The names of the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil contained God’s promises. This is not controversial. John Calvin writes about the promises contained in the names:
The very name of the tree [of the knowledge of good and evil] shows the sole purpose of the precept was to keep him content with his lot and to prevent him from becoming puffed up with wicked lust. But the promise by which he was bidden to hope for eternal life so long as he ate from the tree of life, and, conversely, the terrible threat of death once he tasted of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, served to prove and exercise his faith. [Institutes Book II chapter I.4 – my emphasis added]
This naming of the trees is consistent with other names in the bible. God renamed Abram. Genesis 17:5 “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.” The name Abraham means “father of a multitude.” The promise of God is contained in the name.
Jesus is so called because “he will save his people from their sins” Matthew 1:21, his name contains the promise that God saves. Jesus then names himself seven times in John’s gospel and his names contain in them the promises of God.
- “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger.” John 6:35
- “I am the light of the world; he who fallows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12
- “I am the gate; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9
- “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.” John 10:11
- “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies.” John 11:25
- “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” John 14:6
- “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1
The name of the tree of life contained the promise of eternal life (Gen 3:22) and name of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil contained the promise of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 3:6-7).
In my next blog on this subject I’ll look at the relationship between God, the names of the trees and Adam’s relationship with God through them.