Most Christians are familiar with the Great Commission—Jesus Christ’s instruction to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey his commandments (Matthew 28:19-20). Fewer are familiar with Jesus’ second mandate, which runs parallel to the Great Commission, called the Cultural Mandate.
The Cultural Mandate, although not explicitly labeled as such in the Bible, is derived from several passages that convey God’s command and intention for humanity to steward and cultivate the earth. Here are some key biblical references that are often associated with the Cultural Mandate:
Genesis 1:28: “God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'” This verse sets the stage for the Cultural Mandate, as it establishes God’s command first to Adam and Eve and then for humanity to multiply, exercise dominion over the earth, and care for its diverse ecosystems, affirming our role as responsible stewards of God’s creation.
Psalm 8:6-8: ” You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.” This passage emphasizes humanity’s elevated position as stewards of God’s creation, entrusted with the responsibility to care for and manage the earth and its creatures.
Matthew 5:13: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Although not directly connected to the Cultural Mandate, this verse highlights the role of believers as agents of positive influence in society. It signifies the responsibility of Christians to engage with the world and make a positive impact by preserving and promoting moral values.
Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” This verse encourages believers to approach their work and daily activities as not only acts of service to God but worship of Him. It implies that the Cultural Mandate extends to every aspect of life, including vocational pursuits, where Christians can exemplify excellence, integrity, and the fruit of the spirit.
These passages, among others, contribute to the theological framework of the Cultural Mandate for Bible-believing Christians. While the term “Cultural Mandate” itself may not appear in the Bible, these verses provide the biblical foundation and principles that shape the understanding of evangelical Christians regarding their responsibility to steward and engage with the culture around them.