What does the Bible mean when it says be fruitful and multiply? This saying “be fruitful and multiply” is found nine times in the book of Genesis, which is no coincidence. The number nine in the Bible represents fruitfulness.
So what did God mean when He said “Be fruitful and multiply”? He told this to Adam and Eve, to Noah and his family, to the animals, to Abraham, and to Jacob. It seems that this was an important statement from the mouth of God.
When God said “be fruitful and multiply” it was a blessing imparted to humanity that enabled them to reproduce and have children. This ability to conceive and birth children comes only from the blessing of God.
No man can create all the necessary components to conceive and give birth to children. Science has come a long way in the ability to help couples get pregnant and have healthy babies, but science cannot actually create children from nothing.
The Old Testament was originally wrote in Hebrew. The words “be fruitful” come from the Hebrew word parah (פָרָה), which has also been translated “have many children, be fertile, and increase”. There is no question that the meaning of “be fruitful” is to have children.
When God first said “be fruitful and multiply” in Genesis 1:22, it was a blessing on Adam and Eve more than it was a command. This was a blessing over humanity. The ability to reproduce offspring was imparted in these words.
God’s blessing is always given by what He says. God speaks, and it is. Each time He spoke this blessing, the ability to have children was imparted. Through God’s words, every living thing on earth was blessed with the ability to procreate.
What Does the Bible Say About Children?
Despite what the world would have you believe, the Bible says that children are a blessing from God, a heritage and a reward from Him.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:3-5
God is a God of increase. He enjoys when we are fruitful in our marriage union. Malachi 2 describes why God designed marriage and for the two to become one. He desires godly offspring. God loves babies!
But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Malachi 2:15
The increase of our families is the desire of God’s heart. He wants to increase His kingdom on earth. In the Old Testament, when God wanted to strengthen and bless His people, He did so by multiplying them and increasing their numbers (lots of children).
The Lord says He will make our families like a flock.
Yet He sets the poor on high, far from affliction, and makes their families like a flock. Psalm 107:41
Ultimately, you can choose to believe what you want about children, but if you choose to believe in agreement with God, you will always see children as a blessing and not a burden.
Does God Want Everyone to Have Children?
God loves children and wants people to experience the blessing of having a family and children, but He gives us the free will to chose whether or not we do so.
The desire to have children is innate within almost all humans. Many people snuff this desire out, but it was there in the beginning. Little girls take care of baby dolls from a very early age. Little boys have the purpose and calling of fatherhood within them. Within the vast majority of people lies the instinct and desire to have children.
The world has done a marvelous job at convincing people that having children will impede their ability to be ‘successful’ or ‘live their dreams’, but these things are simply not true. For the vast majority of people, having children is an innate desire and calling, and one of the most satisfying things they will do with their life. When people are on their deathbed, they never wish to have worked more hours or made more money, their regrets or fulfillments have usually come from their relationship with their children.
I do not believe that married couples are called by God to not have children. If you are married and have decided not to have children, that is OK and God is not mad at you. But I do believe that God’s desire is for you to have children. Being fruitful and multiplying is a major part of most people’s purpose on the earth and allows us to partner with God in creation.
The desire to mother and to father is within you and your spouse and you will see it come forth in other areas of your life if you choose not to have children. For example, you may have pets that you are a mother and father to. You may “mother” young girls at your church or “father” young men at the workplace. WIthin you, the desire to be a mother or father is there.
There are circumstances, however, where certain people are given the choice to be celibate. The Apostle Paul was an example of this, which he explains in 1 Corinthians 7. Paul chose to remain celibate throughout his lifetime and therefore did not have children. People that chose this do so for the purpose of devoting all their time and attention to the Lord.
Does God Prevent People from Having Children?
God did not give some people the ability to have children and leave some out. He gave every human born on this planet the ability to produce offspring. His blessing of children is for all of humanity. God delights in His children increasing in number!
However, we have an enemy that comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, the blessing of fruitfulness was corrupted. The consequence of their sin introduced sickness, disease and corruption.
Sin brought death in all its forms onto the earth, including infertility and miscarriage. But praise God, Jesus has given us authority over all sickness, disease, and the works of the enemy (Matthew 10:1, Luke 10:19). Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). We are redeemed from infertility and miscarriage. We do not have to accept it in our lives. Within our salvation is the restored ability to be fruitful and multiply.
So you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you. No one shall suffer miscarriage or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. Exodus 23:25-26
He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord. Psalm 113:9
You were not created to be barren, infertile or sterile. Anything causing this has been restored through the finished work of Jesus.
Jesus came to undo the works of the devil and give you life, and life more abundantly (1 John 3:8, John 10:10). This includes conceiving, giving birth, and raising godly children.
I know first hand the pain and confusion of not conceiving and bringing forth children as we are designed. I wrote an entire article about it called Prayer Can Help You Get Pregnant: Here’s How it Works. In it I share my own testimony of being restored to my designed fruitfulness through the finished work of Jesus.