If there was no death before Adam's sin, why did God create a tree of Eternal life

Genesis 2:8 ff
And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, where He placed the man He had formed. 9Out of the ground the LORD God gave growth to every tree that is pleasing to the eye and good for food. And in the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 3
22Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil. And now, lest he reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…”

\the implication, if not stated clearly, is that humanity was never immortal and was never meant to be.

All this talk about death coming from sin is just false. Death is as eternal as life. It always was and ever shall be, until or unless God chooses to change things.


I am curious as to why there has been no reply?

Is there no answer?

Or is the premise false?

The idea that sin caused natural death has been profusely proposed. This would seem to refute it.


Hi @RichardG . I signed up after seeing your question, however once I logged in, your thread does not show up on the main page for some reason. I had to search for it. Maybe that is why there are no responses? I am too new to know why that is happening.


As for Adam and his Wife, they were created immortal. It was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that gave them bodies of corruption (i.e., bodies that die).

Both the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life are a ‘one shot deal’. In other words, they are designed only to be partaken of once. Neither tree therefore is ‘life sustaining’ or something that had to be partaken of regularly. We know this because the Tree of Life is in the New Heavens and New Earth where there is no death.

To suggest that the Tree of Life must be regularly eaten from to prevent death, implies that death exists in Heaven. That would be a contradiction.

I don’t find your argument convincing for a few reasons:

  1. Gen 2:16: “ You may eat freely from every tree of the garden, 17but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; for in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die.”

If death already existed, and Adam knew it did, then this is saying merely that Adam will die as soon as he eats the forbidden fruit, rather than some unknown time later. In the context, though, this is the first mention of death. We are not told if Adam at the time already knew about death and what it was, although it’s reasonable to assume that he did, since God does not explain what death is. We are also not told if Adam was already going to die eventually. Yet, the context strongly implies that “death” is a consequence that did not already exist for Adam, because death has not been mentioned at all. On the contrary, the story of Creation has been entirely about creating, existing and flourishing (Gen 1:22 & 28). God even addresses the issue of food (Gen 1:29-30) such that nothing that must die to be eaten is mentioned, but rather only plants. We know some plants that must be killed to eat, because what we eat the roots, so God may be indicating there that some plants will die that some animals/humans might live.

But that’s the closest Gen 1 comes to indicating the existence of death. And there are not enough details to confirm that God was referring to plants that must be killed to be eaten. This is the beginning of the Creation of Man, and we know now that species develop and go extinct in the material world, so we can’t rule out the possibility that such plants did not exist at that time and, thus, God was indicating that life would be sustained without the death of anything.

  1. I don’t think your conclusion is the only one available, or the most convincing, because of my first point, but I think there’s more. Before Gen 3:22, God had given no instructions directly concerning the Tree of Life. It seems clear, because of Gen 1:29-30, such instructions were unnecessary, since the Tree of Life is a fruit-bearing tree. Eating from it is only forbidden after the eating of the only forbidden fruit. Thus, before that eating of the forbidden fruit, couldn’t it had been that Adam and Eve and all things were going to live forever so long as they obeyed God? If so, then death did not have to exist already for God to say what he said in Gen 3:22. Its existence had to be possible, but that possibility did not have to be manifested.

  2. The whole point of salvation is the death of death achieved through the granting of eternal life by God, which requires the fulfillment of the conditions of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:33-34), which Paul characterizes as “in all things [growing] up into Christ himself.” (Ephesians 4:15) And fulfilling those conditions requires complete faith in God, which means complete love of and trust in God, as exemplified by Jesus. That is, the one thing Adam & Eve failed at: Obedience to God. This surely a strong suggestion that their disobedience is the reason death existed in all that is told in the Bible after that event.

I don’t think the question of whether or not death already existed before God’s judgement in response to the eating of the forbidden fruit can be answered with certainty. But I think when you look closely at Genesis1-3 in the context of the whole Bible, the most likely conclusion is that death was not a part of things until after Adam & Eve’s disobeying of God. If they had resisted the serpent and, instead, obeyed God, they would have been able to eat of the Tree of Life all the time.

Unless God tells someone the truth directly, though, no one can know for sure.


Stop trying to make the text work in reality. It doesn’t!

There is not reason to think that Adam was ever eternal or that death came ito the world through him

The story is not meant to be taken literally. All this talk about death is just a red herring.

The tree of life was supposedly the only way to eternal life at that time. Adam was told not to eat from it also. If he was already eteral then there would be no poit or need to wrry about eating from the tree of life.And the worry about him becoming eternal is pointless if he already had been.

It doesn’t matter what Adam did or did not know about death. He ate because it looked good!. He had no idea of the consequences. He only understood after eating.

Besides, the whole story is not meant to be real at all!


Wow. I literally signed up to answer your post and this is the response. Most folks will have the courtesy to say ‘welcome’ at least.

Sorry, knee jerk reaction.

Your view is quite common. Doesn’t mean I agree with it.

You will find that my views are not always appreciated, especially when it comes to Genesis 1-11.

It never ceases to amaze me how convoluted the attempts at rationalising the Eden narative can be.


PS I hope you find the forum interesting if not provocative

You are arguing from what is not written rather than from what is. Such arguments are dubious at best. Just because death is not stated does not mean it did not exist, only that it was not relevant to the text at this point. The fact is, this creation cannot survive without death.

How can you say this? What evidence do you have ? It is pure conjecture to it your theory

Genesis is not about salvation. And eternal life is not part of Judaism, at east not in the Christian sense. Sheol does not contain active life.

It is not a subject that Genesis attempts to answer. All this talk about there being no death is just a dogma generated by the misinterpretation of Genesis 3. Genesis 3 is not about Original Sin. It is about the expulsion from Eden due to sentience. Once humanity attained the ability to understand Good and Evil, it could not live in Eden… Eden is a pipe dream. Genesis 3 is an attempt to explain why the world is no a paradice., but harsh and cruel. The fact is if we wish to be free to live then we have to be be free to die and suffer. The clue is the last line of Genesis 2

And the man and his wife were both naked, and they were not ashamed.

There is nothing sinful (evil) about being naked. Humanity has deemed clothes to be necessary. That the knowledge of nakedness was the first revelation from eating the apple, just proves it is a human story.

When will people stop trying to add to Scripture?


Yes, I am, but that’s because the existence of death is simply not discussed before the Fall.

But then, you are arguing from human observation. When you say, “this creation cannot survive without death,” you are assuming that Creation operated before the Fall as it is now; that is with the life of one thing dependent on the death of other things. If God has completely control over Creation, then he could change any or all aspects of it in a moment without leaving any trace of its previous form.

There is no basis at all for claiming that he could not do that. And if he can, then we are not justified in believing that things have always operated as they do now. We simply can’t know.

I can’t know that death did not exist before the Fall, either, and I don’t claim to know that. Yet, what little evidence is offered in Genesis is consistent with that assumption, while Genesis contains no evidence of death before the Fall. The only evidence at all is the assumption that Adam & Eve knew what death was when God told them it would be the consequence of eating the forbidden fruit. Yet, couldn’t it be that God’s informing them of what death is simply isn’t relayed in the story? Possibly because the author knew no reader would need to have that explained to them?

I wasn’t asserting that was the case, but rather following the implications of it being true, hence beginning with “if.”

That is true, but when you put what Jesus said in the Gospels about Himself in the Old Testament and what John said about Jesus together, it becomes clear that the aim of salvation—reuniting with God in eternal life—was the aim of the entire Old Testament. When you consider Ephesians 4—

“….until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, as we mature to the full measure of the stature of Christ.”

“….we will in all things grow up into Christ Himself, who is the head.”

—it seems rather unlikely that this aim was merely a return to an Eden-like existence, for Adam & Eve surely where not matured in the way Paul means here.

Judaism rejects Jesus (except for Messianic Jews) and all of the New Testament. And it was Jews who are responsible for his death. So I don’t think how Jews understand the Old Testament can be used to counter a Jesus-centered view of the Old Testament.

Again, you are using human observations of how things are now to justify your conclusion. This is reasonable when we have no other source. But we do have another source. We have the Bible, which never equates freedom with death and suffering. The symbols of the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and God’s command to Adam about these suggest the opposite.

The issue of nakedness is very, very deep. It is about the relationship between humans & God. Before the Fall, they were not ashamed of being naked. After the Fall, they were.

That it is a story about the nature of a human being I totally agree with. Overall, the Bible teaches that God is in us (as well as everywhere else in the Creation and independent of it). Returning to God is letting God into our hearts. We are in control of nothing but our hearts. We have no power over God, but we do have the power to resist God.

Yet, resisting God is resisting the essence of our own being. Sin against God is sin against ourselves. It harms us by rendering, in our perspective, aspects of the world or of other people a threat to us, contaminating love with fear. And from that flows all the outer consequences that sin produces. This is why the 2 greatest commandments are “love God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul,” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” The antidote to sin is love.

Before the fruit, Adam & Eve were in the pure love of God with no indication of fear of Him. After, they feared Him. Before they did not even have the concept of nakedness (“Who told you you were naked?”); after, they did.

This is very deep.

Genesis is very deep. I don’t know if death existed before the Fall, but I think the Bible, overall, strongly suggests that it didn’t. Yet, that is only important in that sin and death are deeply related. On a more concrete level, when God gave his laws to Israel through Moses, he said they should follow them that they might live. This was not about eternal life in the New Testament sense, but about living in the world.

But why should it be? Creation is not about death.

Do you think that God actually said the words reported in Genesis 3? That assumes both a literal and a historic accuracy. Therefore you are claiming all of Genesis 2 to be accurate as well. Good luck with that!
Everything hinges around words attributed to God by the writer (who wasn’t there) about a tree that almost certainly did not exist, and concerning our cognisance that apparently God did not want us to have, but was incapable of stopping us getting. Can’t you see that the whole premise of the story puts God in a very poor light?

And all so we can claim diminished responsibility for sinning?

We don’t need diminished responsibility God forgives! But only if we repent. Which means we accept responsibility.


[quote=“RichardG, post:10, topic:52819”]
Do you think that God actually said the words reported in Genesis 3? [/quote]

Well, there are a lot of ways to say something. We ourselves can say things with words or actions. But God can put things in both our hearts and minds. So, what does “God saying the words” actually mean?

I believe God is responsible for what is written in the Bible and the Biblical canon. How did he do that? I don’t know. Yet, something I almost never hear anyone discuss is that fact that the Bible acts in the world. It’s not like a human book, which is intended to impart information or elicit understanding or entertain. It is those things, but it is also a very powerful and prominent element (for lack of a better word) in the world, shaping the world through its influence on what people think, feel and do. Thus…

…I don’t think there is any reason to believe that it must be literally and historically accurate to be God’s Word—or to be true. What it has to do to be God’s Word is accomplish the aims for which he put it in the world. Many think that if it isn’t literally and historically true, then God was lying, but both “literal meaning” and “historical truth” are human conceptions based on the practicalities we must deal with and assumptions about events in the world that arise from our observations and experiences in the world.

Could it not be that those assumptions are not warranted? That things operate as we assume they do to a large extent, but not entirely, and that we simply have not been able to see that beyond the “large extent” to which they do operate as they appear to be?

Regarding it being true, consider a preschooler asking where babies come from. Could you answer that truthfully? Not literally, no. Why? Because their knowledge, experience and understanding is not adequate for them to understand the literal truth. If you tell them something like, “when a man and a woman love one another, they make a baby,” you’re not lying. You’re leaving out a lot, but in most cases (and ideally) that’s true as far as it goes.

To become enmeshed in the world and influence it’s process of change, the Bible had to cater to its initial audience. If it went over their head or seemed obviously fictional to them, would they have built a long-lasting and influential culture around it? I think that’s very unlikely—and I am referring to periods about which we can know a lot, so I’m making only a very small assumption in thinking that. And the Bible seems to support it, given how often the Israelites did not accept or adhere to what God told them. I mean, Abraham is the ideal in Judaism precisely because he was faithful even though he didn’t understand what God asked him to do, as in God’s command to sacrifice his son. Yet, even Abraham did not alwsays just accept what God told him. He questioned God about the destruction of Sodom, Sarai becoming pregnant at her age and other things.

All over human history are people rejecting things they don’t understand or of which they think they no better.

So my view of Genesis is that it is telling us how things came to be not in a literal sense—the type of thing that science seeks—but rather in the way that would lead is to the truth that matters and would be accepted, remembered and spread throughout the world. Because that serves God’s desire for us to be reconciled with him.

Which is all very well, but, people seem to insist on delving into details instead of reading it as a whole. What matters in Genesis 3 is that we are excluded from Eden because we have grown beyond it. Eden is only paradise if you cannot comprehend the details. The fact that Adam could disobey is more important than whether or how he did. We are not slaves, unlike what Paul seems to think. God gave us the independence and with that comes the possibility/probability of falling. God provides the answer in forgiveness. But there is no forgiveness in Genesis. There is only culpability and rough justice. Even the sacrificial system does not emerge straight away, instead it is consequences and/or punishments.

Why can’t people see that the theology of God develops, It is not perfect from day 1. God reveals both Himself and His ways slowly as we are able to comprehend. Jesus could not have accomplished His work any earlier in history. He needed the culture and understanding to develop to a point where His actions could be understood. Genesis is a foundation, but people seem to need it to be more than that.


It’s human nature. Where our learning is concerned, we all have a comfort zone that lies between what is so easy for us that we find it boring and what’s so hard for us that we are overwhelmed by it. Young children naturally gravitate to things that are in the mid to upper range of that zone. (I know this because teaching piano for 30 years and all the things I learned about children and learning along the way.)

We all do that, but that’s not the only factor in what we are drawn to. That’s another discussion, but three of those other factors are innate abilities (being detail-oriented vs being concept-oriented, better or worse memory, etc.), prior knowledge and prior experiences. One of the many ways the Bible has amazed me is it’s ability to provide an entry point for anyone, regardless of those types of factors.

I would just say be patient with people. They are doing the best they are able, regardless of appearances. No one ever does less. if they appear to be, it is because something within them holds them back or deters them. Those are factors also in what they are capable of.

When a person is forced outside that comfort zone some form of damage is done to them, unless they are given some way to deal with that which protects them from the damage. If God is the source of the force, then they will be given that something, whatever it may be. We humans are not often so wise and caring.

As I am still seeing claims that there was no death before the apple, will one of you answer my challenge. Why create a tree of eternal life if eternal life was the norm? The tree of eternal life was supposedly planted before Adam sinned. Is God being Omniscient? Or is the meaning of death not a physical one?