Who Is Cain in the Bible?

Cain was Adam and Eve's first-born son and the first murderer in the Bible

Who Is Cain in the Bible?
The Offerings of Cain and Abel. Duncan Walker / Getty Images

Cain was the first-born son of Adam and Eve, making him the first person ever to be born. Like his father Adam, he became a farmer and worked the soil. The Bible doesn't tell us much about Cain, yet we discover in a few short verses that Cain had a serious anger management problem. He bears the unfortunate title of the first person to commit murder.

Key Verses

  • 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?” (Genesis 4:8–9, NIV)
  • "Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous." (1 John 3:12, NIV)
  • "By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did." (Hebrews 11:4, NIV)

The Story of Cain

The story of Cain and Abel begins with the two brothers bringing an offering to the Lord. The Bible says that God was pleased with Abel's sacrifice, but not with Cain's. As a result, Cain grew angry, dejected, and jealous. Soon his fierce anger led him to attack and kill his brother.

The account leaves us wondering why God looked with favor on Abel's offering, but rejected Cain's. This mystery confuses many believers. However, verse 6 and 7 of Genesis 4 contain the clue to solving the mystery.

After seeing Cain's anger over the rejection of his sacrifice, God spoke 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.” (Genesis 4:6–7, NIV)

Cain should not have been angry. Apparently, both he and Abel knew what God expected as the "right" offering. God must have already explained it to them. Cain knew that he had given an unacceptable offering. Perhaps even more important, God knew that Cain had given with a wrong attitude in his heart. Even still, God offered Cain a chance to make things right and warned him that the sin of anger would destroy him if he did not master it.

Cain was faced with a choice. He could turn from his anger, change his attitude, and make things right with God, or he could give himself over to sin. Cain chose the latter.

Cain's Accomplishments

Cain was the first human child to be born in the Bible, and the first to follow after his father's line of work, cultivating the soil and becoming a farmer.

Cain's Strengths

Cain must have been physically strong to work the land. He was able to overpower his younger brother and kill him.

Cain's Weaknesses

The brief story of Cain reveals several of his character weaknesses. When Cain faced disappointment, rather than turning to God for encouragement, he responded with anger and jealousy. When given a clear choice to correct his mistake, Cain chose to disobey and further entangle himself in sin's trap. He let sin become his master and committed murder.

Life Lessons

First, we see that Cain did not respond properly to correction. He reacted in a murderous rage. We should carefully consider how we respond when corrected. The correction we receive may be God's way of allowing us to make things right.

God always offers a choice, a way of escape from sin, and an opportunity to make things right. Our decision to obey God will make his power available to us so that we can master sin. But our choice to disobey will leave us abandoned to sin's control.

God warned Cain that sin was crouching at his door, ready to destroy him. God continues to warn his children today. We must master sin through our obedience and submission to God and by the power of the Holy Spirit, rather than let sin master us.

We also see in Cain's story that God evaluates our offerings. He watches what and how we give. God not only cares about the quality of our gifts to him, but also the manner in which we offer them.

Rather than giving to God out of a heart of thankfulness and worship, Cain may have presented his offering with evil or selfish intentions. Maybe he had hoped to receive some special recognition. The Bible says to be a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7) and to give freely (Luke 6:38; Matthew 10:8), knowing that everything we have comes from God. When we truly recognize all that God has done for us, we will want to offer ourselves wholly to God as a living sacrifice of worship to him (Romans 12:1).

Lastly, Cain received a severe punishment from God for his crime. He lost his profession as a farmer and became a wanderer. Even worse, he was sent away from the presence of the Lord. The consequences of sin are severe. We should allow God to correct us quickly when we sin so that fellowship with him can be swiftly restored.


Cain was born, raised, and farmed the soil just beyond the Garden of Eden in the Middle East, probably near modern-day Iran or Iraq. After killing his brother, Cain became a wanderer in the land of Nod, East of Eden.

References to Cain in the Bible

Genesis 4; Hebrews 11:4; 1 John 3:12; Jude 11.


Cain was a farmer who worked the soil.

Family Tree

Father - Adam
Mother - Eve
Brothers and Sisters - Abel, Seth, and many more not named in Genesis.
Son - Enoch

Common questions often asked by skeptics about Cain are: Who did Cain marry? Where did Cain find his wife?" The Bible holds the clues to solving this puzzle.

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Your Citation
Fairchild, Mary. "Who Is Cain in the Bible?" Learn Religions, Feb. 8, 2021, learnreligions.com/cain-first-human-child-born-701198. Fairchild, Mary. (2021, February 8). Who Is Cain in the Bible? Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/cain-first-human-child-born-701198 Fairchild, Mary. "Who Is Cain in the Bible?" Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/cain-first-human-child-born-701198 (accessed March 25, 2023).