Last week on the radio I mentioned in passing that I believed the fruit that Eve was tempted with and ultimately ate, introducing sin into the human race, was a grape. A kind listener emailed me after to ask how I knew it was a grape, or even an apple, since the Bible doesn’t clearly state that it was either.
Before getting into the scriptural support for the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge being a grape, let me first briefly deal with where the whole notion that the fruit was an apple originated. It is highly likely that this view of the fruit comes from a medieval pun: the Latin for “evil” is malum and the Latin for “apple” is malus. Possibly medieval monks simply played a game with the words to make the fruit which conducted evil (malum) into the world an apple (malus).
As for Scriptural support that the fruit was a grape, let me first say that it really doesn’t matter what the fruit was. However, the primary reason for NOT knowing the identity of the fruit is our lack of motivation to search the scriptures, compare the scriptures, and look for typology throughout the Scriptures which point to the answer to questions like these.
In order to ascertain what kind of fruit Eve ate it is necessary to first know what kind of tree it came from. Ahhh, you say! Don’t you know, Paul, that grapes don’t grow on trees, therefore the grape can be eliminated as a possibility, because grapes grow on vines? Ahh, but have you never read Ezekial 15 (KJV) where Scripture clearly suggests that there was at one time something known as a vine tree? Is it possible that just as God condemned the serpent to crawl (Genesis 3:14) he also cursed the vine to crawl?
God planted and caused to grow “all kinds of trees” in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8,9). If we want some insight as to exactly what kind of trees specifically may have been growing there, Judges 9 gives a comprehensive list (keep in mind what I said above about searching the Scriptures, comparing the Scriptures, and looking for typology throughout the Scriptures). Judges 9 lists four different trees: the olive tree, the fig tree, the vine tree, the thorn bush. We know there was a fig tree in the Garden of Eden, because it was fig leaves Adam and Eve used to cover themselves (Genesis 3:7). There was also thorn bushes in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:18). That leaves only TWO TREES – the olive tree and the vine tree.
Is it possible that these are the two trees in the center of the Garden, one of which was forbidden to Adam and Eve? Two trees were planted by God in the center of the Garden of Eden: the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Here is where searching the Scriptures and looking for the typology is so important to answering our question about what kind of fruit Eve ate.
Is it possible that the Tree of Life is an olive tree? Noah sends a dove from the ark and when it returns it has an olive leafin its mouth, a sign that the waters were abated from the earth – a sign of LIFE (Genesis 8:11). The lights on the lampstand in the tabernacle were fueled by olive oil (Exodus 27:20). The entrance into the inner sanctuary of Solomon’s Temple (the place where God would figuratively dwell and also representing our eternal dwelling with Him in his presence) was made of olive wood, as were the two cherubim guarding the entrance (1 Kings 6:23, 31). When David was being taunted by his enemies he responded by likening his life to “a green olive tree in the house of God,” thus signifying his life could never be destroyed (Psalm 52:8). When Jesus returns to set up His eternal kingdom, He returns first to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). Jesus spent a great deal of time during His earthly ministry on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 21:1; 24:3; Mark 11:1; 13:3; Luke 19:29; 19:37; 21:37; 22:39; John 8:1). The Mount of Olives was the last place visited by Jesus and the disciples before his arrest and crucifixion (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26) and it was the first place to which the disciples went after the ascension of Christ (Acts 1:12). So by searching and comparing the Scriptures, it seems apparent that the olive tree represents LIFE, so is there any reason to believe that the Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden was a supernatural version of an Olive Tree?
Which leaves only one other tree in the midst of the Garden – the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – which in all liklihood (and by process of elimination from the list above from Judges 9) is a vine tree (Ezekial 15 – KJV). Is it possible that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was a vine tree bearing grapes? Grapes were a forbidden fruit in some places in the Scriptures! Samson’s mother was forbidden to “eat anything that comes from the grapevine” (Judges 13:14). Isaiah 7:23 prophesies that God will judge Israel by turning the vines to briers and thorns – not unlike God’s judgment on Adam in Genesis 3:17,18.
But the real typology is between Adam introducing sin into the world by eating fruit, and Jesus symbolizing the taking away of sin by drinking the fruit of the vine. Read Romans 5:12-21 for the corollaries between Adam and Christ, as well as 1 Corinthians 15:22 and 45 – “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Adam ate a fruit that brought original sin into the human race and God’s judgment on the human race; Christ drank a fruit that symbolized the end of sin and the taking of God’s wrath. Was it the same fruit? To this day we still celebrate the sacrifice of Christ with the fruit of the vine – wine or grape juice. Why?
One of the reasons is because the fruit that introduced sin into the world was a grape. And the redemption of that fruit comes in its use as a symbol of our redemption. Oh, and by the way – Jesus called himself the True Vine (John 15:1) as opposed to the vine from which Eve ate in hope of obtaining knowledge under false pretenses (Genesis 3) . The first vine in the Garden couldn’t give the knowledge of HIM (Jesus) whom to know aright is life eternal (John 17:3). In Jesus Christ is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:2, 3). God’s divine power has given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of HIM (2 Peter 1:3). Jesus Christ is the True Vine, because He is the source of knowledge, as opposed to the false vine presented to Adam and Eve in the Garden.
Christians everywhere celebrate the overcoming of Adam’s disobedience by themselves obeying Jesus command to “this do you, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:25). What did Jesus command us to do? Drink the fruit of the vine until he drinks it new with us in His kingdom (Matthew 26:29)!
Adam and Eve ate a grape.