The story of Cain and Abel is known among believers and non believers alike, intriguing them and horrifying them at the same time. An act of murder is hard to fathom, let alone against a family member (i.e. fratricide as in Cain and Abel’s case), but what is unique about this narrative is that it is also the first documented case of murder. The story has gone beyond church, even inspiring movies and TV shows, one, for example, called “Supernatural”, where one of the main characters inherits the Mark of Cain and begins to commit acts of unspeakable violence. Though there have been numerous interpretations and portrayals of this story, it is crucial to see what it really is about, and that is offense.
In Luke 17:1-2, Jesus warns the disciples about offense, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”
Offense by definition has two meanings, according to the Oxford dictionary, the first meaning given is that it is “a breach of a law or rule; an illegal act” or an “annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one’s standards or principles.” In James Strong’s Concordance, the word “offense” comes from the Greek word “Skandalon”, which means the trigger of a trap (the mechanism closing a trap down on the unsuspecting victim); (figuratively) an offense, putting a negative cause-and-effect relationship into motion. Strong published his Concordance so that we have a greater technical understanding and a deeper knowledge in the word of God. With this translation, we can see that Jesus was warning the disciples about falling into this “trap.”