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"To Glorify God and Enjoy Him Forever"
- "The Chief End of Man" ?

This statement from the Westminster Shorter Catechism is very well known, and so well-crafted that it has a delightful rhythm that helps us remember it.

Question: "What is the chief end of Man?"
Answer: "The chief end of Man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."

But is it true? I find nowhere in Scripture where it says our chief end (our chief meaningfulness, our chief purpose, mandate, destiny) as human beings and humanity as a whole, is enjoying God. Scripture does say fairly clearly that part of our "chief end" is to glorify God, and it is clear that God in fact our chief joy. But that is not the same as saying that these are, on their own and solely, our chief end. In fact, Scripture seems pretty clear that something else is our chief end.

Scripture tells us clearly in the first chapter of Genesis that the chief mandate why God created human beings was that we shall 'shepherd' Creation as God would, and thus represent ("image") God to the rest of Creation (Genesis 1:26-28). It is repeated, with slightly different emphasis, in Chapter 2. That, to me, is our "chief end".

(Note: "Man" here refers to both man and woman equally; both are given "rulership".) When we image and represent God to the rest of Creation, it experiences something of God, especially God's self-sacrificing agape love. Then it responds with joy, in ways it was designed to work and, in the process, it returns gifts to humanity. Enjoying God comes as a result of that - a virtuous circle of joy, in which all Creatures praise and "enjoy" the Creator together, and this glorifies God.

And this is intended to be so "forever", in the New Earth and Heavens.


Question: "What is the chief end of Man?"
Answer: "The chief end of Man is to glorify God
by representing God to the rest of Creation,
and shepherding it, forever

As we, who are Christ's, allow the Holy Spirit grow the attitude of Christ in us, so the Creation recognises us as the "sons" of God that it has been eagerly waiting for, and environmental issues can at last become resolved, as well as justice issues (Romans 8, Galatians 5:22-23). Our attitude and mindset will be that of Christ, not of our selfish proud selves (Romans 12:2-3; Philippians 2:5-11; I Corinthians 2:16).

That is the "chief end of Man", which the Lord Jesus Christ died to make possible and to fulfil. May He do so! May we allow Him to do so. May we bring glory to His Name by putting aside our small ambitions and selfish interests and serve the rest of Creation, as God intended in Genesis 1.

See Also

This page, URL= "", 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

Compiled by Andrew Basden as part of his reflections from a Christian perspective. Copyright (c) Andrew Basden to latest date below, but you may use this material for almost any purpose, but subject to certain conditions.

Written on the Amiga with Protext in the style of classic HTML.

Created: 20 February 2022. Last updated: 13 December 2022 some rewording of first few paragraphs to make them clearer.