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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

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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.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Joy'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdb/​j/joy.html. 1909.
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