Genesis 4:8–15 — Genocide and Judgment

This week on Proclaiming Christ we discuss Cain’s brutal murder of Abel and consider this act in light of God’s promises made in ch. 3. The brutality and desperation of human nature is uncovered as well as hope for life from the grave.

Genesis 4:8–15: Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” Then the LORD said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him.” (English Standard Version)

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Proclaiming Christ is an audio program focused upon biblical preaching. In each episode we will discuss the process, method, and goals of preaching biblical texts from a uniquely Reformed perspective. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.


5 years ago

Thank you for the wonderful and insightful discussion on this passage. I am really enjoying your exegesis of scripture.

David Welliver

5 years ago

I too, enjoyed the discussion. It’s a good reminder of who our ancestors are, so to speak — and the implications of that today.

Jacob D. Gerber

5 years ago

Thank you so much for this ongoing study! I have really enjoyed listening to you work so systematically through Genesis.

I had a slight question about today’s discussion—is the point of Genesis 4:8 really to highlight a prophetic work of Abel? I’m not so sure, since the text tells us that it is Cain who spoke to Abel, and not Abel who spoke to Cain. Certainly, the blood of Abel is prophetic (Gen. 4:10), but based on 1 John 3:11–15, I would argue that Cain’s being “of the evil one” as a murder AND A LIAR (John 8:44) is more in view.

My apologies for excerpting from a book I wrote, but I’ll articulate my argument better if I quote this than if I try to rewrite it:

“So what does John mean when he says Cain was born of the evil one? Jesus himself opened up the significance of the phrase when he accused some of the Jews of being the offspring of the devil: “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
“ If the devil’s two sins are to murder and to lie, then it is interesting to reread Genesis 4:8: “Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.” Cain’s murder in this passage is clear, but Jesus’ statement helps us to understand what Cain might have spoken to his brother: lies. Cain was deceiving his brother to lure him out away from their parents into the open field where he could murder Abel without anyone to witness his crime or to stop him. Cain was a liar and a murderer, just like his father the devil.”

I’d be interested in your thoughts on this.

And again, thank you so much for this program!


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