Practical Explanation and Application of Bible History – Cain and Abel

detail of the painting 'Cain and Abel'; 18th century by José Vergara Gimeno; Museu de Belles Arts de València, Spain; swiped from Wikimedia Commons

What does this lesson relate?

  • It relates that Cain killed his brother Abel, and was punished for it by God.

Who were Cain and Abel?

  • Cain and Abel were the oldest sons of Adam and Eve.

What was Cain?

  • Cain was a farmer, a tiller of the soil.

What was Abel?

  • Abel was a shepherd.

Was Abel a just man?

  • Yes, because he adored God, and believed in the coming Kedeemer.

What offering did Cain make to God?

  • Cain offered the fruits of the earth.

What offering did Abel make?

  • Abel offered the firstlings of his flock.

Was God pleased with the offering of Abel?

  • Yes, God was pleased with the offering of Abel.

Was He pleased with the offering of Cain?

  • No, God was not pleased with the offering of Cain.

Why was Cain’s offering displeasing to God?

  • Cain’s offering was displeasing to God because he did not have a good intention.

What does God consider in all our good works?

  • God always considers the intention with which we perform our good works.

What do we mean by “a good intention”?

  • By “a good intention” we mean a desire to do all things for the honor and glory of God.

How did Cain act after God had refused his offering?

  • He became very angry, and jealous of his brother Abel.

When do we sin by anger?

  • We sin by anger as often as we lose our temper, scold or curse, and give way to feelings of revenge.

What did God do when He saw that Cain was angry and jealous?

  • When God saw that Cain was angry and jealous He said to him: ” Why art thou angry, and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou do well, shalt thou not receive? but if ill, shall not sin forthwith be present at the door? but the lust thereof shall be under thee, and thou shalt have dominion over it.”

What did God express by these words?

  • By these words God expressed His willingness to receive Cain’s offering when he was free from sin, and warned him against further sin.

Which attribute of God do these words manifest?

  • They manifest His mercy and forbearance.

Did Cain heed the warning of God?

  • No, Cain did not heed the warning of God.

What did his sinful thoughts lead to?

  • They led to a sinful act.

What was the sinful act?

  • He slew his brother Abel.

To what class of sins does murder belong?

  • Murder belongs to the class of sins that cry to heaven for vengeance.

How many sins cry to heaven for vengeance?

  • There are four sins that cry to heaven for vengeance: Murder, sodomy, defrauding laborers of their wages, and oppression of the widow and orphan.

How did Cain commit murder?

  • Cain said to Abel one day: “Let us go forth abroad.” And Abel, suspecting nothing, followed him, and when they were in the field together, Cain rose up and killed him.

What did God do as soon as Cain had killed Abel?

  • God said to Cain, “Where is thy brother Abel?”

What did these words contain?

  • They contained the grace of repentance.

Did Cain accept the grace?

  • No, he remained stubborn and hardened in his sin.

How do we know that Cain remained hardened in his sin?

  • We know this from the answer he gave Almighty God. He said: “I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?”

What did God do after Cain rejected His grace?

  • After Cain rejected His grace God punished him.

How did God punish Cain?

  • God said to Cain: “Cursed shalt thou be upon the earth. When thou shalt till it it shall not yield to thee its fruit. A fugitive and vagabond shalt thou he upon the earth.”

What effect did God’s curse have on Cain?

  • He began to despair.

How do we sin by despair?

  • We sin by despair when we lose all hope in God’s mercy.

How did God show His mercy towards Cain?

  • God set a mark on Cain that whosoever found him should not kill him. God said: ” Whosoever shall kill Cain shall be punished sevenfold.”

Was Cain guilty of any other sins besides murder?

  • Yes, he was guilty of anger, stubbornness, and jealousy.

Of whom is Abel a type?

  • Abel is a type of Jesus Christ. Abel offered sacrifice, Jesus sacrificed Himself; Abel was the victim of his brother’s jealousy, Jesus was the victim of the jealousy of the Pharisees; the blood of Abel cried to heaven for vengeance, the blood of Jesus cried to the Father for mercy.

Of whom is Cain a figure?

  • Cain is a figure of the Jews. Cain was jealous of his brother, the Jews were jealous of Christ; Cain rejected God’s grace, so did the Jews; Cain killed the innocent Abel, the Jews put the innocent Jesus to death; Cain became a wanderer on the earth, so did the Jews.

What should we learn from this lesson?

  • We should learn from it:
    • To make a good intention every morning;
    • To be kind to our brothers and sisters;
    • Not to reject the grace of God, but to repent of our sins.

MLA Citation

  • Father John J Nash, DD. “The Creation of the World, and the Institution of the Sabbath”. Practical Explanation and Application of Bible History, 1902. CatholicSaints.Info. 25 May 2018. Web. 17 February 2019. <>