Question of the Week: The Tree of Life?

By Oluf Bagge (From Northern Antiquities) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Oluf Bagge (From Northern Antiquities) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

On June 10th, 2018, The Mentionables received this question via Facebook, from Paul McAndrew:

“How do we explain Adam and Eve ignoring the Tree of Life located in the midst (Center) of the Garden where the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was also located?”

These are the answers from the team.


This is the answer from Randy Hroziencik. For the answer from Marc Lambert, scroll below.

There's no reason to think that Adam and Eve ignored the Tree of Life.  They surely knew it was there.  They were only commanded to not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  After eating from the latter, access to the Tree of Life was kept from them by an angel appointed by God, since they could not be allowed to live forever in a fallen state (as brought about by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, directly disobeying God's command).  Some might argue that they never ate from the Tree of Life, as they would live forever, but there is much that we don't know about this.  

This is the answer from Marc Lambert

I do not know.

The Bible does not expressly say.

However, some thoughts have been offered over the years.

  • Some commentators have held that the Tree of Life is not a one-bite = immortality sort of deal, and Adam and Eve very well could have eaten from the Tree of Life prior to the Fall. This would account for the unusually long lifespans in the early chapters of Genesis which eventually ceased.

  • Others have viewed the Tree of Life as something of a medicinal nature. Since life was good and there was no illness or death, Adam and Eve would have had no reason to eat from the Tree of Life.

  • Likewise, I have heard it stated that the 2 trees symbolized a choices placed before Adam and Eve, and before they had made their decision Satan came and deceived them, tempting them to make the wrong choice.

  • And I am sure there are many more ideas.

Personally, I usually prefer the simplest answer and tend to think that they just hadn’t gotten around to it. We’re not told that they were “ignoring” it. Nothing in the text states that God drew and significant attention to the Tree of Life. Additionally, the text doesn’t seem to allow for a great deal of time to pass between Creation and Fall. It may have been only days, or less. They had a whole Garden to explore and experience (not to mention each other), and there actually was work to be done (tending the Garden). I do not see anything in the text itself of Genesis that would lead me to believe there was any sense of urgency or anxiety on their part to go have a bite of any particular fruit.  Indeed, it seems to have required the Serpent drawing their attention to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. So while I have no position that I “plant my flag on” or any particular ax to grind on this issue, I tend to think it basically just comes down to “because they were doing other things”.