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Overview of The Bible

What Are Demons?

What is God's Spirit?

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The Names of God

The Atonement

What is Heaven?

What the Bible Teaches About Faith

A Beginner's Guide to Bible Prophecy

The Tree of Life

Explore the deeper meaning hidden behind the two trees in the garden.


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The Tree of Life


If you've ever picked up a Bible, you'll know it's a book filled with examples of people wrestling with how to exercise their free will. To eat meat offered to idols or not to, that is the question! But Biblical choices are typically more complex than deciding what or what not to eat for dinner. In fact, they're often a matter of life and death – and the Bible first describes these choices with the imagery of two trees.

The Command in the Garden

The Bible story opens with the first humans in a garden, and they're told that they could freely eat of the trees in the garden, including the Tree of Life. This tree was unlike any other. It could bring healing, wisdom, and (of course) life to anyone who ate from it. But elsewhere in the garden, on the way to the Tree of Life, was another tree: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (or the Tree of Knowledge for short). Of this tree, Adam and Eve were explicitly told not to eat of it because if they did, they would surely die. In other words, it was the opposite to the Tree of Life. While one tree brings healing and life, the other brings mortality and death.

Humanity's First Choice

This was the first opportunity humans had to exercise their free will, and the choice was simple: either eat of the Tree of Knowledge and die or eat of the Tree of Life and live. Who wouldn't choose the tree of life? But Adam and Eve were tempted by the prospect of becoming like gods and being able to make their own choices between good and evil, and so they made the wrong choice. They ate from the Tree of Knowledge and, as a result, were cursed to mortality and death. Upon eating from the tree, they were exiled from the garden, and God placed a Cherubim with a flaming sword to "keep the way to the tree" that provided life. Adam and Eve were stuck looking at the garden from the outside-in.

Is the Way Blocked Forever?

As an interesting aside, ‘keeping’ the way to the Tree of life doesn’t imply blocking the way forever. the Hebrew word translated as 'keeping' the way to the Tree of Life is the same word used for when Adam and Eve 'kept' the garden of Eden, which implies that this cherub was keeping, or protecting it so that it could be accessed later. It was only a temporary obstacle that one day would be removed for those worthy to eat from it. In the book of Revelation, it says that the reward for those who have been righteous is that they might have the right to eat of the tree of life. So the way back hasn't been blocked forever; it’s just protected for those worthy enough to eat it.

What Do These Trees Represent?

Anyways, what’s the big deal with this tree and man's choice in the garden? And why does the Bible use these trees to paint a picture of life and death, choices and consequences? Well, it all comes down to what each tree represents.

When the serpent tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden tree, he said, "God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods knowing good and evil."Therefore, the Tree of Knowledge represents man's desire to be like God and make their own choices. It’s a way of life that decides to put self above God and do what we feel like doing -- and when humans do what they feel like doing, that leads to sin and death.

When it comes to the Tree of Life, the Bible talks about it as if we should know exactly what it means, but it’s never directly explained and is mentioned very infrequently. But if you trace its appearances through scripture, you’ll find that in Genesis, it’s painted as a reward for obedience, Proverbs compares it to righteousness, wisdom, and healing, and Revelation combines both of those ideas by describing it as a reward that heals. So actually, the symbol of the Tree of Life is incredibly consistent, and it’s message is very specific. Its the reward for choosing obedience to God and overcoming sin. The Tree of Life is God’s symbol of the choice He gives mankind, and the reward offered to those who choose to obey him.

So when we come across these trees in Genesis, or anywhere in the Bible, this is what is being told to us: 

  • We have a choice to obey God or not, but

  • We cannot do both

  • It’s a choice between life and death

This is a consistent theme throughout the whole of the Bible. For example, Moses paints the same picture for Israel when he begs them to follow God at the end of his life. On the edge of the promised land, he says to Israel:

"...I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: that thou mayest love the LORD thy God and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers…" Deuteronomy 30:19-20

The Bible’s final reference to this tree is found in the last chapter of Revelation:

"And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be…Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Revelation 22:12,14


So that’s the Tree of Life: a symbol of humanity’s simple choice. The thing is, though, once we decide which choice to make, there’s a lot to learn about how that choice will influence our life, and so if you’re interested in learning more about what God expects from those who choose life, make sure to watch this video right here.

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Study Notes

The Tree of Life

Explore the deeper meaning hidden behind the two trees in the garden.

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