Summary: Message 24 from Philippians. This is Part one of two Messages exploring the admonition to rejoice in the Lord.
“Rejoice in the Lord”
• Stand firm in the Lord 4:1
• Harmonize in the Lord 4:2-3
• Rejoice in the Lord 4:4
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Philippians 4:4
Whenever something appears multiple times in the Bible, it is worth giving more attention.
This topic appears multiple times both in its noun form and verb form. Both Old Testament and New Testament terms are translated by such terms as English terms such as joy, rejoice, gladness, be glad, joyful, joyfulness.
The Greek terms appear at least 133 times in the New Testament. The Hebrew terms appear 246 times.
In addition to these, there are other synonyms referencing this positive emotion. Philippians references rejoicing and joy 15 times in just 4 short chapters.
Exploring nearly 380 passages containing our specific terms became an overwhelming task. That doesn’t include a study of terms related to the opposite emotions of sadness, grief, sorrow, crying, lamenting, etc. which also run heavily all through the Scriptures. Given the space occupied by joy and rejoicing in the Bible, it would be advantageous that we take some time to try to understand it better.
Let’s first look at the specific terms.
The Hebrew noun described the internal sense of glee, gladness, joy, mirth, pleasure.
The Hebrews verb referred to the expression of that inner condition meaning to “brighten up, cheer up, be glad, be joyful, make merry, rejoice.
The Greek noun is similar describing the state of joy, cheerfulness, delight, fullness translated commonly by the English terms gladness and joy. The Greek verb again refers to the external expression of the inner condition.
It is translated by our English word “rejoice” also “be glad”.
Joy is nearly always triggered by some positive event, relationship or experience. That would probably be true concerning the opposite emotion as well. Our responses depend on our perception of the event, experience or relationship. A positive thought or memory may also trigger joy and inspire rejoicing.
Rain in the Pacific Northwest rarely elicits joy or rejoicing.
Rain in the Sahara Desert bring quite the opposite effect.
The response to a snow depends on many possible variables.
Our response to a surprise visit depends on the visitor or the circumstance.
Our response to flashing blue lights depends on the circumstance.
What may cause grief to one, may trigger joy for others. On occasion, you might even experience both emotions simultaneously.
Paul instructed these Philippians to rejoice in the Lord. Like I said before, Paul referenced joy or rejoicing 15 times in his letter.
In a negative circumstance, Paul determined to rejoice.
What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, Philippians 1:18
When facing possible death.
But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me. 2:17-18
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, Philippians 1:3-4
Convinced of this (further ministry opportunities), I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith… 1:25
make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 2:2
Therefore I have sent Epaphroditus all the more eagerly so that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned about you. Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard…2:28-29
My beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord. 4:1
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. 3:1
In chapter 4, Paul doubled down.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 4:4
He didn’t command them to rejoice out of a vacuum. He instructed them to rejoice IN THE LORD. Rejoice in the context of your identity with the God of the universe. Our connection with the source of all joy stands at the heart of our joy which ought to inspire an external response noticeable to all.
I broke the references down into several categories. Each reference comes with a rich context deserving exploration and meditation. I have categorized a good representative of those references for your further study.
The list is extensive but NOT exhaustive. (Not all 380 references) I urge you to take the time take the time to do your own investigation.
• Clear commands to rejoice
• Personal testimonies of rejoicing
• Joy and rejoicing “triggers” or reasons for rejoicing.