The Chief End of Man

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

WHY DID GOD CREATE US? For what purpose? The Westminster Shorter Catechism answers, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

Speaking originally of the scattered exiles of Israel whom God promised to redeem, Isaiah 43:6–7 agrees:

I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.

In the first chapter of Genesis we don’t read that man was created for God’s glory, but in God’s image. What’s the difference? Not much. As Sinclair Ferguson has noted, “In Scripture, image and glory are interrelated ideas. As the image of God, man was created to reflect, express, and participate in the glory of God, in miniature, creaturely form.” The Heidelberg Catechism agrees, “God created man good, and after his own image, in true righteousness and holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love him and live with him in eternal happiness to glorify and praise him.”

God created human beings in his image so that they would glorify him by rightly representing him. In other words, the more we resemble God, the better we honor him. With this in mind, look at Genesis 1:26–27.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Human beings were God’s crowning achievement in creation. We alone are made in God’s image, after his likeness. Our creation alone was prefaced with the transcript of God’s consultation within himself: “Let us make man in our image.” For the creation of everything else Scripture simply records God’s words, “Let there be … and it was so.” But man and woman were different. We were designed and commissioned by God with a special assignment in creation: to display God. As the early church father Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God.”

Reflection Questions

  • What does it mean to be created for God’s glory?
  • Does your life display God?
  • What do you think Irenaeus meant in saying “The glory of God is man fully alive”?


Great God of the Universe, To be created in your image and made for your glory is an inconceivable wonder, an inestimable privilege! Help me to grasp the special dignity that you have given to me as your image-bearer. Help me to display your glory in my life today. Amen.

From To Be Like Jesus: 40 Meditations for Your Journey Toward Christlikeness by Brian G. Hedges

Shepherd Press