In John 8:44 (NIV) when Jesus speaks to the non-believers, it is written,

You belong to your father, the Devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Assuming that Cain is the person that Jesus is referring to (being the first murder in the beginning, when Cain murdered Abel), am I correct to believe that Satan was the father of Cain but not the father of Abel?

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    Even setting aside any concept of biological parentage, wouldn't your interpretation make Cain be Satan himself, not the son of Satan?
    – Ben Voigt
    Mar 29 '14 at 18:20
  • @BenVoight-Is Jesus the son of God or God himself?
    – Bagpipes
    Mar 29 '14 at 18:26
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    Both, and that's the Trinitarian mystery. Are you making Satan trinitarian, with Cain as a separate person? (There is an unholy triumvirate in Revelation, but it doesn't connotate the same oneness that Jesus has with God the Father. And Cain isn't part of that.)
    – Ben Voigt
    Mar 29 '14 at 18:29
  • @BenVoigt Jesus was born of the spirit.Is it not fair to say that Cain was born of the evil spirit.Genesis does mention "the fallen" marrying the daughters of men.
    – Bagpipes
    Mar 29 '14 at 18:38
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    Yes, Cain's spirit is born of the evil spirit. This passage is referring to spiritual ancestry only. No, Cain is not biologically descended from a fallen angel (see Frank's answer). And no, John 8:44 is not talking about Cain.
    – Ben Voigt
    Mar 29 '14 at 19:01

Frank Luke's answer is clear enough to realize Cain is Adam's son, no question about that. I want to address something else you state:

Assuming that Cain is the person that Jesus is referring to

I would not assume that, nor would I argue that is correct. I take Jesus's statement as wholly referencing "the Devil" himself (just as the verse states). He was a murderer from the beginning, because it is he who sought Adam's death (and thus mankind's death), and succeeded in bringing it about, through the temptation of Eve. He is also the "father of lies," because he was the first to lie.

So when Jesus is accusing those Jews who sought "to kill" him because his "word had no place in" them (v.37) of belonging "to your father,the Devil," (v.44), the context tells us the relationship. They were not believing the truth (Christ's "word"), and in fact actively opposing the truth (so they were being/promoting liars), while also seeking Christ's death (wanting to do murder).

In this context, Jesus is asserting that in being obedient to lying and murder, they are following after the Devil, and as such demonstrating that he, and not God, is their (spiritual) father, who they are imitating (v.38).

Christ had already acknowledged that physically they were of Abraham (v.37), but spiritually (as in who they were obeying), they were not of Abraham (v.39), because they were not acting like Abraham did. They were seeking to kill Jesus because he spoke truth to them (v.40), such desire to kill God's messenger was something Abraham never did. Rather, if God were their father (v.41), they would love Christ (v.42). But they do not love Him because they really do not have God as their spiritual father, but rather the Devil (v.44).

There is nothing in the context at all to point to Cain as being referenced, and (as noted above), the Devil fits the bill as both first murderer and first liar. The term "father" is being used figuratively in the sense of the one who is obeyed, loved, and imitated (as is proper in a non-dysfunctional father/child relationship). The unbelieving were demonstrating their unbelief by not obeying, loving, and imitating God, nor His Son.

  • 1
    Worth "pondering" is 1:John 3 v 12 where it is written, "Do not be like Cain,who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother."
    – Bagpipes
    Mar 29 '14 at 20:11
  • Yes, Cain was spiritually following after Satan just as the unbelieving Jews were here in confronting Christ. I am not arguing against that fact. There was a spiritual kinship between Cain and the unbelieving Jews of Jesus's day, as both were following Satan's lead.
    – ScottS
    Mar 29 '14 at 20:30
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    What makes you think that Cain was born evil (more evil than Abel)? I'd say yes, they both had "original sin", but a significant part of the evilness of Cain is the fact that he was full of hatred to his brother - to the point of committing homicide. Mar 30 '14 at 11:37
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    @Bagpipes: a question about "two seeds" is probably too "theological" for this site. Seed is used in both physical and spiritual senses (the latter figurative). All people begin as "sons of disobedience ... children of wrath" (Eph 2:2-3; note, if reading the NIV, as you quote from in the question, you will not see these phrases, but they are there in the Greek and other translations). So all are spiritually children of the Devil to start. It is not until the seed of God's word (Mt 13:19) makes one reborn (Jn 3:3) with the entry of the Holy Spirit that a sinless seed is implanted.
    – ScottS
    Mar 30 '14 at 11:54
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    @ScottS-Agreed, yet how do you explain the 'woman's seed'(Christ, born of a woman) as opposed to Satan's seed(which woman?)? Perhaps if one stayed within the boundaries of 'seed', it could be posed as a hermeneutics question...
    – Tau
    Mar 30 '14 at 18:02

Satan is the father of Cain in that Cain acted like Satan. Genesis tells us that Adam (literally "the man") fathered Cain and Abel.

Genesis 4:1 Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, "I have gotten a manchild with the help of the LORD."

The Hebrew grammar here shows that each step is a result of the one before. They had relations, and because of that she conceived, and because of that she gave birth and because of that she said. It's translated properly with just "and" but the waw-consecutive shows relationship between the events. In this case, it's a causal relationship.

Genesis 4:2 Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

Similarly, in John 8:44, the Pharisees aren't physically the children of the Devil, but they sure are acting like him is what Jesus is telling them.

  • It would appear after reading Gen 4:3-'Now Abel kept flocks,and Cain worked the soil,' that God showed favouritism towards Abel which suggests Cain was evil from the beginning.Gen3:17 states that after the fall God said to Adam 'cursed is the ground because of you,through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.Abel did not have to work the ground like Adam and Cain did.This would suggest that Abel came from a different "Seed" than his brother Cain.
    – Bagpipes
    Mar 29 '14 at 16:06
  • This answer is conceptually correct, but somewhat incorrect in terms of the Hebrew. Adam is a proper name, and remains in fairly common use down to the present, unless the Hebrew states ha-Adam. However, in Genesis 4:1 it does say ha-Adam in the Hebrew. Perhaps that's all you meant.
    – Vector
    Mar 30 '14 at 1:25
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    This would suggest that Abel came from a different "Seed" than his brother Cain : No. Adam had his own sin which warranted that punishment. Abel did not bear the burden of Cain's sin, or of Adam's. The text is perfectly clear about the parentage of both Cain and Abel.
    – Vector
    Mar 30 '14 at 1:32

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