What Exactly Was the Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden? (2024)

Most people are familiar with the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They were given a command not to eat from a tree, which they did not follow and as the saying goes, the rest is history.

One act of disobedience put mankind on this path that has led us to where we are today. This all started with some fruit, but what was that forbidden fruit in Genesis 2 where this account takes place? While there are no specifics on the type of fruit, there are some lessons we can learn from their experience.

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Do We Know What the Forbidden Fruit Was?

What Exactly Was the Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden? (1)

While we don’t know what that fruit was, somehow in many pictures and imageries an apple gets portrayed as that fruit. To clear up any confusion, here is what Genesis actually says about the fruit.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it” (Genesis 3:6).

Here is all we know about the forbidden fruit in Genesis. It was good for food, meaning it was edible. It was pleasing to the eye, which means it was attractive. Finally, they thought it was desirable for gaining wisdom, which means they thought they would gain something from it. By the way these are the same trappings of sin that we are faced with today (more on that later).

Because there are so many different types of fruit that grow on a tree, there really is no way of knowing what type of fruit it really was. (Sorry apples you have been blamed for something that you may have had nothing to do with.)

In all honesty the type of fruit doesn’t matter. When you are reading the story, your focus should not be on what the forbidden fruit in Genesis was. It should be on the act of disobedience that Adam and Eve committed.

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What Does the Bible Say about the Tree of Knowledge?

What Exactly Was the Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden? (2)

When you read the creation story you discover from Genesis that there were plenty of trees in the garden.

“Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground — trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:8-9).

God put them in the garden and provided them with plenty of choices of food to eat. I would imagine that every type of tree bearing fruit was probably represented in the garden. This is only my speculation, but I would say think of any fruit that grows on a tree and it was probably available in the garden. I don’t have proof of this, but it is a reasonable assumption.

There were however two important trees in the middle of the garden that were different from the rest. The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tree of life as it states gave life, particularly eternal life. The other tree would produce death.

A question that often comes to mind is why was the tree of knowledge in the garden to begin with? For many Bible scholars the main answer is about free will. God created man for intimacy and fellowship with him, but from the very beginning this was not a forced fellowship, it is a chosen fellowship. From the beginning until today God gives every human the same free will. We can choose to follow and obey or we can choose to go our own way.

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Why Did Eve Eat the Fruit?

What Exactly Was the Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden? (3)

This is the question of the ages, but I don’t want to hate on Eve too much. Eve fell victim to temptation in much the same way we do. I want to show you what happened to Eve because this still plagues us today. To keep it simple, Eve rejected what God had provided in search of something else or something different.

I want you to consider the similarities between the fruit on all the trees in the garden. In Genesis 2:9 and Genesis 3:6 you see that the trees were good for food (edible) and pleasing to the eye (attractive). What was different about the fruit on the tree of knowledge? She thought she would obtain something that the other trees did not provide her. The serpent influenced her to believe that God was holding out something from her. Remember what she said that highlights the difference. The fruit was good for food, pleasing to the eye and – here’s the difference – desirable for gaining wisdom.

I don’t believe Eve ate the fruit simply because it was edible and looked good. There were plenty of other trees that had those characteristics. She ate the fruit because it promised her something she did not have and wanted to gain or experience. Often this is how sin works in our lives. God has provided everything we need for this life, just as he did with Adam and Eve. So what is it about sin that looks so attractive to us? It promises something that we have not experienced or something that we can gain from it. The problem is that this is an empty promise and the consequences never live up to the expectations.

What Was the Result of the Forbidden Fruit?

The result of eating the forbidden fruit was sin entering the world and all the pain and suffering that happens as a result. As God promised, death happened. This was not physical death, but spiritual death that caused a separation between God and man because of sin.

Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden. I know Adam and Eve did not know the gravity of the action they committed when it happened. However, I think it is safe to say they came to understand quickly how bad a decision they had made. I believe they experienced remorse just like we often do when we endure the result of our sinful decisions. Remember they were the only ones in human history who ever lived on this earth in a sinless environment. I am sure they longed for the days when they could go back to Eden as it was. Unfortunately, with sin, sometimes it costs us more than we want to pay and there are some things you lose that you can’t get back.

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The Silver Lining

What Exactly Was the Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden? (4)

If the story of Adam and Eve was just about fruit and getting kicked out of the garden that would be a tragedy. Yet there was something else that happened in that garden that gives us hope. The choice of Adam and Eve set in motion God’s plan of redemption. While eating the forbidden fruit might have been a decision Adam and Eve did not know they would make, it was one that God knew they would make.

From the moment the forbidden fruit in Genesis was eaten, the promise of the savior who would redeem mankind was made. In Genesis 3:15, God made a promise about the seed of the woman crushing the head of the serpent. We know that seed is Jesus who would come and redeem us back to the Father. Through Adam we lost it all, but in Christ we gained back all that was lost.

“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 5:19).

The ultimate end of our righteousness in Christ is that one day we will be able to eat from the tree of life and so be with our Lord forevermore. Never again will we have to deal with the issue of sin for all eternity. Yes, Adam and Eve set the sin wheels in motion, but thankfully Jesus has turned it all around.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:1-5).

Related articles
Where Is the Garden of Eden?
Why Is Jesus Called the "Second Adam"?
Who Wrote Genesis?

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What Exactly Was the Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden? (5)Clarence L. Haynes Jr.is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author ofThe Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course calledBible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.

What Exactly Was the Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden? (2024)


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