Genesis 1:28 Commentary, Be Fruitful, and Multiply

A family of three individually hold their hands up making the shape of a heart with their fingers.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Genesis 1:28, KJV

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Genesis 1:28, NIV

28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

Genesis 1:28, NLT

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Genesis 1:28, ESV

28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Genesis 1:28, NKJV

For this verse analysis, we will be using the O.I.C.A. method of studying the Holy Bible.

An image describing the OICA method of bible study. The O represents Observation and says "Read the passage and make some observations about what it says, consider why it was written. What does this tell you about God? About the Bible? Any key words." The I represents Interpretation and says "What does this passage mean? Why was it written? Always remember the context of the scripture when you make your interpretations." The C represents Correlations and says "How does this passage fit into the overall story of the Bible?" The A represents Application and says "What does this passage mean for your own life? What is the potential personal application?"


God has told humans to populate the earth. He created us to be fruitful and to have children so that we would spread out and fill the land. 

We are also to have dominion over the creatures of the earth, caring for them and protecting them as we would our own offspring. By extension, we must exercise stewardship over all of God’s creation, both for His glory and for the good of His children. We are stewards of His creation.

Ultimately, we are part of God’s plan for Creation, and He has a purpose for each of us as followers of God.

Be Fruitful and Multiply

The idea of procreation is central to the biblical narrative, and this directive is repeated throughout Scripture. 

“Be fruitful and multiply” is seen as a divine mandate for human beings to have children and raise families. This commandment is still relevant today, as Christian couples are called to be intentional about their families and raise their children with biblical values. 

An image taken of the earth from space during nighttime with population centers highlighted by city lighting.

Fill the Earth and Subdue It

The word “fill” can be understood in several ways. It can mean to populate the earth, and it can also mean to fill it with goodness and His Word. “Subdue” can mean to control or to rule over. So taken together, this instruction could mean that humanity is meant to populate the earth, make it flourish, and rule over it. We are to care for the earth and its resources, using them wisely and responsibly. 

This interpretation is supported by the rest of Scripture, which teaches us to be good stewards of all that God has entrusted to us. When we fill the earth and subdue it, we can play a role in God’s ongoing work of creation and redemption, caring for His creation and bringing about His kingdom on earth.

“The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me. And in all the country you possess, you shall allow a redemption of the land.

Leviticus 25:23-24, ESV

However, some Christians interpret this passage differently. They believe that “fill the earth and subdue it” means that humans are meant to exercise dominion over nature and that we are not subject to the same restrictions as other creatures. Unfortunately, this interpretation has often been used to justify the exploitation of the natural world. God created mankind in his own image and it is unlikely this is the approach he would take for his divine blessing.


This directive is often called the cultural mandate, and it serves as the foundation for humanity’s work in the world. The cultural mandate is not a command to simply have children and build things; rather, it is a call to steward all of creation. This means that we are responsible for taking care of the planet and its resources, shepherding them wisely for future generations. 

It also means caring for our fellow human beings, meeting their needs, and helping them flourish. In short, the cultural mandate is about faithful stewardship of all that God has entrusted to us. As we fulfill this calling, we can join God in His work of bringing redemption and restoration to a broken world.

Whether we are caring for the animals or working to preserve the beauty of our natural world, this verse reminds us that we are called to be good stewards of all that God has entrusted to us.


This verse was written within the context of the creation story. 

In this passage, God gives humanity the mandate to “be fruitful and multiply.” This command is given in the context of God’s creative work, as He has just finished creating the universe and all that is in it, including human beings; And now he is giving them their “marching orders,” so to speak.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Genesis 1:26, ESV

Without children, there would be no future generations to carry on the work of God. So this commandment is not just about having children for the sake of having children; It is about fulfilling our role in God’s plan for our planet’s occupation.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Psalm 127:3-5, ESV


One of the most important themes in the Bible is the idea of stewardship. We are to use our God-given talents and abilities to care for His creation. This includes not only the physical world around us but also people. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves and treat others with kindness and respect. 

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:31, NIV

In short, the Bible tells us that we are to be good stewards of all that God has entrusted to us. This includes taking care of His creation and loving others. When we do this, we reflect God’s love and bring glory to His name.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

1 Peter 4:10, NIV

Humans are to have a special relationship with the earth. We are to take care of it and use its resources wisely. The fact that God entrusted us with this responsibility is a testament to our importance in his eyes. 


While we are not responsible for everything that happens on Earth, we are called to play our part in its care. This means using our resources wisely, treating all living things with respect, and working to preserve the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. When we take good care of the planet, we are not only being good stewards; we are also reflecting the glory of our Creator.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

1 John 3:2, NIV

On a personal level, this verse can remind us of the importance of living a life that is fruitful and creative. We are called to be productive citizens and to make a positive impact on our world. 

We also have a responsibility to carry the generations forth, not only physically, but also spiritually. Whether it’s through children of our own or the youth in general, we should always do our best to exemplify His glory and share the faith. Genesis 1:28 can be seen as a mandate for Christians to evangelize and share the Good News with others. We are called to be a light in the darkness and to proclaim the Gospel to all people.

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Mark 16:15-16, ESV

Without God’s blessing and the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ, we would merely inherit a fallen world (or none at all); but He is a benevolent God and we must reflect this benevolence when we bear fruit and multiply.

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38, NIV

For more on the book of Genesis, please reference our articles here.

This article references verses written from the King James Version (KJV), New International Version (NIV), New Living Translation (NLT), English Standard Version (ESV), and New King James Version (NKJV) translations of the Bible.