Is the purpose of life directly and explicitly addressed in the New Testament? Most of the citations I found are implicit at best.

  • Is there any particular reason to limit this to the New Testament? Ecclesasties 12:13 has an explicit statement to the purpose of life. It helps if you read the preceding chapters to put this verse in context, or at least chapter 1 to get a sense of how the author is lamenting how everything is meaningless - that he doesn't know the meaning and purpose of life. May 5, 2017 at 5:50
  • I think this question is too broad. What is the purpose of life? I like the answer @JamesShewey provided. Also, do you mean our individual purpose, or mankind's purpose?
    – Cannabijoy
    May 5, 2017 at 6:26
  • Last I checked, Christians were supposed to read the whole Bible. Why are you limiting the scope of the question to the NT? What's the reason for that limitation? (If you explain that, it might make your question more clear) May 6, 2017 at 4:22

5 Answers 5


Here are just a handful of New Testament verses relating to life purpose (based on Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life):

Revelation 4:11 (NLT): “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.

Hebrews 2:10A (NCV): God is the One who made all things, and all things are for his glory. He wanted to have many children share his glory

Colossians 1:15 (MSG): We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created.

John 17:4 (MSG): I glorified you on earth by completing down to the last detail what you assigned me to do.

Acts 20:24 (NCV): The most important thing is that I complete my mission, the work that the Lord Jesus gave me — to tell people the Good News about God’s grace.

These respectfully correspond to the 5 purposes that we've been given (based on the book mentioned above):

  1. You were planned for God's pleasure
  2. You were formed for God's family
  3. You were created to become like Christ
  4. You were shaped for serving God
  5. You were made for a mission

The verses above are, of course, a very incomplete list. There are apparently 350 references to the Bible in The Purpose Driven Life which point to many more verses.

It's well worth the read for any that are interested in a more complete answer to the question of purpose from a Christian worldview, and it includes a great number of verses to support it.


God's purposes are eternal, therefore I believe the following is most relevant:

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. - John 17:3 NIV

This by no means excludes the other answers but is complementary to them, however seeking and repenting are very much time-bound activities, their fulfillment (true purpose) is in finding and abiding in Him.


In Acts 17:26-28, Paul is in Athens preaching the gospel. The Apostle says that God created humans from one blood and they are placed around the world so that they may seek the Lord and come to repentance. This appears to be one of the closest examples of the meaning of life from the New Testament. I can't say this is explicit, but it gets pretty close.

  • I had thought of 1 Timothy 2:4, but I really like the text you recalled. Thank you.
    – guest37
    May 5, 2017 at 13:23

When a scribe asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus' answer quoted a law that expressed our whole purpose in life: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:34-40.)

Unfortunately, people believe the laws in the Bible are to make a person righteous. Not so; rather, they are expressions of love to God and man; they tell us the many ways we can express love. This is our purpose: to love God and others.

A more explicit declaration of life purpose (using the phrase "whole duty of man") can be found in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14:

"Let us hear the conclusion of of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret things, whether it is good or whether it is evil."

So, because we will be judged in the end, our purpose is to live in such a way as to pass such judgment. As noted here, that involves keeping God's laws, all of which are summed up in the Matthew passage quoted above.

  • Matthew 22:34-40 can be seen as the purpose of life only if you first accept that the purpose of life is to worship God. So it seems that Matthew 22:34-40 is not explicit.
    – Sparkler
    May 5, 2017 at 12:17
  • Where does it say "worship"?
    – Steve
    May 5, 2017 at 13:35
  • it doesn't, you're right; however, "Jesus replied: 'Love...'", which is a great Divine command, but that says nothing explicit about the purpose of life.
    – Sparkler
    May 5, 2017 at 13:43
  • @Sparkler Any "purpose of life" that contradicts what Jesus said here will be wrong by definition.
    – Steve
    May 5, 2017 at 23:00
  • @Sparkler I added a more explicit declaration of purpose. Hope it finds favor in your eyes.
    – Steve
    May 6, 2017 at 0:35

Paul states the purpose of (man's) life succinctly in his first epistle to Timothy (2:4): it is to be saved, and to come unto knowledge of the truth. This verse actually refers to God's desire for man, so one has to accept that God's purpose for our life is, in fact, its true purpose.

This is a simple verse, but Christian believers have widely differing views - some even based on the same Scriptures - as to what salvation entails and how exactly one comes unto knowledge of the truth. But I think the verse in 1 Timothy is probably the most straightforward New Testament Scripture that addresses the purpose of life.

  • Is it correct to assume that God's commands are identical to God's purpose for our life?
    – Sparkler
    May 5, 2017 at 13:55
  • There are actually no commands in 1 Timothy 2:4. It simply states what God desires for man.
    – guest37
    May 5, 2017 at 15:36
  • @Sparkler Why do you think "identical" is a necessary condition? What or whom are you trying to pigeon hole, or win an argument with? May 6, 2017 at 4:24
  • @KorvinStarmast if God's commands/desires are given as an answer to man's purpose, the "hidden" (?) assumption is that God's commands are man's purpose. However, it is very easy to imagine one follows God's commands without seeing them as the primary purpose in life; one's purpose can be science, for example, in addition to following God's commands.
    – Sparkler
    May 6, 2017 at 19:21
  • As I mentioned, I don't think my answer has anything to do with any commands given by God. In the Orthodox Christian view, however, commandments given by God are seen as being analogous to prescriptions given by a doctor. Following them is not in itself our purpose, but following them enables us to live according to our true purpose. Personally, I don't think that it is wrong for someone seeking the right path in life to ask why we should follow God's commandments. Many people reject God because they are simply waived off with an answer like, "Because if you don't, you will go to hell."
    – guest37
    May 6, 2017 at 19:45

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