The Chief End of Man

An excerpt from B. B. Warfield’s article, “The First Question of the Westminster ‘Shorter Catechism,’” from The Princeton Theological Review (October 1908), pages 583–87:

The peculiarity of this first question and answer of the Westminster Catechisms, it will be seen, is the felicity with which it brings to concise expression the whole Reformed conception of the significance of human life. We say the whole Reformed conception. For justice is not done that conception if we say merely that man’s chief end is to glorify God. That certainly: and certainly that first. But according to the Reformed conception man exists not merely that God may be glorified in him, but that he may delight in this glorious God. It does justice to the subjective as well as to the objective side of the case.

The Reformed conception is not fully or fairly stated if it be so stated that it may seem to be satisfied with conceiving man merely as the object on which God manifests His glory — possibly even the passive object in and through which the Divine glory is secured. It conceives man also as the subject in which the gloriousness of God is perceived and delighted in. No man is truly Reformed in his thought, then, unless he conceives of man not merely as destined to be the instrument of the Divine glory, but also as destined to reflect the glory of God in his own consciousness, to exult in God: nay, unless he himself delights in God as the all-glorious One.

Read the great Reformed divines. The note of their work is exultation in God. How Calvin, for example, gloried and delighted in God! Every page rings with this note, the note of personal joy in the Almighty, known to be, not the all-wise merely, but the all-loving too. . . .

It is not, however, Calvin who first strikes this note, and there is another in whose thought God is even more constantly present — Calvin’s master, Augustine. This is the burden, for example, of Augustine’s Confessions, and its classical expression is to be found in that great sentence which sums up the whole of the Confessions’ teaching: “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord: and our heart is restless till it finds its rest in Thee.” For there is nothing the soul can need which it cannot find in God. “Let God,” he exhorts in another of those great sentences which stud his pages — “Let God be all in all to thee, for in Him is the entirety of all that thou lovest.” And then, elaborating the idea, he proceeds: “God is all in all to thee: if thou dost hunger He is thy bread; if thou dost thirst He is thy drink; if thou art in darkness, He is thy light; . . . if thou art naked, He is thy garment of immortality, when this corruption shall put on incorruption and this mortal shall put on immortality.”

Delight in God, enjoyment of God — this is the recurrent refrain of all Augustine’s speech of God: delight in God here, enjoyment of God forever. Would he know the way of life — in words which his great pupil was to repeat after him, he tells us we must come to know God and ourselves, God in His love that we may not despair, ourselves in our unworthiness that we may not be proud. And would we knew what the goal is — what is that but the eternal enjoyment of this God of love? . . .

The distinction of the opening question and answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is that it moves on this high plane and says all this in the compressed compass of a dozen felicitous words: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” Not to enjoy God, certainly, without glorifying Him, for how can He to whom glory inherently belongs be enjoyed without being glorified? But just as certainly not to glorify God without enjoying Him — for how can He whose glory is His perfections be glorified if He be not also enjoyed?

The Temple of Eden

In his book The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God, Greg Beale argues that the Garden of Eden was the first archetypal temple. He provides 14 conceptual and linguistic parallels between Eden and future tabernacle/temple structures.

Here are my brief summaries of his major points.

1. The Garden as the unique place of God’s presence. Eden was the place where God walked back and forth with man, paralleled this with later references to the Tabernacle (Gen. 3:8 with Lev. 26:12, Deut. 23:14; 2 Sam. 7:6–7).

2. The Garden as the place of the first priest. Adam was placed in the garden to “cultivate and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). Taken alone, “cultivation” has obvious agricultural meaning. But this pair of terms (“cultivate/keep” also translated “serve/guard”) is used elsewhere in the OT to describe the work of the priest (Num. 3:7–8; 8:25–26; 18:5–6; 1 Chr. 23:32; Ezek. 44:14). Thus “the task of Adam in Genesis 2:15 included more than mere spadework in the dirt of a garden. It is apparently that priestly obligations in Israel’s later temple included the duty of ‘guarding’ unclean things from entering (cf. Num. 3:6–7, 32, 38; 18:1–7), and this appears to be relevant for Adam, especially in view of the unclean creature lurking on the perimeter of the Garden and who then enters” (69).

3. The Garden as the place of the first guarding cherubim. After sin was introduced into the garden, Adam and Eve are barred from the tree of life by cherubim. This reveals that Adam’s work included more than gardening — he was to protect the garden from evil and uncleanness (Gen. 3:24 with Ex. 25:18–22; 1 Kgs. 6:29-35, 8:6–7; Ezek. 28:14–16, 41:18).

4. The Garden as the place of the first arboreal lampstand. Likely, the Tree of Life provides the model for the lampstand placed directly outside the holy of holies (Ex. 25:31–36).

5. The Garden as formative for garden imagery in Israel’s temple. Temple references in the OT possess botanical, garden-like features (1 Kgs. 6:18, 29, 32; 7:20–26, 42, 47; Zech. 1:8–11; Ps. 74:3–7; 52:8; 92:13–15; Lam. 2:6; Isa. 60:13, 21).

6. The Garden as the first source of water. Like Eden, the eschatological temples feature a source of water (Gen. 2:10 with Ezek. 47:1–12; Rev. 21:1–2).

7. The Garden as the place of precious stones. Note the correlation between precious stones in Eden and the building materials of the later tabernacle and temple (Gen. 2:12 with 1 Kgs. 6:20–22, Ex. 25:7, 11–39; 28:6–27; 1 Chr. 29:2).

8. The Garden as the place of the first mountain. Eden was situated upon a mountain (Ezek. 28:14, 16) just like Mount Zion (Ex. 15:17) and the eschatological temple (Ezek. 40:2; 43:12; Rev. 21:10).

9. The Garden as the first place of wisdom. “The ark in the holy of holies, which contained the Law (that led to wisdom) echoes the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (that also led to wisdom). Both the touching of the ark and the partaking of the tree’s fruit resulted in death” (73–74).

10. The Garden as the first place with an eastern facing entrance. Like the future tabernacle and temples, Eden was entered from the east (Gen. 3:24 with Ezek. 40:6).

11. The Garden as part of a tripartite sacred structure. Genesis 2:10 reveals that “a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden.” This reference formally distinguishes Eden from the garden. From this Beale builds the case that Eden and its adjoining garden “formed two distinct regions” (74). He sees here tripartite degrees of holiness, similar to the temple complex, comprised of (a) the region outside the garden (the outer court); (b) the garden representing a sacred place (the holy place); and (c) Eden, where God dwells (the holy of holies).

12. Ezekiel’s view of the Garden of Eden as the first sanctuary. In Ezekiel 28:13–18 the prophet draws a number of parallels between Eden and Israel’s tabernacle/temple. Specifically, the prophet references Eden as a sanctuary and pictures Adam dressed as a priest (v. 13). And “Ezekiel 28:18 is probably, therefore, the most explicit place anywhere in canonical literature where the Garden of Eden is called a temple” (75–76).

13. The Ancient Near Eastern concept of temples in association with garden-like features. “Gardens not untypically were part of temple complexes in the Ancient Near East” (76).

14. Early Judaism’s view of the garden as the first sanctuary. Beale provides evidence from the non-canonical Jewish literature to further prove that “Judaism in various ways also understood the Garden to be the first sanctuary in line with the above Old Testament evidence” (27).

Conclusion: “The cumulative effect of the preceding parallels between the Garden of Genesis 2 and Israel’s tabernacle and temple indicates that Eden was the first archetypal temple, upon which all of Israel’s temples were based” (79–80).

Read more on these conceptual and linguistic parallels on pages 66–80 of Beale’s The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God.

J.I. Packer’s Legacy (In His Own Words)

Today our friends at Crossway released a wonderful little documentary: “J. I. Packer: In His Own Words.” The video release is coordinated with the release of Leland Ryken’s new biography, J. I. Packer: An Evangelical Life, one of the year’s most important books.

The documentary closes with Dr. Packer himself, in his home study, as he looks back on his life and ministry and looks forward on his legacy, in his own words.

When I look back on the productions that I have had a part in during the course of my life, The English Standard Version of the Bible, the ESV, stands out as perhaps the most valuable thing that I have ever been involved in. We didn’t have a translation that was literal in the sense that it labored all the time to be transparent to the word sequence and sentence structure of the original Hebrew and Greek so that it would get the reader as close to the original wording as any translation could.

We needed a translation that was viable for all ages and all levels of study.

We needed a translation that could be memorized relatively easily as the Bible has been memorized from other translations of the past.

We needed a Bible that would read well in the pulpit.

We needed a Bible that would be clear for the exposition from the pulpit that faithful pastors would give.

We needed a Bible that would be free from cultural bias of any sort.

We needed a translation that, as far as possible, didn’t tip its hand or its hat in the direction of any of the contemporary areas of debate. As far as possible, then, it would be transcultural. . . .

And it seems to me that we who worked on the English Standard Version had considerable success by God’s mercy at all these parts. And I should continue to see this as the most important bit of service to the Church that I have been involved in in the whole of my working life.

Then he talked about his broader legacy.

As I look back on the life that I have lived, I would like to be remembered as a voice that focused on the authority of the Bible, the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, the wonder of his substitutionary sacrifice and atonement for our sins. I would like to be remembered as a voice calling Christian people to holiness and challenging lapses in Christian moral standards. I should like to be remembered as someone who was always courteous in controversy, but without compromise.

I ask you to thank God with me for the way that he has led me and I wish, hope, pray that you will enjoy the same clear leading from him and the same help in doing the tasks that he sets you that I have enjoyed. And if your joy matches my joy as we continue in our Christian lives, well, you will be blessed indeed.

Amen! It’s impossible not to be filled with gratitude at God’s leading of Dr. Packer.

Here’s the entire 18-minute documentary: