Take the 2-minute tour ×
Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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 (Gen 3:22)

In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, [was there] the tree of life, which bare twelve [manner of] fruits, [and] yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree [were] for the healing of the nations (Rev. 22:2)

Is it possible, based on the text, to tell whether it is the same tree of life is being spoken about here or it's two different trees?

share|improve this question
1  
The question-and-answer format of this site works best if you put each question in a separate question post. Please edit your post down to one question, and create new posts to ask any further questions. You'll get better answers that way. The question has been edited for this reason. –  Daи Jan 21 at 18:49
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

"The tree of life" of Revelation?

When John uses the term "the tree of life" in Revelation 22:2 he is referring to something familiar to both him and his audience. (In other words, he was speaking within the semantic range of the term.) Given that the only "tree of life" that appears in Scripture is in Genesis 3:22, and that John's Apocalypse is replete with Biblical allusions, it is a virtual certainty that this is what he was referring to. Otherwise we would expect him to say "Then I saw something like the tree of life . . ." (cf. Eze. 1:27, Rev. 15:2.)

It is worth noting that this is what John saw. There are many different interpretations of what his vision signifies.


DISCLAIMER: The remainder of this response answers additional questions that were initially asked but are no longer part of the original question. It remains for its historical significance.


God's reason for not wanting Adam to live forever?

Since we're on the hermeneutics site, I need to stick to exegesis and not theology for this answer. There are several clues in the context of Genesis 3:22 that may help to answer this question:

  • Three verses prior, God had determined that man would "return to the ground . . . For you are dust, and to dust you shall return." Man was thus sentenced to death. This is consistent with the warning of Gen. 2:17 that in the day they ate from the tree they would surely die. If God then allowed them to eat from the tree of life and live forever that would thwart His justice in 3:19.

  • In the next verse we read that God "drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword". Man was now doomed to live out his days away from the paradise where they once walked with God. (cf. 3:8) If God had allowed them to eat from the tree of life and live forever, it would be outside of the paradise where they once walked with God.

  • Immediately after the sentence of 3:19, and immediately before the judgment of 3:22, we see God Himself clothing the man and his wife. This indicates that despite their sin and death sentence, God is not done with them. Many interpreters see in this an early allusion God's plan for their redemption to eternal life with Him despite the certainty of their physical death. If that is correct, then if God had allowed them to eat from the tree of life and live forever, that would conflict with His plan for redeeming them from certain death to eternal life with Him.

Why would God then let people live forever after the final judgment?

Having already explained why God didn't want Adam to live forever in Gen. 3:22, the only remaining question is why God would want / allow people to live forever after the final judgment (following their physical death.)

As mentioned, Gen. 3:21 indicates God was not done with them, despite their death sentence. If this glimmer of hope points to a future redemption despite the certainty of their physical death, that redemption would be totally consistent with the idea of eternal life presented in Matt. 25:46.

The eternal death would simply be a continuation of the judgment experienced here on earth for those who were not redeemed.

share|improve this answer
    
What do you mean by your last sentence? If death is eventually a returning to the particles of the ground, how do you imagine this experience to continue? –  hannes Jul 4 '13 at 3:47
    
@hannes If death is merely a returning of particles to the ground, that would persist eternally. There are other possibilities though (see here for example.) –  Jas 3.1 Jul 4 '13 at 3:53
    
To take that parodism (your reference to Luke 16) literally to me sounds like making a fool of Him who is anything but a fool. Did He not know it would be taken that way? He must have known. For the sake of spreading He allowed it. The truth alone would not have been spread the way the error has. –  hannes Jul 4 '13 at 4:25
1  
On the "tree of life" : my own sense (and I think it's shared) is that the imagery of Rev 22:2 "flows" (ahem) through Ezekiel 47:12 on its way back to Eden language. There's nothing simple about the way the book of Revelation is permeated by the Hebrew scriptures! –  Davïd Jan 22 at 10:58
add comment

If transgression would lead to everlasting torment, God would be violating a number of his own laws and regulations. (A punishment meant to last forever does not mean that it also needs to be felt forever. To be able to feel is commonly the opposite of what we call death.)

Were the Garden of Eden (or only the tree of life) after the flood transferred to some place else, one could figure it to be that very same tree Revelation mentions, even here:

(Revelation 2:7b) 'To the one who conquers, I will permit him to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.'

One then would understand the present tense (estin) here as refering to a in the present (somewhere) present tree. For God, who is the source of life, this is not necessary, though. He calls and it comes to be.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.