My question has to do with Genesis 6:2-4. Who or what are the sons of God, and why were their sons Nephilim? The commentary in my Bible says that the sons of God refers to the line of Seth, and that the Nephilim are his descendants. This does not make much sense to me. Why would Seth's children be mighty men (giants like Goliath), and men of renown (power, mystery, or supernatural)? Also why would Seth be able to take wives for themselves, whomever, they chose?
The expression, sons of God, first appears in Genesis 6. Some believe that the expression refers to the sons of Seth and others think it refers to fallen angels. In this article you will discover who are the sons of God. The expression of sons of God is found in Genesis 6:2-4.
. . . that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Genesis 6:2-4 (NASB)
What follows is an explanation of the two major views about the sons of God.
View #1 – Sons of God Were Sons of Seth
The firs view is that the “sons of God” are the descendants of Seth. This view reasons that the phrase the “sons of God” refers to believers; and refers to Deuteronomy 32:5; Psalm 73:15 and Psalm 80:15 as proof. Genesis 4:26 says that with the birth of Seth, men “began to call upon the name of the LORD.” This view then concludes that the “sons of God” are the children of Seth or Sethites and reasons that the “sons of God” are not angels because Matthew 22:30 states that angels cannot marry.
For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. Matthew 22:30 (NASB)
This view also states that the “daughters of men” are actually very beautiful unbelievers and concludes that these women must be descendants of Cain or Cainites since they are not angels. The view claims that “Nephilim” is mistranslated and should read “those who fall on.” This implies the men were very evil men – “mighty men.” But such a claim cannot be supported from antiquity or other Scriptures. This view refers to the “sons of God” as Sethites and the “daughters of men” as Cainites.
View #2 – Sons of God Were Fallen Angels
The second view says that the “sons of God” are evil angels or demons who for some reason married these beautiful women. Their offspring were mighty men or Nephilim who may have been evil men as well. This view reminds us that Job 1:6: 2:1 and 38:7 calls the angels the “sons of God.” The book of Job was written before Genesis since Job lived before Moses. This implies that the phrase “sons of God” had a known meaning when Moses wrote the book.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. Job 1:6 (NASB)
Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. Job 2:1 (NASB)
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Job 38:7 (NASB)
The sons of God referred to fallen angels.
Fallen Angels Cause Human Women To Give Birth
This second view also states that Matthew 22:30 does not say that angels cannot have sex but that the angels do not marry in heaven. The gospels repeatedly reveal that demons or fallen angels can possess individuals and cause them to perform superhuman feats. Demon possession can cause people to be blind (Matthew 12:22), mute (Matthew 9:32) and be violent (Matthew 8:28). Is it possible that demons can cause women to be pregnant? Is it possible that demons can cause the egg in a woman to start growing into a human without sex?
Fallen Angels Best Fit The Statements of Scripture
For those who object to the idea of angels being able to cause a human woman to give birth, consider the overwhelming testimony of Scripture. 1 Peter 3:18-20 and Jude 6-7 paint a clear picture that fallen angels are the sons of God in Genesis 6. First 1 Peter 3:18-20 says that some spirits or fallen angels were disobedient in the days of Noah.
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 1 Peter 3:18-20 (NASB)
Jude 6-7 says that some angels indulged in gross immorality.
And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day. Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. Jude 6-7 (NASB)
1 Peter 3:18-20 tells us that there are spirits in prison or that there are evil angels or fallen angels in prison – under judgment. These angels were disobedient during the time of Noah. Since Noah was born in Genesis 5:28-29, this means these angels did something wrong between Genesis 6 and Genesis 10. Jude 6-7 tells us that some angels are also under judgment. Why? Jude 7 explains. These angels went after strange flesh just like Sodom and Gomorrah did – the act of homosexuality. This view believes that these fallen angels – demons – went after the beautiful women in Genesis 6:2-4. The women were strange flesh for the fallen angels.
The second view is the correct view since it is most consistent with the teaching of Scripture. Those who hold to the first view have some serious problems. First, we have to ask were the only beautiful children born to the descendants of Cain? This is difficult to believe. Second, when Genesis was written, the exact phrase “sons of God” referred to angels and not to believers. Third, Jude and 1 Peter make it clear that angels did sin during the time of Noah and their sin was sexual just like the men of Sodom and Gomorrah! These angels are not free to move around the universe but are locked in a special prison. Therefore, who are the sons of God? The answer is fallen angels.
In summary, the “sons of God” are fallen angels who sinned by causing beautiful women to give birth. This was the view of the early church fathers. Why were they able to “take wives for themselves, whomever, they chose? The answer could be that angels are very powerful. Why did they do this? We do not know the answer, but we can guess. Did they think they might be able to prevent Jesus Christ from being born and prevent His death and resurrection? Was this an attempt to defeat God? Whatever their purpose, God defeated them. They failed! They are now imprisoned in an abyss until the tribulation. God controls everything – even the invisible forces of darkness. What a wonderful comfort for Christians. Glory be to God!
1. Kenneth Matthews. Genesis 11:27-50:26. The New American Commentary. B&H Publishing. 2005.pp. 335-339.
2. Clement of Alexandria. Christ the Educator. 3.2.14.
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