In researching joy in the New Testament, I found two distinct Greek words for joy. Using the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, I found the following definitions:
Agalliasis means exultation, extreme joy, gladness.
Chara means 1 joy, gladness. 1a the joy received from you. 1b the cause or occasion of joy. 1b1 of persons who are one’s joy.
When the angel announced to Zechariah the birth of John the Baptist, he said, “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” (Luke 1:14, NIV) In this verse, we see both Greek words used to represent the joy Zechariah and Elizabeth will experience. Both the extreme joy that comes from the Lord and the joy from the situation of having a desire fulfilled.
Later when Mary visited Elizabeth, she announced, “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.” (Luke 1:44, NIV) The Greek word used is agalliasis. The Bible Exposition Commentary states that John rejoiced in Jesus Christ even before their births. This joy comes from the Lord, regardless of circumstances.
Announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, the angel said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10 NIV) The Greek word is chara meaning joy, gladness; the cause or occasion for joy. This circumstance provided joy to the shepherds.
We can also experience joy when things are not going so well. Elizabeth was in her golden years. I know of people who experienced pregnancies after 40. These were difficult pregnancies. Still she had joy as the Lord called her to bring forth the one prophesied to foreshadow the Messiah.
We can have joy in our circumstances. We experience this type of joy at the birth of a child in our family. Or when loved ones return home from war. Or we win a contest. The shepherds knew the birth of Christ was life changing and this announcement brought them joy. This bubbling over joy provoked the shepherds to spread the good news of the birth of our Savior.
Our circumstances change and are not always joyous. Therefore I want to end this word study with a passage related to joy, but used the synonym “happiness” from the Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations.
Where Is Happiness?
Not in Unbelief—Voltaire was an infidel of the most pronounced type. He wrote: “I wish I had never been born.”
Not in Pleasure—Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure if anyone did. He wrote: “The worm, the canker, and grief are mine alone.”
Not in Money—Jay Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of that. When dying, he said: “I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth.”
Not in Position and Fame—Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote: “Youth is a mistake; manhood a struggle; old age a regret.”
Not in Military Glory—Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept in his tent, because he said, “There are no more worlds to conquer.”
Where then is happiness found?—the answer is simple, in Christ alone.
—The Bible Friend
We can rejoice in our good situations. But ultimately let’s focus on Christ and find true joy beyond our circumstances!Engrafted by His Grace--