What Does the Bible Say About Manifestations? (Meaning, Examples)


A growing trend in Christian circles, particularly here in the global West, is the idea of something called manifestation.

At its core, manifestation theology is closely related to what is sometimes referred to as “name it and claim it” theology or the new age “law of attraction.” Essentially, the idea is that you will attract what you release. If you have positive thoughts, you will attract positive results.

So what is manifestation? How does it work? Proponents of manifestation encourage people to think positive thoughts about something and believe that the thing they desire will come about (that is, it will physically manifest). “If I truly believe it will happen, then it will happen.”

While the theology behind manifestation itself is not new, it has recently grown in popularity primarily due to the video media culture in which we live, through mediums such as TikTok and YouTube.

For example, you might find someone on TikTok attempting to manifest their dreams and desires. Many people are trying to make their material desires a reality, such as getting the car they always wanted, the husband they deeply desire, or land the job of their dreams.

What Does the Bible Say About Manifestation (KJV)?

The word that is usually translated in our English Bibles as “manifestation” occurs in Greek as a noun (phanerōsis), an adverb (phanerōs), an adjective (phaneros), and a verb (phaneroō). In general, the root meaning of the word carries the idea of something that is apparent, well-known, visible, made to appear, revealed.

As a noun and adverb, we see the word used only a few times. For example:

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.”1 Corinthians 12:7

In this verse, the word “manifestation” is referring to the outward evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the lives of believers.

The adjective and verb are much more commonly used in Scripture, but a few examples are:

“And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.”John 1:31
“Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.”Romans 1:19
“For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.”Luke 8:17

In these verses, the word “manifest” could also mean something like “revealed” or  “made clear.

What is the Meaning of Manifestation in the Bible?

While the meaning of these related Greek words can be used in a variety of ways, one of the most theologically significant ways the Bible speaks of “manifestation” is to talk about the physical and powerful demonstration of God into our fallen world.

In other words, “manifestation” in the Bible is often used to describe the ways in which God enters into his creation to accomplish his sovereign purposes in the world.

Is Manifestation a Sin in the Bible?

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.”James 1:17

One of the primary ways in which today’s understanding of “manifestation” falls short of the biblical picture is a misunderstanding of what kind of good and perfect gifts Christians should desire. The modern idea of manifestation is a sin because it makes little of the gift Christians have in, from, and through Christ, and seeks to replace the power of God with the power of the human will.

As the verse from James above makes clear, all good and perfect things come from God, and Jesus himself is the greatest and most perfect gift of all. The spiritual blessings that flow from being in relationship with Him, such as the fruit of the spirit, maturing in the Christian faith, seeing lives and communities transformed by the gospel, are all gifts incomparably greater than any material blessing someone might seek to manifest.

In manifestation, we, as humans, are the reason we receive good gifts. When we receive praise for the good things in our lives, rather than God getting the credit he is due, this is discrediting God for his works and is a sin. By way of contrast, the Bible makes it clear that God is a father who takes care of His children.

The act of meditating on something other than God’s word in hopes to bring it to fruition is sinful. The Bible tells us to set our minds on the “things above” (Colossians 3:2), which is speaking of heavenly things. When we try to manifest something, our focus is on ourselves and often earthly possessions.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”Proverbs 3:5-6

Trusting in ourselves and the power of our own mind to change our own futures more than trusting God’s control over our lives is a sin. Also, trusting in ourselves to “save” our own lives is a sin. Manifestation cannot save us, only God can.

Manifestation seems to know no limits or bounds. What is desired is what can be manifested. However, from a biblical perspective, there could be occasions of people ”manifesting “ sinful or harmful situations, such as desiring harm to come upon someone.

Examples of Manifestation in the Bible

There are numerous occasions in the Bible where Jesus speaks something in faith and it comes to fruition. While some may define this as him “manifesting” his desires, there are some inherent differences.

In Luke 5, we see Jesus ask the Jewish religious leaders whether it is easier to tell a man his sins are forgiven or to restore his ability to walk. To prove to the onlookers that he has the power and authority to do both, Jesus both forgives the man’s sin and restores his health.

One of the key differences between this event in Jesus’ life and the so-called “law of attraction” is that Jesus is giving rather than receiving. What Jesus receives is praise — a praise that is due only to him since he is himself God in the flesh. In manifestation, the focus is on receiving things. The “law of attraction” can only apply to humans, since  Jesus heals because He is in control of all things.

In Matthew 26:21, Jesus tells his followers that one of them will betray him. Later that night, that very thing happens. Having the appearance of our modern definition of manifestation, this may appear to some as sending negative thoughts or vibes and receiving negativity in return. However, taking the biblical claim seriously that Jesus is God would lead to a different conclusion: as God, Jesus has knowledge of all things. In the example of Jesus, foreknowledge of a negative future event is not the same thing as manifesting negativity as a result of projecting negative thoughts.

While there are many more examples from Jesus’ life that may be mistakenly construed as manifestation, there are many reasons why this is not the case:

  • His miracles point to God and glorify God alone
  • His miracles are to serve others rather than to be served
  • His path to the cross was part of the greater plan of redemption, as laid out from the foundation of the world

What Does the Bible Say About Manifesting Your Dreams?

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”Proverbs 29:18

It is important for people to have a vision and goals for their lives.

“A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”Proverbs 16:9

This shows us that it is okay to have dreams for ourselves and our future, as long as we understand that ultimately God is the one who determines the outcome of our lives. Things may not always go as we hope but they will always go according to God’s great plan.

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”Matthew 7:11

Our God is a gracious Father who knows everything we need (Matthew 6:25-34). This shows us that it is still important for us to share our desires and dreams with God. He hears us and wants to give us good things. He doesn’t mind us presenting our requests to Him and he is fair to hear them, though ultimately it is God himself who guides our lives according to his plan.

Physical Manifestations of God in the Bible

Over against the trend today to see one’s dreams manifested in physical form, the Bible gives numerous examples of physical manifestations of God.

Some Examples:

  • God walked in the Garden with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8)
  • God appears to Abraham in a smoking fire pot and flaming torch (Genesis 15:17)
  • God appears to Jacob, Jacob wrestles with God (Genesis 32:23-32)
  • God appears to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3)
  • God appears to all of Israel at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:16-25)
  • God appears to Joshua to take command of the armies of Israel (Joshua 5:13-6:5)
  • God the Son appears in the flesh, given the name Jesus  (Matthew 1:18-25)
  • Jesus appears to his followers after his resurrection from the dead (John 20:19)
  • Jesus appears to John on the Island of Patmos (Revelation 1:17)

In contrast to the ways in which physical manifestations are conceived of today, these physical manifestations of God in the Bible serve not to make our dreams a physical reality, but for God to accomplish his purposes physically here on the earth.

Bible Verses Against Manifestation

Although it is generally true that the way we think shapes the way we behave (Romans 12:1), this is very different from saying our mind has the ability to create the physical results it desires. There are numerous ways in which the Bible speaks against the modern notion of manifestation.

Instead of seeking our own wisdom in order to gain something in this life, the Bible directs our attention to the One through whom all spiritual blessings flow.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”Proverbs 3:5-6

The bible is clear that we are to put our trust in God, even above ourselves and the intentions of our own corrupt hearts (Hebrews 4:12; Psalm 94:11; Jeremiah 17:9) .

“And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth”Deuteronomy 8:17-18

He is the creator of the universe, the writer of our story, and the one who is in control of our lives.

Stephen D

Stephen Dillard serves as a Bible Scholar with Wycliffe Associates and is a contributing writer on Revelations.org. He is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. He and his wife, Madison, have four children and make their home in Indiana.

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