What is the Greek Word for Joy in the New Testament? The Pursuit of Happiness and the Bible | John 15:11

What is the Greek Word for Joy

Fourth of July | Pursuit of Happiness

The 4th of July, Independence Day, is the day the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, agreeing that we are all given inalienable rights by the Creator to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

As a Christian, I wondered, “What does Jesus teach us about the pursuit of happiness?”

The Bible doesn’t really use a word that is equal to the way we typically use the word “happiness” today.  Instead, the Bible relies on the Greek word “chara,” which is usually translated as “joy.”  Now the word “chara” comes from the word “charis,” which is translated as “grace” in English.  This word chara, as it is used in the New Testament, is not a feeling we can create within ourselves.  I believe that chara may be best explained as a state of “soul-satisfaction” that is given to us by and through God’s grace. 

This word chara is used many times in the New Testament, but for the sake of time, I want to focus in on John 15, because here, Jesus teaches us how to gain chara, how to gain this joy.  In this chapter, Jesus encourages us to “abide” in him –  which means to be with him throughout life. Jesus said that he will abide with us; and we are encouraged to abide with him. Jesus knew that he was physically going away soon at the time that he explained this to his disciples. There is no doubt that Jesus was speaking, not of a physical, tangible way of being together. He was speaking of a spiritual way of being together.

Why did Jesus encourage his followers to abide in him? He gives the answer in John 15:11. Jesus basically says, I am encouraging you to abide in me so that “my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”  Let’s look at that again, remembering that the word chara is the word that underlies the word joy; and chara is a sense of a deep, soul-satisfaction that is profoundly deep and transformative. Let’s look at it again,  Jesus encouraged us to abide in Him, to spend plenty of time with Him. Why did he encourage this? Because when we spend ample time with Jesus, that is how we receive His chara in us, and how our chara becomes complete.

Over 10 years ago, I challenged myself to take on a new endeavor. I decided I wanted to o attempt to spend as much time with Jesus as I could, while also still having to manage all the things we all have to do – working full time, running errands, doing chores, parenting, paying bills, and more. I learned that we can do all those everyday things and still keep our minds on Jesus. I share my story and the strategies that I implemented to be able to do this in my short book titled Closer to God: Simple Methods,Starting Today. You can find the book on Amazon, and you can even read it for free if you are a member of Kindle Unlimited.