Why did God plant the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?

December 13, 2018

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen.

Today my beloved we address one of the most popular questions people have when they study the story of creation: If God did not want Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, then why did God plant it therel? Why place it in the garden to begin with.

Now for many, this seems like a very logical question to ask. It would seem right to most of us that if I did not want my children to do something, or to come close to something that is evil, then all I have to do is remove that evil thing and eliminate the opportunity for them to get hurt. As long as its not an option, then they can’t make any mistakes, right? Seems pretty straight forward! However, we need to investigate this further and ask some important questions:

Is the tree in and of itself something evil? What did the tree represent? What happens if God does not plant it?

Let’s go ahead and tackle all these questions together.



Let’s begin by addressing a common misconception. But first, lets read a few important passages from scripture:

Genesis 2:

8 The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. 9 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.


15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to [e]tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 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.”

Now some read the previous passages and they make the following assumption: if God does not want Adam to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and eating from it would lead to death, then this must mean that the tree is evil! However, this cant be the case if we believe that the Lord is not the author of evil. According to this same Genesis account, all that God creates is good – and so the tree could not possibly be intrinsically evil. The tree must then represent something greater than itself – and this is precisely what we believe. The tree here represents the choice of man reject God, and to attempt to grow in the knowledge, without the Lord who is Truth and who is Life! And so, suddenly we realize, it’s not the tree that is evil, it’s the rejection of God as the source of knowledge and life that becomes the vehicle by which death enters into the world.

This is clearly manifested in the scriptural passage of Genesis 3, where we see our mother Eve being deceived. Although she begins by defending the commandment of God, she then is lead to believe that the option of going against God could be worth considering!

Genesis 3:6 says “6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”

You see my beloved, this entire story is not just about trees in gardens and the eating of fruit, its also about choosing wordily and fallen knowledge over the divine wisdom and enlightening grace of God.


At this point some are saying “ok, the tree isn’t evil in and of itself! Sure! And yeah, it represents the choice that humanity had – but why offer the choice to begin with?” And this is where we must realize, that as Christians, when we make the very bold declaration that “God is love” (1 John 4:8), that we actually mean it! In our understanding of love, we define that love can only be given and received freely. Without freedom, there can be no love! And freedom requires choice; a choice to both embrace or reject the person that stands before me.

Also, not only is God love, every human being is created in God’s image and likeness. Part of this image and likeness is the fact that we were granted freewill. This gift of freewill ultimately means that we can freely chose to worship God and live in loving union with Him, or to walk away from Him and be god’s unto ourselves.

It is for these reasons that the Lord planted the tree of knowledge of Good and evil and commanded them to refrain from eating from it – that in so doing Adam and Eve now have options. They can now freely chose to obey so that God may grant them life and knowledge, or to disobey and become their own source of these things…

St Gregory the theologian explains this further in his Easter Oration where he summarizes this and even goes on to explain that even this tree would have eventually been granted to them had they obeyed:

 [God gave Adam] a law as a material for his free will to act on. This law was a commandment as to what plants he might partake of and which one he might not touch. This latter was the tree of knowledge; not, however, because it was evil from the beginning when planted, nor was it forbidden because God grudged it to us—let not the enemies of God wag their tongues in that direction or imitate the serpent. But it would have been good if partaken of at the proper time. The tree was, according to my theory, contemplation, which is safe only for those who have reached maturity of habit to enter upon, but which is not good for those who are still somewhat simple and greedy, just as neither is solid food good for those who are yet tender and have need of milk. [GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS: SECOND ORATION ON EASTER 8]


So you see my beloved, yet again the answer to so many of our questions is: ‘God’s love’! It is because the Lord is true to Himself, because He loves us and respects our free will that He gives us choices. He loves us and so He does not force Himself on us, but on the contrary allows us to chose Him only if we wish.

Rest assured my beloved, the tree is not an ancient and historical thing that does not concern us, it is the essence of every choice we make even today: will I chose the Lord and his commandments as my source of truth and life, or will I decide to chose a fallen and wordily wisdom and in the process distance myself from God.

Remember, Know your faith, live your faith, and teach your faith.

And to God be the Glory, now and forever, and unto the ages of all ages. Amen.

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