Biblical People

Biblical People: Abel

Having discussed Cain, we now know the story of Abel, Adam and Eve’s second child. To recap, Abel and Cain give gifts to God. The Almighty accepts Abel’s gift but not Cain’s. Cain is angry and kills Abel.

Though we can speculate why God approved Abel’s offering and not Cain’s, we don’t know for sure—at least not from the account in Genesis.

The book of Hebrews, however, gives us a clue. One passage outlines the faith of many of the Bible’s heroes. Among them we read of Abel.

Hebrews says that by faith Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain. Furthermore, it says that because of faith, God praised his gift and affirmed Abel as righteous.

The implication is that Abel received God’s affirmation with a humble spirit and didn’t let it go to his head. In short, Abel kept his ego in check.

Though we might expect God to then protect Abel for his noteworthy faith, remember that Cain had the ability to determine his actions. The only way for God to stop Cain would be to take away his free will.

How hard it must’ve been for God to not intervene and prevent Cain from killing his brother. Yet it’s not in his nature to stop us from doing something we want to do—even if it’s something quite terrible. This is a result from living in a sin-filled world.

Though Cain cuts Abel’s life short, we can expect Abel’s faith brings him into God’s presence right away. What a wonderful outcome.

How strong is our faith? Does God commend us for giving him our best, through faith? Do we respond with a faith-driven humility when he affirms us?

[Read about Abel in Genesis 4:1–24. Discover more in Hebrews 11:4.]

Learn about more biblical characters in Old Testament Sinners and Saints, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. Get your copy today.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at