Eudokeo: What Delights God?

Word of the Week

October 21, 2023

Eudokeō: What Delights God?


Therefore I am well content with weaknesses . . . for when I am weak, then I am strong,

 (2 Corinthians 12:10 NASB).


Children teach us how to be delighted.

When our granddaughter was about seven, she constantly got excited about things that I scarcely noticed.  “Look, Grandpa – there’s a rabbit in the back yard!” “Isn’t that flower beautiful!” “Tell me some history – I love history!”

Nothing sharpens your appreciation of God’s goodness like seeing life through the eyes of a child.

Adults, however, tend to approach life with resignation, not delight.  That’s why it seems so odd when the apostle Paul describes his battle with a “thorn in the flesh” and concludes, “I am well content” with this physical ailment that won’t go away.

When he says, “I am well content,” he uses a Greek word that goes far beyond a grudging acceptance.  It describes enthusiastic pleasure or delight.

The word eudokeō was originally constructed from two Greek words: eu, which means “good, well,” and dokeō, which means “to think, seem.”  Put them together, and you get “to think something is good” or something “seems good.”

Eudokeō conveys two ideas.  (1) In secular Greek, it meant “to do something willingly.”  You choose a course of action because you have decided that it is beneficial, worth doing.  You are not forced to do it; you do it because you are convinced it is the best option.  (2) In the New Testament, it gained a second shade of meaning: “to be pleased” with a person or a situation.  You take pleasure in a person or a situation.

Look more closely at this word in the New Testament, and you will notice that some verses tell us what delights God, and others tell us what should delight people like us.

  1. What pleases God?
  • The Father was pleased with the Son. On two occasions, a voice from heaven declared “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  This occurred at the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22) and at His transfiguration (Matthew 17:5; 2 Peter 1:17).
  • God is NOT pleased with:
    1. The rebellious Israelites in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:5).
    2. Those who would shrink back from their faith (Hebrews 10:38).
    3. Mere sacrifices and offerings (Hebrews 10:6, 8).
  • God willingly chooses to do certain things:
  1. He chooses to give the kingdom to His flock (Luke 12:32).
  2. He chose to save people by the apparent foolishness of preaching (1 Corinthians 1:21).
  3. He was delighted to have all the fulness of the Godhead dwell in Christ (Colossians 1:19).
  4. He willingly revealed His Son to Paul so that he could preach Him to the Gentiles (Galatians 1:15).

Here’s a basic principle of life:  Whatever pleases God should please me! Therefore, let’s ask a second question:

  1. What should please people like us?

The other uses of eudokeō tell us what was exciting for someone like Paul.

  • Paul willingly shared his life with the Thessalonians believers (1 Thessalonians 2:8). In fact, he was perfectly willing to remain by himself while he sent Timothy to see how they were doing (1 Thessalonians 3:1).
  • The Christians in Macedonia and Achaia freely chose to take up an offering for the impoverished believers in Jerusalem (Romans 15:26-27).
  • Wicked people take pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:12).
  • Paul was thrilled by the idea of being absent from the body and present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

And in the verse we mentioned earlier, he came to the place where he willingly embraced his physical weakness.  He went beyond merely resigning himself to it.  No, he chose to view it as a gift from God.  He would have applauded the advice in James 1:2 – “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.”

Paul was no masochist.  He didn’t enjoy pain any more than you or I do.  But he had caught a bigger vision, so that he could see the eternal result of his ailment.  It was an avenue by which God would enable Paul to operate with God’s power, rather than his own abilities.  Physical frailty was a small price to pay for spiritual power!

That’s one of the secrets of life – learning to be delighted with the things that delight the Lord.

Study Hint:

Eudokeō appears 20 times in the New Testament and it is worth your time to look up each of these references:

Matthew 3:17; 12:18; 17:5; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22; 12:32; Romans 15:26-27; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 10:5; 2 Corinthians 5:8; 12:10; Galatians 1:15; Colossians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 2:8; 3:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:12; Hebrews 10:6.

You can also look up the noun counterpart, eudokia:

Luke 10:21; Romans 10:1; Ephesians 1:5, 9; Philippians 1:15; 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:11.

Pay close attention to the subject (who is being pleased) and object (what pleases him) in each verse.


Q – In Titus 2:1, Paul tells his associate Titus to teach “the things that become sound doctrine”?  What is that all about?

A – “Become” is the way this verse reads in the King James version, but this translation is easy to misunderstand.  Paul uses a Greek word that means “things that are fitting for / appropriate to” healthy doctrine.  The King James translators were using “become” in the same way we might say, “That dress is quite becoming on you.”  Paul was really telling Titus to teach things that go well with the gospel that we proclaim.  What are those things?  He goes on in the next few verses to detail a long list of character qualities that Christians should possess.  If we have the truth about God, we should act like it.  That’s the best kind of healthy teaching!


Coming Up

In an age of divisive conflicts, people often cite the need for reconciliation between warring factions.  That’s true, and we can go to the Bible to learn what God says about reconciliation.  Next week we will study the Greek words for true reconciliation.

©Ezra Project 2023

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