The Fall of Man is perhaps one of the best illustrations of the use
of symbolic language that can be found in the Bible. The Tree of the
Knowledge of Good & Evil, the Tree of Life, the Serpent and the Fruit,
are objects in the Genesis story that have meaning beyond what is
expressed literally. When we can decipher their inner meaning, we will
begin to see the makings of a quite different story.
The Trees of the Garden
The Tree of the
Knowledge of Good & Evil was only mentioned once in the Bible,
however the Tree of Life, which stood next to it in the midst of the
Garden is mentioned numerous times, and in a context that can only have
Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred
makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
Rev. 22:14 Blessed are those
who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and
may go through the gates into the city.
After the fall, Adam & Eve were driven from
the Garden, and the Tree of Life was guarded to prevent them from reaching
it. (Gen 3:24) Since then, attaining the Tree of Life has been the
hope and desire of fallen man. So it clearly cannot be referring to
a literal tree. There are other verses in the Bible that liken a tree to a
man of righteousness.
Psalms 1:1-3 Blessed is the
man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of
sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of
the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree
planted by the streams of water, which yields its fruit in season.
Psalms 52:8 But I am like an
olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing
love for ever and ever.
Isaiah 61:5 They will be
called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of
And Jesus said;
"I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off
every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear
fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." John 15:1
"I am the vine; you are
the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much
fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5
In the ultimate sense, a man of
righteousness is a sinless man, a sinless Adam, like Jesus. The Tree
of Life in the Garden of Eden was symbolic of sinless perfected Adam.
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil, which stood next to
the Tree of Life, we can then conclude was symbolic of Eve.
Therefore, the two trees in the midst of the Garden were none other than
Adam & Eve who stood at the center of God's ideal of creation.
Jesus said, "Hear
and understand: "Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what
comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." Matt 15:10-11
Fruit is meant for food to sustain life, and in a
literal sense what we eat is passed on through the body and doesn't
directly effect our succeeding generations. And as mentioned earlier
it is inconsistent for a loving God to place a dangerous and tempting
fruit in the presence of His children, not to mention a fruit that can
Since literal fruit can't grow on a symbolic tree we can likewise
conclude that the fruit that was eaten by Adam & Eve was not a literal
fruit, but has a symbolic meaning. The meaning of the fruit can become
more clear as we understand the identity and crime of the serpent.
It states in Gen 3 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast
of the field which the Lord God had made. Indeed the serpent was
able to converse with Eve, had know- ledge of God's commandment and
deceived her. These are not the traits and capabilities of a literal
snake. There are other verses that identify the fallen angel
Lucifer as the serpent who tempted Eve and was then cast out of heaven.
Rev 12:9 The great
dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and
Satan, the deceiver of the whole world, he was thrown down to the earth,
and his angels with him.
Isaiah 14:12 How you
are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut
down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in
your heart: 'I will ascend into the heaven, I will exalt my throne above
the Stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the
farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the
clouds, I will be like the Most High.' Yet you shall be brought down to
Sheol, to the lowest depths of the pit.
So the serpent who tempted Eve was actually the Angel, Lucifer, who
through his sin and disobedience became Satan.