What is meant by “the tree of life,” what by “the tree of knowledge of good and evil,” and what by “eating” of them?

Lastchurch - The Eternal PurposeFrom Conjugial Love ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

A tree signifies man; and its fruit signifies the good of life. By the tree of life, therefore, is meant man living from God, or God living in man. And as love and wisdom, and charity and faith, or good and truth, make the life of God in man, these are meant by the tree of life, and from these man has life eternal. The like is signified by the tree of life of which it is given to eat, in Revelation 2:7:-  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

And Revelation 22:2 & 14:-  In 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 were for the healing of the nations.  Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

By the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is signified the man who believes that he lives of himself, and not from God; thus, that love and wisdom, charity and faith, that is, good and truth, are in man, his own, and not of God, believing this, because he thinks and wills, and speaks and acts in all similitude and appearance as if from himself. And because from this belief man persuades himself that God has imparted Himself or infused His Divine into him, therefore the serpent said:- God doth know that in the day that ye eat of the fruit of that tree your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil (Gen. 3:5).

By eating of those trees is signified reception and appropriation; by eating of the tree of life, the reception of life eternal; and by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the reception of condemnation, and therefore also both Adam and his wife, together with the serpent, were accursed.

By the serpent is meant the devil as to the love of self and the pride of one’s own intelligence. This love is the possessor of that tree; and men who are in pride from this love are such trees. They therefore are in a monstrous error who believe that Adam was wise and did good from himself, and that this was his state of integrity; when in fact Adam was himself accursed on account of that belief, for this is signified by his eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Therefore he then fell from the state of integrity, in which he was by virtue of believing that he was wise and did good from God, and not at all from himself; for this is meant by eating of the tree of life.

The Lord alone when He was in the world was wise of Himself and did good from Himself; because the Divine Itself was in Him and was His by nativity. And therefore also by His own power He became the Redeemer and Saviour.

From all that had been said they formed this conclusion: That by the tree of life, and by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and by eating of them, is signified that life with man is God in him; and that then it is heaven to him and eternal life. And that death to man is the persuasion and belief that the life he has is not God, but himself; from which belief comes hell to him and eternal death, which is damnation.

(Conjugial Love 135)
March 23, 2017

2 thoughts on “What is meant by “the tree of life,” what by “the tree of knowledge of good and evil,” and what by “eating” of them?

  1. I often wondered if the ‘trees’ in the Garden, although physically there, were not so much as important in themselves as the motive that God had in using them to test His creatures. ( Could He have chosen anything? ) There was a war going on between Satan and God even before the world was created ( There appear to be numerous instances in the Bible that allude to this. ) The Creation, I suspect, was part of a grand strategy for dealing with a rebellious Lucifer and was thus the beginning of the end for him.

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