During our fellowship meal at Providence Church, I was stunned by an obvious question I had never considered: Did Adam and Eve need to eat? Could they starve themselves? Since “death came to all men” as a result of sin and the Fall (Ro. 5:12), would Adam and Eve have died if they did not eat, before the Fall?
I came up with two answers. First, God created food to be eaten (Gen. 1:29) and gave Adam permission to eat of every tree, except the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen. 2:16-17), so we can assume God also created Adam and Even with a desire to eat. Perhaps their eating would be a pleasurable eating, and not the driving hunger we experience now. Since everything has been affected by the Fall, it’s safe to guess their desire for food would have been different than ours. Perhaps it was like our sexual desires: a genuine desire and need, but not essential for sustaining our lives.
But, the second answer makes some of that speculation unneccessary. If we read Genesis closely, we see that God gave Adam permission to eat from every tree, except from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and this would include the permission to eat from Tree of Life. It was only after the Fall that eating from the Tree of Life became a problem, since Adam and Eve would live forever in the torments of sin. They would have entered Hell.
Since Adam and Eve probably fell in the course of one day, we can assume they had not yet eaten of the Tree of Life. But, had they not fallen, they would have been granted to eat of that Tree. They would have a God-given desire to eat, and God would grant them eternal life through eating a sacramental fruit.
This provides some background for Jesus calling himself the Bread from Heaven (John 6:51). God has always given eternal life through created matter. He could give us grace directly, but he has ordained to bless us through created means, like water (Baptism) and bread and wine (Lord’s Supper).