This question is about speculations that might have taken place in Christianity on the matter of Cain's destiny - whether he will be in the kingdom of God (which means that he is saved) or he will go into eternal perdition.

Have there been any speculations on this matter in Roman Catholic, Orthodox or main-stream protestant Christianity (by main-stream protestant Christianity I mean those who believe that Jesus is both the Son of God and God - the same God as God the Father is - but don't consider themselves to be a part of Roman Catholic Church or Eastern Orthodoxy)? If yes, can you, please, share them here.

Cain was the first murderer in the human history.

The following verse speaks not in favor of Cain:

From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation (Luke 11 :51)

However, I don't see any verse in the Bible pronouncing clearly that Cain will go into the eternal perdition. Or, perhaps, I am reading the New Testament in to the Old one here?

  • 5
    I think it's near impossible to make true judgement about the states of souls. However, I'm not closing this right away as the Catholics or Orthodox folks may have some traditions that shed some light here.
    – wax eagle
    Jun 7 '12 at 20:20
  • I agree the traditions here are what make the question interesting.
    – Andrew
    Jun 7 '12 at 20:21
  • @wax - It becomes just funny. It only takes me to say something like "I address this question to the following Christian circles..." and my question becomes a valid one no matter how in fact this question may be stupid. I am afraid I am going to experiment on this further.
    – brilliant
    Jun 7 '12 at 20:51
  • 3
    @brilliant: The problem is that it doesn't make a "good, focused question." See here.
    – Flimzy
    Jun 11 '12 at 4:18
  • 1
    @brilliant: Well seeking answers "from all possible positions" is not generally a good way to get good answers. But good luck.
    – Flimzy
    Jun 11 '12 at 4:23

The same question can be asked of Judas, Goliath, or any other "villian" in the Bible. According to Scripture:

"The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

The same could also be said of Saul of Tarsus, however, prior to his conversion.

Cain's curse, in particular, is known:

Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.

Note how the entire curse is restricted to this life, and not the next. (Many would argue that the Old Testament does not have an afterlife, based on somethings that David, Job, and Qoheleth write - but that's a different question.) There is nothing that bears on the afterlife or eternal destiny, so no conclusion can be rightly drawn from Scripture to anything that extends beyond the earth.

Depending on one's soteriology, there are Christian positions that range from "God chooses whomever he wants" to "God will accept whoever turns to him." The point in all of this is that:

  • a. We don't know, because we don't have enough evidence

  • b. We don't know, because God is ultimately in charge

  • c. We don't know, because we don't know how God chooses.

In short, we don't know.

  • I would add a fourth possibility: we have been told clearly, don't like the answer, and so dance around the question to willfully confuse ourselves. Mar 14 '16 at 13:24

The Bible often applies inductive reasoning to history. It describes real people and events (the histories), derives principles and precepts from them (Proverbs, other wisdom books, Gospels, NT letters), handles edge cases and exceptions (like Ecclesiastes and Job, where the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper). The Bible uses many of these stories as analogies to spiritual realities that cannot be discerned directly. Jesus' parables are examples of such analogies.

Such analogies have their limits. Joseph, Moses, David and others are given as types of Christ, despite their imperfections. It is in this way that a principle is built from the life of Cain. In Genesis, Cain's family is the evil line descending from Adam and Seth's line is the originally good line that is failing. The flood of Noah is a decisive judgment against both the most wicked (Cain's descendants) and the originally righteous who have begun to compromise through intermarriage and adopting the practices of the wicked.

The judgment of Noah' time is then built up in scripture as an analogy to permanent and eternal judgment in Hell. Thus in 1 John 3:12 we have:

Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.

Cain is being used as a type of the permanently fallen person who "belongs" to the evil one, suggesting permanent slavery.

Jude says something similar, and emphasizes the permanent nature of the punishment, 'blackest darkness...forever':

11 Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

However, the fact that Cain is used as a type of the permanently fallen person destined for Hell, just as with the good people who were not perfect, we cannot be sure that Cain was completely evil and unredeemable, but it seems more likely than not that he did go to Hell.

(See http://faithalone.org/magazine/y2007/1sep07.html for an argument that comes to the opposite conclusion as me.)

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