Both high and low Calvinists from this Wiki say that God authorized the Fall, by which all deserve to be condemned.

Me: If there is no predestination at all, both Cain and Abel will end up in hell.

From this link Calvinists teach that Ephesians 2:8 declares that faith is given to the elect only.

Now, Hebrews 11:4 says:

By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. (NIV, italics added)

Me: because there is predestination, Abel will end up in heaven while Cain will still end up in hell.

But Genesis 4:7 says:

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. (NIV)

My question:

If God alone before the creation had already decreed that Cain would end up in hell, and that's why He will never give Cain faith, why did God say what He did to Cain in Genesis 4:7?


3 Answers 3


I think the confusion here lies in the extent of the gospel call. That is, do Calvinists believe that all people are called to repent, or only the elect?

A defining position of Calvinism is that all are called to repent. As Charles Hodge writes:

This call is universal in the sense that it is addressed to all men indiscriminately to whom the gospel is sent. [...] It is made to the Jew and Gentile; [...] to the righteous and to the wicked; to the elect and to the non-elect. (

Those who believe that only the elect are called to repent are actually called hyper-calvinists. For a comparison of their views on a somewhat similar passage, see my answer to: What is the Calvinist and Hyper-Calvinist understanding of the “whosoever will” from Rev. 22:17?

Returning to this passage, Calvinists see God here as commanding Cain to repent, to do what is right, and to resist sin, just as he commands all sinners to repent.

Indeed, in his commentary on this passage Calvin explicitly argues that God does not always give the ability to obey when he gives a commandment:

They, however, childishly trifle, who distort this passage to prove the freedom of the will; for if we grant that Cain was admonished of his duty in order that he might apply himself to the subjugation of sin, yet no inherent power of man is to be hence inferred; because it is certain that only by the grace of the Holy Spirit can the affections of the flesh be so mortified that they shall not prevail. Nor, truly, must we conclude, that as often as God commands anything we shall have strength to perform it, but rather we must hold fast the saying of Augustine, ‘Give what thou commandest, and command what thou wilt.’ (Commentary on Genesis)

That is: God commands all to repent and turn from sin, but he does not intervene to change the natures of all who hear that command. For some, the spiritual deadness of their nature remains, and thus they prefer to disobey the command and continue to live in sin.

  • Nathaniel, thank you for your respond. I re quote your quotation of Charles Hodge "This call is universal in the sense that it is addressed to all men indiscriminately to whom the gospel is sent. [...] It is made to the Jew and Gentile; [...] to the righteous and to the wicked; to the elect and to the non-elect". The bold, this is why I make my question here. To me, from the bold sentence above raise a question : why bother to call the non-elect to repent ? (continued below).
    – karma
    Mar 13, 2017 at 17:55
  • If you have a new question, feel free to ask it separately. You might also be interested in the following question, which I also answered: How can God be Sovereign (in the Reformed sense) if a man can ignore His call to repentance? Mar 13, 2017 at 17:59
  • I wonder what kind of Calvinist (Low VS High/Hyper) which "depart" from TULIP ? Imho, the Total Depravity and Unconditional Election itself already showed that it is Calvinist's logical order. From ALL depraved persons with each name 1 to 10, 1 and 3 and 5 are elected. Hence, the logical conclusion is (1) The calling to repent is only to 1, 3 and 5. (2) God will not do any action (gives faith to believe - let alone calling) to 2, 4, 6 to 10 at all. (continued below).
    – karma
    Mar 13, 2017 at 18:11
  • If Low Calvinist "depart" from TULIP, then I think "calling 1 to 10 to repent" is not consistent with T & U from TULIP. Please CMIIW. Thank you once again, Nathaniel. I will look the link you provide.
    – karma
    Mar 13, 2017 at 18:14
  • 1
    TULIP shouldn't be used as anything more than a helpful acronym; using it as a sort of logical flow is fraught with problems. Only hyper-calvinists agree with your (1). Your low vs. high terminology is not standard and thus I don't know what you mean by it. Based on the confusion I am seeing here, I'd strongly recommend that you read an introductory book on Calvinist soteriology, such as Chosen by God by R. C. Sproul, and ask questions here that arise from such a text. Mar 15, 2017 at 13:03

God's response in Genesis 4:7 is clear enough. It is good bush which according to the proverb needs no wine. Any exegesis that tends to turn this simple statement into complexity is an exercise in man's vanity.

  • 1
    Can you help karma to see that clarity? From Calvinist perspective, Abel must have already received an effectual calling, therefore needed no call ("wine"?) and Cain is seemingly "called", but the call is not effectual. In the proverb, should it be something other than "bush"?
    – Bit Chaser
    Aug 30, 2018 at 15:16
  • Welcome! I hope you'll check out the tour. It's not clear to me that your post expresses a Calvinist viewpoint – can you confirm and explain further, ideally with citations of Calvinist theologians? Aug 30, 2018 at 21:58
  • I'm sorry I'm unable to get what you mean, Frederick.
    – karma
    Aug 31, 2018 at 17:27

The Lord never authorized the fall. The Greek OT provides the precise reason for the fall.

Gen 4:3-7 in the Masoretic texts (most modern translations such as AMP, ESV, KJV, NASB, NIV, NLT, ...) reads: "And in the course of time Cain brought an offering from the fruit of the ground to Yahweh, and Abel also brought an offering from the choicest firstlings of his flock. And Yahweh looked with favor to Abel and to his offering, but to Cain and to his offering he did not look with favor. And Cain became very angry, and his face fell. And Yahweh said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why is your face fallen?

7 If you do well will I not accept you? But if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. And its desire is for you, but you must rule over it."

The same verse in the Greek Old Testament reads: "And it was so after some time that Cain brought of the fruits of the earth a sacrifice to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought of the firstborn of his sheep and of his fatlings, and God looked upon Abel and his gifts, 5 but Cain and his sacrifices he regarded not, and Cain was exceedingly sorrowful and his countenance fell. 6 And the Lord God said to Cain, Why art thou become very sorrowful and why is thy countenance fallen?

7 Hast thou not sinned if thou hast brought it rightly, but not rightly divided it? be still, to thee shall be his submission, and thou shalt rule over him."

While generations of pastors and theologians have (been) taught that we simply do not know the reason for the Lord having rejected Cain's sacrifice, we always had the precise reason given in the Greek Old Testament. Cain brought a sufficient sacrifice (as later codified as law in Exo 23:19, Num 18:12, 2Chr 31:5, Neh 10:35-37), but He did not divide it (as later codified in Deut 14:22-23, specifically in Deut 14:26, 29). In short, he ate the sacrifice (100% free will) while having had the obligation to share it.

It was the sin of greediness / sacrilege (stealing of the sacred; see also the parallel account in the New Testament, in Act 5:1-4; knowing now also why Ananias and Sapphira had to die) what led after the Lord's respective rejection to the first murder of history.

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