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What Then Is Joy?

Best definition of joy I’ve found thus far. Read, re-read, and let its truth soak into your soul.

“What then is joy? One begins to suspect that for most of [the New Testament and Early Church writers] joy was more than a happy feeling, a pleasing mood or a sense of overflowing jubilation, although it might include these. Rather, by joy they seem to have been referring to something more profound, something more difficult to define yet real. Joy seems not to be laughter, gaiety, lightheartedness, and dance and song (at least in this present world) but something more akin to faith, more akin to a settled state of mind marked by peace. Joy is fundamentally an attitude toward life that views and accepts the world with equanimity, a confident way of looking at life that is rooted deep in faith, in a keen awareness of and trust in the sovereign God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection. Joy thus was a perception of reality that generated hope and endurance in affliction and temptation or ease and prosperity. It enabled Christians to see beyond any particular event, judged good or bad, to God who stands above all events and ultimately has control over all events, which will be consummated at Christ’s Parousia[1] (1 Peter). Joy included a readiness for martyrdom…, but equally it described an eagerness to go on living and serving even in the most difficult of circumstances.”[2]

[1] Parousia is a quasi-technical transliteration of a Greek word meaning “presence,” “arrival,” “appearance,” or “coming.” Typically used with reference to Messiah, the term has become the primary referent to the future coming of Christ at the consummation of the eschatological timeline. In pop culture it is often equated with the “Second Coming,” though this requires a much less precise rendering of the text.

 “The Parousia is important in that it serves as an intersection of Christian understandings of christology, eschatology and soteriology: as the supreme moment of revelation of Jesus Christ as Lord for all the created order to see, as the culmination of God’s eternal purposes as they are worked out in human affairs and as the time at which the world is judged and believers are granted resurrection existence and are ultimately united with their Lord.” Quoted from the Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000).

 For further study, see Walter A. Elwell and Philip Wesley Comfort, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, Tyndale reference library (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 992.

[2] Ralph P. Martin and Peter H. Davids, Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000).

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