How old was Cain when he murdered Abel?

How old was Cain when he murdered Abel?

The answer is not revealed in Scripture, but the probable point of the question is that the common assumption may not be accurate. Most seem to assume that Cain and Abel were boys in their teens or early twenties.

From the narrative, it seems Cain was married when he went from the presence of the Lord (Gen 4:16, 17). Judging from the age at which the men in the following chapter had sons, Cain would have been considerably older than twenty.

In addition, Adam was 130 years old (5:3) at the birth of Seth, who was "another seed instead of Abel" (4:25). It was as if family life began all over again at that point.

We do not know how long Adam lived in the Garden of Eden. We do know that, unlike all his posterity, he had mature manhood and was capable of parenthood from his first breath. Judging from Satan’s delight to attack all that brings pleasure to God’s heart (see Matthew 3:17 and 4:1, particularly), his attack in Eden did not happen after many years.

Cain and Abel were born after Adam was expelled from Eden (Gen 4:1), so a considerable amount of time could have elapsed between the births of Cain and Abel and the birth of Seth.

The reference in 1 John 3:12 speaks of Cain’s works and of Abel’s. This suggests a background to the narrative of the two offerings recorded in Genesis 4.

Although we cannot be certain of Cain’s age when he slew Abel, the relevant evidence indicates that "the way of Cain" (Jude 11) was well initiated before the events of Genesis 4:3-16.

D. Oliver