“but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:17‬ ‭

Was Adam not subject to death prior to eating of this fruit? Something along the lines of

“In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭9:6‬

Or was Adam neither mortal nor immortal until Adam ate of one or the other fruit?

In light of the fact that the garden had a tree of life, which would grant one who ate of its fruits immortality, was Adam mortal prior? After all what was its purpose in the event that Adam was immortal? (Did it have other healing properties? Knowledge of life, stating life? It wasn’t there should Adam fall because God cut Adam off from its access.)

“And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:9‬

(I’ve included this verse because I do not accept that this tree was Jesus. It was a tree.)

It’s fruit granted eternal life

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

I can think of several scenarios

a) no Adam was not created immortal

b) yes Adam was created immortal

  • b1) Upon eating of the fruit Adam loses his immortality

c) Adam was neither mortal, nor immortal, he was in a state of “limbo”

I’m not seeking opinions, I’m especially seeking a well formulated argument from Scripture, if one exists at all to the question, “Was Adam created mortal?”

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this question is entirely hypothetical.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 16:18
  • 1
    I agree with Nigel that the scriptures are clear on this subject Commented May 6, 2019 at 17:44
  • @OzzieNicolas I’m sorry but clearly I’m missing something that you can see. Could you in the comments shed some light to help me understand why it’s obvious? And what it is that is obvious to you? Commented May 6, 2019 at 21:26
  • @Ruminator ironically the pushback claims the contrary that its self obvious. In which case I should have an answer already. I suppose I could try the other stack. Commented May 6, 2019 at 22:18
  • @Autodidact: Adam had eternal life but this was dependent on his continued obedience to God, He lost this gift due to his willful disobedience. Adam was mortal and subject to death , because he needed sustenance ,for if he did not eat or drink , his body would have deteriorated and died. The Bible says: “Death and Hades were hurled into the lake of fire,( Rev. 20:14) even with the end of death, this does not mean that a rebellious wicked person would be safe from destruction. Man requires sustenance , so he will never be immortal. Commented May 7, 2019 at 17:44

6 Answers 6


Regardless of whether one considers the trees to be literal or symbolic, there is a much simpler interpretation of this situation.

The tree of life was our opportunity to be given an immortal spiritual life.

The other tree was our opportunity to reject God's teachings and decide for ourselves what is right and wrong.

Adam and Eve had potentially very long physical lives, but by choosing to reject God's way, Adam and Eve lost their opportunity for immortal life.

God describes what Man has done, and what God must do about it:

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: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. — ­Genesis 3:22–24

The tree of life was Man's opportunity to gain an immortal spiritual life, and by Adam and Eve's rejection of God's way, that tree was no longer available to Mankind.

The is no need for the doctrine of Original Sin; we don't inherit sin from our ancestors. Adam's action removed our opportunity for salvation; he didn't infect us with sin.

And without that non-biblical doctrine, there is no need for other beliefs that were added to account for problems with Original Sin, such as the doctrine of Immaculate Conception.

But, when Jesus returns and founds the Kingdom of God, the Tree of Life, which has been locked in Paradise, will again be made available to mankind:

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. — Revelation 2:7

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. — Rev 22:14

  • 1
    I really like your response but what do you do with “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭51:5‬ +1 on the response though Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 19:07
  • @NihilSineDeo, My own Hebrew knowledge isn't enough to confirm or deny it, but I've heard this explanation: "Rather the Hebrew prefixed preposition b’ , usually translated “in,” can also mean “into.” As Gesenius’ Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament says in one of its definitions of this word, it often occurs “with verbs of motion, when the movement to a place results in rest in it, into.” Thus, David is most likely stating that he was brought forth into iniquity and into sin. As with all human beings, sin had characterized his life from a young age". Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 19:40
  • I asked a question with regard to your comment to see if we can get some light because your argument hinges on the definition given in the English in and into. Personally I think the English nuance in translation is irrelevant. The Hebrew would read in and only in. Even if it read into, it would still mean in, as you define the distinction. Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 13:52
  • 1
    Firstly this is a modern view not necessarily held in antiquity. Secondly all humans die and by definition that is the consequence of Adam’s sin. Unless Adam was already mortal prior to sinning. Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death. Babies die, young children die. If they were sinless would they not die? There are so many more questions tied into this proposal you are making. And maybe you have answers for them or maybe not but the questions have to be asked Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 14:20
  • 1
    when you use the phrase “poetic hyperbole” you’ve lost all credibility with me. Also, I hardly ever use the NIV for English Bible reading but that’s beside the point. Original sin or not the NT explains the “mysteries of God” as Apostle Paul calls them and says “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” ‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭15:22‬ it was Adam that cursed us with death due to sin. Notice the order and causal agent ”Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” ‭‭James‬ ‭1:15‬ death came by sin! Adam’s! Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 17:01

God is the only one who can make something out of nothing. We call that "Creation". That which is created does not die...(e.g.:angels). Man was not created, he was made from existing material...dust. Woman was also made from existing material...man. So man was not created, he was "formed of the dust of the ground...Gen. 2:7. Therefore, man is not immortal, he never was. Job 14:1-2 put it this way: "Man that is born of woman...dies. He is like a flower, and is cut down...and continues not." The Bible does not contradict the Bible. Science teaches us that everything that comes from the earth, dies. If man had been a mortal, he would have been on the same level of the angels. Psalms 8:5 tells us, "You have made him a little lower than the angels..." No, man was not immortal. He did have have the privilege of living a long time. (Adam=950 yrs, Methuselah=969 yrs, Noah=950 yrs) But man blew that one too. God fixed that pretty quick: Genesis 6:3 "...his days shall be 120 days." So...I'm inclined to believe that if man ate of the Tree of Life, then he would have had eternal life without the need of atonement. But no, he had to disobey, and now we need atonement for Adam's sin. Original sin. That's why we need a Savior. (John 3:16)

  • 1
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    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 21:02

Interesting question, which I'm more inclined to think might have arisen from the repetition of death in Genesis 2:17 (i.e., "in dying you will die"), which is also the verse first mentioning (introducing) death. Perhaps the simplest answer is written in Romans 5:12, where it is written that "by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin." Hence, the cause or reason for death is clearly given.

However, does this alone prove that Adam was immortal, and that the life which he then had would continue throughout all eternity? Not necessarily. In fact, another (perhaps better) meaning of those last few words "for ever" in Genesis 3:22 might indicate "for the age." In other words, until the end of a period of time. Hmmm... an appointed season of sorts? A period of testing, or proving, perhaps? (Job 7:1.) After which a "change" was/is intended? (Job 14:14.) Seems there are a fair number of references to things which end after an appointed time. (Dan. 8:19; 11:35, Hab. 2:3.) And what do you make of Acts 17:26? What exactly are "the times before appointed" and "the bounds of their habitation"?

Extending this a bit further, one might wonder whether eating (either once, or otherwise) from the tree of life would have granted immortality to man (as some have written and taught.) In light of the above possibilities, I'm inclined to think not. Matter of fact, given how all of earthy life depends on some continuing source of nourishment, I'm of the opinion that prior to eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, eating of the tree of life was very likely Adam's primary source of sustenance. But, Gen. 3:22 might well be the acknowledgment that this had changed... if it is perceived that man has "become one with it"... referring not to (or as) God, but rather, with the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Hence, it became necessary for God to remove the ability for man to eat from the tree of life (and live until the end of the age - the time that was/is appointed), which would effectually bring to the forefront God's plan of redemption in the Lord Jesus Christ.

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    – agarza
    Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 20:51

YHWH GOD's removal of the tree of life from the grasp of the people of Adam as a whole according to Genesis 3:22-23 indeed resulted in the beginning of death for that people, as the text clearly attributes the fruit of this Tree of life or lit. Lives as causing Adam the eater to "live forever".

The answer to how Gen 2:17 says,  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (lit. in dying die). 

Is only contained in:

Gen 3:22-23 YHWH says  …Behold, Adam 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 lives, and eat, and live forever. Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden.

The eating of the tree of lives was according to the text that which caused Adam to live as flesh upon earth forever and continue in the upright state, as it was his right to access life forever.

Only a non-exegetical approach to this text can render Adam as made or created to to live forever, by his nature; perhaps a case could begin to be made upon Adam's likeness and image being after the likeness and image of GOD, but this is not able to be attained from the text, in fact this concept would then beg the question, "Why then did Adam have command to eat of every tree of the garden freely according to Gen 2:16 if he lived forever?".

Indeed, no exegetical answerer from the text seems to suffice.

In support of this exegesis of Genesis chapters 1-3, the eisegesis from the Revelation letter of John, who would represent an understanding of how this relationship between the tree of life and it's eater worked as being restored in the coming paradise can be seen in Revelation 22:14 referring to the same tree of life: "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life…" This is a glimpse of what was lost according to John the apostle.

So as the tree of life/lives was taken so it can be re-given by 'right' which will allow the eater to live forever once again.

  • I’m not sure I fully understand your position. Are you saying Adam was immortal and lost his immortality upon eating of the forbidden fruit? And that those who will be saved will be given access to its fruits and thereby attain immortality? At this point I’m starting to think Jesus is the tree of life because after all He is the LIFE. Commented May 7, 2019 at 3:04
  • No I am saying, essentially, that it was the removal of the right to eat from the tree of life , else Gen 3:22-23 (as stated above) would not read "Behold, Adam 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 lives and LIVE FOREVER." The Text clearly shows that it were in some capacity possible for Adam to have had eaten the 'tree of the knowledge of good and evil' AND live forever, if he could eat both fruits. That's what I'm saying
    – Lowther
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 19:08

A car that cannot take you to your destination is seen as "dead". Humanity which cannot finish their mission of being blessings to the world, subduing it, harnessing it for godly service, is also dead. If you want to know why they are dead, it's because the wind and the waves, even demons, won't submit to us if we are not in union with God. And only the pure can see God.

Adam stopped being pure, when he could tell good from evil. Likewise all his descendants. Competence makes culpable.

Luke 9:60But He said to him, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God."

  • The question is, was Adam created mortal. I don’t know what question you are answering but it’s not mine (at the moment) Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 19:20
  • The death you are speaking of is not bodily death, because Adam didn't die physically. So it is obviously a spiritual death. The question if Adam was created mortal is therefore not related to the warning that he would die if he ate of the fruit of good and evil.
    – Seeker
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 19:31

I believed Adam was not immortal when he was created. Because human is fragile, if we are descendant of Adam, then we can see how fragile is us and imagine how fragile Adam was. Because there was no reason to die, and the death came Adam disobey God, so, the death is the end of the relationship between Human and God.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 6:23

In Paul's writing, death is in contrast with eternal life. Death because of sin is not merely talking about our physical death. In fact, it extends further and talks about our eternal life.

The Bible is not a science book, it doesn't not teach about if Adam was created mortal or immortal. Such argument which based on it is not convincing. Moses wrote Genesis, in a beutiful way. Addressing the creation of the world in a poetry. 1 day was used to create a light, 1 day a gigantic earth, etc. It is hardly convincing to create something in 1 day.

Lets look into Genesis Chapter 1, taken from NIV version:

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. 6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day. 9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day. 14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day. 20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day. 24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” 29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

First Comparison:

First Day (verse 3-5)

God created light and separate light from darkness. God created the universe, where energy is essentially the basic element of all things.

Fourth Day: (verse 14-19)

God separated day and night, mosses also writing about Sun light in day and moonlight or star light in night. God also set the star into motion. Frist and Fourth day are describing the cosmic creation.

Second Comparison

Second Day (verse 6-8)

Basically it says about God created the "Sky" that separates water and sky, just like the horizon of the sea and sky.

Fifth Day (verse 20-23)

Here it says God created living creatures in water and birds in the sky, the same comparison of water and sky in Second day.

Third Comparison

Third Day (verse 9-13)

Now here God created the ground. In a bigger view, its all the earth and sea within the globe. And God also created plants and trees.

Sixth Day (24-31)

Here we can see that God created the living creatures that walks on the ground. And God also created mankind, a living creature that lives on ground.

The poetry ended with the Seventh Day (Genesis 2:2)

2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.- Genesis 2:2

So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, it is a rest day. So all things were wonderful.

What I am suggesting is that, Moses has read a lot of documents, stories and many things when he was in Egypt. He was a wise man indeed, he has presented the Book of Genesis in a wonderful way. I am sure he was inspired by the Holy Spirit. And I also believed that Mosses may have access to many other scientific books that the ancient people studied about the origin of world. Maybe even evolution of life. But who knows.

In short, I would not look for an scientific answer from the bible, because it was not convincing to me. But I would place my trust and hope on Jesus' teaching, about the purpose of life, and how to live a life that fulfill His purpose.

  • This site expects answers to show their work. As posted this answer does not have even a scrap of textual evidence from the passage in the question (or any other passage) or any of the steps taken between the text and your conclusion. Please edit to explain step by step how you get from the text fo the Bible to your conclusion(s).
    – Caleb
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 17:06
  • Thanks for your comment.
    – Disrudog
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 7:45

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