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What did the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil Represent?

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 (Genesis 2:17 KJV)

The Garden of Eden contained two mysterious trees: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life. This devotional explains the symbolic meaning of three things about the tree that brought evil: the tree, the fruit, and the knowledge of good and evil.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil existed as a physical tree in Eden with profound spiritual implications. It appeared normal to the eyes of Adam and Eve like any other tree with fruits: it did not look bizarre or mysterious in its physical qualities such as height, size, or smell. However, it was distinct in two ways. First, God had prohibited Adam and Eve from eating its fruit. Second, eating its fruit will not simply quench physical hunger like the fruit of other trees but will transform human nature. 

The tree of life, another physical tree with spiritual implications, helps us understand the spiritual meaning of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In the New Testament, we learn Jesus is the tree of life, and eating the fruit of this tree symbolizes knowing and believing in Christ(Rev. 2:7, John 6:35). Though scripture connects Jesus to the Tree of Life, it does not link the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to any spiritual entity or being; however, it describes the result of eating its fruit as a kind of knowledge that alters the human experience.

Eating the tree’s fruit resulted in the knowledge of good and evil. Since God described what He made as good (Gen. 1:31), Adam and Eve, therefore, knew what good felt within and what it looked like in the world around them. So eating the fruit added evil—not good— to the repertoire of human knowledge and the necessity to distinguish or even choose between evil and good. And this knowledge exceeded the limits of mere intellectual awareness: it altered the nature of Adam and Eve, so human nature could know, share or experience evil. That is, their “eyes” were opened to evil, besides good (Gen. 3:7).

Read more: The Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Meditate

What is, was the symbolic meaning of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

Apply the Word

This is a key devotional takeaway: knowledge in the spirit is more than mere intellectual awareness. It allows us to share in spiritual dimensions and transforms our experience. For instance you ate from the tree of life when you knew and believed Jesus. That tree is still here, the Word, for you to eat and be filled with the Holy Spirit, healed, delivered, transformed.

Pray

Ask the Father to help you come into the fullness of the mysteries of His knowledge.

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