From Genesis 3 onward, sin’s destructive power upon interpersonal relationships becomes a theme of the storyline of Scripture. It may be that sin naturally employs jealousy as a means of causing division in the human family. In fact Cain’s jealousy of Abel is the first in a pattern of jealousy-laden relationships in Genesis: Ishmael was jealous of Isaac (21.9), Esau was jealous of Jacob (27.36), and Joseph’s brothers were jealous of Rachel’s firstborn (37.19). Further in the history of redemption, Aaron and Miriam were jealous of Moses (Num 12.1-2), Saul was jealous of David (1 Sam 18.7-9), the Pharisees were jealous of Jesus (Jn 11.47-48), and selfish preachers were jealous of Paul (Phil 1.12-17).

Sin’s reigning power in the pre-flood period is seen not only in the way it divides the human family in Genesis 4 and following, but also in its ability to drastically diminish the lifespan of humanity (Genesis 5). While the years of Methuselah (969; cf. v. 27) may seem unrealistically long to a contemporary reader, let’s not too quickly forget that God had granted Adam eternal life before the fall (Gen 2.17). Thus, the thrust of Genesis 5 is that God did not contrive an empty threat in the Garden; death entered as sin’s co-regent to reign over humanity, and restrain the gift of a long life on earth. While Genesis 4-5 paints a bleak picture, perhaps these chapters should be seen as motivation for us. In light of sin’s destructive power, we should ardently follow the exhortation of Proverbs 1 and humbly submit the wisdom of God’s instruction. It is here that we are warned against jealous pursuits and a life of striving; the chapter concludes by presenting a ‘fork in the road:’ “The waywardness of the inexperienced will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them. But whoever listens to me will live securely and be free from the fear of danger” (vv. 32-33).

As we follows the storyline of Scripture we see that the profound wisdom of Proverbs 1 was an arrow pointing forward to the fullness of God’s wisdom—expressed in the gospel of Christ. Only through Him can humanity overcome the jealous pursuits that lead to division and death; His blood speaks to God of better things than Abel’s, declaring the covenant of forgiveness and wise living (Heb 12.24). Paul wrote to the Colossians:
“For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you, for those in Laodicea, and for all who have not seen me in person. I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding, and have the knowledge of God’s mystery—Christ. In Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden” (2.1-4),

And the Corinthians:
“Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached. For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom, because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength” (1 Cor 1.20-25).
*For a complete list of references, please see