The narrative of Cain and Abel follows essentially the
same pattern as that of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:
Cain sins (vv 1-8);
Cain strives to evade the responsibility for his sin (vv 9-10);
God pronounces punitive curses on Cain (vv 11-16);
God puts mankind in a new situation in which he can begin
again (vv 17-26).
“Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and
bore Cain, and said, ‘I have acquired a man from the
LORD’” (Gen 4:1).
There is a pun in Hebrew between the words “Cain” and “I
In naming her son, Eve recognized that her son was a gift
from the LORD.
Biblically speaking, human reproduction is not enough for the
birth of children.
God Himself is greatly involved in the forming/shaping and birth of
God can close a womb.
When God closes a woman’s womb, the couple will not have
1 Sam 1:5-6.
Only when God choses to “open” a womb will a woman bear
God fashions a person in his mother’s womb.
Therefore, children are God’s gift to man.
Why do you think Eve recognized Cain as a gift from
What are some ways that society falls to recognize
children as a gift of God?
What are some ways that we can recognize our children
as God’s gracious gift?
“Then [Eve] bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now
Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the
There is no mention of conception here.
Therefore, some scholars think that Cain and Abel were twins.
That’s far from conclusive.
Moses wishes to emphasize that Cain and Abel are brothers & that
Cain was so murderous that he killed his own brother.
In verses 2-10, Abel is called Cain’s brother seven times.
There is also no mention as to why the second child was
“Abel” means “breath” or “vapor.”
Some believe that the name represents the fact that Abel died
at a relatively young age.
Others believe the reference is to the brevity of life.
Both of those ideas, while attractive, are not at all certain.
Names in Scripture often meant a great deal.
God would change names as he saw fit (e.g., Abraham);
Saul began using Paul (the Greek equivalent) after he
became the apostle to the Gentiles.
So, Abel’s name likely meant something to Adam & Eve; we
just don’t know what.
Cain & Abel are both farmers.
Obviously, that isn’t surprising (What else is there for man to
However, they are involved in different forms of agriculture.
Cain “was a tiller of the ground”; Abel “was a keeper of sheep.”
Obviously, their different roles is going to figure prominently in
“In the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought
an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also
brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the
LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not
respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry,
and his countenance fell.”
Why do you think that Cain’s sacrifice was not acceptable
Some have felt that God had told Cain & Abel how to
prepare their sacrifices.
The Greek version of the Old Testament (about 280 BC)
says that Cain did not cut his sacrifice “in pieces rightly.”
The original doesn’t mention such a thing.
Many believe that only animal sacrifices were acceptable.
However, long after this episode, God commanded the
Israelites to offer the fruit of the ground as well as animal
Lev 2; Deut 26:1-11.
The biblical text seems to
indicate three reasons
Cain’s sacrifice was not
One: Cain does not to appear to have brought anything
“Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground [nothing
special] to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn
[something special--the firstborn] of his flock and of their fat”
Cain appears to have kept back the best for himself.
Are we ever guilty of keeping back the best for ourselves?
What are some ways that we might do so?
How can we be a people who give the best of what we
Two: Abel first yielded himself to God, and then he
brought his sacrifice; Cain simply brought his sacrifice.
“The LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not
respect Cain and his offering” (Gen 4:4-5).
Notice that the LORD first respect Abel and then his offering,
but he had no respect first for Cain and then for his offering.
Why do we need to give ourselves to the Lord?
How do we go about doing so?
Three: “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent
sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness
that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and
through it he being dead still speaks” (Heb 11:4).
Cain trusted in his own goodness.
Abel had faith in God.
He knew that God would provide if he offered generously.
He knew that God would bless him for acceptable worship.
How can our worship show faith in God?
How might God bless us for acceptable worship?
The Lord asked Cain why he was angry.
Why do you think Cain was so angry?
Should Cain have been angry?
How should Cain have dealt with his anger?
Do we sometimes get angry over our sins?
Do we ever get angry at God over our sins?
How might we get angry at God over our sins?
Do we ever get angry at others because of our sins?
If Cain would do well, he would be accepted.
What does it mean to be accepted by God?
How do we today become accepted by God?
Does worship have anything to do with being accepted by God?
How do we make worship acceptable to God?
If Cain did not do well, sin lies at the door.
This is the first time the word “sin” is mentioned in the
Surprisingly, the word does not occur at all in Genesis 3.
Obviously, Adam and Eve sin, but the word itself does not occur
in the text.
Sin lies at the door, and its desire was for Cain, but he
should rule over it.
The picture here is of sin as a type of monster waiting
outside the door, just ready to pounce.
How is sin always ready to pounce?
Sin’s desire was for Cain.
This is the same word used at 3:16 for Eve’s desire for her
Why would sin want Cain?
Does sin want us?
Cain was to rule over sin.
How can we do so?