Bible Question:

I am thinking about Genesis 2:15-17. I was wondering if God was talking in a literal or spiritual sense? I think it is literal. Before they ate of the tree, they would not have experienced a physical death; or if they did die, they would have gone automatically to heaven. Then when they ate of the tree, they shattered their chances to automatically go to heaven. That is why God sent Jesus. Is this correct?

Bible Answer:

If Adam and Eve had not sinned they would have been able to eat of the Tree of Life and live forever. But they violated God’s command or sinned. As a result, they experienced physical death, and so will we. God had warned them and they ignored God. We are suffering the consequences of their stupid decision.

The Penalty

When Adam disobeyed God and ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve began to understand the difference between good and evil. The eating of this fruit resulted in their immediate spiritual death. They had committed a spiritual sin and the penalty was severe.

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men. . . (NASB) Romans 5:12

They sinned and we are all suffering as a result. We do not know what would have happened to them or to us if they had not eaten of the fruit of the tree. God does not tell us.

What Could Have Been?

But we do know that Adam and Eve could have lived forever – spiritually and physically. I believe that those who go to heaven will meet Adam and Eve. I think they understood the great promise of Genesis 3:15. The promise was that Jesus Christ would come and die for us one day. I think they believed and depended on God to forgive their sins.


Today we can go straight to heaven when we die if we are spiritually alive. We are born into this world spiritually dead, but by believing, trusting, and depending on Jesus to forgive our sins we can automatically go to heaven. It is amazing that God did not become angry with Adam and Eve and kill them. Instead He showed them His love and promised that Jesus would die for them. Jesus did that so that we could become spiritually alive. If you’d like to learn more, visit the page Searching for God.