What did the tree of life & the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represent?

Genesis 2:9, 16-17 (NKJV)

9 And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The TREE OF LIFE was also in the midst of the garden, and THE TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of EVERY TREE of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”


Observe that only TWO trees are ACTUALLY mentioned as being in the garden — the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Many often miss this fine detail. So by telling man to eat of every other tree EXCEPT the the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God was essentially telling man to eat of the Tree of Life! However, if he chose to disobey God, he was going to die.

This shows us that God gave man a freewill to make decisions independent of coercion. If man was going to obey God, it would be because HE wanted to, not because he was forced. Gen. 3:1-7 tells us that man eventually disobeyed God by “eating” of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now, the New Testament which is an explanation of the Old (see Eph. 3:1-5) provides further insight.

In Rom. 5:12-19, Paul explains Gen. 3:1-7. Notice that he doesn’t mention trees nor eating in his explanation. He simply summarises the entire Gen. 3:1-7 event as “disobedience.” This word was translated from the Greek “parakoe,” a compound word derived from two other Greek words: “para” (which means “contrary”) and “akouō” (which means “to hear a report”). That is, contrary hearing, to choose to heed or believe the opposite of what was instructed. This implies that Adam’s sin was disbelieving God’s Word!

This reveals to us that “the tree of Life” and “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” were non-literal imageries of either faith in God’s Word to receive Life or man seeking life by his own efforts (the lie of the serpent). To “eat of the Tree of Life” was to believe on God for life.

Note that Jesus also used the phrase “eat of” in John 6:51-58. He calls Himself the BREAD OF LIFE, any man who “eat of” His flesh and “drinks of” his blood shall LIVE FOREVER! This is extremely similar to what God said in Gen. 3:22. Jesus had earlier explained what He meant by “eat of” and “drink of” as “believing” (in vv. 33-40). So “eating and drinking” is metaphorical language for believing in Him. He who believes receives Life (John 3:16, John 5:24-25). Life therefore is found in Christ, what Adam rejected was God’s Word to Him about finding Life in Himself, rather than his own works (which “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” represented).


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2020.


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