By Jordan Burgen
God threw Adam and Eve out of the garden so they had no chance of eating from the tree of life, and be confirmed in their sins forever, right? What if they'd eaten from the tree of life instead? They just never would have died physically? Same for their offspring?
Yes, the result of eating of the Tree of Life is eternal life, or as it is said in Genesis 3, to “live forever.” But what exactly is meant by the term “eternal life”? Is it simply a matter of never having an earthly, physical death? Jesus answers this question for us in John 17:3: “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Knowing god IS eternal life. So, what was stripped of Adam and Eve through their choice of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a life where they know God in every way and live life connected to Him for all eternity. A person cannot choose to disobey God and still live connected to Him. However, in Revelation the Tree of Life comes up again. In Revelation 2:7 Jesus says: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” And how do we conquer? Through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Romans 8:31-39 lays it out beautifully:
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So, the refusal to let them eat of the Tree of Life was not God saying “I have to get them out of here or they’ll fool me again and never die!” but Him saying, “Their choices have separated them from having a life connected to Me because in My holiness, I cannot be connected to sin.” I believe the Tree of Life was more symbolic of that uninhibited relationship with God rather than being a tree with a fruit that had special powers to thwart physical death, just as eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was symbolic of rebellion against God. Fortunately for us, in His love He has provided us a way back to living in connectedness with Him!
I hope this answers your question. Please let me know if you have any more. Thanks again for reaching out!
The "Good Questions" blog is a place where some of the really good questions people email into the church can be shared with everyone, along with Jordan Burgen's response. Jordan Burgen is the Content & Theology Pastor here at Flatirons, so he answers a lot of the emails sent in to us. To ask a question (about anything, really), please fill out a contact form here or email Jordan directly at