What does the tree of life represent in Genesis?


The tree of life, mentioned in the books of Genesis and Revelation, is a life-giving tree created to enhance and perpetually sustain the physical life of humanity. The tree was planted by God in the Garden of Eden: “And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Genesis 2:9. The centrally located tree of life would have been easily accessible to Adam and Eve from any point in the garden.

More details concerning the tree of life come after Adam and Eve’s sin: “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:” Genesis 3:22. In his disobedience, Adam lost his eternal life. The tree of life in Eden had some role to play in maintaining the life of Adam and Eve (and possibly the animals). Adam would “live forever,” even in his fallen condition, if he had eaten the tree of life after his sin. God placed a sword-wielding cherub at the entrance to the garden specifically “to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24). Access to the tree of life would have prolonged Adam’s physical life indefinitely, dooming him to an eternity in a cursed world.


It was a mercy that God kept all of mankind from the tree of life. By barring access to the tree of life, God showed compassion in His omniscience. Knowing that, because of sin, earthly life would be filled with sorrow and toil, God graciously limited the number of years men would live. To live eternally in a sinful state would mean endless agony for humanity, with no hope of the relief that comes with death. By limiting our lifespan, God gives us enough time to come to know Him and His provision for eternal life through Christ, but spares us the misery of an endless existence in a sinful condition.


Through one man, Adam, sin entered the world, but through another Man, Jesus the Christ, redemption through the forgiveness of sin is available to all (Romans 5:17). Those who avail themselves of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross will be resurrected to see the tree of life in person, for it stands in the middle of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, where it bears “twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2). In the eternal state, the curse will be no more (Rev. 22:3), access to the tree of life will be reinstated, and physical darkness will be no more (Rev. 22:5). A form of Eden will be recreated on a NEW not renovated Earth.

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” Revelation 21:1

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© 2020 Tony - Antonakis Maritis