwells on its own sensation. In the NT the latter term is used only sensu malo ( Luke 8:14,  Titus 3:3,  James 4:1,  2 Peter 2:13). The terms εὐφραίνειν and εὐφροσύνη describe a genial, pleasurable state of feeling such as is engendered by good fare or some other happy festive condition (usually rendered by ‘to be merry,’ ‘to make merry’ [ Luke 12:19;  Luke 15:23;  Luke 24:29;  Luke 24:32;  Luke 16:19;  Acts 2:26;  Acts 7:41;  Acts 14:17;  Romans 15:10,  2 Corinthians 2:2,  Galatians 4:27,  Revelation 11:10;  Revelation 12:12]). The terms εὔθυμος, εὐθύμως, εὐθυμεῖν are used of hopeful good cheer with reference to the outcome of some situation or undertaking ( Acts 24:10;  Acts 27:22;  Acts 27:25;  Acts 27:36,  James 5:13). ἀγαλλίασις, ἀγαλλιᾶν stand for the deep joy of exultation, hence are joined by way of climax to χαίρειν ( Matthew 5:12,  Luke 1:14;  Luke 1:44;  Luke 1:47;  Luke 10:21,  John 5:35;  John 8:56,  Acts 2:26;  Acts 2:46;  Acts 16:34,  Hebrews 1:9,  1 Peter 1:6;  1 Peter 1:8;  1 Peter 4:13,  Judges 1:24,  Revelation 19:7). In still another conception, that of καυχᾶσθαι, the element of joy is an inevitable ingredient, but the word as such denotes a specific state of mind, viz. ‘glorying,’ the exalted feeling in which the consciousness of the spiritual worth of the religious subject in its association with and subserviency to the glory of God expresses itself (for this conception cf. A. Ritschl, Die christliche Lehre von der Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung 2, ii. [1882] 365-371; A. Titius, Die neutest. Lehre von der Seligkeit , ii. [1900] 91-96).

2. Joy as a general characteristic of the Christian life. -Joy appears in the NT writings as an outstanding characteristic of the Christian life in the Apostolic Age. In the Pauline Epistles especially it figures prominently. It is one of the three great ingredients of the Kingdom of God ( Romans 14:17); it receives the second place in the enumeration of the fruits of the Spirit ( Galatians 5:22; cf.  1 Thessalonians 1:6); the descriptions of the Christian life frequently refer to it ( Acts 2:46;  Acts 8:39;  Acts 13:52;  Acts 16:34,  Romans 12:12,  2 Corinthians 1:24;  2 Corinthians 6:10;  2 Corinthians 8:2, ( Philippians 1:25,  1 Peter 1:8). That this joy is not a mere byproduct of the Christian state without inherent religious significance appears from the further fact that the constant cultivation of it is enjoined upon believers ( 2 Corinthians 13:11,  Philippians 3:1;  Philippians 4:4 [‘rejoice always’],  1 Thessalonians 5:16,  James 1:2,  1 Peter 4:13). The Apostle even makes it an object of prayer ( Romans 15:13), and represents its attainment as the goal of his apostolic activity for the churches ( 2 Corinthians 1:24,  Philippians 1:25). The prevalence of a joyful state of mind in the early Church may also be inferred from the numerous references to thanksgiving as a regular Christian occupation ( Romans 1:21,  2 Corinthians 8:2,  Ephesians 5:4;  Ephesians 5:20,  Philippians 4:6,  Colossians 1:12;  Colossians 2:7;  Colossians 3:17;  Colossians 4:2,  1 Thessalonians 3:9;  1 Thessalonians 5:18). In view of all this, it may be surmised that the conventional formula of salutation by means of χαίρειν has perhaps, when used among believers, acquired a deeper meaning (cf.  Matthew 28:9,  Luke 1:28,  Acts 15:23,  2 Corinthians 13:11,  James 1:1,  2 John 1:10-11).

When we come to inquire into the causes of the facts just reviewed, the first place must be given to ( a ) the vivid consciousness of salvation which is present in the Apostolic Age. Through the restored fellowship with God and the forgiveness of sin a joy streams into the heart which is coloured by the contrast of the opposite experience belonging to the state of estrangement from God. The Christian joy is specifically a joy in God ( Romans 5:11,  Philippians 3:8;  Philippians 4:10). Joy appears associated with faith, as well as with hope ( Acts 8:39;  Acts 16:34,  Romans 15:13,  2 Corinthians 1:24,  Philippians 1:25,  1 Peter 1:8). It likewise accompanies the ethical renewal of the mind as a new-born delight in all that is good ( 1 Corinthians 13:6).

A second cause may be found in ( b ) the highly pneumatic character of the religious experience in the Apostolic Age. The Spirit as the gift of the Ascended and Glorified Christ to His followers, manifested His presence and power in these early days after a most uplifting fashion, and among other things produced in believers an exalted state of feeling in which the note of joyousness predominated. The conjunction of joy and the Spirit, however, does not merely mean that the Spirit produces this joy: it is due to the inherent character of the Spirit, so that to be in the Spirit and to be filled with joy become synonymous ( Acts 2:46;  Acts 13:52,  Romans 14:17). The Spirit possesses this inherent character as a Spirit of joy because He is essentially the element of the life to come. This leads to the observation that in the third place ( c ) the joyfulness of the early Christian consciousness must be explained in the light of the fact that the Christian state is felt to be semi-eschatological, i.e. in many important respects an anticipation of the consummated life of the Kingdom of God. Through the entrance of the Messiah into glory, through His pneumatic presence and activity in the Church, and through the prospect of His speedy return, believers have been brought into real contact with the world to come. The specific character of the world to come is that of blessedness and joy, and to the same degree as this world projects itself through experience or hope into the present life, the latter also comes to partake of this joyful complexion. Especially in St. Paul and the Epistle to the Hebrews can we trace this connexion, though it is not absent from any of the NT writings ( Romans 12:12;  Romans 14:17;  Romans 15:13,  Hebrews 10:34;  Hebrews 12:11,  1 Peter 1:6;  1 Peter 1:8;  1 Peter 4:13,  Judges 1:24,  Revelation 19:7). Jesus Himself had already represented the spiritual coming of the Kingdom, the time of His presence with the disciples as a period of joy, resembling a wedding-feast ( Mark 2:19), and had pointed forward to the dispensation of the Spirit as a period of joy ( John 14:28;  John 15:11;  John 16:20;  John 16:22;  John 16:24;  John 17:13). On this principle is to be explained the paradoxical character which the Christian joy assumes through entering into contrast with the tribulation and affliction of this present life. It even makes out of the latter a cause for rejoicing, inasmuch as the believer, from the power of faith which sustains him, receives the assurance of his ‘approvedness’ (δοκιμή) with God, and thus the strongest conceivable hope in the eschatological salvation.  Romans 5:3 ff. is the classical passage for this, but the same train of thought meets us in a number of other Pauline passages, and occasionally elsewhere, sometimes in pointedly paradoxical formulation ( Acts 5:41,  Colossians 1:11,  1 Thessalonians 1:6,  Hebrews 10:34,  James 1:2,  1 Peter 4:13). Most frequently this specific kind of joy is expressed in connexion with the idea of καυχᾶσθαι, ‘to glory’ (cf. above;  Romans 5:2-3,  2 Corinthians 11:30;  2 Corinthians 12:9,  James 1:9).

3. The joy of St. Paul. -To be distinguished from this general joy as a common ingredient of all Christian experience is the specific joy which belongs to the servant of God engaged in the work of his calling. Of this joy of ministering, the delight and satisfaction that accompany the successful discharge of the apostolic task, the NT makes frequent mention. The Pauline Epistles are full of it. The Apostle runs his course with joy ( Acts 20:24 [some textual authorities here omit ‘with joy’]); rejoices exceedingly over the obedience of believers ( Romans 16:19); though sorrowful, yet is always rejoicing in his work ( 2 Corinthians 6:10); overflows with joy on account of his converts ( 2 Corinthians 7:4); makes his supplication with joy on their behalf ( Philippians 1:4); their progress in love and harmony makes full his joy ( Philippians 2:2); he rejoices in the prospect of being offered upon the sacrifice and service of their faith ( Philippians 2:17); rejoices in his sufferings for their sake ( Colossians 1:24); feels that no thanksgiving can adequately express his joy before God on their account ( 1 Thessalonians 3:9). Specific developments in his ministry furnish occasion for special joy ( 1 Corinthians 16:17,  2 Corinthians 2:3;  2 Corinthians 7:13;  2 Corinthians 7:16,  Philippians 1:18;  Philippians 2:28; cf.  Acts 11:23,  Hebrews 13:17,  2 John 1:4,  3 John 1:3-4). This joy in ministering coalesces with the prospective eschatological joy, inasmuch as in the day of the Lord the results of one’s ministry will be made manifest and become for the servant of Christ a special ‘joy’ or ‘crown of glorying’ ( 2 Corinthians 1:14,  Philippians 4:1,  1 Thessalonians 2:19).

Literature.-A. Harnack, The Acts of the Apostles , Eng. translation, 1909, p. 277; Voluntas Dei , 1912, p. 265; H. Bushnell, The New Life , 1860, p. 147; R. C. Moberly, Christ our Life , 1902, p. 93; J. Clifford, The Gospel of Gladness , 1912, p. 1.

Geerhardus Vos.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]


The noun joy and its synonyms, rejoicing, gladness, mirth , the verb joy more usually rejoice , also be (and make ) joyful, be (and make ) glad or merry with the corresponding adjectives, represent in the OT a rich variety of Heb. synonyms not easily distinguishable. NT Greek expresses the emotion by three leading words: ( a ) the ordinary chara (vb. chairô  ; cf. charis , ‘grace’); ( b ) a term signifying excited, demonstrative joy, exultation as noun rendered ‘gladness’ (  Luke 1:14 ,   Acts 2:46 ,   Hebrews 1:9; ‘exceeding joy’ in   Judges 1:24 ), as vb. ‘be exceeding glad’ (  Matthew 5:12 ,   Revelation 19:7 ), or ‘rejoice greatly’ (  Acts 16:34 , 1Pe 1:6;   1 Peter 1:8;   1 Peter 4:13 ) never found in Paul; ( c ) almost peculiar to Paul (who uses noun and vb. 34 times in 1 and   2 Corinthians 8:1-24 times in   Romans 8:1-39 times elsewhere), denoting joy over some personal distinction or possession , and mostly rendered ‘glorying’ or ‘boasting’ by AV [Note: Authorized Version.] , by RV [Note: Revised Version.] uniformly ‘glorying,’ except in   Romans 5:2 f. where it appears twice as ‘rejoicing.’ ( d ) In   Luke 12:19;   Luke 15:23 etc.,   2 Corinthians 2:2 , we find a familiar Gr. word for festive, social joy; ( e ) in   Acts 27:22 etc.,   James 5:13 , a similar term signifying cheerfulness or high spirits . The Beatitudes of OT (under the formula ‘Blessed!,’ or ‘Happy, is the man,’ etc., as in   Psalms 1:1;   Psalms 127:5 ) and of the NT (  Matthew 5:3 ff. etc.) come under this head, as they set forth the objective conditions, spiritual or material, of religious happiness; while ‘peace’ designates the corresponding inward state forming the substratum of joy, which is happiness in its livelier but fluctuating emotional moods. Joy is to peace as the sunshine and bright colours are to the calm light and sweet air of a summer day: on the relations of the two, see   John 14:1;   John 14:27 f.,   John 16:19-33  John 16:19-33 ,   Romans 14:17;   Romans 15:13;   Romans 15:32 f.,   Galatians 5:22 ,   Philippians 4:1-7 etc.).

Joy is more conspicuous in Christianity than in any other religion, and in the Bible than in any other literature. Psychologically, joy is the index of health , resulting from the adequate engagement of the affections and the vigorous and harmonious exercise of the powers; it is the sign that the soul has found its object. In the OT, as between J″ [Note: Jahweh.] and Israel, joy is mutual . Its ascription to J″ [Note: Jahweh.] indicates the realism of the Heb. conception of the Divine personality: J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ‘rejoices in his works (  Genesis 1:31 etc.,   Psalms 104:31 ), and ‘rejoices over’ His people ‘for good’ (  Deuteronomy 30:9 ,   Zephaniah 3:17 etc.; cf.   Luke 15:7;   Luke 15:10 ). ‘The righteous’ in turn ‘rejoice in J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ,’ (  Psalms 97:12;   Psalms 149:2 etc.), in the fact that they have such a God and know Him (  Psalms 4:6 f.,   Psalms 16:11 f., 100 etc.) this is the supreme happiness of life, it is ‘life’ in the full sense (  Psalms 36:9;   Psalms 63:1-7 etc.) particularly in His ‘mercy’ and ‘faithfulness’ and ‘salvation’ (  Psalms 21:1-7;   Psalms 51:7-17;   Psalms 85:1-13;   Psalms 89:1-8 ,   Isaiah 25:9 ,   Habakkuk 3:17 ff.), in His wise and holy ‘statutes’ (  Deuteronomy 4:7 f.,   Psalms 119:1-176 ); they ‘rejoice before J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ,’ expressing their joy by sacrifice and feast (  Deuteronomy 12:10-12 etc.), they rejoice in the natural boons of life, in the guidance of Providence (  Psalms 103:1-22;   Psalms 116:1-19;   Psalms 118:1-29 etc.), in national blessings and success (  Exodus 15:1-27 ,   1 Kings 8:66 ,   Isaiah 55:1-13 ,   Nehemiah 12:43 etc.), in J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ’s ‘judgments’ on wrong-doers (  1 Samuel 2:1-10 ,   Psalms 48:4 ff;   Psalms 68:1-6 etc.), and in His ‘promises,’ which bring hope and light into the darkest days (  Psalms 27:1-6 ,   Jeremiah 15:16 ,   Zechariah 2:10;   Zechariah 9:9 etc.).

The OT joy in God breaks out again in the Canticles of the NT ( Luke 1:46 ff.,   Luke 1:68 ff;   Luke 2:28 ff.), being all the while sustained on ‘the hope of Israel,’ and gathering in the hidden reservoir of pious Jewish hearts. This ‘joy in God’ was strong in Jesus; the intimations given by   Mark 2:18-22 ,   Matthew 5:10-12;   Matthew 6:16 ff.,   Matthew 5:25-34;   Matthew 11:16-19 ,   Luke 10:21;   Luke 10:15 (the whole ch.),   John 2:1-11;   John 15:11;   John 17:13 , should correct the one-sided impression that in His ordinary temper our Lord was the ‘man of sorrows’; the glow of happiness felt in His company formed an element in the charm of Jesus. Christian joy is associated with the ‘finding’ of life’s ‘treasure’ in true religion (  Matthew 13:44 etc.), with the receiving of salvation through Christ (  Acts 2:46;   Acts 16:34 ,   1 Thessalonians 1:6 ), with the influence of the Holy Spirit on the soul (  Romans 14:17 ,   Galatians 5:22 ,   Ephesians 5:18-20 ), with success in work for God and man, and hope of heavenly reward (  Luke 10:20 f.,   John 4:36 ,   Romans 12:12 ,   Philippians 1:18 ,   1 Peter 4:13; cf.   Psalms 17:14 f.,   Psalms 126:5 ), and with spiritual fellowship and friendship (  Romans 12:15 ,   2 Corinthians 7:7-16 ,   Philippians 2:1 ff.,   2 John 1:4 etc.) ‘the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy ,’ etc., an inseparable pair (see   John 15:9-14 ). The adversities which destroy earthly happiness, like obstructions crossing a stream that rises from some deep spring, go to swell the tide of joy in the breast of the children of God; see, e.g. ,   Matthew 5:10 ff.,   John 16:33 ,   Acts 5:41 ,   Romans 5:3-11;   Romans 8:31-39 ,   1 Peter 1:6-12 ,   Revelation 7:14-17 ,   Isaiah 35:1-10 .

G. G. Findlay.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [3]

Happiness over an unanticipated or present good. In the Old Testament joy (Heb. sama [   Song of Solomon 1:4 ), to marriage ( Proverbs 5:18 ), the birth of children ( Psalm 113:9 ), the gathering of the harvest, military victory ( Isaiah 9:3 ), and drinking wine ( Psalm 104:15 ). On the spiritual level it refers to the extreme happiness with which the believer contemplates salvation and the bliss of the afterlife. Unexpected benefits from God are expressed in terms of common experiences. The psalms express the joyous mood of believers as they encounter God. Believers rejoice because God has surrounded them with his steadfast love (32:11) and brought them to salvation (40:16; 64:10). David rejoices that God has delivered him from the hand of his enemies (63:11). Joy is a response to God's word ( Psalm 119:14 ) and his reward to believers ( Isaiah 65:14 ) and their strength ( Nehemiah 8:10 ).

Fundamental to the Old Testament understanding of joy are God's Acts in history, the most important of which is Israel's deliverance from Egypt ( Exodus 18:9-11 ). Israel's return from the Babylonian exile ( Jeremiah 31:1-19 ) to Jerusalem is above the highest joy ( Psalm 137:6 ). The restoration of Israel will be an occasion for joy ( Psalm 14:7 ) in which nature shares ( Psalm 98:4-6 ). Joy characterizes Israel's corporate worship life ( Deuteronomy 16:13-15;  2 Chronicles 30:21-22 ) in which the individual participates: "I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go the house of the Lord'" ( Psalm 122:1 ). Whereas for the believer the secular joys common to human existence are distinguished from spiritual ones, they are not separated. Spiritual joys are expressed by the metaphors of feasting, marriage, victory in military endeavors, and successful financial undertakings. The joy of the harvest is used to describe the believer's final victory over his adversaries ( Psalm 126:5-6 ). Christ's coming is described by the joy of the harvest and dividing up captured military booty ( Isaiah 9:2-7 ). In turn, spiritual joys elevate the secular happiness of believers. Secular successes are regarded as unexpected benefits from God.

Old Testament imagery for joy is carried over into the New. Jesus joins the joys of marriage and spiritual ones by describing John the Baptist's reaction to his coming as the joy ( chara [   John 3:29-30 ). This is accentuated by this pericope's proximity to the Cana wedding miracle where the water changed to a superior wine relieves an embarrassed host ( John 2:1-11 ). Wine, a source of joy, anticipates eschatological joy of which Christ is an endless source ( Psalm 104:15 ). Joy is associated with the nativity. The birth of John the Baptist as the forerunner of the Messiah is an occasion of joy for his father and others ( Luke 1:14 ). The angel's greeting ( chaire ) to Mary followed by "highly favored, " a word of the same family in Greek, may be taken as a command to rejoice as the Redeemer's mother ( Luke 1:28 ). Shepherds hear that news of the birth of Christ is an occasion for great joy for all people ( Luke 2:10 ). Luke's cycle is completed with the disciples returning with great joy after Jesus' ascension (24:52). The Magi, upon finding the infant Jesus, are "overjoyed" ( Matthew 2:10 ).

Joy belongs also to the realm of the supernatural. Angels rejoice at an unbeliever's conversion ( Luke 10:20 ). Luke places three parables together in which God, in two instances with the angels, rejoices at the redemption. Upon finding the lost sheep, the shepherd rejoices (15:3-7). The woman rejoices upon finding the lost coin (15:8-10). The prodigal son's return brings rejoicing (15:11-32). The parable of the man who liquifies his assets to purchase the treasure hidden in the field teaches us that God has joy in bringing about the atonement ( Matthew 13:44 ). This parallels Jesus who with joy "endured the cross, scorning its shame" ( Hebrews 12:2 ). Also for believers, trials and persecution are occasions for joy ( James 1:2 ). Peter and John found their scourging an occasion for "rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name" ( Acts 5:41 ). Suffering brings joy as believers are united with Christ in his suffering ( 1 Peter 4:13-14 ). Paul speaks of his joy in the midst of affliction ( 2 Corinthians 7:4-16 ). It is a part of faith ( Philippians 1:25 ). Joy expresses the relationship between the apostle and his congregations and an opportunity for thanksgiving ( Romans 15:32;  Philippians 2:28 ), with each rejoicing in the other. God's kingdom is described as "righteousness, peace and joy" ( Romans 14:17 ). Certainty of salvation is a cause for joy, as the disciples are commanded to "rejoice that your names are written in heaven" ( Luke 10:20 ). Fellowship with Jesus brings continuous joy ( John 15-17 ).

David P. Scaer

See also Blessedness; Holy Spirit; Gifts Of Holy Spirit

Bibliography . J. Moltmann, Theology and Joy  ; W. G. Morrice, Joy in the New Testament .

Holman Bible Dictionary [4]

joy rejoice Joy rejoice

Joy is the fruit of a right relation with God. It is not something people can create by their own efforts. The Bible distinguishes joy from pleasure. The Greek word for pleasure is the word from which we get our word hedonism , the philosophy of self-centered pleasure-seeking. Paul referred to false teachers as “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” ( 2 Timothy 3:4 ).

The Bible warns that self-indulgent pleasure-seeking does not lead to happiness and fulfillment.  Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 records the sad testimony of one who sought to build his life on pleasure-seeking. The search left him empty and disillusioned.   Proverbs 14:13 offers insight into this way of life, “Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful.” Cares, riches, and pleasures rob people of the possibility of fruitful living (  Luke 8:14 ). Pleasure seeking often enslaves people in a vicious cycle of addiction ( Titus 3:3 ). The self-indulgent person, according to  1 Timothy 5:6 , is dead while seeming still to be live.

Many people think that God is the great Kill-Joy. Nothing could be a bigger lie. God Himself knows joy, and He wants His people to know joy.  Psalm 104:31 speaks of God Himself rejoicing in His creative works.   Isaiah 65:18 speaks of God rejoicing over His redeemed people who will be to Him “a joy.”

 Luke 15:1 is the most famous biblical reference to God's joy. The Pharisees and scribes had criticized Jesus for receiving sinners and eating with them. Then Jesus told three parables—the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the loving father. The explicit theme of each parable is joy over one sinner who repents.

The joy of God came to focus in human history in Jesus Christ. The note of joy and exultation runs through the entire biblical account of the coming of Christ ( Luke 1:14 ,Luke 1:14, 1:44;  Matthew 2:10 ). The most familiar passage is the angel's announcement of “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” ( Luke 2:10 ). Jesus spoke of His own joy and of the full joy He had come to bring to others ( John 15:11;  John 17:13 ). He illustrated the kingdom of heaven by telling of the joy of a man who found treasure ( Matthew 13:44 ). Zacchaeus was in a tree when Jesus called him, but he quickly climbed down and received Jesus joyfully ( Luke 19:6 ). He had found life's ultimate treasure in Christ.

As Jesus' death approached, He told His followers that soon they would be like a woman in labor, whose sorrow would be turned into joy ( John 16:20-22 ). Later they understood, when the dark sorrow of the cross gave way to the joy of the resurrection ( Luke 24:41 ). Viewed from this perspective, eventually they came to see that the cross itself was necessary for the joy to become real ( Hebrews 12:2 ). Because of His victory and the promise of His abiding presence, the disciples could rejoice even after the Lord's ascension ( Luke 24:52 ).

The Book of Acts tells how joy continued to characterize those who followed Jesus. After Philip preached in Samaria, the people believed and “there was great joy in that city” ( Acts 8:8 ). After the work of Paul and Barnabas in Antioch of Pisidia, “the diciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost” ( Acts 13:52 ). Paul and Barnabas reported such conversions to other believers, “and they caused great joy unto all the brethren” ( Acts 15:3 ). After the conversion of the Philippian jailer, he “rejoiced, believing in God with all his house” ( Acts 16:34 ).

Joy in the Christian life is in direct proportion as believers walk with the Lord. They can rejoice because they are in the Lord ( Philippians 4:4 ). Joy is a fruit of a Spirit-led life ( Galatians 5:22 ). Sin in a believer's life robs the person of joy ( Psalm 51:8 ,Psalms 51:8, 51:12 ).

When a person walks with the Lord, the person can continue to rejoice even when troubles come. Jesus spoke of those who could rejoice even when persecuted and killed ( Matthew 5:12 ). Paul wrote of rejoicing in suffering because of the final fruit that would result ( Romans 5:3-5 ). Both Peter and James also echoed the Lord's teachings about rejoicing in troubles ( 1 Peter 1:6-8;  James 1:2 ).

Joy in the Lord enables people to enjoy all that God has given. They rejoice in family ( Proverbs 5:18 ), food ( 1 Timothy 4:4-5 ), celebrations ( Deuteronomy 16:13-15 ), fellowship ( Philippians 4:1 ). They share with other believers the joys and sorrows of life: “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, weep with them that weep” ( Romans 12:15 ).

Robert J. Dean

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [5]

Both Old and New Testaments use a variety of words to express the many aspects of joy, gladness, contentment and rejoicing. Joy is a characteristic of God, and he wants it to be a characteristic that is evident throughout all creation, particularly among his people ( Job 38:7;  Psalms 16:11;  Psalms 104:31;  Luke 2:10;  Luke 2:14;  John 15:11;  Philippians 4:4).

Gladness and rejoicing are part of the everyday life that God desires for human society. God wants people to enjoy him and all that he has given them for life in this world ( Deuteronomy 14:26;  Ecclesiastes 5:18-19;  Ecclesiastes 9:7-9;  Luke 1:14;  Luke 15:22-24;  1 Timothy 6:17). However, all such enjoyment must be linked with right behaviour and self-discipline ( Proverbs 23:16-21;  Amos 6:4-7;  Romans 13:13;  Romans 14:17;  1 Thessalonians 5:7-8;  1 Peter 4:3).

Expressions of gladness and joy were a feature of public worship in ancient Israel ( Deuteronomy 12:5-7;  Psalms 81:1-3;  Psalms 100:1-2;  Psalms 150:3-6). They were also a feature of the life of the early church ( Acts 2:46-47;  Acts 5:41;  Acts 8:39;  Acts 13:52;  Colossians 3:16).

Joy in a special sense becomes the possession of believers when by faith they come into union with Jesus Christ ( John 15:4;  John 15:11). This joy is more than simply a feeling of happiness when all is going well. That sort of joy will be only temporary ( Ecclesiastes 2:1-11). The joy that Christ gives is something that no circumstances can take away ( John 16:22;  John 16:33;  John 17:13;  Romans 15:13). It is a quality of peace and strength that enables believers to rejoice even amid trouble and sorrow ( Habakkuk 3:17-18;  Matthew 5:10-12;  2 Corinthians 6:10;  Colossians 1:24;  James 1:2; see Peace ).

Sin in the lives of believers can spoil their experience of the joy God has given them. For this reason they must resist sin, along with its accompanying tendency to despondency. They must make a constant and wholehearted effort to be positive and joyful at all times ( Philippians 4:4;  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

The more believers grow in their new life in Christ, the more the indwelling Spirit of Christ develops the quality of joy within them ( Galatians 5:22). This joy is inseparable from faith, love, peace and hope ( Romans 5:1-5;  Romans 15:13;  1 Thessalonians 1:3;  1 Thessalonians 1:6;  Hebrews 10:34). The fulfilment of their joy will be to meet Christ at his return and enter with him into the full joy of the age to come ( Isaiah 65:17-19;  Matthew 25:21;  Judges 1:24;  Revelation 19:7-9). This glorious hope is a further cause for their rejoicing amid present sufferings ( Romans 5:2;  Romans 8:18;  Romans 8:24;  1 Peter 1:6-8;  1 Peter 4:13; see Hope ).

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [6]

A delight of the mind arising from the consideration of a present for assured approaching possession of a future good. When it is moderate, it is called gladness; when raised on a sudden to the highest degree, it is then exultation or transport; when we limit our desires by our possessions, it is contentment; when our desires are raised high, and yet accomplished, this is called satisfaction; when our joy is derived from some comical occasion or amusement, it is mirth; if it arise from considerable opposition that is vanquished in the pursuit of the good we desire, it is then called triumph; when joy has so long possessed the mind that it is settled into a temper, we call it cheerfulness; when we rejoice upon the account of any good which others obtain, it may be called sympathy or congratulation. This is natural joy; but there is,

2. A moral joy, which is a self-approbation, or that which arises from the performance of any good actions; this is called peace, or serenity of conscience: if the action be honourable, and the joy rise high, it may be called glory.

3. There is also a spiritual joy, which the Scripture calls a "fruit of the Spirit, "  Galatians 5:22 . "the joy of faith."  Philippians 1:25 . and "the rejoicing of hope, "  Hebrews 3:6 .

The objects of it are,

1. God himself,  Psalms 43:4 . Is. 41: 10.

2. Christ,  Philippians 3:3 .  1 Peter 1:8 .

3. The promises,  Psalms 119:162 .

4. The administration of the Gospel, and Gospel ordinances,  Psalms 89:15 .

5. The prosperity of the interest of Christ,  Acts 15:3 .  Revelation 11:15;  Revelation 17:1-18 :

6. The happiness of a future state,  Romans 5:1-21 .  Matthew 25:1-46 :

The nature and properties of this joy:

1. It is or should be constant,  Philippians 4:4 .

2. It is unknown to the men of the world,  1 Corinthians 2:14 .

3. It is unspeakable,  1 Peter 1:8 .

4. It is permanent,  John 16:22 . Watts on the Pass. sect. 11; Gill's Body of Div. p. 111.3d. vol. 8vo. edit.; Grove's Mor. Phil. vol. 1: p. 356.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [7]

Joy, or gladness, is what man craves and is set upon finding; and he does find it when he finds God, and only then. He retains it too in proportion as he grows in the knowledge of God. God is the author of true joy as of every good and perfect gift. Being Himself perfectly good and above all evil, He is even represented as finding His own joy in the repentance of the sinner who returns to seek Him. Sin having come in, and man being thus, alas, alienated from God, his idea of joy is to be as happy as he can make himself without God and away from Him. (See the prodigal in  Luke 15 .) But disappointment and bitterness here and eternal sorrow hereafter alone can result from such a course as that. When however, on the contrary, the light of God's love, revealed in the gift and the death of His Son, breaks upon the heart, it is filled at once "with joy unspeakable and full of glory."

"The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." The fruit too of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, with other beautiful traits, and this is produced in the believer's heart by the Spirit for God's glory. The apostle desired for the Romans that the God of hope would fill them with all joy and peace in believing.  Romans 15:13 . The Thessalonians too had received the word in "much affliction with joy of the Holy Ghost." Many more passages might be cited to show how joy is one of the leading characteristics of those who have been brought to know God. The one only Man who never had to be so brought — because His delight was ever in God, as God's was in Him: He who is called a "man of sorrows" — this perfect and blessed One had His own deep joy in communion with and in dependence upon God; and He desires for His own in the world that this His joy might be theirs.

True joy is unknown in the world in its present state; but there is a day coming when sorrow, suffering, death, and all the gloomy fruits of sin, will be done away, and God Himself will wipe away all tears and fill the universe with joy unclouded and eternal. That day is depicted in  Revelation 21 .

King James Dictionary [8]

JOY, n.

1. The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good that excitement of pleasurable feelings which is caused by success, good fortune,the gratification of desire or some good possessed, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire gladness exultation exhilaration of spirits.

Joy is a delight of the mind, from the consideration of the present or assured approaching possession of a good.

Bring heavenly balm to heal my country's wounds,

Joy to my soul and transport to my lay.

2. Gayety mirth festivity.

The roofs with joy resound.

3. Happiness felicity.

Her heavenly form beheld, all wished her joy.

4. A glorious and triumphant state.

--Who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross.  Hebrews 12

5. The cause of joy or happiness.

For ye are our glory and joy.  1 Thessalonians 2 .

6. A term of fondness the cause of you.

JOY, To rejoice to be glad to exult.

I will joy in the God of my salvation.  Habakkuk 3

JOY, To give joy to to congratulate to entertain kindly.

1. To gladden to exhilarate.

My soul was joyed in vain.

2. To enjoy to have or possess with pleasure, or to have pleasure in the possession of. Little used. See Enjoy.

Webster's Dictionary [9]

(1): ( n.) That which causes joy or happiness.

(2): ( n.) The sign or exhibition of joy; gayety; mirth; merriment; festivity.

(3): ( v. t.) To give joy to; to congratulate.

(4): ( v. t.) To gladden; to make joyful; to exhilarate.

(5): ( v. t.) To enjoy.

(6): ( n.) The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; pleasurable feelings or emotions caused by success, good fortune, and the like, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; gladness; exhilaration of spirits; delight.

(7): ( n.) To rejoice; to be glad; to delight; to exult.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [10]

 Nehemiah 8:10 (c) This is symbolical of the great satisfaction in the heart of our Lord over the victory made possible by His provision for sin and for the sinner. He was well pleased with His work in creation. He is well pleased with His work in salvation. He will be pleased in the final consummation. We are strong in His victory.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [11]

joi ( שׁמחה , simḥāh  ; Χαρά , chará ):

The idea of joy is expressed in the Old Testament by a wealth of synonymous terms that cannot easily be differentiated. The commonest is simḥāh (  1 Samuel 18:6 , etc.), variously translated in English Versions of the Bible "joy," "gladness," "mirth"; from sāmēah , properly "to be bright," "to shine" ( Proverbs 13:9 , "The light of the righteous rejoiceth," literally, "is bright"), but generally used figuratively "to rejoice," "be glad" ( Leviticus 23:40 and very frequent).

Other nouns are māsōs and sāsōn , both from sūs , properly "to spring," "leap," hence, "exult," "rejoice"; rinnāh , "shouting." "joy"; gı̄l , from verb gı̄l or gūl , "to go in a circle," hence, "be excited" (dancing round for joy), "rejoice." In the New Testament, far the commonest are chara , "joy," chaı́rō , "to rejoice" (compare Χάρις , cháris , "grace"). But we have also agallı́asis , which expresses "exuberant joy," "exultation" (not used in classical Greek, but often in the Septuagint; in the New Testament,   Luke 1:14 ,  Luke 1:44;  Acts 2:46;  Judges 1:24;  Hebrews 1:9 ), and the corresponding verb agallı́aoo (- áomai ), "to exult," "rejoice exceedingly" ( Matthew 5:12 , etc.). In English Versions of the Bible we have sometimes "to joy" (now obsolete as a verb), used in an intransitive sense = "to rejoice" ( Habakkuk 3:18;  2 Corinthians 7:13 , etc.).

Besides joy in a general sense, as the response of the mind to any pleasurable event or state ( 1 Kings 1:40;  Esther 8:17 , etc.), joy as a religious emotion is very frequently referred to in the Old Testament. Religion is conceived of as touching the deepest springs of emotion, including the feeling of exultant gladness which often finds outward expression in such actions as leaping, shouting, and singing. Joy is repeatedly shown to be the natural outcome of fellowship with God. "In thy presence is fullness of joy; in thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (  Psalm 16:11; compare  Psalm 16:8 ,  Psalm 16:9 ). God is at once the source ( Psalm 4:7;  Psalm 51:12 ) and the object ( Psalm 35:9;  Isaiah 29:19 ) of religious joy. The phrase "rejoice (be glad) in Yahweh" and similar. expressions are of frequent occurrence (e.g.  Psalm 97:12;  Psalm 149:2;  Isaiah 61:10;  Zechariah 10:7 ). Many aspects of the Divine character call forth this emotion, such as His lovingkindness ( Psalm 21:6 ,  Psalm 21:7;  Psalm 31:7 ), His salvation ( Psalm 21:1;  Isaiah 25:9;  Habakkuk 3:18 ), His laws and statutes ( Psalm 12:1-8; 119 passim ), His judgments ( Psalm 48:11 ), His words of comfort in dark days ( Jeremiah 15:15 ,  Jeremiah 15:16 ). The fundamental fact of the sovereignty of God, of the equity of the Divine government of the world, gives to the pious a joyous sense of security in life ( Psalm 93:1 f;   Psalm 96:10;  Psalm 97:1 ) which breaks forth into songs of praises in which even inanimate Nature is poetically called upon to join ( Psalm 96:11-13;  Psalm 98:4-9 ). In the case of those who held such views of God, it was natural that the service of God should elicit a joyous spirit ("I will offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy,"  Psalm 27:6; compare  1 Chronicles 29:9 ), a spirit which is abundantly manifest in the jubilant shouting with which religious festivities were celebrated, and the trumpet-sound which accompanied certain sacrifices ( 2 Samuel 6:15;  Psalm 33:1-3;  Numbers 10:10;  2 Chronicles 29:27 ), and especially in psalms of praise, thanksgiving and adoration ( Psalm 47:1-9; 81;  Psalm 100:1-5 , etc.). "Rejoice before Yahweh your God" is an oft-repeated phrase in Dt with reference to the sacrificial feast (e.g.  Deuteronomy 12:12 ). But joy is a Divine, as well as a human, emotion; for God Himself is represented in the Old Testament, not as a rigid, impassible Being, but as susceptible to pleasure and pain. God may be conceived of as "rejoicing in his works" ( Psalm 104:31; compare  Genesis 1:31 ), and over His people "for good" ( Deuteronomy 30:9 ). "He will rejoice over thee (Zion) with joy; he will rest in his love; he will joy over thee with singing" ( Zephaniah 3:17 ). Such noble and vivid anthropomorphisms are a nearer approach to the truth than the abstract doctrine of the impassibility of God which, owing to Platonic influences, dominated theology of the early Christian centuries.

The element of joy in religion is still more prominent in the New Testament. It is the appropriate response of the believer to the "good tidings of great joy" which constitute the gospel ( Luke 2:10 ). In the four Gospels, especially Luke, this element is conspicuous. It is seen in the canticles of Lk 1 and 2. It is both exemplified in the life and character, and set forth in the teaching of Jesus. There are many intimations that, in spite of the profound elements of grief and tragedy in His life, His habitual demeanor was gladsome and joyous, certainly not gloomy or ascetic: such as, His description of Himself as bridegroom, in defense of His disciples for not fasting ( Mark 2:18-20 ); the fact that He came "eating and drinking," giving occasion to the charge that He was "a gluttonous man and a winebibber" ( Matthew 11:19 ); His "rejoicing in the Holy Spirit" ( Luke 10:21 ); the fact that His presence was found to be congenial at social festivities ( Mark 14:3;  Luke 14:1;  John 12:1 ), and at the wedding in Cana ( John 2:1 ff); His mention of "my joy" (  John 15:11;  John 17:13 ). His teaching with reference to His followers harmonizes with this. The Christian virtues confer on those who attain them not only beatitude, a calm and composed state of felicity ( Matthew 5:3-11 ), but also a more exuberant state of joy, which is in sharp contrast to the "sad countenance" of the hypocrites ( Matthew 6:16 ) ("Rejoice, and be exceeding glad",  Matthew 5:12 ). This spirit is reflected in many of the parables. The discovery of the true treasure of life brings joy ( Matthew 13:44 ). The three parables in Lk 15 reveal the joy of the Divine heart itself at the repentance of sinners (see especially  Luke 15:5-7 ,  Luke 15:9 ,  Luke 15:10 ,  Luke 15:22-24 ,  Luke 15:32 ). The parable of the Talents lays stress on the "joy of the Lord" which is the reward of faithfulness ( Matthew 25:21 ,  Matthew 25:23 ). Jesus confers on His followers not only peace ( John 14:27;  John 16:33 ), but participation in His own fullness of joy ( John 15:11;  John 16:24;  John 17:13 ), a joy which is permanent, in contrast to the sorrow which is transient ( John 16:22 ). In the dark days of disappointment that succeeded the crucifixion, the joy of the disciples passed under a cloud, but at the resurrection ( Luke 24:41 ) and still more on the day of Pentecost it emerged into light, and afterward remained a marked characteristic of the early church ( Acts 2:46 f;   Acts 8:39;  Acts 13:52;  Acts 15:3 ). Paul speaks of joy as one of the fruits of the spirit ( Galatians 5:22 ) and of "joy in the Holy Spirit" as an essential mark of the kingdom of God ( Romans 14:17 ). This joy is associated with faith ( Philippians 1:25 ), hope ( Romans 5:2;  Romans 12:12 ), brotherly fellowship and sympathy ( Romans 12:15;  2 Corinthians 7:13;  Philippians 2:1 f). To rejoice in the Lord is enjoined as a Christian duty (  Philippians 3:1;  Philippians 4:4; compare  Philippians 2:17 f;   1 Thessalonians 5:16 ). In Christ, the Christian "rejoices with joy unspeakable and full of glory" ( 1 Peter 1:8 ), in spite of his temporary afflictions ( 1 Peter 1:6 ). Christian joy is no mere gaiety that knows no gloom, but is the result of the triumph of faith over adverse and trying circumstances, which, instead of hindering, actually enhance it ( Acts 5:41;  Romans 5:3 f;   James 1:2 ,  James 1:12;  James 5:11;  1 Peter 4:13; compare  Matthew 5:11 ,  Matthew 5:12 ). Even our Lord Himself "for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame" ( Hebrews 12:2 ).

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [12]

(usually some form of גּיל , which prop. means to Spin Round with pleasurable emotion, and is thus a stronger term than שָׂמִח , which expresses Gladness; but less so than עָלַוֹ , to Exult or leap with exuberant joy, Gr. prop. Χαρά ), a delight of the mind arising from the consideration of a present or assured approaching possession of a future good ( Ezra 6:16;  Esther 8:16).

1. Natural joy is of various degrees: when it is moderate, it is called Gladness; when raised on a sudden to the highest degree, it is then Exultation or Transport; when we limit our desires by our possessions, it is Contentment; when our desires are raised high, and yet accomplished, this is called Satisfaction, when our joy is derived from some comical occasion or amusement, it is Mirth; if it arise from considerable opposition that is vanquished in the pursuit of the good we desire, it is then called Triumph; when joy has so long possessed the mind that it is settled into a temper, we call it cheerfulness; when we rejoice upon the account of any good which others obtain, it may be called sympathy or congratulation.

2. MORAL joy is also of several kinds, as the self approbation, or that which arises from the performance of any good actions; this is called Peace, or Serenity of conscience; if the action be honorable and the joy rise high, it may be called Glory.

3. There is also a SPIRITUAL joy, which the Scripture calls a "fruit of the Spirit" ( Galatians 5:22), "the joy of faith" ( Philippians 1:25), and "the rejoicing of hope" ( Hebrews 3:6). The objects of it are

(1.) God himself ( Psalms 43:4,  Isaiah 61:10).

(2.) Christ ( Philippians 3:3;  1 Peter 1:8).

(3.) The promises ( Psalms 119:162).

(4.) The administration of the Gospel and Gospel ordinances ( Psalms 89:15).

(5.) The prosperity of the interest of Christ ( Acts 15:3;  Revelation 11:15;  Revelation 11:17).

(6.) The happiness of a future state ( Romans 5:2; Matthew 25). The nature and properties of this joy:

[1.] It is, or should be, constant ( Philippians 4:4).

[2.] It is unknown to the men of the world ( 1 Corinthians 2:14).

[3.] It is unspeakable ( 1 Peter 1:8).

[4.] It is permanent ( John 16:22). See Watts, On Pass. sec. 31: Gil's Body of Div. 3, 111, 8vo ed.; Grove's Moral Philippians 1, 356.