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Bible Dictionaries

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

Joy

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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).

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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Joy'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/bbd/j/joy.html. 2004.

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