There is a huge difference between joy and happiness.
The root of the word hap piness is “hap” which means : luck, fate, chance.
Happiness is dependent upon chance circumstances .
Joy on the other hand is not dependent on circumstances and runs much deeper than shallow happiness.
People today are consumed by the passionate pursuit of happiness .
When their job, relationship, house or church fails to make them happy , they dump it and look for a new one.
Having fruitlessly pursued happiness through pleasure and self-gratification, they arrive at the jaded view of life expressed by the Preacher in Eccl 1:2:
"Vanity of vanities! All is vanity." But if happiness , the fleeting feeling of exhilaration, is elusive – joy is not.
Biblical joy - the settled conviction that God controls the events of life for the believers' good and for His glory, and that He is available to all who obey Him.
One definition of joy is: the exultation of my inward being when I am in harmony with God and with others. Jesus was not happy as He hung on the cross but He did have joy .
“ fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
God commands believers to rejoice : Philippians 2:18; 3:1; 4:4; 1Thess 5:16 “ rejoice always” & 2 Cor 13:11.
” Finally, brethren, rejoice , be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11
That divine joy is the theme of Philippians!
The Greek word for joy , in both its noun and verb forms, appears more than a dozen times in Philippians. (1:4,18,25; 2:2,17,18,28,29; 3:1; 4:1,4,10).
The circumstances of both the writer and the recipients of this brief epistle were not those that would be expected to produce joy nor happiness.
When Paul wrote this letter to his beloved Philippian congregation, he was a prisoner at Mamertine prison in Rome.
Little in his tumultuous life since his dramatic conversion on the Damascus Road three decades earlier would have been expected to produce joy .
He had faced fierce and unrelenting opposition, both from Gentiles and from his unbelieving Jewish countrymen. 2 Cor 11:23-30
He had faced fierce and unrelenting opposition, both from Gentiles and from his unbelieving Jewish countrymen. 2 Cor 11:23-28
23 ”Are they servants of Christ? I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death.
24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.
26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;
27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.” 2 Cor 11:23-28
Immediately after his conversion, Paul's bold, fearless proclamation of the Gospel aroused the ire of Damascus's Jewish population. They sought to kill him, and he was forced to flee the city by being lowered from the city wall at night in a basket (Acts 9:20-25).
Later he was forced to flee from Iconium (Acts 14:5-6); was pelted with stones and left for dead at Lystra (Acts 14:19-20); was beaten and thrown into jail at Philippi (Acts 16:16-40); was forced to flee from Thessalonica after his preaching touched off a riot (Acts 17:5-9); went from there to Berea,
from where he was also forced to flee (Acts 17:13-14); was mocked and ridiculed by Greek philosophers at Athens (Acts 17:16-34); was hauled before the Roman proconsul at Corinth (Acts 18:12-17); and faced both Jewish opposition (Acts 19:9; cf. 20:18-19) and rioting Gentiles at Ephesus (Acts 19:21-41; cf. 1 Cor 15:32).
As he was about to sail from Greece to Palestine, a Jewish plot against his life forced him to change his travel plans (Acts 20:3). On the way to Jerusalem, he met the Ephesian elders at Miletus and declared to them,
"Bound in spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me “. Acts 20:22-23
When he got to Jerusalem, he was recognized in the temple by Jews from Asia Minor, savagely beaten by a frenzied mob, and saved from certain death when Roman soldiers arrived on the scene and arrested him (Acts 21:27-36).
While Paul was in custody at Jerusalem, the Jews formed yet another plot against his life, prompting the Roman commander to send him under heavy guard to the governor at Caesarea (Acts 23:12-35).
After his case dragged on without resolution for two years and two Roman governors, Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen and appealed to Caesar(Acts 25:10-11).
After an eventful trip, which included being shipwrecked in a violent storm, Paul arrived at Rome (Acts 27; 28).
As he wrote Philippians, the apostle was in his fourth year of Roman custody, awaiting Emperor Nero's final decision in his case.
The Philippian church also had its share of problems. Its members were desperately poor, so much so that Paul was surprised at their contribution to the offering he was collecting for the poor in Jerusalem (2 Cor 8:1-5).
Like Paul, they were being persecuted for the cause of Christ (1:27-30). Worse, they were being attacked by false teachers (3:2,18-19).
On top of everything else, a feud between two prominent women in the congregation threatened to shatter the unity of the church (4:2-3; cf. 2:1-4,14).
“ Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” Philippians 2:14
Yet despite the circumstances of both writer and recipients, joy permeates Philippians, so much so that it may be called "the epistle of joy ."
R. C. H. Lenski wrote, " Joy is the music that runs through this epistle, the sunshine that spreads over all of it. The whole epistle radiates joy” .
Those who study its teaching and apply its principles will, like its human author, learn the secret of having joy , peace, and contentment in every circumstance (4:10-13).
10 ”But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before , but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
1 2 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philip 4:10-13
THE CITY OF PHILIPPI Philippi was an important city in eastern Macedonia (northeastern Greece). Philippi owed its importance in ancient times to its strategic location (it commanded the land route to Asia Minor).
In Paul's day the important Roman road known as the Via Egnatia ran through Philippi. The city was also important because of the gold mines in the nearby mountains.
It was those gold mines that attracted the interest of Philip II of Macedon (the father of Alexander the Great). He annexed the region in 356 B.C. renaming it Philippi ("city of Philip") after himself.
After the Romans conquered Macedonia in the second century B.C., Philippi was incorporated into the Roman province of that name.
The city languished in relative obscurity for more than a century, until in 42 B.C. it became the site of one of the most crucial battles in Roman history.
In that battle, known to history as the battle of Philippi, the forces of Antony and Octavian ("Caesar Augustus"; Luke 2:1) defeated the republican forces of Brutus and Cassius.
The battle marked the end of the Roman republic and the beginning of the empire (the senate declared Octavian emperor in 29 B.C., after he defeated Antony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium in 31 B.C.).
Antony and Octavian settled many of their army veterans at Philippi, which was given the coveted status of a Roman colony (Acts 16:12). Later, other Roman army veterans settled there.
As a colony, Philippi had the same legal status as cities in Italy. Citizens of Philippi were Roman citizens, were exempt from paying certain taxes, and were not subject to the authority of the provincial governor.
The Philippians copied Roman architecture and style of dress, their coins bore Roman inscriptions, and Latin was the city's official language (although Greek was also spoken).
THE CHURCH AT PHILIPPI The Philippian church was the first church Paul founded in Europe. The apostle came to Philippi on his second missionary journey, being directed there by the Holy Spirit in a most dramatic way:
A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the Gospel to them. (Acts 16:9-10)
Though the initial converts were Jews or Jewish proselytes (Acts 16:13-15), Gentiles made up the majority of the congregation. That there was no synagogue in Philippi is evidence that the city's Jewish population was small.
Two dramatic conversions, those of the wealthy proselyte Lydia (Acts 16:13-15) and the jailor (Acts 16:25-34), marked the church's birth.
These were the first European Christians. Christianity spread from Philippi throughout Europe and then to the USA. God had a different time schedule for spreading the Gospel to the Far East.
The Philippians had a deep affection for Paul, as he did for them. Though they were poor, they alone supported him financially at one stage of his ministry (4:15).
Now, after many years, the saints at Philippi had once again sent the apostle a generous gift in his time of need. Paul penned this letter to his beloved Philippian congregation to thank them for their generous gift (4:10-19),
explain why he was sending Epaphroditus back to them (2:25-30), inform them of his circumstances (1:12-26), and warn them about the danger of false teachers (3:2,18-19).
DATE AND PLACE OF WRITING Paul wrote Philippians, along with Colossians, Ephesians, and Philemon, from prison. The four Prison Epistles were written during the apostle's imprisonment at Rome (Acts 28:14-31). Paul wrote Philippians near the end of his first Roman imprisonment ( A.D. 61).
The Epistle of Joy Philippians 1:1-2 “ Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
We live in a generally sad world, a fallen world well acquainted with despair, depression, disappointment, dissatisfaction, and a longing for lasting happiness that often never comes to pass.
Moments of pleasure and satisfaction are scattered through the general pain and sorrow of life. Many people have little hope that their situation in life will ever change much, if any, for the better.
Hopelessness tends to increase with age. Long years of life often become long years of sorrow, unfulfillment, loss of loved ones and friends, and often physical limitations and pain.
Such decreasing times of happiness tend to produce a morbid sadness and lessening satisfaction with life. Most people define happiness as an attitude of satisfaction or delight based on positive circumstances largely beyond their control.
Happiness, therefore, cannot be planned or programmed, much less guaranteed. It is experienced only if and when circumstances are favorable. It is therefore elusive and uncertain.
Spiritual joy , on the other hand, is not an attitude dependent on chance or circumstances . It is the deep and abiding confidence that, regardless of one's circumstances in life, all is well between the believer and the Lord.
All is well – IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL
No matter what difficulty, pain, disappointment, failure, rejection, or other challenge one is facing, genuine joy remains because of that eternal well-being established by God's grace in salvation.
Thus, Scripture makes it clear that the fullest, most lasting and satisfying joy is derived from a true relationship with God. It is not based on circumstances or chance, but is the gracious and permanent possession of every child of God.
Therefore it is not surprising that joy is an important New Testament theme. The verb rejoice (chairo) appears ninety-six times in the New Testament (including those times when it is used as a greeting) and the noun joy (chara) another fifty-nine times.
The two words (chairo and chara) appear thirteen times in Philippians. A Biblical theology of joy includes many features.
First , joy is a gift from God. David declared, "You have put gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety" (Ps 4:7-8)
"You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy ; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever." Ps 16:11
Second , God grants joy to those who believe the Gospel. Announcing Christ's birth to the shepherds, the angel said, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11).
Jesus told His disciples, "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full." (John 15:11) Christ came to proclaim a Gospel that would give true supernatural joy to those who receive Him as Savior and Lord.
Third , joy is produced by God the Holy Spirit. "For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking," Paul said, "but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Rom 14:17
In his letter to the Galatian churches, the apostle wrote, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy , peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." Gal 5:22-23
Fourth , joy is experienced most fully as believers receive and obey God's Word. The prophet Jeremiah exulted, "Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts." Jer 15:16
The apostle John wrote his first letter so that, among other things, his readers' " joy may be made complete." 1 John 1:4
Fifth , believers' joy is deepened through trials. The full reality of j oy is experienced when it is contrasted with sadness, sorrow, and difficulties. "You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit." 1 Thess 1:6
In his second letter to the believers at Corinth, Paul spoke of being "sorrowful yet always rejoicing " (2 Cor 6:10). James counseled believers to " consider it all joy , my brethren, when you encounter various trials" (James 1:2), and Peter encouraged them with these words:
“ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away,
reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice , even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials.” 1 Peter 1:3-6