Bible Question:

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. Why would Seth's children be mighty men (giants like Goliath), and men of renown (power, mystery, or supernatural)?

Bible Answer:

The expression, sons of God, first appears in Genesis 6:2-4. There are numerous views about the identity of the sons of God. But only the two major views about the identity of the sons of God will be considered.  The passage that we want to start with is Genesis 6:1-4. The expression, sons of God, is found for the first time in Genesis 6:4.

Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 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 6:1-4 (NASB)

View #1 – Sons of God Were Sons of Seth

This view notices that Genesis 4:26 states men began to call upon the Lord when Enosh was born to Seth.

To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the LORD. Genesis 4:26 (NASB)

Then this view claims Genesis 6:1-4 is a continuation of Seth’s descendants from chapter 5. Thus the “men” in Genesis 6:1 are descendants of  Seth. Consequently, they believe Genesis 4:26 indicates they are believers in God.

This view believes the “daughters of men”in verse 2 were very beautiful unbelievers who were descendants of Cain or Cainites. Since they were descendants of Cain, they say the daughters were unbelievers. At this point this view has made two very serious errors. It is unreasonable to conclude that every Sethite was a believer and every Cainite was an unbeliever. That is a serious mistake.

This view believes the “sons of God” are not angels because Matthew 22:30 states that angels cannot marry. Consequently, only human males engaged in sexual relations with human women.

For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. Matthew 22:30 (NASB)

They also reason that the “Nephilim” is mistranslated from the Hebrew and should read “those who fall on.” This implies the Nephilim were very evil men or mighty men. The Hebrew word for Nephilim is nepilim. It means “giant”. Therefore, the claim that the word means very evil men cannot be supported from antiquity or other Scriptures.1  Thus the biblical evidence does not support this view.

Who Are The Sons of God?

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 (v. 2). Their offspring were giants or Nephilim. This view reminds us that Job 1:6; 2:1 and 38:7 calls the evil angels or demons the “sons of God.” The book of Job was written before Genesis. This implies that the phrase “sons of God” had a well-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)

These verses reveal the sons of God referred to fallen angels.

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. Demonic 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 by taking possession of the bodies of human males? We cannot be dogmatic when scripture does not state explicitly how this happened.

Those who object to the idea of angels being able to cause a human woman to give birth, should consider the overwhelming testimony of Scripture that the sons of God in Genesis 6:1-4 are demons or evil spirits. 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)

Notice the timeline described in this passage. We are told the spirits in prison were once disobedient before Noah’s flood. That agrees with the timeline in Genesis 6.

2 Peter 2:4-7 gives a similar timeline. Verse 4 refers to angels who sinned. Consequently, “God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness.” Verse 5 then refers to Noah. Verse 6 refers to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot next. The timeline is stronger than the one in 1 Peter 3:18-20. But the timelines agree.

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)

Now notice what is in common. Both 1 Peter 3:18-20 and 2 Peter 2:4-7 tells us that there are spirits in prison, or evil angels in pits of darkness, and Jude 6-7 says there were evil angels in eternal bonds under darkness. 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 before Noah. 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 or evil 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. Scripture must be the basis or fact. Those who hold to the first view have some serious problems. First, are we suppose to believe that only beautiful daughters were born to the descendants of Cain? Were these same beautiful women born among the descendants of Seth? Second, when Genesis was written, the exact phrase “sons of God” referred to angels and not to believers. Third, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and Jude make it clear the angels they refer to sinned during the time of Noah, but before the flood. Their sin was sexual just like the men of Sodom and Gomorrah! These angels are now locked in a special prison or abyss. 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.2 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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