What Is the Meaning of Life According to the Bible?

As a pastor, and also a chaplain for the local police department in the past, I’ve gotten to be a part of some of the best and worst times of people’s lives. As you might imagine, people ask the big-picture type of questions, especially when they’re going through really tough times or when there are big changes in life.

Why am I here? What is life all about? What is the meaning of life? How we answer these big-picture questions is important so we can live with hope and a sense of purpose in times of uncertainty, pain, and frustration.

What is the meaning of life according to the Bible? According to the Bible, knowing God is the meaning of life because He is the “author of life” (John 17:3). The meaning of life is not based on things we see in the world “for life is more than food, and the body more than clothing” (Luke 12:23).

What does it mean to know God? Why can’t we base the meaning of life on relationships, career, or personal happiness? Understanding the answer to these questions in the Bible gives a sense of purpose and fulfillment in our lives.

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.

Luke 12:22 (ESV)
Man sitting at the beach pondering what is the meaning of life

Table of Contents

The Meaning of Life Is to Know God as the Author of Life

The Bible says that God created the world (Gen. 1:1). “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1). 

God, as the author of life, brings meaning to life. Everything God created was meant to show what God is like. God created a world with a purpose, by His design. The world we live in and the life of every person has a purpose and is not just the product of chance, random events, and biological selection.

God originally made a perfect world and said it was very good. God made a world without brokenness – without war, sickness, or death.

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Genesis 1:31 (ESV)

When we look at the world around us, we see that we live in a world of brokenness. Depression, anxiety, fear, sickness, war, and more… These are real and everyone experiences those things at some point in their lives.  And when we come face-to-face with our own personal brokenness, we look for a way out.

We try to get out of the brokenness by looking for other relationships, careers, religion (trying to be good enough), or looks for ways to numb our pain through things like drugs or alcohol.

The Bible says that it was mankind that choose to not follow God’s ways, but to go our own way. This is what the Bible calls sin. And sin is what leads us into brokenness (Rom. 3:23).

This video illustrates what the Bible says about life right now in the world.

The Meaning of Life Is to Know God Through Jesus Christ

According to the Bible, in John 17:3, the meaning of life is to know Jesus Christ.

And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

John 17:3 (ESV)

The meaning of life would be incomplete without knowing Jesus as the one who came to restore God’s original design in us. Once God begins His work in us, we can appreciate all the good things that are in our lives: relationships, skills and talents, and experiences, and material possessions.

According to the book of Genesis, God gives people the gifts and responsibility of marriage, family, relationships, culture, and work. This is the reason God created Adam, the first man and placed him in a garden to work it and take care of it (Gen. 2:15).

Our relationships, work, and culture can change, so they can’t be the basis of the true meaning of life. Life-giving relationships, children, creative arts and expression are beautiful things we experience in life. They are absolutely meaningful. But they cannot be the definition of life and bring the ultimate meaning to life.

What keeps us up at night? It’s when relationships, work, and culture don’t go as we would like. These things can actually bring the most pain in our lives as well. This is because we live in a world of brokenness. The things that are meant to bring us fulfillment and joy sometimes cause us the greatest grief and misery.

In the Bible, what is the meaning of life? It is to know Jesus Christ, whom God has sent.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 10:10 (ESV)

Jesus says that there is an enemy, a thief, whose main goal is to steal, kill, and destroy God’s purpose and meaning for the world. Jesus says that the reason He came was to give us life abundantly, to restore  God’s design for our lives (John 10:10).

God does not leave us in our brokenness. He enters into our brokenness. The way He does this is by sending Jesus. Jesus was born as a baby, grew up and lived a perfect, sinless life. Then, He died on a cross to pay the penalty of our sins (Rom. 6:23). God raised Him from the dead.

Jesus says that if we would turn from our own ways, believe in Him, and follow Him as the Lord, the Boss, of our lives, He would begin to restore God’s design in us.

Life Without the Knowledge of God Leads to Emptiness

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

Eccl. 1:1 (ESV)

Ecclesiastes is a book of the Bible, one of the Wisdom books, that explains how life in this world can be meaningless. Solomon, one of the great kings of Israel, got to pursue everything and anything he wanted to in life. 

His conclusions after everything is: Life is vain, empty, and worthless without God. In this world, we will experience life “under the sun”  as one marked by brokenness. 

All the riches, learning, and experiences in life end up being empty. Whether people try to live a good life or not, the conclusion is the same: Life goes on. Everything starts from dust and returns to dust (Eccl. 3:20).

This is why Jesus says in Luke 12:22-23 (ESV):

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.

Jesus says that life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Life is not an endless pursuit to get more.

Meaning in life comes from a deeper place than just the physical world and the things that we are usually so busy living to get more of. People who are in countries going through the devastation of war or famine have very little food and clothing. Yet, people still find meaning in life and the will to survive. 

Many people live ensnared by the things in this world and it’s no wonder that anxiety, fear, and depression are the result. The endless pursuit to get more, live longer, and get ahead has led to a fast-paced, competitive, and sometimes cruel world. 

God gives us food, clothes, relationships, and other things in life to bring joy, enrichment, and pleasure to our lives. And He wants us to trust Him to provide those things for us. He wants us to find the true meaning of life in Him first, in seeking His Kingdom (Luke 12:31).

Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

Luke 12:31

The paradox of life is that the more we grope to find it’s meaning, the less we can grasp it. Jesus says in Luke 17:33 (ESV) “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” The only way to find life is to find it in God and in pursuit of Him in every season of life.

According to the Bible, the meaning of life is found in believing in Jesus (John 20:31).

But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John 20:31

Jesus is called the “Author of life” (Acts 3:15; see also John 1:3). When we put our trust in Him, we can begin to understand the real meaning of life.

When we base our lives on knowing God, we can rightly appreciate the good and beautiful things in life. Basing our lives on the things of this world will leave us feeling empty and eventually frustrated.

Looking for Meaning in the World

  • Is based on things that can change at anytime
  • Is based on other people’s choices and favorable circumstances
  • Is based on things that are out of our control
  • Cannot give us lasting peace
  • Can leave us empty even when we have plenty

Finding Meaning in Knowing God

  • Is based on the unchanging character and goodness of God
  • Is based on the Author of Life reaching out to us
  • Is based on our choice to seek God at anytime
  • Gives a peace that no one can take away
  • Will always lead to fulfillment whether we have plenty or not

Meaning in Life Comes from Knowing God as Our Father

God is not only the author of life, He is our Father. A young child will feel empty and disconnected if she does not know the warmth and love of a father. In the same way, the meaning of life can be experienced fully only when we are connected to our Father in heaven.

When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, God adopts us as His children and a cry comes out of us: Abba! Abba is the Aramaic word for father. A better English equivalent might be daddy or papa.

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Gal. 4:6

To live as orphans apart from the Father in heaven is to miss out on a significant part of the meaning of life. When we know God as our Father, we can learn to trust and receive love. We can also learn to be corrected and led on a better path because God cares for us (Heb. 12:7-8).

It’s clear from what Jesus says in the Gospels that God is not after a religious devotion, but a personal relationship. God is not after about enforcing His list of do’s and don’ts. God is after our hearts, as a Father would want from His children.

If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

John 14:7

Jesus shows us exactly how God is a Father to us. Although we can’t see God with our eyes, when we see Jesus’ actions and words in the Bible, we can know God as He reveals Himself to us.

And in the verse just before that, Jesus makes an astounding claim.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 

John 14:6

Jesus claims that He is the way, and the truth, and the life. The Bible defines Jesus Himself as the author and giver of life, but also as the definition of life itself. Jesus also claims that there is no other way to God, the Father, except through Him. Jesus is the One that the Father has sent.

When We Know God as Our Father

  • We will have a sense of identity as God’s children. Jesus died on the cross, so that our sins can be forgiven and that we would become the children of God. (John 1:12)
  • We will feel loved and wanted. This is important for every human being because God created us – to have a sense of worth.
  • We can have a spiritual family, others who know God as their Father. We can learn to live with people in this world.
  • We will receive the disciplines that only a loving Father can give. We will be able to receive correction and learn from others in our lives.
  • We can have the confidence to be creative and to lead, just like our Father. We can be free to pursue the things that God has uniquely designed us for in life.
  • We can live with purpose and meaning because our Father created us with a purpose. We have something worth living for, and if needed, worth dying for. 
  • We can live beyond just having a religion and have a personal relationship with the uncreated God.

An Invitation

People throughout history have tried to find the meaning of life scientifically, biologically, philosophically, and spiritually. Most of the time, people are busy living their lives rather than thinking about the meaning of it. 

At some point in life, the usual things that once brought meaning, purpose, and fulfillment are not the same. Sometimes, it can be a crisis, or just a change in the season of life, when people start asking the bigger questions.

I hope that you’ll take the time to consider what the Bible says about the meaning of life. Please don’t take my word for it, or anyone else’s. Consider what the Bible says for yourself and see if it’s true or not. Perhaps you’ll find that God is speaking to you through your life and through His Word, the Bible.

Perhaps this invitation from God in Jeremiah 33:3 will be for you?

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Jer. 33:3

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If you enjoyed this article, here are some that you might find helpful:

I wrote an article that explores what the Bible says about heaven and uncovers the 5 most commonly held myths and misconceptions: 5 Surprising Truths About Heaven in the Bible: What Is Heaven Like? [Link opens in a new window]

How to Get to Heaven According to the Bible: It’s NOT by Being Good. In this article, I describe how you can be sure you get into heaven and not leave it to chance.

And lastly, if you want to start studying the Bible for yourself, I’d recommend these 7 Guidelines: How to Start Studying the Bible for Yourself.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

David Kim

I'm David Kim and the Bible has been a passionate pursuit of mine for many years. This is a site where I get to share with you some of the things that I’ve been learning. I’m a husband, a father, pastor of a Parkway Fellowship Church (Dublin, CA), and a life-long student of the Scriptures.

33 thoughts on “What Is the Meaning of Life According to the Bible?

  1. Like!! I blog frequently and I really thank you for your content. The article has truly peaked my interest.

      1. Thanks for letting us know the meaning of life. May God richly bless you for you have been an inspiration to me and my wife. Thank the Holy spirit for you.

        1. I’m so grateful to hear that this has encouraged you and your wife. I pray that God will bless you with ever-increasing faith and the knowledge of God and the abundant life of Jesus Christ in you – and that it may overflow to others around you.

  2. This is highky interesting, i love the simplicity of it. Very clear & clean. It help add the icing to bible study about life. Thank you for writting this article and God bless you.

    1. Thank you so much. I pray you’ll experience the abundant life that Jesus offers to the full!

  3. David, Im a former LEO and now a police chaplain and award-winning author. I’m currently writing a devotional book for cops. I’d love to send you a quick survey to see if you might have a story I can use in my book. Can we connect? My email is below.

    1. Thank you. I pray that you’ll experience the fullness and abundance of life in Jesus Christ!

    I needed this so much I thank GOD for the wisdom he gave u David and I pray in JESUS MIGHTY NAME that HE may fill u with more and more wisdom

  5. I’m so grateful to have been able to encourage you through this article. God bless you in your pursuit of Him!

  6. David, Thank you for this great message!

    I have been struggling to find my purpose in life for the last five years. It has me questioning everything I am doing. I have struggled to commit to a specific path out of confusion that it may not be my calling.

    I have had an on again and off again relationship with God over this time.

    I have certain talents and interests and I feel that this would be a good place to start finding my purpose. However, I am still desperate for the approval from God before I give it my 100% effort.

    It seems to me after reading and watching many articles and videos on this topic that I need to stop worrying about my purpose and focus on my relationship on God wholeheartedly. If I do that then it seems that once I have built a strong, personal relationship with God that He will reveal His plans for me.

    And maybe the reason He has not revealed them to me currently is that I have not placed Him at the center of my life and therefore am not ready to hear His plans for me.

    Would you agree with this?

    Apologies for the long message!

    Thank you once again.

    1. Greg! Thanks for sharing about your journey. I think of the path that you go on as your assignment from God. It’s not your identity, but what you do. That path/assignment can change, but your identity in Christ is your foundation. Your “calling” in life is your identity in Christ and cannot change no matter what career path you choose to go down. That calling is to know God and to become more like Christ as you obey Him out of love.

      So yes, I think it’s good to focus on your relationship with God, to live out your calling as a child of God, be rooted in a healthy church, etc..

      With your assignment/career/path, ask God to guide you, trust that He does, talk to people you trust and then take a step of faith. If it doesn’t work out, repeat. As you do, you’ll gain confidence in how God leads you. God has given you gifts, talents, skills, relationships, so be a good steward of them. And continue to work on your character, and understand how God has formed you through your family and experiences in life.

      And no matter what path you go down in your career, follow Christ, make disciples, and do God’s will. Remember, the Apostle Paul was a tent-maker as his full-time job. That was his assignment. No matter what, every Christian is a full-time missionary for God. Hope that helps!

  7. Pingback: Why am I? What is my purpose? – To God be The glory, Amen
  8. Very helpful explanation David of the meaning of life. I’ve been a believer all my life, but you expressed it in a way that opened several fresh and new insights for me, during a season of my life when I needed this message. I took many notes. Thank you so much, very much appreciated!

    I would also suggest a minor adjustment to the video (which I don’t think you created, but it’s used to make your point). The video implies that when we have Jesus in our life (third circle), we leave the brokenness (second circle) and return back to the many good things God created for us in the beginning (first circle).

    I think it would be more accurate and helpful to say Jesus (third circle) is the “bridge” between “beauty” (first circle) and “brokenness” (second circle). The broken things like sadness and sickness still exist in our lives when we have Jesus, but we have his presence to walk through those things with us.

    Jesus is the bridge between the good things (beauty) and the bad things (broken) in our lives. Both still exist for believers. We need God’s person and presence and power to navigate through both.

  9. Ooh wow this is great teaching pastor today for me and my family
    It’s a helpful to us to know why we are leaving in this world
    It is a Ward of encouragement and a motivating massage to many people who have lost hope for life
    Thank you pastor may God bless you

  10. I am presently in a very frustrating situation just as explained in the beginning of this article. I was searching for the meaning of life. But now I have found peace. Thank you for this great heavenly inspiration.

    Please add me to your news letter.

    1. I’m so grateful to hear it was helpful in pointing you to God. I pray that you’ll come to know more and more of the fullness of God’s grace and peace through Jesus Christ.

  11. Hi David, thank you for your article! So knowing God is the meaning of life. But what is knowing God? Is it hearing His voice once in a while, expiriencing his presence in worship? seeing a miracle once in a while? I have been a committed christian and baptized in the Holy Spririt since 1996, always served in church, had powerfull touch of the Holy Spirit many times, but the meaning of life has not been really answered yet. The whole reason why I became a christian is because I found life very empty and meaningless. Although God touched me powerfully and many life questions have been answered trhough the Bible -Which I read everyday and know very well- This question about what is the meaning of it all, is still not really answered. And if knowing God is the meaning of life, why do we need to be busy with work, family, doing shopping, cooking, serving in church, hobbies, etc etc.-which many times seem empty to me- because it all takes away our time to be with God. And why did we not were born into heaven right away. But even being in heaven in God for ever, I still don’t see the purpose of it, of course it is a good thing. Of course I pray regularly and ask the Lord to open my eyes for the meaning of life and have a deeper and better understanding of it, I believe there must be an answer because it is God who made us in a way that we search for the meaning of life.

    1. Hi Mark,
      I felt like I read my own word when reading your comment.
      Around 6 months ago I felt very empty even when I was reading the Bible everyday, or even denying myself. I kept asking why and the Lord has been directing me to the meaning of life and it truly is to know God like our Father.
      He has been revealing to me that I must seek Him everyday and always, to seek the kingdom of God first and other things will be added. He made me understand that His sheep hears His voice and Jesus knows His sheep by name.
      Most importance He made me realised that it is possible to know Jesus for real, and that it is even necessary. We must seek to be baptise in the Holy Spirit and ask to receive a revelation so that we can work for His kingdom the way He wants.
      Here on Earth our faith is tested, that way the Lord sees who is truly His, and who desires the world more. In Heaven we can’t even imagine that, but we will always feel Gods present, He is love and meaning of life.
      Never stop desiring the Lord, desire to hear from Him or obey Him, to know Him.
      Jesus said in John “He that has my commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves me and he will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and WILL MANIFEST MYSELF TO HIM”

      Jesus is life, but we are weak to serve Him, seek Him alone and He will teach us His voice and the way He wants us to serve Him and where to go, what to do say and to who.

    2. Hi Mark, I think knowing God is a bit mysterious as well. And we go through seasons as God wants to reveal more of Himself to us. Yes, we can have visions and revelations, but even those fade after some time. It involves a little bit of all of the following: knowing Him through His Word, the help of the Holy Spirit to open our eyes, understanding His heart/emotions as we live it out. I think an often overlooked piece is understanding the big-picture of the Gospel: Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, and that He’s also coming back to take over all the Kingdoms of the world. Yes, we do go to heaven, but New Jerusalem is coming down to earth and God will make His dwelling with us again. Heaven and earth will be joined together under one head, Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:9-10). That has implications for how we live our life today here on earth. I pray that God will bless you in your search, believing that you will find Him as you seek Him with all your heart.

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