The story of Cain and Abel is recorded in Genesis 4:1-15. We understand it better as we look to the scripture for our interpretation. Paul writes to the Ephesians, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against …” Jesus, the apostle John, and the writer to the Hebrews refer back to this story with further insight. These insights clarify who Abel was, why his offering was accepted and what it speaks to us.


Abel was second born after Cain. He offered to God a sacrifice from his flock along with its fat. God accepted the offering and Cain became jealous. His murder was the first physical death experienced and his blood cried out to God. In Luke 11, Jesus spoke of the persecution of the prophets sent by God, and included Abel in this list. Thus Abel was a prophet sent by God and his death was persecution.

His Offering

The writer to the Hebrews says that Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice which indicated his righteousness. He did it by faith. In spite of his death, it still speaks. The image of a slain lamb was ingrained into the Israelite nation when God, through Moses, made the offering of a spotless lamb, the sacrifice for sin. It is an eternal image, brought into history by the selfless act of Jesus, the perfect lamb of God. It goes beyond time. Abel, before it all played out, through faith, connected with God through this offering from his flock.

It Speaks to Us

In 1 John 3, John speaks of the message spoken from the beginning. It is the message of love. How do we know the children of God apart from the children of the devil? Practicing righteousness and loving our brother are the indicators. He alludes to the story of Cain and Abel. Cain murdered his brother because his brother was righteous and his works were evil. Loving the brethren shows a passage from death to life. There is no eternal life in a murderer. “Do not marvel my brethren, if the world hates you.”

These clarify who Abel was, why his offering was accepted and what it speaks to us.

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