Genesis 4 Links

Genesis Chapter 4

The first couple is blessed by the Lord with two sons through the God-ordained system of reproduction. The two boys were different; Abel was a keeper of sheep and Cain was a tiller of the ground.

An offering was brought by each of the boys and God had respect unto Abel’s offering, but had not respect for Cain’s. Cain was angry as a result. The Lord spoke to Cain and stated facts about how He always deals with man. Cain killed Abel because his own works were evil and his brother’s were righteous (1 Jn 3:12; Mt 23:35). God asks Cain about the whereabouts of his brother and Cain says, “Am I my brother’s keeper.” Abel’s blood cried out from the ground and God cursed Cain. Cain protested that the punishment was too great and God placed a mark on Cain and vowed vengeance 7-fold upon anyone who killed Cain.

Cain’s descendants are listed in this chapter. The first polygamist is introduced to us in the person of Lamech. Jubal is listed as the father of those who handle the harp and organ. Tubalcain was instructor of every artificer in brass and iron. Lamech evidently killed a man in self-defense. Adam and Eve have another son, Seth.

For a four-page handout suitable to use in Bible Class in PDF format, click H-E-R-E. For further study, I have prepared a document with links to 27 articles dealing with some aspect of Genesis 4. You may find that PDF document by clicking H-E-R-E.

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Cain, One More Time

SOURCE: Frank L. Cox, The Minister’s Monthly, March 1964, pages 351-52.


By Frank L. Cox

Cain was born under the shadow of the fall. His life was one of tragedy and deep sorrow. The painful experience of which our passage speaks was self-inflicted. So many of our painful experiences are self-inflicted. His pathetic life may be explained by three key words, names: rejection, dejection, and subjection.

I.    REJECTION… Character the determining factor in acceptance or rejection of our offering. “The acceptance of the offerer precedes the acceptance of the offering” [Dods]. “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had witness borne to him that he was righteous.” Rejection was the cause of—

II.    DEJECTION… The light of God falls upon the uplifted face, but the darkness of the features of the man of fallen countenance indicates the dark unrest of his soul. God has not left the man who has displeased him. Though he cannot accept the sacrifice, he loves the sinner and desires to save him. The questions of God are intended to arouse Cain to a sense of his danger. A real peril confronts him, but he is shown the alternative—he must either subdue or be subdued.

III.    SUBJECTION… “…if thou doeth not well, sin coucheth at the door: and unto thee shall be its desire, but do thou rule over it” (Genesis 4:7, ASV). Sin is a wild beast couching just outside the door of a man’s life ready to spring in and destroy him as soon as the latch is lifted. It is no less true that outside the door of every life there stands One who is not couching ready to spring and destroy, but who knocks and pleads, seeking admission, One mighty to save. “Behold I stand at the door and knock,” (Revelation 3:20).

Sin must be mastered or it will be master. And the only way to get the mastery over sin is to let Christ come in and allow him to keep the citadel. Through Christ “we are more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37-39; Colossians 1:27).

Brother’s Keeper?

SOURCE: Homer Putnam Reeves, Gospel Advocate, 1/13/1972.

My Brother’s Keeper

The first murder grew out of religious controversy. Cain slew his brother Abel. God asked, “Where is Abel thy brother?” He responded, “I know not: am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9).

As a Christian, I am my brother’s keeper. The New Testament makes this crystal clear. Consider some of the divine requirements.

THE CHRISTIAN IS TO LOVE HIS BROTHER. Brotherly love is a badge of life. “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:14-15). “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:8). “If we love one another, God abideth in us” (verse 12).

THE CHRISTIAN WILL PREFER HIS BROTHER: “In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another; in honor preferring one another” (Romans 12:10).

IN A SPECIAL WAY THE CHRISTIAN WILL WORK GOOD TOWARD HIS BROTHER: “Let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith” (Galatians 6:10).

IF ALIENATION EXISTS, THE CHRISTIAN WILL SEEK RECONCILIATION WITH HIS BROTHER: “If therefore thou art offering thy gift … leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother” (Matthew 5:23).

THE CHRISTIAN WILL SEEK TO RESTORE A FALLEN BROTHER: “Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to thyself lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

THE CHRISTIAN WILL SEEK TO BEAR HIS BROTHER’S BURDENS: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). He will forgive his brother even seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22). He will avoid becoming a stumbling block to his brother (1 Corinthians 8:13); he will not wrong his brother (1 Thessalonians 4:6); he will not become the occasion for his brother’s fall (Romans 14:23). No litigation (1 Corinthians 6:1ff).

What a frightful responsibility: trying to keep my brother!

Cain, Again

SOURCE: Jim Bill McInteer, Gospel Advocate, 4/15/1977, pp., 228-29.

Raising Cain

By Jim Bill McInteer

The Bible speaks of those things that were written aforetime for “our learning that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” One of the things written aforetime was a “woe” pronounced on those “who go in the way of Cain.”

Cain’s story is one of the most familiar ones of the Bible. All remember that he brought the firstlings of the field rather than the firstlings of the flock, thus disobeying God in an avenue of worship. His brother Abel subscribed to those things God specified he wanted—and God accepted the offerings of Abel’s faith. In a jealous rage Cain slew his brother. The first murder occurred, having been precipitated by a religious jealousy.

What then are the obvious conclusions that can be drawn from a study of Cain? It seems these things would be in order. For one to practice self-will is to open the door to the murder of his own brethren, as well as the destruction of his own soul. When a man enthrones himself rather than the authority of God, he crowns his own cataclysmic end.

Secondly, Cain lived as though there would be no judgment. He evidently knew what God had said, but somehow led himself to believe God would not keep his word. For a man to be unmindful of his rendezvous with Jehovah is to close his eyes to a definite certainty.

Thirdly, whenever a person chooses sin over his choice of God, he has God to reckon with. God is a jealous God. He will not allow a permanent dethronement of himself and an installation of a rival force.

Fourthly, it’s blaringly obvious that a substitution of an avenue of worship, even though benevolent in its origin, is still an affront to the Almighty God. He knows what he wants; he’s spelled out what he desires; for man to assume that he can please God by altering the wishes of God is to play with foolishness indeed.

Fifthly, for one to live by impulse rather than by the persuasion of the Lord is to further court destruction. Man has no right to take the law into his own hands. There is no justifiable result that can be shown for an action which leads a person to believe he can set aside the commands and the restraints of God and follow whatever seems to be right at that particular moment.

Sixthly, for one to obey his own voice rather than the voice of God is to destroy not only his fellowship with heaven but also with his fellowman. The quickest destruction of brotherhood is found in the ignoring of the commands of God. When one severs his fellowship with the Lord, he naturally severs it with the peoples of the Lord. His selfishness thus defies God and destroys man. Perhaps it has been painfully noticed that when a man demands liberty and latitude, it has a way of making him one of the most cruel of men.

And, lastly, Cain is that tragic example of moral skepticism. God has not asked man to decide matters for himself. God has spoken! God has declared his wishes, man needs to honor that which God has specified. The story of Cain is in the Book so that by his example one may avoid his mistakes without having to experience them. Let mankind learn his lesson extremely well.

Cain’s Offering

SOURCE: Robert L. Waggoner, Gospel Advocate, 10/20/1983, p. 625.

Why Did God Reject Cain and His Offering?

By Robert L. Waggoner


The most frequent answer given is that Cain did not make a blood offering like Abel. Those who claim that Cain’s gift should have been a blood offering, rather than “of the fruit of the ground” (Genesis 4:3), generally assume that the offering was for the purpose of obtaining the forgiveness of sins. They then note that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). However, offerings to God in Old Testament times were not always for the forgiveness of sins. To argue that Cain made an offering in order to obtain forgiveness of sins is to speak where the scriptures does not speak.


Moreover, the argument that Cain should have given a blood sacrifice also assumes that Cain and Abel were subject to the law of Moses (or one like it), because “the law requires that … without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). However, Cain and Abel lived at least fifteen hundred years before the law of Moses came into effect. Scripture does not inform us what laws regulated their offerings.


Finally, the answer that Cain should have given a blood offering fails to realize that even during the law of Moses, one type of acceptable offering was the meal offering (Leviticus 2), which would definitely be classified as “fruit of the ground.” If, during the law of Moses God accepted an offering from the fruit of the ground, why would he not also accept an offering from the fruit of the ground before the law of Moses?


The fact is that neither the Genesis record nor any other scripture either declares or implies that Cain and his offering were rejected because it was not a blood offering. That answer assumes too much. It also obscures an awareness of the real reason why God rejected Cain and his offering, and by that obstruction, blinds us to a valuable lesson.


The reason why Cain and his offering were rejected can be discovered by learning why Abel and his offering were accepted. Abel offered by faith. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings (Hebrews 11:4). Because faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17), we know that Abel had received instructions from God regarding his offering. We do not know what those instructions were, nor if any specific promises were associated with them. We do know, however, that God was pleased with Abel because he accepted him and his offering (Genesis 4:4), and commended him as a righteous man (Hebrews 11:4; 1 John 3:12).


No one can have faith in God without receiving the word of God. Yet, the receipt of God’s word does not guarantee that the recipient will believe in God. That Cain also heard God’s commandments regarding the offering is evident because he knew he was supposed to bring an offering to God. However, Cain apparently either did not believe God, or he did not consider God’s instructions very important, or both.


In order to please God, however, it is not only essential to believe in God’s existence, but also to act with the belief that God will reward those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6). On the other hand, those who believe that God will reward them for their offerings do not hesitate to give. They know that they cannot give too much because they believe that God will surpass their giving with his bountiful blessings (Mark 4:24; Luke 6:38). Therefore, they give their best, and they give liberally.


On the other hand, those who do not believe God will reward them for their offerings believe that whatever they give will be to their own loss. They may believe in the existence of God, but they do not believe that God will do them any good. Therefore, whenever they give, they give only a token, and that usually because of pressure, and primarily on such occasions as they know they are seen by men.


This contrast in attitude about giving was demonstrated by Cain and Abel. Since Cain was a tiller of the ground, and Abel a keeper of sheep, it is reasonable that each should have offered from what they had (unless God required otherwise, and there is no evidence that he did). The very strong implication of scripture is that Cain gave only a token to the Lord, while Abel gave his best. The Torah (the translation by the Jewish Publication Society of America), makes this contrast sharply: “Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the soil; and Abel, for his part, brought the choicest of the firstlings of his flock” (Genesis 4:3-4).


The primary thrust of the passage is not upon the nature of their offerings, whether plant or animal (although that contrast is evident), but rather upon the quality of their offerings. The excellent quality of Abel’s offering reflected his faith, while the absence of excellence in Cain’s offering demonstrated his lack of faith. God rejected Cain and his offering because Cain did not offer in faith.


When commenting about Cain’s hatred for Abel, the apostle John declared that Cain’s works were evil and Abel’s were righteous (1 John 3:12). Since their offerings are the only works of which we know anything, prior to Cain killing Abel, it is only reasonable to conclude that Cain’s offering was considered evil because it was without faith. And since Abel, although dead, yet speaks to us by his gifts (Hebrews 11:4), we must also conclude that only by expecting to be rewarded, and by that expectation being motivated to give our very best, will we and our offerings be acceptable to God. Any offering to God less than our best is not good enough! It is faithless! It is evil!