The “Tree of Life” in Revelation 22
I’ve written this article in response to a question from a friend who asked if the “the Tree of Life” in Revelation 22:2 is the same “Tree of Life” of the Garden of Eden as seen in Genesis 2:9. I do not believe the “Tree of life” seen in Revelation 22:2 is the same “Tree of life” as was in the Garden of Eden on earth when Adam and Eve were created. We will compare these two ‘Trees of Life.’
1. In the Garden of Eden on earth at the time of Adam, there was “the Tree of Life,” which Adam and Eve obviously never ate of. This was a real tree but also a metaphor for the cross that bore the everlasting life of God in Jesus Christ to be made available to all who would believe to receive it by faith.
“And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Genesis 2:9 (KJV)
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 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 2:16-17 (KJV)
Interestingly, you would think the “Tree of Life” would have been first on Adam’s list to eat of since it in was in the midst of the Garden, as a focal point. So, Adam and Eve were never told to Not eat of ‘the Tree of Life.’ ... they were only told NOT to eat of the ‘Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.’
It seems that they were seduced by the Serpent before it occurred to them that they could eat of ALL the trees of the garden, including the Tree of Life, all except the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil – which they did eat of. From the verses below it is clear that this “The Tree of Life” was much more than any common fruit tree, this “The Tree of Life” could make one to “live forever” (v22) if they got hold of its fruit even after sinning as Adam sinned; so God’s Cherubims blocked the way of “the Tree of Life” (v24).
“22And 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: 23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 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 [prevent] the way of the tree of life.” Genesis 3:22-24 (KJV)
2. Regarding the Revelation 22:2 “Tree of Life,” on the ‘new [restored] earth,’ we must realize there will be Messianic Kingdom believers still living in their human flesh bodies on the new earth. These people will have; 1) believed and endured the Tribulation in faith, 2) they will have survived the Tribulation and gone on to enter the Millennial Kingdom and, 3) Per Revelation 22 they will be dwelling in the Eternal Kingdom on the New Earth wherein is “the Tree of life” by the “River of Life” that flows out from “the throne of God.”
“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2In 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 [leaves, Gk. phyllon, the sprouts thereof] were for the healing of the nations.” Revelation 22:1-2
So, some people on the new earth will have their spirit-body of “the first resurrection” (cf. Rev 20:6). They were the saints of other dispensational ages before and after “the dispensation of the grace of God.” But there will also be others who will still be living in their human physical bodies of flesh. They will need to have access to “the tree of life” for “the healing [Gk. therapeia, cure] of the nations (Gk. ethnos, all ethnicities).”
These will have Christ’s eternal life but their flesh bodies will still need to receive nutrition. Apparently also, since their human flesh bodies will still bear the then totally subdued sin-nature, they still could become sick. There will be “no more death” (Rev 21:4), however, eating of the “Tree of Life” at least monthly (cf. Rev. 22:2) will keep their physical bodies healthy.
3. We of today’s “church,” the Gentile “body of Christ” will have already, by the time of Rev. 22, been dwelling in heaven for more than 1,007 years, We will be living in our glorified spirit-bodies and co-reigning with Christ in “the heavenly places” forever (cf. Eph. 1:3, 2Tim 2:12, 2Cor. 5:1).