Tim L. – What was the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden? What might have happened if Adam and Eve had opted to eat from the Tree of Life instead of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? Or, eaten from the Tree of Life first and then consumed the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?

Dave – Great questions, Tim. Thanks for sending them. First, let me say that I think that the meaning behind those two trees runs deep, and we may never understand their fullness until we pass from this realm.

My pastor, Mark DuPre, likes how the Jamieson, Fausett and Brown commentary describes the Tree of Life: “…so called from its symbolic character as a sign and seal of immortal life. Its prominent position where it must have been an object of daily observation and interest, was admirably fitted to keep man habitually in mind of God and futurity.” (Bible Study Tools)

I think the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden was Jesus Christ Himself perhaps in some different form. It represents faith and grace. I believe contained within that Tree was freedom, grace, eternal life, goodness of God, and the idea that God is merciful, forgiving, and not judgmental. If Adam and Eve just ate from this Tree, sin would have never entered their souls and they would have continued to live forever in peace with no aging-to-death process. Notice that God did not offer a formal option to them. In other words, He did not say, “There are two Trees here. One is life the other is death, take your pick.” Instead, He commanded them not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. In this way, disobedience was quickly established.

Pastor Mark does not believe that the Tree of Life was Jesus Christ in a different form. He does agree that it represents faith and grace, but in his mind, it is mostly eternal life. He further believes it stood for many things, as I have said, but that it mainly stood as a promise of eternal life and the call to be like God (in the right way, like Jesus Christ).

We’ll obviously never know what WOULD have happened had Adam and Eve been obedient. I’ve read that some folks believe ultimately God would have led them to eat of the tree of life. But we’ll never know until heaven.

In the long run (God’s Plan A), I think God allowed sin to enter humans for the greatest cause possible. Namely, to eradicate sin forever. When Lucifer’s pride caused his fall (and many angels with him), God never wanted this to be possible again throughout eternity. He could have made more angels, but because they can see God, it would not take any faith to redeem them if they fell like Lucifer and his cohorts. Hence, He designed a life form that was lower than angels that could and would separate themselves from God so He could enter the sin-filled realm Himself and annihilate it. Scripture does say that His love is perfected in us (1 John 4:12-19). I think this means that God not only declared He loved us but He demonstrated it via the Cross (Romans 5:8). Furthermore, His love expanded to the nth degree because we were unlovely and not even seeking Him. Not only did God accomplish this great feat, but at the same time He also created a Bride for Himself. Not bad, eh?

Pastor Mark is not sure he can agree with my speculation at this point because he does not see solid Biblical evidence about the motivations of God on this issue. He thinks the love of His people and the creation of a Bride are more clearly painted in Scripture than any “conquering sin-plan.” He also thinks that I could be right, but would need to see something more solid Biblically to feel that someone could describe God’s motivations. “God so loved the world…” is probably the most sublime expression he can find which is a good point. Mark further believes that God “absorbed” and judged sin in the person of His Son and thinks the love motivation comes first. Then comes the specific judgment tactics against sin. He concludes that God could have chosen any way He wanted to judge and to destroy the effects of sin forever. He happened to choose a way that demonstrated a love that we can barely comprehend.

If Adam first ate from the good tree and then later the bad one, what would have happened? The horrors that this bad tree leads to are bondage, The Law which cannot be satisfied, death, making us view God only as being judgmental and condemning. I think the same thing that happened in Genesis would happen here, unless the good tree somehow would make him immune to choosing disobedience for eternity?

Pastor DuPre has often wondered if man would have been “locked-in” to choosing obedience if he’d eaten of the tree of life first. He thinks many Bible commentators think that, but no one knows what God’s criteria would have been for that, and no one knows what the results would have been.

Another question we can ask is, “What would have happened if Adam ate from the Tree of Life after eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?” Once Adam sinned, God put an angelic guard and a “flaming sword which turned in every direction” to guard the way to the Tree of Life. So God did not allow this to happen, and I think this “spiritual guard” continues to this day preventing anyone from eating from it. But why? Perhaps this prevents anyone from gaining eternal life apart from the Messiah’s cross? In addition, to live forever in a sinful state is not good when eternal perfect life is possible.

In conclusion, I would say that your questions are difficult because the Bible does not give us much insight to determine sound doctrines. The above answers are, of course, speculations by Pastor Mark and myself, but I hope they provide some insights or good follow-up questions, however.


Nels F. – Very interesting I never thought about these things before!

Cindi L. – Interesting!

Tim L. (question sender) – Great discussion – one of those topics that is fun to ponder (deeply), but of course we will never know the answers for sure until heaven. I too think of Jesus when I read about the Tree of Life – drink this water and never thirst again (John 4:13).

It does seem God provided both options for man to pick from – eternal life without sin or knowledge – with the baggage of sin. Probably knew temptation would cause a bad pick, but man was given both options.

And you highlight a good point – after the fall – the tree of life was no longer an option unless you want to play laser tag with an angel. I suppose if man had consumed from the tree of knowledge and then the tree of life – if man wouldn’t have just been – the fallen angels part II. God was going for a free-will answer to disobedience. I wonder if perhaps there had been another God and Satan debate (as with Job) with Satan assuring that man would make bad choices and never freely opt to reconcile with God.