My quibble is that enjoying God (along with glorifying God) is not the CHIEF end of humankind. I do not deny humankind, along with the rest of Creation, is intended to enjoy God, but I question whether it is the chief end. Here I look at the Scriptures that the Westminster Catechism assembled in support of their statements, and find them lacking and uncompelling - and indeed they point in a different direction.
Instead, I believe that the chief end of humanity is to represent God to the rest of Creation. And Enjoyment comes as a result of that, and not just to human beings but to all creation.
See the shorter page on this: "To Glorify God and Enjoy Him Forever" - "The Chief End of Man" ?
Some state that the chief end of man to enjoy God implies that God intends humankind to enjoy him, and has provided the rest of Creation solely as a means or resource for humankind to enjoy him. Certainly not! Almost it is the other way round; humankind is the means by which the rest of Creation 'enjoys' or at least experiences something of God. That actually comes from the verses that the Catechism assembles in support of what it says!
Does "end" speak of destiny or intention? While a couple of the verses assembled by the Divines speak of eternal destiny, the rest speak of this life, so are probably about intention - though with a destiny in view.
This is an initial draft, containing notes. But hopefully it will be some value until it is expanded.
A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, [a] and to enjoy him for ever. [b]
Ps. 86:9; "All the nations you have made will come and worship before you O LORD; they will bring glory to your name."
Isa. 60:21; "Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendour."
Rom. 11:36; "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever! Amen."
1 Cor. 6:20; "... you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body."
I Cor. 10:31; "So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
It looks to me as though these verses are not intended to argue for the catechical statement but rather, when people accept it, to remind or stimulate them into thinking of the breadth of its application - to bodies, to eating, drinking and any other activity, to worship, etc. are all aspects of glorifying God.
Rev. 4:11; "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things and by your will they were created and have their being."
Ps. 16:5-11; - This recounts the psalmist's experience and response to God, and it shows joy, esp. in v.9 ("glad"), 11 ("joy ... pleasures") in response to Yahweh God. But does experience imply "chief end"?
Psa 144:15; - "blessed are the people whose god is the LORD" Again, this is a statement of response. It so happens that people blessed when their god, their meaningfulness, is Yahweh, but so is all Creation. Moreover, is blessing identical with joy? There are many passages about blessing not cited here, not least the promise to Abram.
Isa. 12:2; - (I begin with verse 1) "In that day you will say, 'I will praise you O LORD. Although you were angry with me your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation. I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD is my strength and my song; he have become my salvation.'"
Luke 2:10; The promise of the angel to shepherds that he brings "good news of great joy that will be for all people."
Phil. 4:4; "Rejoice always; again I say, Rejoice!" A command (or is it exhortation) to rejoice (in all circumstances).
Rev. 21:3-4 "The dwelling of God is with men and he will live with them ... wipe away all tears ..."
Then I was sent verses from another source (Thanks to Martin Ansdell-Smith).
Psalm 73:25-28. "Whom am I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. ... But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds."
Conclusion: So, we have many references to joy found in Yahweh God, and indeed the experience of many is that being "near God" and to see God at work in justice and love is the deepest and most profound joy a human can experience. But that is different from enjoying God being the chief end or purpose of humankind. I have yet to find a verse that explicitly tells us that, rather than subsequent theologian deducing it from the above verses. Especially when Scripture does indeed provide a clear statement of the purpose of humankind, namely to represent God to the rest of Creation by 'shepherding' it in love and care ((Genesis 1,2), as set out in the companion page to this one.
A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, [a] is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him. [b]
Here are the verses attached to the above statement.
A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, [a] and what duty God requires of man [b].
A. At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory [a], shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment [b], and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God [c] to all eternity [d].
A. The duty which God requireth of man, is obedience to his revealed will [a].
This is explained more clearly in "To Glorify God and Enjoy Him Forever" - "The Chief End of Man" ?
This page, URL= 'http://abxn.org/nv/chief.end.html',
is part of the on-going work in developing a 'New View' in theology and practice that is appropriate to the days that are coming upon us. Comments, queries welcome by emailing
Copyright (c) Andrew Basden to latest date below, but you may use this material subject to certain conditions.
Written on the Amiga with Protext in the style of classic HTML.
Created: 11 September 2020 Last updated: 20 February 2022 link to glorify.enjoy, and some additions to verses. 15 December 2022 Psalm 73:25-28, and Conclusion.