The Bible teaches that God created human beings with a specific purpose in mind. Here is an overview of the key biblical teachings on the purpose of human life:
To have a relationship with God
The Bible makes it clear that human beings were created first and foremost to be in relationship with God. Genesis 1:27 says that God created mankind “in his own image.” Being made in the image of God means that humans are relational beings, just as God is relational within the Trinity. We are made to connect with God intimately and experience His love (1 John 4:7-21). Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37). Our primary purpose in life is to know, love and worship God.
To rule over creation
In Genesis 1:28, God commands Adam and Eve to “fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Humans are meant to steward and rule over God’s creation as His representatives on earth. We are to use our God-given abilities to manage the earth’s resources wisely and care for all creatures (Psalm 8:6-8). Work is a big part of our purpose.
To obey God’s commands
God gave Adam and Eve specific instructions in the Garden of Eden, such as not eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17). Deuteronomy 10:12-13 says that God requires obedience to His commands as part of our purpose. Jesus also taught that obeying God’s word is crucial for those who love Him (John 14:15). An essential aspect of our purpose is living in alignment with God’s standards.
To reflect God’s character
Being made in God’s image also implies that humans are called to reflect the moral attributes of God, such as love, mercy, justice, holiness, faithfulness and kindness. Jesus told his disciples, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). As God transforms us by the renewing work of the Holy Spirit, our purpose is to increasingly bear the fruit of His Spirit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).
To accomplish good works
Passages like Ephesians 2:10 say that God created us to do good works which He prepared in advance for us. Using our gifts and abilities to serve God and others is a core component of our purpose. We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). In serving others, we express God’s love. Jesus also calls us to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19), which is part of our purpose.
To be ambassadors for Christ
Second Corinthians 5:20 declares that followers of Jesus are Christ’s ambassadors here on earth. An ambassador represents the interests and values of their home country while living abroad. As children of God, our purpose is to represent the kingdom of heaven on earth, pointing people to salvation in Christ through how we live and what we say (Matthew 5:16). We do this empowered by the Holy Spirit.
To spread the gospel
The Great Commission that Jesus gave His disciples was to “go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). As those who have experienced the saving message of Jesus ourselves, we are responsible for sharing the gospel with others. This is an integral part of every believer’s purpose (Romans 10:14-15). We are called to make disciples of Jesus wherever we go.
To defeat the works of the devil
First John 3:8 says that “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” Along with proclaiming truth, part of our purpose is fighting against evil, injustice and moral decay in this world. Although Satan has been defeated by Christ’s work on the cross, he still wages war. As Christians, we are equipped by the Spirit to stand against his schemes and demolish spiritual strongholds (Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
To walk by the Spirit
Galatians 5:16 commands the believer to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Being led, empowered and controlled by the Holy Spirit should be the norm for every Christian. The Spirit transforms us to align more with Christ, which is key to fulfilling our purpose. Saying no to sin is essential, but we must also pursue intimate relationship with the Spirit.
To help accomplish God’s will
The Lord’s prayer instructs us to pray for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). Part of our mission is partnering with God to see His purposes accomplished on the earth before Christ returns. We help fulfill God’s plans through our prayers, our words, our actions and by the spiritual gifts He has given us.
To use our gifts
Scripture explains that every Christian is given spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit to strengthen the church and serve others (1 Corinthians 12:7). Using the unique abilities God has given us for building up others and advancing His Kingdom is an important aspect of living purposefully according to the Bible. We must steward our gifts well.
To be conformed to Christ’s image
Romans 8:29 tells us God has predestined his people to be conformed to the image of Christ. This Christlikeness is a process that takes place through the renewing work of the Spirit throughout our lives. Becoming more like Jesus in our character, conduct and values is a major part of our purpose and destiny as believers.
To seek heavenly rewards
At the judgment seat of Christ, there will be rewards given to Christians based on how they lived their lives on earth (2 Corinthians 5:9-10). Jesus told parables about faithful servants being rewarded for their work and stewardship while waiting for their master (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27). Scripture encourages believers to live purposefully in light of eternal rewards.
To prepare for eternity
While we live on this earth as sojourners and exiles (1 Peter 2:11), storing up treasure in heaven rather than earthly things should be our mindset (Matthew 6:19-21). Our conduct should reflect the reality that this world is temporary and eternity awaits. Living in light of the eternal state to come shapes our values, priorities, labor, lifestyle and purpose.
In summary, the Bible presents a multi-faceted perspective on why human beings exist and what our purpose is. We were created by God and for God. Loving God, obeying His Word, representing His reign, accomplishing His will, spreading the gospel, defeating evil, being led by the Spirit, using our gifts, being conformed to Christ, seeking heavenly rewards and preparing for eternity provide a biblical framework for purpose.