5

This following verse has me thinking…

1 JOHN 3:12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. [snip]

What made Cain ‘of the wicked one’?

[Edit] Clarification - this verse seems to suggest/say that Cain was ‘of the wicked one’, therefore that’s why he murdered Able, that is, not because he did.

7
  • 3
    Curious - would help us ‘newbies’ if those who downvote a question explain why?
    – Dave
    Sep 28, 2021 at 22:56
  • See John 8:39-44.
    – Lucian
    Sep 29, 2021 at 10:05
  • @Lucian Yes. Thanks, but … would you say that it was their choice as to who their father was? Because they didn’t conscientiously make that choice.
    – Dave
    Sep 29, 2021 at 19:37
  • They had no choice over their physical descent from Abraham, and inherited physical characteristics; but, then again, that did not matter, since it was ultimately due to spiritual, rather than physical characteristics, that God chose Abraham.
    – Lucian
    Sep 29, 2021 at 19:53
  • @Lucian Apologies, I wasn’t clear in my earlier comment, when I said “….*who their father was*” - I meant spiritually. They hadn’t conscientiously chosen ‘the devil’ - so what made that so?
    – Dave
    Sep 29, 2021 at 21:16

7 Answers 7

7

I think that the answer is just a few verses above:

1 John 3:7-8

Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

John is telling us that a man is wicked because he does wicked things; he is owned by his sin. Thus Cain belongs to Satan because of the actions he took

5
  • OK - so are you suggesting that anyone who ‘sins’ is of the devil? So men are all like Cain? Second - what ‘sin’ did Cain ‘do’ to make him ‘of the devil’?
    – Dave
    Sep 28, 2021 at 21:26
  • 1
    Dave - thanks for the question. "Of the Devil" likely means "belonging to the Devil". Consider what Jesus said in John 8:34 (Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin). Therefore, it seems the Scriptures are clear in that anyone who sins becomes a possession of Satan. Jesus states in Matthew 12:29 that it is His purpose to "bind the strongman" (Satan) and the "plunder his goods" (us). I hope this makes sense
    – Brainardo
    Sep 28, 2021 at 22:17
  • So … are you suggesting we all are ‘of the devil’?
    – Dave
    Sep 28, 2021 at 22:42
  • 2
    It seems Scriptures are fairly clear that all who are in sin are under the "sway" of Satan, as stated in 1 John 5:19. Consider the language of Colossians 1:13 as alternative language for the same idea. One is either "of Christ" or "of the devil". Thanks again!
    – Brainardo
    Sep 29, 2021 at 3:28
  • 2
    @Dave While it is important to read scripture in the light of other scriptures (such as Romans 3) and of theology, it's also important to take each passage on its own terms. The 1 John passage quoted above describes one group of people as "practicing righteousness" and "righteous," and another group of people as "sinning" and "from the devil." So no, this passage is not saying we all are "of the devil." According to the way 1 John uses the word "sin," everyone has sinned, but those who abide in Christ do not keep sinning. Compare 1 John 1:5-2:6.
    – DLosc
    Sep 29, 2021 at 16:15
3

Cain was the first murderer. Jesus identified the murderer as a child of the devil. He also identified hate as the motive for murder. Thus, contrasting Cain's hate with love. Those who do evil hate to be exposed. So, they hate the people who show the light. Cain hated Abel because he did what was right.

Hebrews 11 tells why God accepts Abel's offering, which implies that Cain didn't have faith.

 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. (Heb. 11:4, ESV)

Cain became the first murderer. His willful defiance was evident when he brought a sacrifice that did not please God. It seems reasonable to infer from subsequent developments that God had made known what kind of sacrifice was required and that Cain acted contrary to those instructions. When Abel’s sacrifice was accepted by the Lord, Cain was provoked to murder his brother. -- Schultz, S. J., & Smith, G. V. (2001). Exploring the Old Testament (p. 16). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. (John 8:44, ESV)

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 (Matt. 5:21–23, ESV)

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19–21, ESV)

Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. (Matt. 23:31–36, ESV)

5
  • Greetings Perry Thanks for this response - but if you analyse the verse, it says (or seems to) that Cain was of the ‘wicked one’ prior to him murdering Able - It’s that aspect that prompted my Q
    – Dave
    Sep 28, 2021 at 22:37
  • @Dave See the edited answer.
    – Perry Webb
    Sep 28, 2021 at 23:00
  • Thank you. So your suggesting that the reason Cain was ‘of the wicked one’ was ‘hate’. Fair enough, I’ll think that through. Cheers!
    – Dave
    Sep 28, 2021 at 23:08
  • Are you looking for why Abel's offering was accepted and not Cain's. Heb. 11 says Abel had faith.
    – Perry Webb
    Sep 29, 2021 at 0:04
  • No Perry, I was/am only interested in why (on what basis) John specifically said Cain was off the ‘wicked one’ - prior to Cains act of murder. How did John come to that conclusion?
    – Dave
    Sep 29, 2021 at 1:07
2

What made Cain ‘of the wicked one’?

8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning... 1 John 3:8

Quite simply because Cain was doing wicked things. You are the son of the one you obey.


This verse seems to suggest/say that Cain was ‘of the wicked one’, therefore that’s why he murdered Able, that is, not because he did.

Well, sure. I'm not clear why you snipped 1 John 3:12, but the rest of it shows that John agrees with you:

12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother.
And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous.

Here we see the apostle John assessed that Cain didn't kill Abel ultimately because of the sacrifice, but because of Abel's righteousness in contrast with Cain's wickedness... But where did John get such an idea that Cain was already on the bad path before he murdered Abel? Well, right from the scripture itself.

...And the Lord had regard for Abel AND his offering, 5 but for Cain AND his offering he had no regard..." Genesis 4:4-5

You see, God didn't just accept Abel's offering. He accepted Abel AND Abel's offering. He didn't merely reject Cain's offering. He rejected Cain AND Cain's offering. Notice that God first accepts or rejects the person before he accepts or rejects the offering.
Indeed when counseling Cain regarding this, God provides him the remedy for the problem:

6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:6-7

In order for Cain AND his sacrifice to be accepted, he needed to do good. The reason, therefore, he AND his sacrifice were not accepted was because he was up to no good and God was not having it.

So we can see from the available text that Cain was of the wicked one simply because wicked Cain was doing as wicked does.

3
  • 1
    Your answer both points to, and draws some valid conclusions. Particularly your first point, which is reflected in Romans 6:16 - thanks!
    – Dave
    Sep 29, 2021 at 17:41
  • 1
    Although I’d be curious to know why or what made Cain different-
    – Dave
    Sep 29, 2021 at 17:44
  • @Dave me too. More specifically I'd love to know what Cain was up to before God decided to reject him and his sacrifice.
    – Austin
    Sep 30, 2021 at 3:29
2

If we want to figure this out, we will have to go back to the beginning, that is, to the story of Cain and Abel... After all, sometimes the best way to move forward is to go backwards.

Genesis 4:3-8;

"3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto Jehovah. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And Jehovah had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 6 And Jehovah said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shall it not be lifted up? and if thou doest not well, sin coucheth at the door; and unto thee shall be its desire; but do thou rule over it. 8 And Cain told Abel his brother. And it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. 9 And Jehovah said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: am I my brother’s keeper? 10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground." (ASV)

The most essential verse here in understanding 1 John 3:12 is Genesis 4:7. Notice how God explicitly tells Cain what would be the product of him doing good(his disposition would be lifted, his spirits raised), but how God doesn't tell Cain what would be the product of him NOT doing good. He merely states a fact, sort of a reminder for Cain. And then He tells Cain what he must do... He doesn't even give an "or else."; He just reminds Cain and tells him what to do and then (ambiguously) leaves it at that... "But if you don't do good, well, just remember that sin is crouching at the door, and it wants you; so master it." God never finishes the thought! He just gives an ambiguous statement... So, what's going on? Well, actually, the thought was finished. We're supposed to see that with the coming events, detailed for us in verses 8-9.

So, let's remember; sin is lurking close by, it wants to devour Cain, and Cain is supposed to not let that happen by conquering it instead. So, let's now see what happens in verses 8-9;

"8 And Cain told Abel his brother. And it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. 9 And Jehovah said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: am I my brother’s keeper?"

Wow, so Cain murdered his brother... and then he lied to God about it! (And in a rather unremorseful and impertinent manner at that.) What do you think? Did Cain conquer sin like he was supposed to... or did he let it devour him? Remember, it was not as though Cain was incapable of conquering sin; if he was, then God would never have commanded him to do so in the first place! Indeed, sin devoured him wholly, and it did so because he wanted it to(if I truly don't want something to happen, and I'm fully capable of preventing it, then it follows that I'll prevent! Simple as that).

Now, let's go back to 1 John 3:12 and read the context. 1 John 3:7-12;

"Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who has been born of God practices sin, because His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin continually, because he has been born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother and sister. 11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we are to love one another; 12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And for what reason did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil, but his brother’s were righteous." (NASB)

The "one who practices sin is of the devil"? What's up with that? Well, what does it mean to "practice"? Here is what Merriam-Webster defines "practice" as "to do (something) regularly or constantly as an ordinary part of your life." You see, because we are imperfect humans, sin is always "crouching at the door"; it always desires us, 24/7, 365 days a year. And we have two choices; let it devour us by desiring it back(as Cain desired to murder his own innocent flesh and blood), or conquer it and not let it control our lives. You see, "conquering" sin doesn't mean ridding yourself of sin entirely, because that's impossible, and God knows that(thus God, who loves us, wouldn't give us a command to do so); conquering sin is about not permitting it to conquer you! Either you conquer sin, or it conquers you. To let it conquer you is to let it be a part of your life, to let it be made manifest in the things you do and say, and (just as importantly) in your mind and heart; this is the one who "practices sin" and "is of the devil". Conquering sin means doing the opposite; not letting it be an integral part of your life, i.e. not practicing it(as the children of the devil do as stated in verse 10). And, above all, that means LOVING your brother! This is the "message which you have heard from the beginning." Cain did not love his brother; he let sin devour him, which then led him to hate his brother, and that hatred is precisely what led Cain to murder him(every serious action you take stems from an underlying condition of the heart).

This is what verse 12 of 1 John 3 means. "And for what reason did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil, but his brother’s were righteous." The evil deeds of Cain was hating his brother! It didn't have anything to do with his sacrifice of fruit(that is to say, the unrighteousness in and of itself hadn't to do with what kind of sacrifice he gave or how he gave it. The events apropos the sacrifices[of both him and his brother] were certainly the root cause of said unrighteousness, but the "evil deeds" were not of the sacrifice). It had to do with Cain hating his own brother. Love and hate are not things you do per se, but more about conditions of the heart. And yet, John is saying that to love your brother is to be righteous, and therefore to be born of God! And to hate your brother is to be unrighteous, and therefore not be born of God! You may not be doing anything to the person, but it doesn't matter, because it's one and the same as if you were doing something. Cain killed his brother because his own deeds were evil, i.e. Cain hated his brother, and hatred never leads to anything good; in the case of Cain, it led to the murder of his own brother. THIS is what it means to be of the wicked one; to let sin devour you by allowing it be ingrained at the fundamental level(your mind and heart), consequently making it an integral part of what you speak and what you carry out, i.e. your lifestyle as a whole.

Hope this helps, and have a wonderful day! Take care. :)

2
  • 1
    Well thought out +1
    – Steve
    Dec 31, 2021 at 22:53
  • Thanks very much. Appreciate it. :)
    – Rajesh
    Dec 31, 2021 at 23:33
1

What made Cain of the wicked one.

He continued to go his own way....

This is taken from Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

  1. He that committeth sin is of the devil—in contrast to "He that doeth righteousness," 1Jo 3:7. He is a son of the devil (1Jo 3:10; Joh 8:44). John does not, however, say, "born of the devil." as he does "born of God," for "the devil begets none, nor does he create any; but whoever imitates the devil becomes a child of the devil by imitating him, not by proper birth" [Augustine, Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Homily 4.10]. From the devil there is not generation, but corruption [Bengel].

Cain is a prototype of all of us born into this world as it says in Romans.

For we have already charged both Jews and Greeks all to be under sin. 10As it has been written: “There is none righteous, not even one; 11there is none understanding; there is none seeking after God. 12All have turned away; together they have become worthless; there is none who is practicing good, there is not so much as one. Romans 3:10<

Butt.......

3
  • OK, following on from those commentaries, [can we deduce] that because we all sin, and none are righteous, that we are all of the wicked one? Like Cain?
    – Dave
    Sep 29, 2021 at 19:42
  • Yes, look into one'heart. Cain’s father was Adam. Cain murdered his brother because he was just like the evil one. His character was “out of” the evil one. There is no man or woman who has not murdered someone in his or her heart. We are all out of the evil one in our hearts (see Matt. 5:21-22). Only God can change man’s heart and give him a clean one. Quoted from never thirsty. For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, Eph.5:8
    – Sherrie
    Sep 30, 2021 at 1:51
  • The one practicing sin is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. For this reason the Son of God was revealed, so that He might destroy the works of the devil. I think that's a hard realization to see don't you?
    – Sherrie
    Sep 30, 2021 at 13:58
1

1 John 3:

12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother.

and
καὶ (kai)
Conjunction
Strong's 2532: And, even, also, namely.

OP: this verse seems to suggest/say that Cain was ‘of the wicked one’, therefore that’s why he murdered Able

καὶ does not indicate the time sequence nor does it indicate the consequence of a "therefore". It is a simple conjunction.

3
  • Tony, are you suggesting that Cain was of the evil one because he murdered Able?
    – Dave
    Oct 1, 2021 at 17:25
  • Good question. No, I'm not suggesting that. I'm suggesting that one needs to look elsewhere to find a proper answer.
    – user35953
    Oct 1, 2021 at 17:42
  • And, I totally 100% agree! (I believe there is an answer, and this Q was looking for some confirmation.)
    – Dave
    Oct 1, 2021 at 17:49
1

Cain was “of the wicked one” for the simple reason that he did not love his brother.

By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother and sister. – 1 Jn 3:10

This is why God did not regard Cain’s offering. The problem did not lie in the offering but lay with Cain himself.

Therefore, if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. - Mt 5:23-24

If “your brother has something against you” and you have not reconciled with him, then Jesus teaches that you are not ready to present your offering to God. Thus the reason God did not regard Cain’s offering was related to Cain’s failure to love Abel as he should. Verses in 1 Jn 3:11-12 lend further support to this conclusion.

For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we are to love one another; 12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. – 1 Jn 3:11-12

Significantly, Jesus’ lesson in Mt 5:23-24 that reconciliation should precede worship was given in the context of the commandment “You shall not murder.”

“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not murder,’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be answerable to the court.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be answerable to the court – Mt 5:21-22

Cain was angry, and his anger reflected the condition of his heart. Sin in the form of hatred was already at work within Cain before he raised his hand to slay Abel (Gen 4:6-7, 1 Pet 5:8).

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, acts of adultery, other immoral sexual acts, thefts, false testimonies, and slanderous statements. – Mt 15:19

The will of God is love (Hos 6:6), and the one who loves is born of God.

Beloved, let’s love one another; for love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. – 1 Jn 4:7

“And to love Him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.” – Mk 12:33

The one who does not love, who hates his brother, is not of God. He does not want to obey the will of God, but the will of evil. Cain did not love his brother, and it is his hatred that made him “of the wicked one.”

You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, – Jn 8:44

As a final thought, the text does not make it clear why Cain hated his brother. John’s explanation only seems to deepen the mystery.

Because his own deeds were evil, but his brother’s were righteous. – 1 Jn 3:12

These words are suggestive of pride and jealousy, for pride and jealousy can cause a person to hate that which is good in another. If this is true of Cain, then these characteristics also link him with “the wicked one.” But even if pride and jealousy were behind Cain's hatred, they are not objective reasons for hating another person.

Ultimately, Abel’s innocence meant that Cain hated his brother for no reason. This is another important theme in the text and serves to foreshadow the circumstances leading up to the death of Jesus.

But this has happened so that the word that is written in their Law will be fulfilled: ‘They hated Me for no reason.’ – John 15:25

2
  • Interesting that you came back and re-responded. You made a point in your previous response that you didn’t repeat? - a point that I feel was heading towards something very much worth considering (“* Cain, in his pride and envy, had come to hate the very righteousness of his brother*”).
    – Dave
    Dec 17, 2021 at 18:57
  • My mind kept coming back to this question. While I still like the ideas in my previous post, there was, as you noted, not enough textual support. My revised answer is based on Mt 5:23-24, which sheds light on why Cain’s offering was not regarded by God. Cain was envious that Abel’s offering was preferred, but his envy was after the fact and does not explain why Abel’s offering was regarded while his was not. Also, that Cain’s sin was tied to his lack of love for his brother blends well, I think, with the overall themes of the text.
    – Nhi
    Dec 17, 2021 at 22:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.