The First Age of the Conflict
Genesis 4:1-16
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bore Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.…

In the Eden prophecy (Genesis 3:15) there was shadowed forth a great conflict between good and evil that should last through coming ages. Of that long conflict this is the first age. It covers the whole time of antediluvian history. It is important for us to keep in our minds the length of the time, sixteen hundred years and more — over sixteen centuries at the very lowest computation. So, of course, we cannot expect anything in the shape of a continuous history. A few chapters cover the whole ground; and while each chapter is undoubtedly historical, the whole is not, properly speaking, history. It is not continuous, but fragmentary. First we have the story of Cain and Abel. We find here a picture, I may say, exhibiting the nature of the conflict that there is to be between good and evil. We see there the early development of evil in its antagonism with good. First, what is the great lesson of Cain's history? Is it not the fearful nature of sin? On the other hand, what is the great lesson of Abel's history? He comes before us, apparently, as an innocent man. There is nothing said against him at all events. Yet he is required to bring an offering. He is accepted, apparently, not on the simple ground of his goodness, but in connection with the offering that he brings. It is the offering of "the firstlings of his flock." Here we have the first record of sacrifice. Next, what is the difference between Cain and Abel? Some are inclined to think it lay entirely in the offering: not in the men at all; but if you look at the narrative you will find there was a difference in the men. "Unto Cain and his offering" the Lord had not respect; but "the Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering." Abel and his offering, Cain and his offering. But what was the difference in the men? The great difference in the men, as we are taught in the Epistle of the Hebrews, was faith. "By faith Abel offered unto God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain." So whatever difference there may have been in the men in other respects (and there no doubt was very much), the fundamental contrast between them was, that Abel had faith, while Cain had not.

(J. M. Gibson.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.

WEB: The man knew Eve his wife. She conceived, and gave birth to Cain, and said, "I have gotten a man with Yahweh's help."

The Best Offering
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