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Message of the Day: Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

Text: Genesis 4: 1-26

Key Verse: Genesis 4:9

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (NKJV)

When Adam and Eve was thrown out of Eden due to their disobedience, they did not cease to what God has created. The effect of the fall on all of us is not that we stop being human – we remain in the image of God. However, our rebellion has deeply affected our being human. We see here that Adam and Eve remained married even after the fall. Then Eve gives birth to two sons, Cain and Abel. They became a family as God has planned before the fall.

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Cain and Abel (Heb. Hebel which means “breath”) are the first brothers, but Abel’s names, with its allusion to vanity, suggests the trouble that is to come. Cain is a farmer, Abel is a shepherd. But instead of enjoying each other’s companionship and supporting each other in their different jobs, Cain becomes jealous of Abel. Things come to a head when each of the brothers makes an offering to God. Abel’s offering was accepted but Cain’s is rejected becuase of the evil that is inside him. God graciously tells Cain that if he does what is right, his offering will also be accepted – and then warns him that, if he is not careful, sin will leap on him like a wild animal and possess him.

But Cain’s resentment festers. He invites Abel to go for a walk in one of his fields, and there Cain murders his brother: The unthinkable has happened. The sin and alienation of the garden spread to new levels of evil: not only murder, but murder of one’s own brother. Indeed, one sin leads to another. Cain’s taking of his brother’s life called out revenge from the one who had given that life. Therefore God had to send him into the barren countryside, away from the place where people, though sinners, at least still worshipped God. Although Cain remained unrepentant, God in his mercy protected him from any possible revenge.

The family that God means to be a source of companionship and joy has become a place of jealousy, rage, and murder. Such is the horror of this killing that we might expect God to destroy everything immediately. But he does not. The good order that God has established for his creation remains.

Am I my brother’s keeper?

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” There is, as usual, an element of truth mixed in such a response. No man is the absolute keeper of his brother, so as to be responsible for his safety even when he is not around. This somehow, what Cain insinuates. But every man is his brother’s keeper in the sense that he is not suppose to inflict pain or lay the hand of violence on him. Every man is expected to protect his brother from danger. Cain’s response displays a desperate pursuit of falsehood and of callous indifference – all too common through the whole course of human history.

No one else lives for himself alone. We are to look after the welfare of our brothers – our fellow human beings. We ought to show love and concern not hatred and indifference! Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (NKJV) We are to exercise humility and a humble view of ourselves, for in this way we would be able to prefer others rather than ourselves. This outgoing attitude requires us to be kind and look into the concern of others – this is our utmost duty.


Bartholomew, Craig G. and Goheen, Michael W. The Drama of Scripture. Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story.Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2004.

Boadt, Lawrence. Reading the Old Testament. An Introduction. Manila, Philippines: St. Pauls, 2003.

MySword for Android. Riversoft Ministry, 2011-2019.

Olive Tree Bible Software, 1998-2020.

Zondervan NASB Study Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1999.


  1. Hi, I’ve come to see Cain’s question, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper’ as an accusation against the God whom Abel trusted. The idea being that God was not able to keep Abel safe from Cain’s attack upon him. So, ultimately, it was not Cain’s fault that Abel died, but God’s. So the evil of human sinfulness is displayed in Cain’s remark.


  2. I love the scripture you used in Philippians 2:3-4. In fact; the Holy Spirit reminded me of that scripture when I began to consider myself as better then a friend in writing. It was a soft and gentle rebuke; yet it was as fire shut up in my bones.

    God bless you for the blog post too.


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