Forbidden/Bidden Fruit – The Fruit in Eden and in Faith Life

Forbidden/Bidden Fruit – The Fruit in Eden and in Faith Life January 22, 2024

Snake staring at red apple on which the image of a woman's face appears
A snake and an apple play a part in the story of the Garden of Eden [Picture courtesy of Pixabay]
Trouble began from the start due to a forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Its consumption led to the fall of man. And what was that forbidden fruit? An apple, of course, right? Probably not. But fruit played a critical role in man’s story in the beginning. It still plays an essential role in the lives of believers today in the form of fruit of the Spirit. Considering forbidden/bidden fruit in the Garden and in faith life provides valuable information and insight.

In The Beginning

God’s creation included a paradise for man to live in—the Garden of Eden. While the Bible doesn’t give many details about this garden, what it does note is a special fruit tree grew in the middle. God specifically told Adam a “hands off” policy applied to that tree’s fruit. Although God identified the consequence of breaking that rule, all Adam needed to know was God forbid eating the fruit. Obedience to Him was the point.

But did Adam obey? No. He took the fruit from that tree offered to him by Eve. And the rest, as they say, is history, specifically the history of fallen man.

What Was The Forbidden Fruit?

When people discuss this sin by Adam and Eve, they usually refer to the fruit as an apple. The Bible, however, never identifies the fruit as an apple. In fact, the Bible provides no specifics at all regarding the forbidden fruit’s name, size, shape, or even taste. Since Adam and Eve ate the fruit, readers of the Genesis account can reasonably conclude it was appealing and delicious though. All the passage indicates is the fruit grew on a tree.

Studying the Hebrew word “peri” used in the original text sheds no light on the mystery. This term is a generic one for fruit in both ancient and modern Hebrew.  Nothing, in the biblical account connects the fruit to an apple other than the fruit eaten grew on a tree.

So pervasive is the notion the fruit is an apple that a familiar body part, the larynx, is often called the Adam’s apple. It’s more prominent in males, so the name is linked to the idea the apple Eve gave Adam got stuck in his throat when he tried to swallow it.

Why An Apple?

Several types of fruit other than apples grow on trees, so why choose an apple as the forbidden fruit? Helping to perpetuate the belief that the forbidden fruit is an apple are many paintings and artistic creations which picture an apple being in the Garden of Eden. While the artists could not know for sure the identity of the fruit, they had to paint something. An apple is easier to paint than some generic fruit. Something had to be shown.

A red apple is held in the palm of someone's hand
The Bible doesn’t say an apple was the forbidden fruit [Picture courtesy of Pixabay]
Addressing the mystery identity of the forbidden fruit, scholars hypothesize that translation of the Hebrew word for fruit into Latin might explain why an apple is the first choice. In Latin, malum is the word for evil, while the word for apple is malus. This translation error could have occurred during the 4th century AD.  Jerome, and eminent scholar of scripture, translated the Hebrew Bible into Latin at the direction of Pope Damasus then.

What Else Could It Be?

If not an apple, what is the forbidden fruit? A fig is one possibility. The Bible establishes figs grew in the Garden of Eden. It notes Adam and Eve used leaves from such a tree to cover their nakedness. Other possibilities include grapes (but they grow on a vine), pomegranate, pear, quince, and citron.

A yellow and green fig leaf hanging on a clothesline with clothespins
Adam and Eve used fig leaves to clothe themselves after eating the forbidden fruit [Picture courtesy of Pixabay]
Perhaps the best answer to the question “What was the forbidden fruit?” is simply it was forbidden. God expressly prohibited eating this fruit. So, does its identity really matter ? Our Heavenly Father might answer the question of “But what is the fruit?” with the common parental response, “Why do you need to know?” All His children need to know is it was off limits.

Bidden Fruit In The Faith Life

While a fun intellectual question, the identity of the forbidden fruit isn’t as important today as some bidden fruit which scripture specifically names. That fruit is the fruit of the Spirit—one fruit with nine attributes. These attributes, listed in Galatians 5:22-23, are: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. No garden produces this fruit. Instead, it grows from the presence of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life. God wants believers to manifest such fruit; it is bidden not forbidden.

Illustration of a brown tree on a green background with branches showing the fruit of the Spirit labeled
The fruit of the Spirit is one fruit with nine attributes found in the life of a believer following the leading of the Holy Spirit [Picture courtesy of Pixabay]

Pick Your Fruit

Today’s decision for Christians is which fruit to pick. Man’s sinful nature pulls him towards the generic forbidden fruit. Whatever that fruit may be, it looks appealing like a juicy apple. Unfortunately, picking it equals sin. In contrast, picking the bidden fruit of the Spirit by allowing the Holy Spirit’s presence to lead produces identifiable and positive attributes. It’s your pick!

About Alice H. Murray
After 35 years as a Florida adoption attorney, Alice H. Murray now pursues a different path as Operations Manager for End Game Press. With a passion for writing, she is constantly creating with words. Her work includes contributions to several Short And Sweet books, The Upper Room, Chicken Soup For The Soul, Abba’s Lessons (from CrossRiver Media), and the Northwest Florida Literary Review. Alice is a regular contributor to GO!, a quarterly Christian magazine in the Florida Panhandle, and she has three devotions a month published online by Dynamic Women in Missions. Her devotions have also appeared in compilation devotionals such as Ordinary People Extraordinary God (July 2023) and Guideposts’ Pray A Word A Day, Vol. 2 (June 2023) and pray a word for Hope (September 2023). Alice’s first book, The Secret of Chimneys, an annotated Agatha Christie mystery, was released in April 2023 with a second such book, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, to be released in April 2025. On a weekly basis, Alice posts on her blog about current events with a humorous point of view at You can read more about the author here.

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