Bible Characters – Cain
Bible Characters – Cain
Cain brews up such anger against his brother that he murders him.
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100 Stand Alone Bible Studies

Bible passage Genesis 4:2–9

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel also brought an offering – fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”


This story doesn’t explain why Abel’s offering pleased God and Cain’s didn’t; that remains a mystery to us. What is less puzzling is what happens next. Jealous, embarrassed, and resentful, Cain brews up such anger against his brother that he murders him. Interesting. Maybe the root of the problem is Cain’s shame and rejection – so painfully uncomfortable, so hard to bear. Instead of facing the cause in his own life that he could work on and change, he turns his wretchedness outwards: “It’s your fault!”

It’s always tempting, if something has happened to make us feel inadequate, to begin to really dislike the person who has done well and whom everyone admires, while our own work is ignored or passed over or dismissed. Angry shame and jealousy gather into a focus as comparisons reinforce our sense of rejection.



When we call you “Father”, we are saying we belong to one another as family. Reaching out for your love and mercy, we remember that you expect us to begin the costly work of compassion and reconciliation in our own lives. Breathe into our hearts, Spirit of God, your loving-kindness and humility. Speak quietly to us about anything we need to put right. Give us the necessary courage to face our own shortcomings, without blaming anybody else, or passing on the responsibility. For we ask it in Jesus’ name; Amen.