1. Question Restatement :
In Luke 6:21 and 6:25, What is the intended meaning of "to laugh / γελάσετε"?
- James 4:5-5:4 - Instead of laughing - [arrogantly], the person should instead be weeping - [humbly].
- Luke 6:23 - The person should [not] weep, [but rather rejoice] because [justice will come upon] other people [who] laugh [to scorn]*.
- Isaiah 61:1-3 - Laughing = a [gift] for [the] weeping [who are oppressed]
2. The Future and Present Tenses of γελάω - Together With νῦν:
The verbs in this context, are Second Person Plural - because Jesus was directing his comments to two specific groups of people - that were there, (Jesus said: "Now / νῦν").
First: Jesus spoke to those who were Weeping NOW - stating that they WILL Laugh - and then: Jesus commanded them: to rejoice:
Luke 6:21-23 - Blessed are, (μακάριοι) - the ones weeping, (οἱ κλαίοντες) - NOW, (νῦν) - because you all Will Laugh, (ὅτι γελάσετε, future tense). 6:23 - Rejoice!
Then: Jesus spoke to those Laughing NOW - stating that they Will Weep - but: Jesus didn't correct them, (though James does later):
Luke 6:25 - Woe to you all who are laughing, (οὐαί, οἱ γελῶντες, present tense) - NOW, (νῦν) - because you all Will Mourn and Weep, (ὅτι πενθήσετε καὶ κλαύσετε).
2.1. Joyful and Derisive Laughter :
This Context includes Two Senses of "Laughter": εὐφραίνω / שָׂשׂוֹן which is "Laughter in Celebration and Gladness" -
But also, Laughter that is Derisive - which provokes shame and sorrow, (ὀνειδίζω, Luke 6:22)***.
In order to convey both senses of the term in Greek - γελάω would have been a perfect word choice - as it does not necessarily imply a positive, or negative sense.
Therefore if true, this distinction should be seen throughout Scripture: A.) "Coming From Gladness / Joy"; B.) Or, "To Insult / Shame".
2.2. Jesus Explicitly Explained Himself - with a Reference About the Prophets:
Luke 6:23 - Be glad χαίρω - in that day, [their judgment] and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven - *because in in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets, *[laughing at them], (ἐμπαίζοντες ἐν τοῖς προφήταις, 2 Chronicles 36:16)***.
NASB, Prov. 1:22&26 - “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing And fools hate knowledge? I will also laugh, (ἐπιγελάσομαι / אֶשְׂחָ֑ק), at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes.
2.3. James Repeats the Same Commandment, with more Detail:
Jesus, James, and Isaiah - explicitly stated, (repeatedly), that God was condemning the haughty, the scoffers, and oppressors - those who unjustly pursued riches in this life - at the expense of others.
It is apparent that James is writing to correct arrogant laughter - and not prohibiting "laughter and joy", altogether:
James 4:6 - ... “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 4:9. - Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter (γέλως) be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 4:10. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. 5:1 - Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. 5:4 - Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.
2.4. Jesus Referred to Isaiah - Affirming Joy, and Condemning Derision and Oppression:
NASB, Luke 4:18, Citing Isaiah - “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. ... Is. 61:1-3 -To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness [שָׂשׂוֹן֙] instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
NASB, Luke 6:24-26 & Isaiah 65:13-14 - Therefore, thus says the Lord God, “Behold, My servants will eat, but you will be hungry. Behold, My servants will drink, but you will be thirsty. Behold, My servants will rejoice [εὐφρανθήσονται] but you will be put to shame. 14 “Behold, My servants will shout joyfully with a glad heart, But you will cry out with a heavy heart, And you will wail with a broken spirit.
Luke 16:19-25 - 19. “Now there was a rich man, joyous living [εὐφραινόμενος] ... 20 And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, 21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs ... 25. But Abraham,(Isaiah 63:16) said [to the rich man], ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.
NASB, Isaiah 3:14-15 - The Lord enters into judgment with the elders and princes of His people, “It is you who have devoured the vineyard; The plunder of the poor is in your houses. Isaiah 3:15 “What do you mean by crushing My people And grinding the face of the poor?” Declares the Lord God of hosts.
Isaiah 28:12-22 - 12 He who said to them, “Here is rest, give rest to the weary,” ... but they would not listen. 14 Therefore, hear the word of the Lord, O scoffers, Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem, ... do not carry on as scoffers (in celebration) [εὐφρανθείητε / תִּתְלוֹצָ֔צוּ], Or your fetters will be made stronger;
3. The Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic Words for Laugh / γελάω are Incredibly Ambiguous:
Some Terms in this Context:
A.) Laugh - שָׂחַק ; B.) Laugh - צָחַק ; C.) Joy - שָׂשׂוֹן ; D.) Celebrate, Cheer, Laugh - εὐφραίνω and εὐφροσύνη ; E.) Laugh - γελάω and Laughter - γέλως, (Greek Instances in Scripture) ; F.) παίζω, (Greek Instances in Scripture) ; G.) To Shame - ὀνειδίζω; H.) To Rejoice - χαίρω; etc ...
3.1. There are Many Terms in this Context, used Interchangeably:
The same exact Greek AND Hebrew words, in the same exact forms, can either mean "Laughter" in the "Joyous" sense, or "Laughter" in the mocking sense.
"γελάω" is sometimes used synonymously with παίζω, (to laugh / play: in the playful sense, and even musical sense);
The same Hebrew words "שָׂחַק" and "לְצַחֵֽק" are translated into Greek as either "γελάω" or "παίζω";
3.2. The Context, not the Syntax - Clearly Defines the Kind of Laughter:
Genesis 18:12 - Sarah laughed [ἐγέλασεν, וַתִּצְחַ֥ק] within herself, saying, “After I have grown old will I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”
Isaac's name is, "יִצְחָ֑ק" which literally means "To Laugh":
Genesis 21:6 - Sarah said, “God has made me laugh (γέλωτά / צְחֹ֕ק). Everyone who hears will laugh with me (συγχαρεῖταί / יִֽצְחַק־לִֽי).”
1 Chronicles 13:8 - Israel were celebrating [παίζοντες, לְצַחֵֽק] before
NASB, Job 30:1 - than I mock [שָֽׂחֲק֣וּ, (laugh) κατεγέλασάν] me, Whose
Ecclesiastes 3:4 - a time to weep, and a time to laugh [LXX Greek, γελάσαι & לִשְׂח֔וֹק]; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
Ecclesiastes 7:3 - Better is sorrow than laughter, (γέλωτα / מִשְּׂחֹ֑ק), For when a face
Ecclesiastes 10:19 - a meal for enjoyment (εἰς γέλωτα / לִשְׂחוֹק֙) and wine
NASB, Jeremiah 15:17 - I didn’t sit in the assembly of those who make merry [παιζόντων / מְשַׂחֲקִ֖ים], nor rejoiced;
Jeremiah 20:7 - I have become a laughingstock (εἰς γέλωτα / לִשְׂחוֹק֙) all the day
Jeremiah 31:4 - and shall go forth in the dances of those who make merry [ παιζόντων / מְשַׂחֲקִֽים].