Why Was There a Tree of Life If Adam and Eve Were Already Immortal?

tree-of-life

For those who are careful scripture readers like myself, let’s have a little fun. I was watching a livestream youtube video and a commenter in the chat window asked, “Why was there a tree of life if Adam and Eve were immortal?”

At first I didn’t quite understand the question, so I looked back at the text. As I read through Chapter 2 and 3 of Genesis, the question became clearer. Genesis 2:17 states, “17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not [n]eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” This is the first time in scripture that death is ever mentioned. If Adam eats from the tree of good and evil, he will die. But then don’t you necessarily have to presume if he never eats from the tree, he will never die?

Operating under that presumption, let us read Genesis 3:22. It states, “22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”. So if Adam and Eve were to have eaten from this tree of life, as Lord God states, they would have lived forever. But if they had not eaten from the tree of good and evil, would they have not already lived forever? And thus that’s why the commenter asked the question, “Why was there a tree of life if Adam and Eve were already immortal?”

As I understood the question, at the time and right now, I can only think of two possibilities. Possibility #1: In some form of reality understandable to God’s perception alone, not being bound by the constraints of time, Adam and Eve were both immortal and mortal at the same time. Possibility #2: The text never says they were immortal. In other words, the text never says they would never die. It only expresses they surely would if they ate from the tree.

What do you think from what you see in the text?

Peace to you all in Christ.

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26 thoughts on “Why Was There a Tree of Life If Adam and Eve Were Already Immortal?

  1. Well, this is the answer I received from a Jewish Rabbi. God created the Garden of Eden to replicate in mortal form what Heaven looks and feels like. He placed everything in the Garden including both trees and the River of Life. Yes even the serpent was a mortal form of what was hidden in the deep. Adam and Eve first had the form of the Ascended Christ. Human in form but fully Spiritual in nature. Being the first they were given a choice but God had wanted them to stay as they were. once they partook of the Fruit, their transformation into being fully human (mortal and separate from God) was complete. That is why God had to close off the garden. In the Human form, if they ate of the other tree they would never die.

  2. Loveeeee this! So regarding this passage, Adam and Eve didn’t experience a physical death immediately; however, they did experience a spiritual death (and yes the physical death would soon follow) the minute they took from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In that instance, sin entered and it caused a separation between God and Man, Man and Man, and Man and World. And, you’re right, the text never says they would have lived forever. Knowing God though, He created them BECAUSE He desired to intimately fellowship with them. He didn’t create them so they would simply die…and then what? Go to Heaven to be with Him again? But you know what you opened my eyes to? The fact that Adam and Eve actually had the freedom to take and eat from the Tree of Life! God placed both things within their reach and they were tempted and chose the one thing they shouldn’t have. Now, if they had eaten from the Tree of Life after sin had entered and they were spiritually separated form God that would not have been good. Reason being, that they would have remained in that condition forever… Also, we have to take note that God took them out of the Garden where the Tree of Life dwelt, that too may indirectly have been providing them with everlasting life. We could go on and on about the effects of post flood on our aging and whatnot, but I’ll stop here. Awesome, discussion you’ve started though! 🙂 ❤

    • Hi Paula. Thanks for your comment. Yes, one would have to question what would be the point of them dying and being with God again? And we know sin is responsible for death, so if they remained without sin, it would seem to necessarily follow that death would not have ever existed.

      “The fact that Adam and Eve actually had the freedom to take and eat from the Tree of Life! God placed both things within their reach and they were tempted and chose the one thing they shouldn’t have.”

      Indeed, that’s an interesting thing to ponder as it relates to the nature of humans. Why we end up being easily persuaded into the things that we’re told we’re not allowed to have? In Eve’s case, what tempted her was that the fruit looked good to eat, it looked delightful to her, and that it could make her wise, so she took it. Then Adam followed Eve’s lead when she handed him the fruit (unclear to me in the text whether Adam was aware of the conversation Eve was having with the serpent, but he was right there immediately after she ate it, so one could possibly assume he was.) Does that all perhaps say something deeper about humans? That we have a tendency to fall for appearances maybe? Or that wisdom or knowledge of things is deeply enticing to us? All interesting things to consider.

      Peace in Christ

  3. Not to muddy the waters but we also have to consider that we are only capable of perceiving part of the truth in our current mortal state. We can only understand time and space as linear. This can get rather confusing. I don’t remember ever reading that Adam and Eve ever acted on permission to eat from the tree of life. But because God had foreknowledge of their disobedience and the results thereof He created the cure before the curse. The fix was in before the problem occurred.

    • Hi Lloyd. Thanks for your comment. Yes, that”s true. The text does never state they actually ever take up God’s permission to eat from any tree (which include the tree of life) other than the tree of good and evil. The way you word your last portion of your comment, it sounds as if you’re saying from God’s perspective, they were kind of always mortal (eventually), and that they were never really truly immortal. Does that sound close to your thinking?

      Peace in Christ

      • I don’t know for certain. I have always thought that they were created immortal and God knew that they would fall. So he had providence in the tree of life. If you think about it, mankind is still immortal. We will live fore, either in heaven or in hell. The work of Christ is not to provide immortality but to redeem our souls so that immortality is spent in God’s gory rather than His wrath.

  4. If memory serves, Adam and Eve were only forbidden from eating from the free of life after they had partaken from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and not beforehand.

    Since Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, and He created the world, He would not (and could not) have created anything with death already built into it, but – as other commenters have stated – He does give us choices, and allows us to experience the consequences of these decisions.

    Since Adam and Eve were made in His image, and God is sin-free and does not die, I believe that Adam and Eve existed in a similar (but obviously not divine) state, and but like any loving Parent, he gave them lots of good things, but also established clear boundaries. Adam and Eve (and us as well) violated these boundaries and subsequently experienced the consequences of this choice.

    I agree that there is far more to this story that we neither know nor understand on this side of eternity. Thankfully, we can ask Adam and Eve all about it when we get to heaven. 😉

    • Hi Daily Thankful. Thanks for your comment. Yep, good observation. They were allowed to eat from it before then, as to whether they ever did or not, the text doesn’t appear to give us that information. Though one could presume God being concerned that man might stretch out his hand, eat from it, and live forever would suggest he hadn’t already done that. Because it would be redundant to be concerned about man living forever again if they already got that “living forever nutrients” from possibly eating the fruit before.

      From the looks of what you’re saying, it sounds like you’re saying they were immortal and then after eating from the tree of good and evil, they bore the consequences of sin by becoming mortal. So from your understanding, you think the tree of life was just one of those good things God wanted to bless them with in spite of already having immortality?

      Haha, yes, won’t that be fun! 😉

      Peace in Christ

      • I suppose that my short answer is, “I don’t know,” really. When ny time comes, I suppose that I prefer to wait and ask Jesus, Adam and Eve – face-to-face! – what *really* went on inside that garden. 😀

  5. Doesn’t the tree of good and evil represent sin? A spiritual death. They chose sin (death) as would all of us because the human heart is enmity against God. But, the advantage they had was they only knew of good just as God created it. Tthey chose sin. They only knew good and now were aware of the fruit of disobedience.

    What a story since. 😛

    • Hi tastybiteweb. Thanks for your comment. Would seem to be the case considering all we know from the NT about death coming through Adam, life restored through Christ, being born again etc. Do you think the tree of life was placed in the garden just as something God simply wanted to bless Adam and Eve with?

      Peace in Christ

  6. The only thing I can add to the comments I already see here, is that I read the two trees were intentionally planted close together. I believe it was an early church father I read this from, of which I have around 5,000 pages of reading material and would be hard to find again. BUT…it is very interesting and seems to represent that the “Tree of Life” (Christ/God/God’s Word), must be kept very close to all knowledge we ingest. Hhmmm, here’s a thought I just got. MAYBE…God had plans for a day Adam and Eve could partake of the tree of knowledge and evil when they had reached a certain level of spiritual maturity in God? Wow! I never thought of this before. And so…perhaps the Tree of Life would have needed to be very close by, or partaken of first. The only sin I see in eating of the Tree of K & E is that they disobeyed God’s instructions not to. So if a day came where he said, Okay…you’re ready…and do it this way? Wow, what a thought.

    • Hi Path Without End. Thanks for your comment. Interesting theories I hadn’t heard before. There certainly had to have been a purpose as to why the tree of good and evil was there in the first place, which is another common question that comes to mind when people think of the creation story. We know of course it set the events that lead all the way up to Christ into motion, so there was that purpose and plan in one sense. Perhaps maybe in the only sense, or maybe more to the story we can’t know on this side of eternity.

      Peace in Christ

      • I didn’t think about the part that maybe God had planned for them to eventually partake of the tree with His permission, at an appointed time. That came to me as I was writing, and it really added something for me. I liked your site and hope to visit regularly.

    • Path Without End said “MAYBE…God had plans for a day Adam and Eve could partake of the tree of knowledge and evil when they had reached a certain level of spiritual maturity in God?”

      Jonathan Edwards (US theologian, pastor and evangelist) expounded on this idea in his 1731 sermon/lecture “East of Eden” which you can read at the Yale website here: http://edwards.yale.edu/archive?path=aHR0cDovL2Vkd2FyZHMueWFsZS5lZHUvY2dpLWJpbi9uZXdwaGlsby9nZXRvYmplY3QucGw/Yy4xNjoxNy53amVv

      I’m not sure I agree with your and Jonathan Edwards’s idea about this tree though. I have often wondered if, although eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was a once in, always in deal, eating from the Tree of Life needs to be a regular, even daily, meal? So, Adam and Eve might already have eaten from the Tree of Life, but they needed some of its fruit regularly to sustain them in living forever.

      In some ways, we see this reflected in our need for Jesus, the Bread of Life: yes, we need to “eat” of him once (the moment we come to faith and are justified) but we also need to “feed” on him regularly and frequently, or we will become spiritually starved.

      • VERY INTERESTING. I don’t know if I’ll check into it. It is all speculation. Fun to think about. But Thanks so much for the site info. Actually, looking at all you had to type in for the address, I owe it to you to check it out. LOL. Thanks. It does sound interesting.

  7. I went back to the concordance and, apparently, the words used for “Good” and “Evil” can also mean “beauty” and “adversity.”

    I am still thinking through it, but I suspect that they went and ate a supernatural fruit that taught them everything that could pull them away from God – vanity, mischief, sensuality (Evil) – as well as whatever other good things – wisdom, intellect, ethics, virtue. Another option is that it was of “Beauty and Adversity,” which would indicate a rejection of God’s ways.

    It’s interesting that the Tree of Life was right next to it. Whether or not Adam and Eve were supposed to live forever doesn’t matter in the end because either:
    1) They had the choice to live forever or
    2) The other tree could cancel that effect
    We don’t have enough information.

    Of course, I never saw God tell Eve this, so this explains why women don’t listen to men. 😉 I kid.

    But at the end, God reveals why he cast them out. He said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”

    It’s because of what he knew. This also implies to me that he wasn’t already immortal.

    Yet, he could have eaten from the tree of life instead.

    I propose that, perhaps, the Tree of Life might have been about more than immortality, about something to do with proper relationship with and knowledge of God – something that the other tree was likely not about.

    Or, perhaps God didn’t want him to be immortal and then be led astray.

    Likely, they were mortal. God tells Adam that he is dust and will return to dust, which is to contrast with being born of spirit, who will return to God when they die.

    What I find most likely was that the trees were diametrically opposed in their nature, set side-by-side as a choice. They could live in simplicity and plenty among the plenty of other trees, or make that big decision – God or everything else?

    I propose that they chose everything else, failed God’s test, and had to be let into the rest of the world.

    After all, without a single commandment, what does it mean to obey? If there was nothing to do wrong, their obedience had no value. Without anything by which to evaluate Adam, how could he judge him good or bad, worthy of life or death?

    Because of this, God proved that humans should be doomed to earth until they undergo the transformation at God’s hand, time quandary pending. (I believe that the Bible indirectly states in Genesis 1 and indirectly implies later that other peoples existed, and I wish so much that the transitional language between sections was done better.) Because of this choice, both in the garden and in the hearts of men, real, physical (as in, more man-to-man) sin did enter humanity, even the Adamites, from the outside, and that it would take a supernatural man, Jesus, to put into mankind the things of God, making us new with the Spirit. Sure, God has always done that, but it seems to me from reading the new testament, and especially revelation, that for some cosmic reason God needed to tilt the scales with the death of what Adam should have been.

    I think that the significance of this story in its application to mankind is to realize that we were made to have a choice, choose rightly, and live. The message of obeying God and choosing His things is right there in the beginning of the story. Everything else is expository, history, and wisdom to support that end.

    • “I went back to the concordance and, apparently, the words used for “Good” and “Evil” can also mean “beauty” and “adversity.”

      Yes, it is intriguing so many different meanings are attached those two particular Greek words used for good and evil. The knowledge of those things we know are things that God didn’t want them to know otherwise he wouldn’t have instructed them not to eat from the tree. When thought about that way, it’s even more fascinating to wonder why God didn’t want them to know those things. Certainly the evil aspects of things would be obvious, but why the good aspect of things?

      “Of course, I never saw God tell Eve this, so this explains why women don’t listen to men. 😉 I kid.”

      Haha, jokes aside, that’s something interesting people often don’t pay attention to. The fact that it was Adam instructed not to eat from the tree of good and evil, which makes you wonder what would have happened if only Eve ate from it. Though she was equally punished, and she re-stated God’s instruction to the serpent when she was talking to him, which both would seem to be indicators that she knew it was an instruction that she had to obey as well.

      “Likely, they were mortal. God tells Adam that he is dust and will return to dust, which is to contrast with being born of spirit, who will return to God when they die.”

      So you think if even they didn’t eat from the tree of good and evil, their bodies were still going to die eventually?

      “I believe that the Bible indirectly states in Genesis 1 and indirectly implies later that other peoples existed, and I wish so much that the transitional language between sections was done better.”

      In what way do you think that’s indirectly implied? I know some believe that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 reflect two separate sets of humans that were created. I also am aware that some theorize Adam had a different first wife, and Eve was his second wife.

      “I think that the significance of this story in its application to mankind is to realize that we were made to have a choice, choose rightly, and live.”

      Completely agree with this statement, and never thought about it that way. Adam was created to reign over the earth, Eve was created to help him reign over the earth, and they were to live as one being husband and wife, and fruitfully multiply. All of that along with the instruction not to eat from the tree of good and evil would seem to fall under one main job they had, which was to choose to obey whatever God instructed, and the result of fulfilling that purpose of obedience to God would always be life.

      Peace in Christ

  8. Interesting! Well, God only told them not to eat from the tree of good and evil, that was their only rule. The tree of life was therefore available to them at any time before the fall. My guess is that they were mortal and could choose to be immortal, but instead they chose death. Satan deceived them with the allure of knowledge they believed God was keeping from them. And he turned Gods words against them to make them think they could get away with eating from the tree. Regardless Adam and Eve would have lived very very long lives even if they refrained from both trees, the thought of death, even as mortals was probably not a concern to them.

    • Hi Riley. Thanks for your comment. Yep, that’s all accurate about what they were allowed. And I agree with your observation at the very least they would have lived longer had they not eaten from the tree of good and evil. It’s interesting when you read the verses of when he created all the trees/plants, everything was good, including the tree of good and evil. Maybe it’s possible that tree would have been good for them at a later time, or maybe just good in the sense that it was going to lead to Christ one day. Interesting to ponder.

      Peace in Christ.

  9. I would say I love this blog post regarding the tree of life I have always thought about it. This is my understanding;
    THE GARDEN
    Genesis 2:9 GOD made all kinds of trees grow from the ground, trees beautiful to look at and good to eat. The Tree-of-Life was in the middle of the garden, also the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil.

    THE COMMAND
    Genesis 2:16 GOD commanded the Man, “You can eat from any tree in the garden,
    Genesis 2:17 except from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil. Don’t eat from it. The moment you eat from that tree, you’re dead.”

    WAS THE TREE OF LIFE FORBIDDEN?
    Genesis 3:1 The serpent was clever, more clever than any wild animal GOD had made. He spoke to the Woman: “Do I understand that God told you not to eat from any tree in the garden?”
    Genesis 3:2 The Woman said to the serpent, “Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden.
    Genesis 3:3 It’s only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.'”
    Notice, verse 3 says, ” it’s only about the tree” not trees.
    So Man was to eat from all other trees (including the tree of life), except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God did not forbid them from eating from the tree of life.
    Also, the choice of being immortal or mortal was given to man to choose. But God had wanted them immortal that’s why He made them that way in the first place.
    Deuteronomy 30:15 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.” This verse Clearly shows us that, God doesn’t make decisions for us, he only gives us wise counsel but the power of choice is left for us because we have personal will.
    It is true to say that there was possibility of dying. That means, man was neither immortal nor mortal before the fall. Since it was dependent on obeying God’s command. And in case of it, he would surely die.

    THE FALL.
    Genesis 3:6 When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it–she’d know everything!–she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate.

    By disobeying God’s command, through eating the fruit from the tree of life, man chose to be mortal. And if he ate/continued to eat from the tree of life

    THE PUNISHMENT
    Genesis 3:19… sweating in the fields from dawn to dusk, Until you return to that ground yourself, dead and buried; you started out as dirt, you’ll end up dirt.”

    Man now was subject to death by choice.

    THE TREE OF Life BECAME FORBIDDEN AFTER THE FALL.
    Genesis 3:22 GOD said, “The Man has become like one of us, capable of knowing everything, ranging from good to evil. What if he now should reach out and take fruit from the Tree-of-Life and eat, and live forever? Never–this cannot happen!”
    Genesis 3:23 So GOD expelled them from the Garden of Eden and sent them to work the ground, the same dirt out of which they’d been made.
    Genesis 3:24 He threw them out of the garden and stationed angel-cherubim and a revolving sword of fire east of it, guarding the path to the Tree-of-Life.

    WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO EAT OF THE TREE OF LIFE?
    why was man not forbidden from eating the fruit of the tree of life before the fall? He was holy, without sin. So, who is allowed to eat the fruit of the tree of life? THE OVERCOMERS…Those who overcome sin. Those who are obedient to the law of God. The holy. Before the fall, man was holy and it would be true to say that he was eligible of eating the fruit of the tree of life.
    Revelation 2:7 He who is able to hear, let him listen to and give heed to what the Spirit says to the assemblies (churches). To him who overcomes (is victorious), I will grant to eat [of the fruit] of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
    Revelation 22:14 Blessed (happy and to be envied) are those who cleanse their garments, that they may have the authority and right to [approach] the tree of life and to enter through the gates into the city.

    SO WHY DID GOD FORBID MAN FROM EATING THE FRUIT OF THE TREE OF LIFE?
    Romans 6:23- The wages of sin is death. Man had sinned against God and death came upon him as punishment. Man was thus disqualified from eating its fruit since it would invalidate the punishment. If they ate, they would live forever, contrary to the death punishment.

    SO, WHAT IS THE REMEDY?
    Man now needed a Savior to conquer sin and death for him and make him eligible to eat of the tree of life. And that’s why Jesus came.
    1 John 5:4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
    Romans 6:16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
    Romans 6:17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.
    Romans 6:18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
    Romans 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
    Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.
    Romans 5:17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

    Grace be with you all.

  10. If it’s not too late to comment, I believe that death was already IN the creation, otherwise how do you explain the moon, which is without life? I subscribe to the Gap Theory (Ruin-Reconstruction Theory) that God created the heaven and the earth in Genesis 1:1; that a gap of time passed during which God was compelled to work judgment on the earth of His creation, and that beginning in Genesis 1:2, the work of recreation began. This accounts for the moon being dead, the ancient age of the earth (God used old, original materials), fossils and all the other things Christians either have to deny or invent an explanation for. God judged the earth. It also confirms that death was therefore already within the 6-day recreation of the earth and so Adam and Eve also were given the opportunity to eat from the Tree of Life. They could choose life or they could choose death.

    If death was already within the creation due to the judgment deemed to take place between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, then God’s command to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was wise counsel and admonition, not an authoritative ‘obey or else’ command. When Adam and Eve chose to eat, they lost their connection to God first and foremost as the sustainer of all life, as well as the right to eat from the tree of life (even the angels have angels food – think manna). They merely reaped the consequences of their own sin. What they lost was their protection from death, which in essence is the devils kingdom and sphere of operation. It wasn’t God giving them the big smack-down and inflicting death on them. It was God telling them what would happen, from a place of love, wisdom and wise counsel, something we can choose to believe or disbelieve.

    Personally, I believe that if you accept the reality of the Gap Theory by faith, it explains all about God (who undertook to re-create and salvage His original creation (Gen 1:2), which becomes the pattern for Jesus Christ, to recreate and salvage the man of God’s creation (doing what He sees the Father doing), leaving a future for those who receive and obey the Holy Spirit in truth to work with Him in His millenial reign to likewise salvage once again the ravages that we have worked and loosed upon the earth through our own ways (Isa. 61:3-4, the rest of the passage Christ quoted during His first advent). A triumphant end to an extended plan of God to fully undo all the devil loosed through his iniquity and establish man as His crowning glory. Beautiful cohesion and symmetry, anchored in the Trinity/triune nature of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which is why I believe the Gap Theory is true, and why there was a Tree of Life in the Garden of God.

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