Cain and Abel: Bible Story Summary

by Crystal McDowell · Print Print · Email Email

It’s often said that our actions speak louder than words. For the first two sons of Adam and Eve, their actions spoke of their level of faith in God. One son demonstrated his faith and was received from God. The other son, Cain, demonstrated his faith in works leading to his sinful demise.

Bible Story Summary

Sometime after Adam and Eve sinned against God and were forced out of the Garden of Eden, they began to have children. The first son was Cain and he was a farmer. The next son was Abel who was a shepherd. When it was time to offer sacrifices to God, Cain brought fruit from the ground and Abel brought the fat portions from some of the firstborn. God favored Abel’s sacrifice, but He didn’t extend that same grace to Cain. This rejection made Cain angry and God admonished Cain to do the right thing and his sacrifice would be accepted. Cain was also warned that if he refused to do the right thing—sin was ready to consume him.

Cain disregarded God’s admonition and warning. Instead he took out his anger on his righteous brother, Abel. In a premeditated manner, Cain invited Abel out to the fields where he murdered him! Later God approached Cain about the whereabouts of Abel just as He did with Adam and Eve with their sin. Cain (being a child of sin and the devil) lied and countered the all-knowing God with the infamous question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Cain’s response lacked remorse for his dead brother, but rather that his punishment was too severe and that he would be killed in revenge.

Cain’s response lacked remorse for his dead brother, but rather that his punishment was too severe and that he would be killed in revenge.

God responded quickly with the pronouncement of his punishment: Cain would be driven from his people, no longer able to farm the land and he would be a wanderer. Cain’s response lacked remorse for his dead brother, but rather that his punishment was too severe and that he would be killed in revenge. The Lord God, being full of mercy and grace, put a mark on Cain to keep people from killing him. As a result Cain left the presence of God, started a family, and built a city. His descendants were prosperous, worldly, and without God. The legacy of Cain led to the destruction of the entire world with the flood. (You can read the Biblical account of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4)

What can we learn from this Bible story for our lives today?

Question #1) Are we better than Cain?

“Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him” (1 John 3:15).

It’s easy for us to judge Cain without taking a look at our own sinful hearts. Cain was jealous of Abel because of God’s favor on him. Do we harbor jealousy and envy towards our brothers and sisters in Christ who are honored for their righteous service and gifts to the Lord? The sin of jealousy can wind itself around our hearts and minds with such deception that we may not even recognize it right away.

When the Holy Spirit sends us that gentle nudge about envy or jealousy in our hearts, we have the same opportunity that was afforded to Cain…repent! By admitting our weakness in the flesh we can be forgiven and restored to right relationship with God. Otherwise, we allow the bitter root to grow into sin and become murderers in our hearts.

Question #2) Are we offering the right sacrifices?

“You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).

Cain gave back to God what he deemed adequate. Abel brought a better offering in faith and was honored by God. Do we offer sacrifices out of duty, compulsion, or seeking the admiration of other people? While our spiritual sacrifice may seem great on the surface, God knows our hearts. He knows our true motives in giving towards the kingdom of God in our time, energy, finances, and efforts. There is nothing hidden from Him.

By spending time in prayer and Bible study, our hearts are kept sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. We are compelled by our love for God to give the best we have to offer in light of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Question #3) Are we mastering sin or being mastered by it?

“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14).

God warned Cain that sin desired to have him, but that he should master it. Are we entangled in sin as much as those without Christ? It should never be so with believers! We’ve been bought with the precious blood of Jesus so that we no longer live as slaves to sin. Just as Cain, we’re warned through the Holy Spirit to not use grace as an opportunity to sin.

As Christians we have the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome sinful choices. Sin wants to take root in our hearts. But we resist it by keeping our hearts fertile with the desire to please God more than pleasing ourselves.

Cain or Abel? Your choice…

Cain’s actions were evil and Abel’s were righteous. Both men demonstrated in action the passions of their hearts. What is your passion concerning the Lord? If you’re spiritually passive and stale—it may be time for a heart check. The Lord wants the best from you and the best for you. Don’t ignore the knocks on your heart from the Holy Spirit, repent and be made whole in the way of righteous Abel rather than the error of Cain.

Read about Cain and Abel’s parents here:

Adam and Eve Bible Story Summary

Resource – New International Version Bible, The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblca, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert August 7, 2013 at 9:14 am

Great article, Crystal,
Not only did you do a great job of telling the story of Cain and Abel, but you also encourage us to take a good hard look at our own lives to see if we are living as we should be. I appreciate it.
Yours in Christ,


Crystal McDowell August 7, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Thanks so much Robert. God bless you!


Patricia Schneider August 7, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Hello, Crystal!
Terrific article with Scripture! Really enjoyed how you explained the story about ‘Cain & Abel!’

Used to have a real hassle with the sin of envy/jealousy when I was a kid. Once lied to a girlfriend that I’d won a Best-Looking Baby Cup. (It was my step-Mom’s Cup. She had overhead us talking and approached me when alone. Learned plenty that day about LYING.)
My beautiful Mom knew how easily I would get jealous or envious of my friends’ possessions. Was EXTREMELY jealous of my big Sis, Millie; ’cause of her WOW, hilariously funny personality, everyone loved being around her.
When Mom would realize how I was feeling, she would say to me lovingly, Crystal, “Don’t let the ‘Green-eyed Monster’ eat you up, Patty!’ Took my YEARS to understand what Mom meant! LOL! (By God’s wonderful graces, I do now! AMEN!)

Also appreciated what you wrote about our motives in ‘giving.’ That God KNOWS our hearts? Sooo true, Crystal!!
Oodles of God’s blessings for you, Crystal, and your terrific family!!!
Love, your sister in Christ Jesus….Patty


Crystal McDowell August 10, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Thanks Patty for your kind words. I’m grateful the Lord is helping you grow more in Him.

God bless,


Jerry August 7, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Very good article crystal . keep up the good work .


Judy August 9, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Believers hold the power of life and death in their own hands and God gives us the choice to choose which one we will follow. Thanks for the reminder to chose LIFE!


Crystal McDowell August 10, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Thanks Judy…may we all choose life daily. God bless.


Crystal McDowell August 10, 2013 at 4:04 pm

I appreciate your feedback Jerry! God bless.


Laura Tinzoh January 15, 2014 at 11:13 am

dear Crystal, you are AWESOME! I want to be jus like you when I grow up 🙂

I am doing some research for a character study of Cain and Abel and my search brought me here. This just awesome. Can I use some of your points in my article (with quotes , ofcourse)

May GOD richly BLESS you and yours. May He continue to fill you witth an abundance ofWIsdOM, COURAGE and UNDERSTANDING for His GREATER GLORY.

Love and BLESSINGS from Germany.


Crystal McDowell January 18, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Dearest Laura,
Thanks for your kind words and I’m still growing up too!!! I don’t believe it’s a problem for you to use some of this info for your research. May the Lord bless your work to draw more people to Him.

God bless,


Summer February 21, 2015 at 2:01 am

Love this website! I am studying theology for the first time at university and this website is a big help for understanding everything


Teressa Buttergield July 24, 2016 at 9:16 pm

Thank you so much for sharing with others the gift you are blessed with. Inspiring ithers to be the best they can be is difficult, bringing it to folks with compassion for scripture is beautiful. Thank you- Thank you- Thank you. God bless you as you bless others. Go Sis


Tina Speight March 29, 2019 at 5:59 pm

Thank you so much for writing this inspired article.
I just started seminary and I enjoyed reading your interpretation.
Thank you so much and God bless!


Charlene miller July 22, 2019 at 8:16 pm

Great job. Please send daily encouragement


Kery Gorde August 19, 2019 at 12:38 pm

Could you give me bible verses to document. Satan is Cains father?
I realize Cains genealogy is not listed under Adams in Genesis chapter 5. Abels is not there because he was murdered before he had children. This is for my Sunday school class. Thank you so much for your wonderful teaching


Jack Wellman August 19, 2019 at 12:49 pm

Hello Kery. There are no documents that show Satan is Cain’s father…Adam was Cain’s father and Eve was his mother. When we read a verse, and we subsequently encounter no apparent contradiction, we have no reason to investigate further. Does the narrative give a full birth history of all their children? No. The account is really pretty sparse. I submit to you that it’s just what it needs to be, and the Author(God) freely employs means of concealing and revealing as He wills according to His purposes. Genesis 4:1-2 should stand at face value. Satan is a spirit being, a fallen angel, and Jesus said when we enter the kingdom, we’ll be like angels, neither marrying nor be given in marriage. Angels are spirit…Satan too…and spirit cannot have sex with flesh. Is that what you were asking sir?


Razen January 15, 2020 at 4:34 am

Its beautiful and brief understanding teaching
Thank you


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