A "Tree of Life" is referenced in the Bible books of Genesis, Proverbs, and Revelation. Learn the biblical meaning of the Tree of Life and its relation to Christians today!
What Is the Tree of Life?
The tree of life, first referenced in the book of Genesis, is a life-giving tree created to support the physical and spiritual life of mankind. The tree was established by God in the Garden of Eden: "And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." (Genesis 2:9).
In his transgression, Adam lost his everlasting life. The tree of life in Eden must have played a role in sustaining the life of Adam and Eve. Therefore, Adam would have “lived forever,” even in his fallen state, if he had eaten the tree of life after his sin.
Bible Meaning of the Tree of Life
Cast Out from Paradise - Genesis 3:22-4
Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever--" therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
After the fall of mankind through Adam and Eve, God sent them out of the Garden of Eve to exclude them from the tree of life there. This was to protect Adam and Eve and their offspring from the immortality given by the tree of life, which in their fallen state would've had eternally condemned them to suffer and separation from God. In God's mercy and love for mankind, after the fall He enabled us to die that we may be lifted up through His Son and rejoined with Him in heaven.
Gotquestions.org explains God's mercy of our mortality:
"It was a mercy that God kept us 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."
The Tree of Life in Revelation
The River and Tree of Life - Revelation 22:1-3
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.
Here the "Tree of Life" is a symbol of Christ Himself, giving immortality. It fulfills the tree of life in Paradise and the other tree of life, the Cross of the Savior, the tree of obedience (1 Peter 2:24), a tree of the curse (Galatians 3:13). But there is no more curse in the Holy City of heaven: a reversal of the curse of Genesis 3:16-19. The fruits and leaves of the tree are completely and universally therapeutic, reversing the effects of the fruit of the tree of disobedience (Genesis 3:6)
Importance of the Tree of Life Today
Our tree of life is Jesus Christ, granting us immortality through His defeat of death on the cross. Because of the ancestral sin of Adam and Eve, we now have the knowledge of good and evil and the free will to choose between the life-giving Christ or the deadly pursuit of selfish passion.
Christ resurrected the tree of life by His cross and granted everlasting life to mankind once again. "Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24) To eat of the tree of life now is to follow Christ by bearing our cross in repentance and love for God.
"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." (Revelation 2:7)
"Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates." (Revelation 22:14)
Photo credit: ©Getty/Nelson Cena