Why Was There Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden in the First Place? (2024)

They had it all. In the eastern part of brand-new Eden, God meticulously planted a garden for Adam and Eve to call home. He filled the orchard-like wonderland with every tree pleasing to the eye and good for food—a place so lush it would forever be branded as paradise. Pure beauty enveloped Adam and Eve’s flawless bodies, as they dwelled together there in harmony with nature and each other. Best of all, the two enjoyed daily intimate visits and personal communion with their beloved Father, who had lavished these gifts upon them. Yes, everything was right in the world, literally. Until one bite of forbidden fruit changed the course of humanity forever.

Why would Adam and Eve, knowing and having tasted the goodness of their Father, choose to throw paradise away? How could a loving God allow the unthinkable to happen? If the forbidden fruit was so dangerous, why did God plant the tree in the garden of Eden?

These difficult questions are not answered directly in Scripture, but God doesn’t leave us guessing. When we take a deep dive into the whole word of God, answers are found in the unfolding plan of redemption that starts in Eden and culminates in true Paradise.

What Was the Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden?

God planted two unique and important fruit trees in Adam and Eve’s habitat. These were no ordinary trees. Both produced fruit that provided more than physical sustenance. The Tree Of Life bore supernatural fruit that had the power to sustain life forever—while the Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil produced fruit that would, among other things, inflict the curse of death upon Adam and Eve if they ate it.

These two trees shared the center stage in Eden’s illustrious garden. Adam and Eve would have witnessed the trees blossom and grow each day, as they went about their duties, tending the garden and caring for the animals. From the very beginning, God made his commandment about the deadly tree clear. “And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die’"(Genesis 2:16-17).

Only one kind of fruit from one tree in the whole bountiful garden was labeled forbidden. Adam and Eve were subject to no other commandment, nor did God issue any further restrictions. None were needed. The close communion Adam and Eve shared with their Father allowed them to abide in His will and presence daily. And their childlike faith in God’s provision gave them the power to live in freedom, under the covering and protection of God’s holiness. In other words, God provided for Adam and Eve’s every need—and without reservation, they trusted in His provision. Until they didn’t.

What Kind of Fruit Was the Forbidden Fruit in the Bible?

Many people picture red, juicy apples hanging from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, “probably because of the namesake lump in men’s throats,” says Robert Hampshire in Why Did God Create the Forbidden Fruit in the First Place?Throughout the ages, multiple, well-documented and adamantly defended theories have surfaced as to the nature of the infamous fruit. Grapes, figs, pomegranates, and even mushrooms have taken their turn in history as the likely suspect. But the Bible is void of specifics regarding the shape, size, and taste of the forbidden fruit.

Scripture does, however, offer important details about the fruit’s properties. Like all the other trees God created, The Tree of Knowledge produced fruit that was pleasing to the eye and edible (Genesis 3:6). The fruit was not toxic or poison in the general sense because God created only good things (Genesis 1:31).

But the fruit did contain a supernatural element that was incompatible with Adam and Eve’s fresh innocence. The fruit had the power to impart divine knowledge that would threaten their dependency on God and open their eyes to a reality that carried with it the heavy burden of death (Genesis 2:16-17, Genesis 3:22).

What Were the Consequences of Eating the Forbidden Fruit in the Bible?

The consequences Adam and Eve suffered for ignoring God’s protective order, relying on their own desire-driven understanding, and eating the forbidden fruit were far-reaching. The blissful life they’d once enjoyed, within the shelter of God’s very near presence, was destroyed. Their intimate fellowship with their Father was forfeited. The after-effects of the “wisdom” they’d acquired bought them a one-way ticket out of paradise and into the hard labor that comes with choosing self-sufficiency over God-dependency (Genesis 3:22-24).

On top of this spiritual demise, a physical death sentence entered their now mortal bodies, and it would spread through Adam’s seed like an insidious virus to all the world (Romans 5:12).

Cally Logan puts it this way in What Is the Significance of the Forbidden Fruit in Genesis 2? “The fruit, though it resembled food, represented far more. The fruit represented an alternate reality: separation from God. It represented the coherent choice to believe God was holding something back from humanity.”

Adam and Eve were correct in assuming God was “holding something back.” God had mercifully held back death. And through one unbelieving and disobedient act, the first woman and man unleashed it to the world.

Why Did God Put the Forbidden Fruit in the Garden?

The word freedom, like so many other words, has been confiscated by the enemy of our soul. With the help of culture, politics, and our old indulgent nature, Satan has so redefined the idea of freedom that its pure meaning is nearly unrecognizable.

In the beginning, before there was any sin, humanity—or Adam and Eve, who represented humanity—enjoyed the truest freedom we would ever know. This freedom gave us the ability to live perfectly fulfilled, satisfied, joyful, fruitful, abundant lives, forever. Tucked into the safety of God’s presence and will, we were free to live without worry or fear. In this freedom, there was no need to discern between good and evil because God is good. The same way a branch cannot produce any other fruit than that which the vine provides—it was impossible for Adam and Eve while clinging to God for their every need, to produce evil.

But God provided us with a choice. He had to. If God had created Adam and Eve without free will, their relationship with Him, and ours, would have been that of slaves, not children. True love and devotion cannot be programmed or coerced. Because God desires—and deserves—nothing less than true, devoted love from His children, He gave them free will (Deuteronomy 6:5, Mark 12:30, Matthew 22:37).

Adam and Eve’s free will enabled them to love God willingly and wholeheartedly, but that free will would have been invalid had they not been given the ability to test it. In their garden full of blessing and abundance, God planted The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil as a means by which Adam and Eve’s free will could be exercised.

Why Did Adam and Eve Eat This Fruit and Will the Curse Last Forever?

By choosing to eat the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve left behind the true freedom of God’s provision to pursue an illusion of something better. But how could they have been so deceived? All sin starts with a single choice. “Choice always has been and always will be a unique burden to bear; nowhere in Scripture are we encouraged to exercise it thoughtlessly,” says Caroline Madison in Do Humans Really Have Free Will?

God’s command and warnings about the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge were clear. Adam and Eve had no reason to question God’s judgment, and they didn’t—until they made the choice to place their trust in someone other than God.

When Eve entertained Satan’s lies about the fruit, she allowed him to twist God’s truth. Never before had Eve questioned God’s goodness or provision. She had trusted His guidance as supreme. But after a short conversation with the serpent, Eve became dissatisfied with God’s goodness. She longed for insight of her own—so that she would no longer need to rely on God (Genesis 3:5). She further acted on the lie by offering the fruit to her husband.

When their physical eyes were indeed opened, spiritual blindness veiled their understanding (Isaiah 44:18, 2 Corinthians 4:4). The wisdom they had gained proved a poor substitute for all they had lost because with that wisdom came the yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1). Bondage to sin and death replaced the glorious freedom they’d once enjoyed and became the natural condition of every man and woman born after that.

Thankfully, none of this took God by surprise, and this is not where the story ends. God, in His infinite wisdom and supreme sovereignty, prepared a way to reconcile us with Himself before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-5). Through Christ, God proved His unfailing love for us (Romans 5:8) and provided a way—The Way—to once again enjoy fellowship with Him.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us … Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous”(Romans 5:6-8, 18-19).

Through Christ, paradise is once again accessible to all who believe (Luke 23:43, Revelation 2:7). Unlike Adam and Eve’s garden, this true Paradise is eternal. The curse of death and the deadly tree have been banished once and for all. In Paradise, our life will be with God, in Him, and through Him—and the Tree of Life will bear fruit forever (Revelation 2:7, 21:1-27).

Further Reading

Why Did God Create the Forbidden Fruit in the First Place?

What Is the Significance of the Forbidden Fruit in Genesis 2?

What Exactly Was the Forbidden Fruit?

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/CasPhotography

Why Was There Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden in the First Place? (1)Annette Marie Griffin is an award-winning author and speaker who has managed and directed children’s and youth programs for more than 20 years. Her debut children’s book, What Is A Family? released through Familius Publishing in 2020. Annette has also written curriculum for character growth and development of elementary-age children and has developed parent training seminars to benefit the community. Her passion is to help wanderers find home. She and her husband have five children—three who have already flown the coop and two adopted teens still roosting at home—plus two adorable grands who add immeasurable joy and laughter to the whole flock.

Why Was There Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden in the First Place? (2024)
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