What is man's chief end? Questions.

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Puritan Board Doctor
It is man's chief end to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

What does man's chief "end" mean? There are two interpretations in mind: our end being a final destination (thus, in heaven where we will glorify and enjoy the Lord forever) or end being purposeful action (thus, even here in this life we strive to glorify and enjoy God--and we will do so forever).
What is the best interpretation?

Second question.
Are glorifying God and enjoying Him forever separate or appositional? Are we to see them as the exact same action, ultimately?

Thank you.


Arbitrary Moderation
1. As Fisher's catechism explains:
Q. 1. What is meant by man's chief end?

A. That which ought to be man's chief aim and design; and that which he should seek after as his chief happiness.​

End "chiefly" indicates, here, the command for man, or what his intention ought to be.

2. I posted here a while back a section from Ursinus' Loci Theologici; Ursinus' theology was quite influential among the English theologians, and I think this provides good insight into the relationship between the two clauses of the answer.

jason d

Puritan Board Freshman
Are glorifying God and enjoying Him forever separate or appositional? Are we to see them as the exact same action, ultimately?

This from the intro of "Desiring God" by Pastor John Piper:

You might turn the world on its head by changing one word in your creed. The old tradition says,

The chief end of man is to glorify God
enjoy him forever.​

"And"? Like ham and eggs? Sometimes you glorify God and sometimes you enjoy him? Sometimes he gets glory, sometimes you get joy? "And" is a very ambiguous word! Just how do these two things relate to each other?

Evidently the old theologians didn't think they were talking about two things. They said "chief end," not "chief ends." Glorifying God and enjoying him were one end in their minds, not two. How can that be?

That's what this book is about.

Not that I care too much about the intention of seventeenth century theologians. But I care tremendously about the intention of God in Scripture. What does God have to say about the chief end of man? How does God teach us to give him glory? Does he command us to enjoy him? If so, how does this quest for joy in God relate to everything else? Yes, everything! "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

The overriding concern of this book is that in all of life God be glorified the way he himself has appointed. To that end this book aims to persuade you that

The chief end of man is to glorify God
enjoying him forever.​
- Desiring God


Puritanboard Commissioner
Westminster Larger Catechsim

Q. 1. What is the chief and highest end of man?

A. Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God,[1] and fully to enjoy him forever.[2]

[1] Romans 11:36. For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. 1 Corinthians 10:31. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

[2] Psalm 73:24-28. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works. John 17:21-23. That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

The Scripture proofs show the end is man's essential purpose (to love His God, proven out by obedience)

It seems glorify is to seek His will in every situation, whereas enjoyment is the use of the relationship that God has given man. They are related, but not exactly the same thing.

An imperfect analogy might be, as a child, I may not always seek to obey to my (earthly) father yet still enjoy the benefits of being my (earthly) father's son.


Puritan Board Graduate
"The chief end of man is .... to enjoy Him forever.
The Scripture referenced for this is Psalm 73:24-28. This seems to be a bit weak. Is there any clearer support from Scripture for this half of the answer? No doubt enjoying God forever is a certainty for the believer but is it a chief end in the same sense as glorifying Him is?


Tempus faciendi, Domine.
[For the record, Bob, I meant not to thank, but to quote. My error. But you can keep it anyway. :)]

That is of course just one Scripture reference. Another would be John 17:22,
24. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one... Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

See also Fisher's Catechism, which provides a host of other references and which also does a great job of dissecting the question into various parts.
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Puritan Board Sophomore
This topic is developed more fully in God's Passion for His Glory by Piper and is published in the same cover with Johnathan Edwards' The End to Which God Created The World. I must say this volume has had a great influence upon my understanding of God and upon my world view. It all boils down to "soli deo gloria"! :sing:
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