Adam and the tree


(Dean Schmucker) #1

I was wondering what your understanding is of the original command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “for the day you eat of it, you shall surely die”
Adam ate but did not die that day.


(Andrea L) #2

@manbooks, he died. Spiritually.
He became separated from God.
I think God would have let them to eat from the tree once they become ready. Ready to handle the knowledge it carries.


(SeanO) #3

@manbooks Great question. When Adam and Eve ate of the tree, they lost access to the Tree of Life, which was in the Garden. As a result of that fact, they died. God did not mean that they would die the second they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Rather, God meant that if they ate from it, then it was inevitable that one day they would die because sin leads to separation from God and to death. And they did. God is the source of life and all that is good and beautiful and true, so putting a wall between us and Him by sinning inevitably would lead to death.

One approach is to understand that Adam and Eve were meant to learn the knowledge of good and evil - to become like God - by obeying His prohibition not to eat from the tree. It is possible the tree itself had no magic properties - even if it was the tree of ‘sweet and sour’ - it would have made no difference. When Adam and Eve chose disobedience - they chose to define good and evil for themselves and were then enslaved to sin. Our truest freedom is in obedience to God - that is the highest knowledge of good and evil - but when we disobey we are enslaved to death and sin. The tree may have had some special properties, but in my opinion that is unnecessary - it was the choice to disobey God that ultimately was destructive - not the fruit itself.

Here is a Connect thread where this issue is discussed in more detail:


(Dean Schmucker) #4

The reason I asked is that I read something by RB theme on the attributes of God. For him, God’s holiness was the supreme attribute, but I think that Adam did not physically die when he sinned indicates this is not so. “Mercy triumphs over judgement”


(Timothy Loraditch) #5

@andrea.l If Adam had not died then there would be no need for us to be born again. Jesus said you must be born again that was because of Adam’s sin John 3:1-21. Through one man (Adam) all died Romans 5:12. When we are born again our relationship with Christ is renewed.


(SeanO) #6

@manbooks I think I see where the confusion is coming in. I think that RB is defining holiness as God’s ‘set apartness’. The term ‘holy’ does not mean righteous or pure, even though the common phrase ‘holier than thou’ implies that it does. The term holy means ‘set apart’ or ‘utterly unique’. In that sense God’s holiness encompasses His righteousness, mercy and justice altogether. All of God’s attributes contribute to His ‘otherness’ - His holiness. No one is as merciful as He is, no one as righteous, no one as pure, no one as mighty - no one is like Him! That is part of what it means to be the ‘Holy One’ of Israel.

So, since God’s mercy contributes, in some sense, to His holiness - not punishing Adam and Eve right away does not mean that God’s holiness is not His chief attribute because all of His attributes contribute to His holiness.

Does that make sense? Of course, not all theologians may agree on exactly how these terms are defined, but I think that is what RB is seeking to convey.

Tim Keller does a good job explaining holiness in this sermon:


(Andrea L) #7

@tfloraditch, I’m sorry I think I don’t really understand what you mean.
I wrote that - according to my knowledge - when disobeying God Adam spiritually died. Had he had access to the tree of life and had eaten of its fruit he would have never died physically - and it would have blocked God’s salvation plan.
I agree with you, we need to be born again through accepting Jesus as our Saviour. As I understand because Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden caused a separation between humankind and God, Jesus came to offer the restoration of this relationship through Himself.


(Timothy Loraditch) #8

@andrea.l I do apologize. I think the problem here is that I intended to respond to the original poster of this thread and clicked on your name by accident. That may be where the confusion comes from. We seem to be in agreement except I don’t know that God ever intended for us to have the knowledge of good and evil. God just wanted us to know Him. Something to ponder I think.


(Dean Schmucker) #9

I agree. We were created as free moral agents but God’s intent was not that we would live by moral conciousness but by the Tree of Life within us. Without such conciousnesst would seem impossible not to sin, but "dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne’
This was His intention for Adam.
He lost it trying to live a "good"life on his own
Now in Christ we need not try.


(Daniel Pech) #10

Technically, all you’re saying here is that Adam and Eve finally died simply because they no longer could be kept in perfect health by regularly eating of the Good tree. This assumes that they were already under the penalty of the progressive entropy that would culminate in capitulation. But that means that they did not enter into that penalty by eating of the Bad tree. In other words, it means they did not become biologically fallen by their own actions, but simply by God’s having set up a completely arbitrary rule that they simply broke, so that the Bad tree was indeed not, of itself, Bad: eating of it would not cause them to enter a biologically fallen state that NATURALLY ends in death. This would mean that it WAS perfectly harmless in itself: ‘good for food.’ It’s being bad, in itself, in that regard, is the normal sense of the command not to eat of it. God was not playing with words! For, had He actually said what you say He really meant, He would have said simply, ‘If you disobey Me, I shall ban you from ever again eating of the Good tree’, by which they would have inferred that they were going to end up dead as their biology progressively degraded. This is not a ‘very good’ state, and yet there is no mention of either tree in Genesis 1.


(SeanO) #11

@DanielPech That God by ‘very good’ meant that there was no biological death at all, even among animals, is a highly debated point. Very intelligent and well known men like William Lane Craig and Hugh Ross contend that both entropy and animal death may have existed prior to the fall and the Garden was a kind of oasis where God preserved mankind in a special way. Of course human death was a result of the fall, but why man began to die is another question.

Well, I would say in response to James that when you read the Bible, there’s nothing in the Bible that suggests that animal death is the result of the fall of man. William Lane Craig

You will also find that there are plenty of very intelligent folks who do not believe the tree of knowledge of good and evil had any magic properties - it simply gave Adam and Eve a choice to obey God or not.

“Concretely, the tree represented for Adam the choice between submitting to God’s law or pursuing moral autonomy : Fearing the Lord (the beginning of wisdom), or judging for himself what good and evil are. Learning obedience would result in greater wisdom, maturity, and freedom. That is what the serpent tempted Adam and Eve with: “You shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). That is, you shall judge for yourselves. You will no be in the position of children, having good and evil dictated to you. The serpent tempted Adam and Eve with the prerogatives of autonomous, mature adulthood, before they had learned submission to God—and he tempted them to achieve this by way of disobedience . But it is important to understand that it could have been achieved with obedience as well , without the consequences of sin—and that is the tragedy. Adam and Eve were indeed destined to rule creation. Becoming like gods was not a bad thing or a bad desire. But this was to be achieved in the same way the rule of Jesus was achieved—by submission to God (Philippians 2:8-9).”

“The tree of knowledge was to lead man to the knowledge of good and evil; and, according to the divine intention, this was to be attained through his not eating of its fruit. This end was to be accomplished, not only by his discerning in the limit imposed by the prohibition the difference between that which accorded with the will of God and that which opposed it, but also by his coming eventually, through obedience to the prohibition, to recognize the fact that all that is opposed to the will of God is an evil to be avoided, and through voluntary resistance to such evil, to the full development of the freedom of choice originally imparted to him into the actual freedom of a deliberate and self-conscious choice of good. By obedience to the divine will he would have attained to a godlike knowledge of good and evil, i.e. to one in accordance with his own likeness to God. He would have detected the evil in the approaching tempter; but instead of yielding to it, he would have resisted it, and thus have made good his own property acquired with consciousness and of his won free-will, and in this way by proper self-determination would gradually have advanced to the possession of the truest liberty.” - Franz Delitch


(Dean Schmucker) #12

I see two alternative paths here
Tree of Knowledge of Good and evil is man’s attempt at righteousness on his own
Tree of Life is “to be found in Him, having no righteousness of my own”
Its so simple only a child can get it , , ,


(SeanO) #13

@manbooks I like your simple approach. It may be a bit of an oversimplification - for example, the tree of life is not actually Jesus - it was a tree in the Garden that sustained life. However, the simple Gospel truth is a great place to land whenever we cannot see eye to eye.


(Dean Schmucker) #14

Paul was adamant
O Fooloish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?
Any gospel that is not simple is not the gospel, per Paul
That’s what works for me anyway


(SeanO) #15

@manbooks Indeed, there is only one Gospel! I think regarding the Garden of Eden though there are some questions not directly related to the Gospel itself.


(Dean Schmucker) #16

Yes, questions about origin are ubiquitous.
Do you understand there to have literally been a Garden of Eden that was created before the flood? Is there a literal Tree of Life, or is it symbolic of something?
Is the Universe 6000 years old or 14.6 billion years?
I suppose all of this is a bunny trail, well off of our original topic, so I may start a new one.


(Daniel Pech) #18

Do you mean it ultimately could well have been just a rule that God made up: that the fruit itself was not bad at all for them to eat? I cannot see how that would made any good and righteous sense. And I do not know of anywhere else in Scripture for which it can well be maintained that God gave such an arbitrary command.

If the fruit of the Bad tree was not, even in the long term, actually poisonous to humans, then what was God really aiming to accomplish in telling them, plainly, that if they ate of it, they would die? I mean, if we put this in terms of what humans would be aiming for if one elder human told some very young juniors to avoid something that would not hurt them, what, if anything, could be a righteous and justified aim on the Elder for such a warning? And keep in mind that God’s penalty for their disobeying that command was death. So it seems this was no practice session for them, like, say, flight simulator. That, to my way of thinking, is in no wise righteous. Imagine being told that if you, for some doubting motive, decide to push the eject button on the flight simulator of a supersonic fighter jet, you shall actually find yourself being ejected out into an actual Mach 3 wind-speed at 4,000 feet, with all the natural consequences to your body.

God could not have been just giving them practice on something that would not injure them, because they died. It also was not just to see what they would do, such as to see if they would obey or not, since…well, God already had a plan in the event they disobeyed. And I assume most agree that He had a plan even if they obeyed: whatever the Unfallen world was to become, in terms of its Unfallenness, if humans remained unfallen. It was not an illusion of a continuance and progress that He was offering them if they obeyed. How could they have understood the warning not as a plain warning about the fruit, but instead about God’s subsequently banning their access to the Tree of Life?

Or, if it wasn’t such a plain warning, but they mistook it as plain, then it seems God was being deliberately obscure. But to what purpose? Surely, God was not ‘stacking the deck’ against their freely choosing whether to obey the command or not? To me, that kind of thing makes the relationship that God wants from us not to be a genuine relationship with those He made in His image, but a relationship between God and some totally irrational creature that God is thereby merely training in rationality. Except, that, in the case as recording in Genesis 3, and implied throughout the Bible, their penalty for an irrational choice is not more practice, but instead their death.

I might make my argument more clear if we consider what, in view of your idea that the fruit itself ultimately doesn’t matter, your would have thought of Genesis 22 had you never been exposed to Hebrews 11:17-19, such as by, say, having been born prior to the New Testament Scriptures. I suggest you would have deplored the thought that the reason why Abraham complied with God’s admittedly odd request was somehow related to the ‘hypothesis’ that ‘Abraham must have reasoned that God forthwith would resurrect Isaac’ (as opposed to just leaving Isaac dead).

So I’m completely unable to relate to the idea that God’s command not to eat of the Bad tree need not have had anything to do with the fruit itself. For, that idea seems to me to render God as some Divine Keeper of pets who trains us for some odd desire to at least occasionally be obeyed for NO other reason than to be obeyed. Surely you do not think that God had had just tacked on the fruit to make the command seem substantive?? How could that be a good and righteous basis for a relationship? It just doesn’t make any good sense to me.


(Dean Schmucker) #19

When considering the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, what is the important focus? The tree, or it’s fruit? Many times we use “fruit” in a symbolic way, meaning the result of the decision. As in, the fruit of his choice was evil, etc. I believe the point of this story is not a physical tree with physical fruit (though I believe that there was an actual tree with actual fruit), but that Adam was choosing a path that he was not designed for, that belonged only to God. He was not to have a moral conscience apart from his Creator, but, in eating the fruit of the Tree of Life, righteousness would be imputed to him.


(SeanO) #20

@manbooks I recognize that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us, but I have never heard anyone say that the Tree of Life imputed righteousness. What do you mean by that? A tree cannot be righteous.


(SeanO) #21

@DanielPech The command was not arbitrary. God meant to test them so that they could grow in maturity.

But let us imagine that the fruit was, in fact, bad for them in some physical way - poisonous or dangerous. We still have the exact same problem. Why did God put a poisonous tree in the Garden? He is God after all - wouldn’t that also be an arbitrary decision by your definition? God created the Garden - He could have removed any poisonous tree - even if put there by someone else - He is God.

So no matter how you slice it, God must have had a reason for even allowing the tree in the Garden in the first place - whether the tree was poisonous or no. My contention is that God meant to test them so that they could learn righteousness through obedience.

What do you think?