Paradise Life Tree
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9. Paradise Life Tree
Revelation 2.5-7

"Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the Nicolaitans' practices, which I also hate. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the victorious one, I will give the right to eat from God's paradise life tree." (Revelation 2.5-7) ✞


Garden of EdenThe word "paradise" has a Persian origin as "a beautiful garden with pleasant meadows, stately trees, and many flowers." "Paradise," therefore, is a serene, beautiful place. Revelation's garden paradise has direct links to Genesis. The Biblical scholar, Archibald Geikie Brown (1844-1922), wrote eloquently of this connection.

"In Genesis, we see the earth created.
In Revelation, we see it passing away.
In Genesis, there is a garden home for human beings.
In Revelation, there is a city, the nation's home.
In Genesis, we see humans driven from the garden and away from the "tree of life."
In Revelation, we see them welcomed back, with the "tree of life" at their disposal."

How wonderful that will be! ✞

Life Tree

Life TreeThe Tree of Life first appears in Genesis 2.9 and 3.22-24 as the eternal life source in the Garden of Eden. Access is taken away when humans are driven from the garden. The Tree of Life then reappears in the Book of Revelation, and most predominantly in chapter 22 as a part of the new paradise garden. Access is then no longer forbidden, for those who "wash their robes" "have the right to the tree of life" (Revelation 22.14). A similar statement appears in Rev 2.7, where the tree of life is promised as a reward to those who overcome. In Jewish thought, the "life tree" means human fulfillment. It appears in paradise alongside the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil." ✞

A Longing Fulfilled

Those who gather around it enjoy lives free from need, hunger, corruption, or pain in heaven. Proverbs 13.12 explains, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a living tree." The tree of life is a fundamental archetype in many of the world's mythologies, religious, and philosophical traditions. It is closely related to the "sacred tree" concept. Revelation 22 begins with a reference to the "pure river of water of life" which proceeds "out of the throne of God". The river seems to feed two trees of life, one "on either side of the river" which "bear twelve manner of fruits" "and the leaves of the tree were for healing of the nations" (v.1-2) Water flows through "paradise." The trees flourish on either side of the "river of life," their leaves have a healing quality, and many types of fruit grow on them to feed the faithful.

Life Tree Meaning

Other Christian leaders have interpreted the meaning of the Tree of Life in different ways. Augustine of Hippo () said that the tree of life is Christ himself and Bonaventure () taught that the medicinal fruit of the tree of life is Christ himself. Others have indicated that the tree of life is a vine that grows on both sides of the river, as in John 15.1. St Augustine adds in "The Literal Meaning of Genesis, VIII, 4, 8 (On Genesis, New City Press, p. 351-353), "God did not wish the man to live in Paradise without the mysteries of spiritual things being presented to him in bodily form. So then in the other trees he was provided with nourishment, in this one with a sacrament. He is rightly called whatever came before him in order to signify him."

Tree Fragrances

Genesis GardenThe paradise tree of life is humanity's perfect source. Many Jewish people believed that when the Messiah, the "expected anointed one," comes from God and the new age dawns, the "paradise tree of life" will grow in their midst, and the faithful will eat from it. The Rabbis said that the "tree of life's boughs overshadow paradise." It has five hundred thousand fragrances, and fruit has many pleasant tastes, and everyone is different.


Nicolai RemainsWe do not precisely know who the "Nicolaitan heretics" were, but God seemed to hate these heretics for encouraging sexual immorality and participation in pagan practices. Samuel Taylor Marshall (1812-1895), of Miami University, believed, "the name "Nicolaitan" meant 'peoples' conqueror.'" David Chilton, the American reformed scholar (1951-1997), added, "the Greek term for 'Balaam' means 'people destroyer.'"

Wicked Balaam's Way

2 Peter 2.15 reviles Balaam as a "wicked man." His followers "have left the straight way and wandered off to follow Balaam's way, the son of Bezer, lover of wickedness." M. G. Easton (1823-1894), the Biblical scholar, noted in the "Illustrated Bible Dictionary" that "A donkey, a speechless animal, spoke in a human voice, restrained his madness, and rebuked him for his wrongdoing."

Speaking Donkey

The Book of Numbers 22.21-31 tells this fascinating story. "Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went with the Moabite officials. But God was furious when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road. Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path through the vineyards, with walls on both sides. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam's foot against it. So he beat the donkey again."

Sword Drawn Angel

"Then the Lord's angel moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. When the donkey saw the Lord's angel, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. Then the Lord opened the donkey's mouth, and it said to Balaam, 'What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?' Balaam answered the donkey, 'You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.' The donkey said to Balaam, 'Am I not your donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?' 'No,' he said. Then the Lord opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown." Balaam refused to curse Israel. Instead, he blessed them even though an angry King Balak of Moab pressured him with a bribe!

Balaam's Teaching

Nicolaitans"Nicolaitans" and those "who hold Balaam's teaching" in Revelation 2.14 seem to be the same evil people. They intend to destroy God's people and are those who "tolerate the woman Jezebel." In Revelation 2.20, we read that "the Gnostic heretics encourage sexual immorality, and eating food sacrificed to idols." Perhaps these heretical sects mixed Christianity and pagan practices like idol worship and sexual immorality. We don't know for sure, but God and the Ephesian church hated them!

"Paradise Life Tree"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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