The tree of good and evil


(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #1

Today I was reading Genesis 2 and came to this verse:

Genesis 2:9 NIV
[9] The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

I understand the concept of the tree of life and and its purpose for the most part (it also makes an appearance at the end of The Book of Revelations, I think chap 22) but what I don’t understand is God’s purpose for creating the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now, I don’t want the conversation to translate into a question of “did God know man was going to sin before the fall?” But I’d rather know what the general purpose God had in mind in placing this tree in Eden and telling Adam and Eve basically “do not touch.” Why is the tree there in the first place? Does it have to do with free will and the option of human choice? It’s an interesting question that tumbled around in my mind as I read Genesis 2.
Thank you for reading this and taking the time to respond, God bless!

(P.s sorry if my question of free will and human choice comes across as contradictory to what I asked you not to answer! :upside_down_face:


(SeanO) #2

@O_wretched_man The following thread has some perspectives on this issue. I have included one here that I found particularly thoughtful.

“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).”


(David Cieszynski) #4

Ravi Zacharias in ‘Beyond Opinion’ says “True love is the freedom to love”, in my opinion by having the tree of knowledge in the garden this allowed mankind to follow his heart which unfortunately was to disobey God.

Sorry if I’ve repeated anything above.


(James Armbruster) #7

Actually, the Tree of Life is the one that I struggle with - in a garden where there is no death… :confused:


(Matthew Mingus) #8

This is a really good question. The answer to it really deals with the idea of free will. What if God had not created the Tree of knowledge of good and evil? Another question that can really capture the idea contained here is this: Can love exist without choice?
Lets say that I want someone to love me…so my response to this need is to hold them at gunpoint and tell them that I want their love. Now it just may be that at this point they will confess their truest and most dedicated love to me…but will it be real?
The reality of love is that it is not something that can be created or taken. It is only something that can be given freely. We can build things today that are quite capable of telling us that they love us if we want them to…they are called robots. God did not desire a relationship with beings who told them that they loved him merely because He said they must. He wanted real love that was freely given by our own choice.
That choice was given by way of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It represented our choice to love God, or abandon Him and become our own god. We know how this part of the story turned out.
I hope that this answer helps. God bless you and thank you for your great question.


(SeanO) #9

@James It is my understanding that they were kept alive by the tree of life. So being evicted from the Garden and the Tree of Life was the same as being sentenced to death. So the Tree of Life quite literally is what gave them physical life. How exactly it did that is another question - did it have some physical properties or did God simply honor its purpose by sustaining their lives?

life-giving tree created to enhance and perpetually sustain the physical life of humanity

Given these realities, it is easy to see why the Lord chose to supply life to His people by means of the Tree of Life while they lived in the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:9). Apparently, immortality was the gift to anyone who regularly ate the fruit of the tree (3:22) and, as one commentator notes, the Tree of Life was also an early means of sacramental communication between God and His people. The tree was a physical means of conducting a spiritual transaction, the very essence of a sacrament. As long as Adam and Eve ate of the tree they had life, and they had access to the tree because before sin they were in a right relationship with God.


(James Armbruster) #10

Thanks, I have never heard of this before!


(SeanO) #11

@James Glad you learned something new. It’s always exciting learning more about the Word :slight_smile: