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Sometimes joyful experiences are individual. Sometimes they are corporate. The early church included an element of ecstatic prophecy. John describes his encounter in stating, “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day” (Rev 1:10 NRSV).

This incident and others that he recounted involved an experience during which John had visions into the heavenly realm and received instructions and revelations from God and/or the exalted Messiah. Peter (Acts 11:5) and Paul (2 Cor 12:1–7) had similar ecstatic experiences.

Why this is important: We all experience the joy of our Master Jesus. It is overwhelming. Can we all shout for joy? Can it happen in our corporate worship?

God’s goal: God wants us to be happy and joyful. God is very concerned that we learn how to worship Him. Did not the wise men

when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy”? There is joy in heaven. Jesus says “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

(Luke 15:10)

Can we shout aloud for joy?

  • Ezra 3:12 — 12 Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy,
  • 1 Kings 8:11 — 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of Yahweh [the Lord] filled the house of the Lord.
  • Ezra 6:16 — 16 And the sons of Israel, the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy.

We seem a little reluctant to talk about the joyful experience. Is that for mystics and weirdo’s?

Maybe it’s not just for kooks.

  • Doesn’t Jesus just rock my world?
  • Am I out of my mind at what Jesus is doing?
  • Am I crazy in love with Jesus?
  • Am I stunned at His beauty and brilliance?

Joy in response to Jesus the Messiah: The Greek word “ecstasy” (ἔκστασις, ekstasis) means “standing outside of” and refers to the experience of having the mind cut off from ordinary sense perceptions. These experiences are often referred to as mystical or ecstatic experiences. We can be overwhelmed by the joy of the Master Jesus.

  • Does Jesus amaze me?
  • Am I stunned by His beauty and brilliance?
  • Am I rejoicing greatly in the Holy Spirit?

Digging Deeper – How do we get joy in our lives?

If you want to dig deeper, here are some additional resources. Joy is something we all long for but that often seems difficult to grab hold of. Experiencing joy should be a part of every Christian’s life. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, produced by God’s work in us, and it is part of God’s will for us.

Greek Words

χαρά chara, khar-ah´; from 5463; cheerfulness, i.e. calm delight:— gladness, × greatly, (× be exceeding) joy (-ful, -fully, fulness, -ous).[1]

χαράa, ᾶς f: a state of joy and gladness—‘joy, gladness, great happiness.’ ἀπελθοῦσαι ταχὺ ἀπὸ τοῦ μνημείου μετὰ φόβου καὶ χαρᾶς μεγάλης ‘and quickly leaving the tomb, fearful and (at the same time) very joyful’ Mt 28:8. In a number of languages ‘joy’ is expressed idiomatically, for example, ‘my heart is dancing’ or ‘my heart shouts because I am happy.’[2]

Wayne Grudem Systematic Theology

The Beauty and Joy of Sanctification

It would not be right to end our discussion without noting that sanctification brings great joy to us. The more we grow in likeness to Christ, the more we will personally experience the “joy” and “peace” that are part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22), and the more we will draw near to the kind of life that we will have in heaven.

Paul says that as we become more and more obedient to God, “the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Rom. 6:22). He realizes that this is the source of our true joy. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). As we grow in holiness we grow in conformity to the image of Christ, and more and more of the beauty of his character is seen in our own lives. This is the goal of perfect sanctification, which we hope and long for, and which will be ours when Christ returns. “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 3:3).[3]


Baker Encyclopedia

Joy. Positive human condition that can be either feeling or action. The Bible uses joy in both senses.

Joy as Action. There is a joy that Scripture commands. That joy is action that can be engaged in regardless of how the person feels. Proverbs 5:18 tells the reader to rejoice in the wife of his youth, without reference to what she may be like. Christ instructed his disciples to rejoice when they were persecuted, reviled, and slandered (Mt 5:11, 12). The apostle Paul commanded continuous rejoicing (Phil 4:4; 1 Thes 5:16). James said Christians are to reckon it all joy when they fall into various testings because such testings produce endurance (Jas 1:2). First Peter 4:13 seems to include both action and emotion when it says, “But rejoice [the action] in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad [the emotion] when his glory is revealed.” Joy in adverse circumstances is possible only as a fruit of the Holy Spirit, who is present in every Christian (Gal 5:22).[4]

Holman Treasury of Key Words

The source of Israel’s joy was the Lord Himself along with His words and deeds performed on behalf of His people (Pss. 4:7; 16:11). The Lord gave joy to His chosen king through His presence (Ps. 21:6). Only the Lord could remove the sackcloth of mourning and clothe the king with simchah instead. “Joy” is one of the favorite words of the book of Psalms. The Lord, deserving of praise, was the psalmist’s joy (Ps. 43:4); and the person who was upright in heart enjoyed the simchah of the Lord (Ps. 97:12). The joy of the Lord was God’s goal for His people, and they were to find in Him the subject, the source, and the object of their joy. God’s people were never supposed to find their joy in anything that in any way opposed the Lord. In the New Testament, the theme of the joy of the Lord continues even more strongly. The one who finds the kingdom of heaven “joyfully” sells all that he or she owns in order to obtain it (Matt. 13:44). The joy of Jesus’ followers was a joy that superseded fear (Matt. 28:8). With Jesus in heaven, there will be no more suffering as prophesized by Isaiah when he talks of a restored of a people of God, entering into Zion with a crown of everlasting joy (Isa. 35:10; 55:12). The inexpressible joy of believers is possible because even in the absence of the Lord, we know that we nave received the salvation of our souls (1 Pet. 1:9).[5]

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

The element of joy in religion is still more prominent in the NT. It is the appropriate response of the believer to the “good tidings of great joy” which constitute the gospel (Lk 2:10). In the four Gospels, esp. Lk, 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 defence of His disciples for not fasting (Mk 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” (Mt 11:19); His “rejoicing in the Holy Spirit” (Lk 10:21); the fact that His presence was found to be congenial at social festivities (Mk 14:3: Lk 14:1; Jn 12:1), and at the wedding in Cana (Jn 2:1 ff); His mention of “my joy” (Jn 15:11; 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 (Mt 5:3–11), but also a more exuberant state of joy, which is in sharp contrast to the “sad countenance of the hypocrites” (6:16) (“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, 5:12). This spirit is reflected in many of the parables. The discovery of the true treasure of life brings joy (Mt 13:44). The three parables in Lk 15 reveal the joy of the Divine heart itself at the repentance of sinners (see esp. vs 5–7, 9, 10, 22–24, 32). The parable of the Talents lays stress on the “joy of the Lord” which is the reward of faithfulness (Mt 25:21, 23). Jesus confers on His followers not only peace (Jn 14:27; 16:33), but participation in His own fulness of joy (Jn 15:11; 16:24; 17:13), a joy which is permanent, in contrast to the sorrow which is transient (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 (Lk 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; 8:39; 13:52; 15:3). Paul speaks of joy as one of the fruits of the spirit (Gal 5:22) and of “joy in the Holy Spirit” as an essential mark of the kingdom of God (Rom 14:17). This joy is associated with faith (Phil 1:25), hope (Rom 5:2; 12:12), brotherly fellowship and sympathy (Rom 12:15; 2 Cor 7:13; Phil 2:1 f). To “rejoice in the Lord” is enjoined as a Christian duty (Phil 3:1; 4:4; cf 2:17 f; 1 Thess 5:16). In Christ, the Christian “rejoices with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Pet 1:8), in spite of his temporary afflictions (ver 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; Rom 5:3 f; Jas 1:2, 12; 5:11; 1 Pet 4:13; cf Mt 5:11, 12). Even Our Lord Himself “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame” (He 12:2).[6]

[1] Strong, J. (1996). The New Strong’s Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 301). New York: United Bible Societies.

[3] Grudem, W. (2020). Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Second Edition, p. 937). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

[4] Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Joy. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 1225). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[5] Carpenter, E. E., & Comfort, P. W. (2000). In Holman treasury of key Bible words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew words defined and explained (p. 98). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[6] Edwards, D. M. (1915). Joy. In J. Orr, J. L. Nuelsen, E. Y. Mullins, & M. O. Evans (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Vol. 1–5, p. 1755). Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company.