Question on Genesis 3:22-24


I am looking for some insights into what is meant by these verses. Particularly, what is meant in verse 22 and how we’re to understand what is meant? Why is “live endlessly” bad? Isn’t that what we want to do? Live endlessly, forever, in heaven with God? Or is the author stating that we must be banished because of our sin and the need for redemption, which will come later, and if we eat of the tree of life, we’ll live forever in our sin? Thanks for your help!

“22He said, too, Here is Adam become like one of ourselves, with knowledge of good and evil; now he has only to lift his hand and gather fruit to eat from the tree of life as well, and he will live endlessly. 23 So the Lord God drove him out from that garden of delight, to cultivate the ground from which he came; 24 banished Adam, and posted his Cherubim before the garden of delight, with a sword of fire that turned this way and that, so that he could reach the tree of life no longer.”


Adam and Eve were intended to live forever by eating from the tree of life. The tree of life was not forbidden to them, the tree of knowledge of good and evil was. God had warned Adam and Eve that if they ate from the forbidden tree, they would die, and this is why He says that they must be thrust out of the garden lest they eat from the tree of life – because if they did that, they would live forever, and He had clearly said they would die. So He thrusts them out of the garden, and guards the way to the tree of life, and we now must be redeemed from sin so that we can access paradise again. (And the new paradise will exceed the old, because in the new paradise we will have glorified bodies, and superior intellects. Can’t wait!)


This is correct. To eat from the tree of life after sinning would mean having to forever live in a state of sin.


I have understood it as: a guard rail on a high way. The guard keeps one’s car on the correct track. The Sword is the Word of the Lord. It is sometimes called a two-edge sword. It corrects when we go the wrong way. It helps us go the right way.


My suggestion is to put these two verses into the context of Genesis, chapters 1, 2, and 3 and also Romans 5: 12-21. Then take a long look at paragraphs 396–406 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, especially CCC 398. To really understand Adam and us, one needs to study CCC paragraphs 355-421.

The short version is that one has to know what exactly Original Sin is in order to understand some of the individual verses.:slight_smile:


By eating from the tree of knowledge Man had become unique among all life on earth by being able to discriminate between good and bad. Because Man has this unique ability to know good and evil, and his desire for sensual gratification had become enhanced, there was a new danger. If Man kept the capacity to live forever, he might well spend all his days pursuing gratification and cast away intellectual growth and good deeds. He would fail to attain the spiritual bliss that God intended for him. If so, Man had to be banished from Eden so that he would not be able able to eat from the Tree of Life and live forever (Rambam).


Your input is always valuable. I have found it as a good clarification. Thank you.

However, the basic Catholic interpretation of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is directly related to the Divinity of Jesus Christ. (Romans 5: 12-21) I do realize that some, not all, 21st century Catholics have not had a sound foundation in the Catholic teachings which flow from the first three chapters of Genesis. One reason for this is that in the latter half of the 20th century, there were some teachers who figured that Adam was a symbol…


Thank you everyone for your responses. I find them very helpful and give me greater confidence in my own understanding and some talking points to discuss with a friend! God bless you all!


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