If the 'Forbidden Fruit' was 'forbidden', why did God keep it in Eden?

If God had the intention of keeping Adam in Eden, why did he keep that stupid fruit there?

Why was a test necessary that was bound to be failed by Adam?

Who is the best one, other than God, to know that Adam is going to fail the test?

If God wanted Adam to be fallen, why didn't He drop Adam on the face of the earth in the first place? Why did He apply the trick? Why was that trick necessary?

  • possible duplicate of Why would God create beings with the capacity to sin?
    – warren
    Commented Jun 9, 2012 at 22:10
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    This question wrongly assumes that Adam "was bound" to disobey. Adam could have chosen either way, therefore God knew it could turn out either way. God knows reality as it is. That includes possibilities.
    – Benjamin
    Commented Jun 9, 2012 at 23:55
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    Different traditions may have vastly different answers to this question. It would be helpful to narrow it down to one particular tradition. Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 7:11
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    I assume you're seeking answers from people who believe in a literal tree of knowledge? Or are you willing to accept answers from the view that the narrative of the Fall is not meant to be taken literally?
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 1:10

11 Answers 11


A Heart Conducive to Understanding

Before addressing the question, it seems appropriate to address the proper spirit in which such answers should be sought. There is a very important principle in Scripture which we need to remember;

You will say to me then, “Why does [God] still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? -Romans 9:19-20

It is inappropriate to critique God, or to accuse Him of injustice or trickery. Furthermore, it will not lead to understanding, as the following verse explains:

A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none, But knowledge is easy to one who has understanding. -Proverbs 14:6

To learn the answers to such difficult questions, we need to seek the Lord.

Evil men do not understand justice, But those who seek the LORD understand all things. -Proverbs 28:5

What We Know About God

When we seek answers about the tough subjects of Scripture, it is important to start with what we know.

The first thing to recognize up front is that God is good. Everything good was created by God, and everything created by God is good. To say it another way, God did not (and cannot) "create evil." (I'll answer the obvious questions in a moment.)

Secondly, it is clear from Scripture that God would do anything for His people. He made salvation available to everyone, and He desires that everyone would be saved. So it would be severely inappropriate to think that God would put a stumbling block before Adam, tempting him to fail - all for the purpose of personal benefit. That doctrine is severely inconsistent with Scripture.

Defining Evil

At this point, many wonder, "If God didn't create evil, then why does evil exist?" I think we need to be careful with semantics here. Evil is not a substance to be created or destroyed - it is a way which is contrary to God's ways. For instance, if I become conceited, that would be evil (sin) because that is contrary to God's good ways (love, humility, etc.) But it wouldn't really make sense to ask "Why did God decide to create my conceitedness?" because it obviously isn't a substance to be created, and if it were, He obviously wouldn't have created it. Evil only sounds like a substance due to clever wordplay.

What God did is speak a perfect, good creation into existence, complete with beings who have the capacity to love and receive love. Obviously love involves choice, so men were created with a capacity to willingly love Him.

Why The Tree?

God created man with the capacity to choose to love God and walk in His good ways. That would be absolutely pointless if man was never presented with an opportunity to make a choice of any kind!

Enter "the tree." When we're talking about the forbidden fruit, we really need to take a moment and reflect on the situation prior to Genesis 3. God has just created an entire "very good" universe and essentially handed it all over to man. He made celestial objects for signs and seasons, filled an entire planet with creatures and plants, and prepared a paradise garden to walk with them in. There was one thing they weren't allowed to do. One rule. One little ol' tree in the middle of the whole big creation which they were told not to eat from. We're not talking about the Levitical Law here... this was a pretty reasonable boundary! Let us keep this in mind as we continue.

As I mentioned, the tree provided them with an opportunity to choose. With this one tree being off-limits, they now had an awareness of "right and wrong." Make no mistake - they knew it was wrong to eat the fruit - God made that very clear. That is not to say that they "knew" (had a personal experiential understanding of) evil; just that they "knew" (had the knowledge of) right and wrong.

Q & A

"If the fruit was 'forbidden', why did God put it in front of man?" Answer: "Forbidden" means it was a boundary which God set. He could have chosen any boundary He wanted - He could have said "don't stand over there." He chose the fruit, hence "forbidden" fruit. (Why did He choose the fruit? That's another question!)

"If God wanted Adam in Eden, why did he keep the fruit there?" Answer: The tree represented the choice which made willing love possible. The proximity allowed them a continual choice, which made continual love possible. It's not that God planted "temptation" and "wickedness" before man's eyes, but rather, that He planted "a choice" in their midst.

"Why was it necessary to present Adam with a test which he was bound to fail?" Answer: This question is based on a misunderstanding. Adam had a choice, and chose to sin. The idea that he was "bound to fail the test" is false. (Consider the angels - some fell, some did not.)

"Who knew better than God that Adam would fail the test?" Answer: This line of reasoning assumes that foreknowledge necessitates fatalism, and eliminates accountability. Both assumptions are false. Yes, God knew what Adam would choose - but it was Adam who chose.

"If God wanted Adam to fall, why was it necessary to trick him first?" Answer: The premise of this question is a false assumption. God didn't want Adam to fall. Also, God didn't trick him.

Hope that helps!

  • I think, you say nothing to people who don't believe as you do. To me, you say things to justify what you believe in. I mean, why did God created Adam even when he knew Adam would chose sin? why did God says something is sin and why did He created us even when He knows we're to fall in some of them? I have that question also, does God enjoys to send people to hell? If not, why He created us with the capacity to sin?
    – Omar
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 0:20
  • @Omar He created us with the capacity to love. Love involves choice. You can't choose if there are no options. Sin is choosing contrary to God's ways. By creating us with the ability to love, he created us with the ability to embrace Him and His ways, or reject Him and His ways. Sin is rejecting Him and His ways. Hope that helps.
    – Jas 3.1
    Commented Nov 4, 2013 at 0:40
  • No help at all, just an unterminated loop. So, does God enjoys to send people to hell? I mean, it is supposed that God knows everything back or forward in time. From the very beginning of a human life, He knows if a person is gonna sin so hard so He would send her or him to hell, even when He knows that person is gonna have an eternal suffering... To me sounds anything but lovely. If I know my little brother is going to take a bad way, I won't tell him: "The choice is yours"; I will take him off from that way, I think that's a love action.
    – Omar
    Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 18:34
  • @Omar The kind of love that forces a person to choose you every time is not love... that's a terrible perversion of love. Imagine a father who forced his young child to hug him, or a husband who forced his wife to be intimate with him... what a terrible picture that would be!
    – Jas 3.1
    Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 20:20
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    @Omar, God doesn't destine people to hell. He allows us to choose between good and evil. If/when we choose evil, He provides a way to escape: The Savior, Jesus Christ, through whom we can find complete forgiveness every time come to Him in faith. Adam received forgiveness, through Jesus Christ, and so can we. "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him" (1 Thessalonians 5:9–10). That's the joyful message of the gospel, and the reason for our hope as Christians. Commented May 23, 2017 at 0:19

The short answer is that without the possibility of disobedience, there is no obedience.

God gave us free will because He loves us, and because He wants to be loved in return. Our love for Him wouldn't be real love if it were forced. We'd be little better than robots, programmed to behave a certain way.

I believe that the tree was planted there because without it, Adam and Eve wouldn't have had the choice to obey or disobey Him. and without choice, there can be no true obedience, or true love, only mindless followers with no will of their own.

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    I agree with @Jas3.1. I like this wording better than the original anyway. Unfortunately I have no references explaining why God planted it there. This is, in all honesty, purely logic based on the assumption that God desires obedience, and that we're not mindless automatons. And like most of my logic, it's tainted and likely flawed. ;) As for references that God desires willing obedience, I'd cite 1 Samuel 15:22, but the entire Old Testament, and the history of God's chosen people is a cycle of obedience: reward; disobedience: punishment, so the premise is on sound Biblical ground. Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 3:14
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    The command itself implies a desire for obedience. If God secretly desired disobedience when He commanded otherwise, then we could never know if He meant anything He said. Since it is unjustified to distrust God or accuse Him of insincerity, we are obligated to trust that God's command implies the desire for obedience.
    – Benjamin
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 3:18

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

God created man in his image and established him in his friendship. A spiritual creature, man can live this friendship only in free submission to God. The prohibition against eating “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” spells this out: “for in the day that you eat of it, you shall die.” The “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” symbolically evokes the insurmountable limits that man, being a creature, must freely recognize and respect with trust. Man is dependent on his Creator and subject to the laws of creation and to the moral norms that govern the use of freedom. (CCC 396)

By my understanding, the tree, be it an actual or figurative tree, is "merely" a representation or manifestation of the innate human capacity for freedom. The tree represents, at least to some extent, a dis-acknowledgement for the supremacy of God. God makes this forbidden not arbitrarily, but because God knows a proper relationship with Himself to be necessary for eternal life.

If we accept the tree as a "mere" image of freedom, the underlying question is then Why would God create beings with the capacity to sin?

Because the question has already been answered in greater detail, a somewhat brief answer:

Only the light of divine Revelation clarifies the reality of sin and particularly of the sin committed at mankind’s origins. Without the knowledge Revelation gives of God we cannot recognize sin clearly and are tempted to explain it as merely a developmental flaw, a psychological weakness, a mistake, or the necessary consequence of an inadequate social structure, etc. Only in the knowledge of God’s plan for man can we grasp that sin is an abuse of the freedom that God gives to created persons so that they are capable of loving him and loving one another. (CCC 387]

To Love innately requires a freedom that enables us to not love.

In other words, if an act may be construed as loving, it is only loving if the act is chosen with the full freedom to have chosen otherwise.

The assumption (which could be addressed more fully in another question) is that it is profoundly good and ultimately enjoyable to love.


Short answer to your entire question - we don't know the will or the ways of thinking of God. So we can't give you a clear explanation as to why He did what He did. Only speculation, and consequences that resulted from the fruit being eaten.

Disclaimer aside, God gave Adam and Eve two commandments in the Garden of Eden. One was as you have stated not to eat of the forbidden fruit, the other was to multiply and replenish the earth. Ultimately to fulfill the one (multiply and replenish) they had to partake of the fruit. Remember its not just the forbidden fruit it provides knowledge of good and evil (gen 2:17) in that same verse we learn that they will die if they partake of the fruit.

This leads to the conclusion, or at least the inference, that they could not die before that. Which makes sense, sin introduced death to the world and Christ died to pay for our sins that we might all live with God again.

We also learn in the NT that Jesus was with God before the world was and was prepared to drink the bitter cup (our sins) even then. We also know that this life is a test and how could we be tested if we knew not what good and evil were?

Along these lines we can speculate that, since we needed to be tested and couldn't be actually tested in the presence of God (remember Adam walked and talked with God in the garden) we needed someway to be separated from God AND to know good from evil. So we get the story of the first 3 chapters of Genesis. God creates the earth, He creates man, and then He gives man 2 commandments which both cannot be fulfilled - which leads to man falling, being tested, and dying. All things that need to happen for us to return to God.

So do we know why God decided or needed to do things this way? No, but we know what we were put on earth for (to be tested) and we know what the results of the tree being in Eden were, us being tested, failing, and dying, but with a Savior provided.

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    Could you explain why "being fruitful and multiplying" necessitated having eat the forbidden fruit? Commented Jun 9, 2012 at 16:16
  • there was another command given - to tend the garden
    – warren
    Commented Jun 9, 2012 at 22:07

Why did God make the “Forbidden Fruit” available in Eden? This is a question I repeatedly ask myself. Possibly one answer can be derived from Ephesians 1:3-6:

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he c predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Notice everything was known 'before the creation' and that everything was done to the 'praise of his glorious grace'. This makes the question reasonable as well as providing a hook into an answer. Now I take these versus to mean that mankind's understanding and experience of God's goodness and love, which can only lead us to praise and experience of his grace, is at a 'higher realm' after the fall and salvation of mankind, then if there was no fall at all.

Mankind in Christ is closer to God and more knowledgeable of his grace, goodness, and love then Adam was, or ever could be. Not only in experience and doctrine, but literally being hypostatically united into the God-Man, mankind is in a higher spiritual state than Adam ever was. Mankind is blessed 'in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ'. This is an achievement that exceeds the life of Adam and so mankind's fall, was in-line with God's higher pupose to bless mankind. This all manifests his exceeding glory, that is makes His goodness, wisdom, love, etc. known to men and angels.

Of course by mankind in Christ I mean those 'elect' who put their faith in Him, that is Chrstians.

I found a quote by Martin Luther on the exact same question and he seems to have held the same view I propose:

If God should be asked at the last judgment, ‘Why did you permit Adam to fall?’ and he answered, ‘In order that my goodness toward the human race might be understood when I gave my Son for man’s salvation,’ we would say, ‘Let the whole human race fall again in order that thy glory may become known! Because thou hast accomplished so much through Adam’s fall we do not understand thy ways.’ “There is a threefold light: that of reason, that of grace, and that of glory.” (Luther's Works Volume 54,  P385)

  • That Luther quote is like saying "let us do evil that good may come".
    – Benjamin
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 23:44
  • Luther is just saying that the mystery of grace and its exceeding glory trumps reason. It is at a lower level of theology that you fuss over the free will topic (although also true) because God has said all his purposes are wound up under his grace. Reason can't comprehend this, but what brought darkness to Luther's mind brought sunshine to his heart.
    – Mike
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 0:06
  • "O happy fault! O necessary sin of Adam which gained for us so great a Redeemer! ... things of heaven are wed to those of earth, and divine to the human." Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 8:16

we are not robots. There was a choice. Because of his love he wanted to give us the choice of obedence.
It was His choice to give us a choice.
He made it clear from the beginining that as our Father he would take care of us.
Sin came because of our selfishness. We decided to take care of ourselve (gain knowledge we didn't have).
Romans 1:19-20. Point out that there is now excuse. It is clear from the things He made - who He is.
The fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil was made by Him and only help clarify to us who He is.
Without choice what would the blood that Jesus sweat have meant.
It was His choice also not use all the power that he had, but to follow in the same obedience just as Adam should have.


Many people believe the "fruit" is metaphor. The most common explanation for the metaphorical meaning of the fruit in genesis, is that the fruit was sex. Wikipedia makes mention of this particular interpretation.

Although this interpretation is not widely held among most Christian groups, because most Christian groups view sex as a gift from God, not a sin that should be avoided.

Perhaps the more (in my opinion) believable metaphorical interpretation would come from a belief that much of the Genesis account is metaphor in the same sense that many creation myths are metaphor. That is, it's simply a "made up story" that is intended to explain a spiritual truth.

Many Old-Earth creationists, and to my knowledge, all Theistic Evolutionists would hold this view, that the events in the early parts of Genesis never really happened.

In this view, the story of the fruit simply represents the choice of humanity to rebel against God, and seek selfish fulfillment, rather than obedience.


The short answer is that God wanted us to have the knowledge of good and evil. As others have said, God is good. How would we know how good he is if we didn't know good and evil? Those of us who love good will seek God - this is the whole reason for it all.

God is also a chess player, though. :) He could not give us that knowledge from the get-go for a very important reason: He knew that we, being free agents, would do evil if we knew about it. So, he set up a scenario where we would be at fault if we did gain the knowledge.

It is all beautifully simple but it takes a bit of an open mind to sort through it correctly. The church has done a horrible job of answering the question so most people are brainwashed in to the cookie-cutter answers that are so prevalent nowadays.

You can see a more careful treatise of my view (which I believe is THE correct view) here:



This might also provide some explanation.


I don't always fully understand it either, but I am working hard to. I think it was such a very important event. And honestly a most difficult decision that Adam and Eve had to make.

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    – Ryan Frame
    Commented Oct 14, 2013 at 13:28

There is a Rabbinic tradition (but one that I cannot find right now) that essentially states that God's desire was either:

    1. That they would eat of the Tree of Life first


    1. That God's desire all along was that they eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

In the first case, had they eaten of the Tree of Life, the tradition goes that they would have "passed the test."

In the second case (and the one my OT prof. preferred), it should be pointed out that Adam and Eve gained exactly what God said they would gain - knowledge of what was good and what was evil. In doing so, they also gained mortality - that they would die. In gaining mortality, however, they also had to "grow up", in a sense. They were no longer naive dependent creatures, but rather self-aware, self-responsible beings whom God could treat more as equals than mere choiceless animals. In a sense, it is the difference between a toddler and a teenager. Teenagers break rules out of a unique will that a parent desires to nuture. Toddlers simply don't know any better.

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    There is no evidence whatsoever that God wanted them to eat the tree of life first, in fact the tree of life is not even mentioned until after they eat of the tree of knowledge.
    – Ryan
    Commented Jun 9, 2012 at 20:15
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    @ryanOptini Gen 2:9
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 9, 2012 at 21:07
  • *mention to Adam
    – Ryan
    Commented Jun 9, 2012 at 21:20
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    @ryanOptini Note RABBINIC TRADITION. Explicitly stated as such, not scripture. Personally, I don't even buy the theory. I'm trying to put it out there as a complete answer... Commented Jun 9, 2012 at 22:36

I think we are forgetting that everything happens for a reason. God controls everything. Did he not put the serpent in the garden that told Eve "Has God in deed said. "You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" GENESIS 3:3

If it is true that Adam and Eve were like children. Do children not want to be like their parents?

"For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" GENISIS 3:3-5

I believe that GOD has a plan and is always aware of what is going on.

It is SIMPLE all you have to do is BELIEVE that HE has a plan and there is more to life than what we can see. We as humans are always trying to make this more difficult than it needs to be. Just live your life the best you can and love unconditionally. That's what GOD intended for us to do.

  • Welcome to Christianity SE, Kim! I personally agree with your sentiments. However, this is not really the kind of answers that fit on this particular site. "I believe" statements are generally good indicators of this. You might check out the tour of the site here: christianity.stackexchange.com/tour. I hope you stick around.
    – Narnian
    Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 15:19
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    – Caleb
    Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 16:26