When we hear the name Cain, most of us probably think immediately of the first murderer and his heinous crime. But there is more here. The Hebrew is Qayin (H7014), which as most scholars agree is a play on the verb qānāh (H7069), “to buy, purchase, acquire, or possess.” This seems all the more apparent in what Eve herself says of Cain: “I have gotten [i.e., acquired, qānāh] a man from the LORD” (Gen_4:1).
It did not take long, however, for that blessed acquisition to take a turn for the worse, long before Cain’s murder of his brother Abel. Jude alludes to Cain’s real problem when he writes of apostates: “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain” (Gen_4:11). The Greek for way is hodos (G3598), which literally refers to a road, highway, or street, but metaphorically to a course of conduct or way of thinking. So what was Cain’s way of thinking? That he could please God his own way.
What offering, then, did Cain bring, and why did God not accept it? Some teachers insist the problem was that Cain did not bring blood, as did Abel. Gen_3:21, it is argued, reveals that God taught Adam and Eve that blood had to be shed for sin, so this same knowledge was undoubtedly handed down to Cain and Abel. The Hebrew, in fact, for the offering (April 17, 20) both men brought is minchāh (H4503), which does not refer to blood, rather the general idea of a gift. There are two Hebrew words used to translate this passage into english. The second is (H6529), meaning fruit. Therefore a fruit offering.Now we find with Abel brings a gift and (H1062) firstling of man or beast. Properly a blood offering such as was slain in the garden for Adam and Eve.
So why was Cain’s offering not accepted? We submit two reasons: First,it was not a bloody sacrifice that represented Christ our sacrifice. for Cain (in contrast to Abel bringing the “firstlings” (Gen_4:4). Second,Cain’s offering represented the ability of man to work his way to heaven. Third, it represented the pride of man in self ability in saving ourselves from condemnation.
What, then, is the way of Cain? The way of man. Cain’s way of thinking was that he could please God his own way. Christianity, however, is a life, a life found only in Christ by grace through faith.
Scriptures for Study: Read Mat_7:13-14, noting the two paths Jesus outlines. What does 1Jn_3:12 say about Cain?