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Are the "Sons of God" in Gen.6:2 Angels?
Also known as the false Nephilim teaching.

Lets consider the theory that the 'sons of God' were angels and married 'wives' who gave birth to super human creatures. What is it? Its simply the evolutionary theory of Stephen Jay Gould, for such offspring must be transmutations or the 'hopeful monster'. A new species - half-human and half angel.

The theory has it these were “giants” with super human strength and immortality and God needed to wipe them out - hence Noah's Flood. In ‘evolutionary advancement’ the next transmutation creature is said to have more genetic information for more physical material and function. But if its doubtful hominid (half ape/human) creatures existed why believe half human/angel creatures existed? Think of all the miracles required at conception for these creatures to be born. The increase of information added to the DNA, not once but repeatedly, it is simply science fiction.

While evolutionists believe this can happen and call it 'punctuated equilibriumism'. Its remarkable that creationists who deny any kind of hominid creature lived, will argue half angel-human creatures once existed. Think of the increase of DNA information added at conception, it would be totally miraculous. We might call these creatures 'Creation-myth-ecus'.

Not only so but God has set boundaries between species that cannot be crossed. Man cannot mate with apes and produce ape-men or birds with lizards to produce bird-lizards etc. These boundaries exist in all God’s created life forms.

Today these angel theorists (ie Chuck Missler, Gary Bates of Creation Ministries CMI) put a new spin on the so-called UFO phenomena. Not that they are real space aliens, no! but they are really demonic angels (ie 'sons of God'). And involved in immoral sexual behaviour. Instead of 'Alien abductions' we could call them 'angel abductions' with a whole lot of hanky panky going on 'onboard'. Creation Ministries website -

"If masquerading angels are appearing as aliens, then the experiences of abductees suggest that fallen angels, at least, can manifest as female, too" (G. Bates. Alien Intrusion. p.384)

Where in the bible do angels 'manifest' as women? Why not transvestite angels? Or even 'gay' angels? (something which is anti-human). The idea demonic angels materialize is rejected here. Some believe these 'sons of God' have babies today, again giving birth to half-human/angels. Others (ie Bates) believe they only had babies in the days before the flood. In contradiction to all this scripture says Christ has "gone into heaven and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him" (1 Pe.3:22).

Common scriptures quoted are Mt.24:37, 38, Lk.17:26, 27., with Gen.6:2, "they took them wives of all which they chose." We are told this is the marrying and giving in marriage Jesus mentioned. Because, "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also" in the end time. So do we have giants in space ships giving birth to babies today? No, what Jesus was saying was concerning people, they were not expecting the flood. They "knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them away". They were eating, drinking, giving in marriage and unaware, while the earth was full of violence.

So here lets focus on the 'sons of God' of Gen.6:2. The most eloquent scholars promoting this theory were Pember and Bullinger. But in fairness to them, they never entertained the weird idea (popular today) that UFO's are Satanic angels visiting earth.

J.S. Baxter (edited, expanded by M Purchase ThD PhD)


Let us be frank, angels are bodiless, purely spiritual beings and sexless. Bodiless and sexless means they have no sexual organs and incapable of sensuous experiences or sexual processes. Nor are they capable of procreation or reproduction in anyway whatever. The teaching of the whole Bible stands solidly behind this affirmation. If we quote Jesus who said angels do NOT 'marry' or reproduce (Lk.20:34-36). Bates responds this is true only of "the angels in heaven, or those angels who obey God, (they) do not engage in this practice." (Alien Intrusion. p.383). So Jesus told us half the truth? Because disobedient angels on earth (in spaceships pretending to be space aliens) do have sexual relationships. If we say but angels are spiritual beings. Bates responds,

"The biggest objection to this view is the belief that it is impossible for angels to have sexual relations with humans because they are spirit beings. But as we have already seen in the UFO/abduction phenomenon, as well as in other parts of Scripture, they can also exist and manifest at a physical level”. (Alien Intrusion p.383).

And so on board spaceships 'metallic crafts' the angels are busy. People have "probes inserted into them" and “eggs and sperm are routinely removed from victims” and “captives are forced to have sex with each other” and “with their alien captors”. Apparently angels “usually undress” their human prisoners and there’s “sexual intercourse”.  Creation Ministries (Creation.com) says these “real experiences are very similar to real spiritual ones"..."people are having real experiences at the hands of deceptive fallen angels and demons." Bates quotes reports from medical doctors that human abductees catch sexually transmitted diseases, bruises etc., as proof.

In contradiction, while scripture mentions angels have taken on human form, those that sinned cannot, they have lost freedom and privileges. Although in rebellion against God they are still under control and can do nothing without permission (Jb.1:6-12 2:1-6. 1 Cor.5:4,5. 2 Cor.12:7-10). Their bodies are not physical, nor can they take on physical bodies, but they are spirit and don't perform sexual acts on people nor entice with sexual acts. Sexual desires (good or bad) come from human nature - not angels (Mt.5:28 Mk.7:20-21 Gal.5:19 1 Cor.6:18).

The suggestion evil angels somehow take human bodies to themselves becoming capable of sexual function is absurd, both on psychological and physiological grounds.

We know what an exquisitely delicate, intricate, intimate, sensitive and inter-reaction exists between the human body, mind and soul. Because soul and body came into existence together through the process of a human birth, and are mysteriously united in human personality. Thus, and only thus the sensations of the body become experiences of the mind. This psycho-physical parallelism of the human personality is a mystery; but it an absolute and universal reality.

Now if angels merely took bodies and miraculously indwelt them for a period of time, their doing so could not have them in the slightest degree able to experience the sensations of those bodies. Even if those bodies were capable of real sensations, which is doubtful. For angels and those temporarily occupied bodies, NOT having come together by a real human birth as one personality, could NOT know the inter-reaction which exists in the human mind and body. Indeed, the bodies could not have been real bodies of flesh and blood at all; because without being inhabited by the human spirit, the human flesh-and-blood body dies. Bodies occupied by angels simply could not be normal human bodies of flesh and blood. Besides, angels "belong to the heavenly sphere, they cannot be properly conceived of in earthly terms". The fact they ate food given by Abraham (Gen.18:8) does not therefore mean their bodies were subject to human limitations, needs or pleasures.

Consider the illustration of Christ's incarnation. This was no mere occupation of a human body. In the OT we find an succession of instances in which the pre-incarnate Christ communicated in bodily form with men. Known as Theophanies.

In Genesis 18, one of the "three men" who visited Abraham is singled out as "my Lord." He speaks as being divine, promising Isaac's birth and is called "Jehovah" (vs 17, 20, 22, 26, 33). With Him Abraham intercedes for Sodom, and by Him retribution is exacted on that city. Again and again there are appearances of One Who bears the title, "the Angel of Jehovah," but speaks and acts as being who is one with God. He appears to Haqar (Gen 16) and Jacob as "I am the God of Bethel". And as the Man who wrestled with Jacob till daybreak at Jabbok, of whom Jacob says, "I have seen God face to face" (Gen.31:30). Also Moses in the burning bush, as "I am the God of thy father Abraham...." And Gideon as "Jehovah is with thee" and to Samson's parents, etc. The data indicates this "Angel of Jehovah" was the pre-incarnate Son of God, revealing Himself in bodily form.

Beside their immediate purpose, these appearances prepared men's minds for the coming miracle of the Incarnation by which God the Son would become one with the human race as the Son of Man.

But note, those OT "theophanies" of the Son of God in bodily form were not the real incarnation. In those He merely utilized some visible, bodily form which was prepared for the purpose of the moment and discarded after. But at Bethlehem, Christ entered our human life by way of a real human birth of a human mother, this was more than merely occupying a human form. In this supreme historical miracle He was taking on Himself our human nature; He became human to remain so for ever, but of course remaining truly God.

Now apply this to the theory that the "Sons of God" in Genesis 6 were angels. When Christ came into the world to be Saviour, did He merely take a human body and inhabit it? That would not have made Him human. It would have only been another "theophany." He took to Himself our human nature itself and to do this was absolutely necessary. He needed to be born into our life and nature by a human birth of a human mother. Now if those "sons of God" in Genesis 6 were angels, the only way they could have become human and have married to have children (as vs 1, 4 say) is by having had a real human birth. That is, by having been incarnated and born of human mothers, but without human fathers!

There is no escape from this necessity, if we accept the angel theory. So on this ground alone, we simply cannot accept the theory. For the idea an incarnation of angels took place, by human mothers, without fathers, and by the thousands (which, remember, we need to suppose) is preposterous.

Apart from these considerations, such a theory casts a libel on God's character. We simply cannot believe God would allow such a wholesale angel-incarnation, and then inflict judgment for it on the human race - for the judgment of the Flood is definitely said to be for human sin (see vs 3, 5, 6). “It repented the Lord that He had made men on the earth…” Gen.6.6) This is not a 'repenting of the deeds of angels'.

If it be said these evil angels committed this monstrosity in defiance of God, without His permission, we reply that in this case the thing could not happen without the divine permission. Because it involves creative power, which not even angels possess, but only God.

What does Pember and Bullinger say to this? Bullinger conveniently says nothing. Pember dismiss it - "Those who advance it lay claim to a more intimate acquaintance with angelic nature than we can concede as possible." We cannot keep back a smile, for in theory of angel cross-breeding with humans, it is he who assumes the "more intimate acquaintance with angelic nature".

So there we are; they have no reply. Yet this one psycho-physiological objection is enough to discredit the theory.


Besides this psycho-physiological difficulty, there are other considerations which refute the 'theory'. Just reconsider the Pember and Bullinger quotations already given and note -

The Wording of Gen 6:1, 2.

Mr. Pember says: "When men, we are told, began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, the sons of God saw the daughters of men. Now by `men' in each case the whole human race is evidently signified, the descendants of Cain and Seth alike. Hence the `sons of God' are plainly distinguished from the generation of Adam." Bullinger says the same.

But is this an argument? Two objections. First, if it was these evil angels who were sinning so grievously in thus taking them wives which they chose. Why does the next sentence say, "And the Lord said: My Spirit shall not always strive with MAN"? According to the angel hypothesis, the striving of the Spirit should have been with evil angels, not men! Just fancy, God's Spirit striving with men for the sinning of angels! That exegesis is nonsense! Why would angels who lusted after flesh and sexual connection seek "wives" and marriages? Also Jesus said, 'angels "neither marry" nor propagate (Mt.22:30).

Second, in those words, "The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and took them wives of all which they chose," the emphasis is not on the word "men," as Pember and Bullinger aver, but on the last clause - "wives of all which they chose." The very position of this clause at the sentence end gives the emphasis. And it is that wives were now being chosen, not only in disregard of God's will, but in plural, ie polygamously. By disregarding God's will came a practice of having more than one wife (ie Lamech Gen.4:23). An increasingly corruption developed, which the chapter speaks. So we cannot place the emphasis on "men" as in contrast with the "sons of God."

The Title, "Sons of God."

The keystone in the 'angel-theory' is that the title "sons of God," (Gen.6) MUST refer to angels, because it is used only of angels in the O.T., (this is not true, see below). Pember says: "The expression, `sons of God,' occurs but four times in other parts of the OT, and is in each of these cases indisputably used of angelic beings." Bullinger repeats this. Both say the reason this title is reserved for angels, in the OT, because it is only used of beings who are "directly created by the Divine hand, and not born of other beings of their own order." Bates says the same,

The angels are described as sons (bene) of God because He directly created them.... If the sons of God were mortal human beings being born of humans, then the expression used should have been bene adam” (G. Bates. Alien Intrusion p.382).

This is not entirely correct, "son of" is an idiom, meaning to bear the character of someone or something. Thus the judges in Israel were called "sons of" (Elohim) God because they bore His character in judgement among the Israelites' (KJV Bible Commentary. S.R. Schrader. Gen.6:1). Yet they were NOT called 'angels' nor 'bene adam'. In Genesis, Moses calls 'angels' "angels" (eg 19:1 21:17, 32:11) and elsewhere 15 times 'angels' so why should 'sons of God' be angels?

Then what about, “The expression “sons of the mighty” (bene elim) is also used to describe angels in Psalms 29:1 and 89:6.” (Bates. p383 Ibid). On Ps.29:1 Schrader replies, "It is considerably disputed among scholars to whom the expression O ye mighty refers. Most understand this to refer to the holy angels, while others assume it to be a reference to the heathen or the mighty ones of the earth in general." And Ps.89:6, "the Hebrew phrase for sons of the mighty may mean “sons of gods” or “heavenly beings." The reference could be to other supposed gods or to angels, members of the heavenly court". (Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary). So "Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord? There are no princes of the earth who can equal the Lord God in majesty...the psalmist concludes, God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints." (Schrader).

The expression 'sons of God' occurs only 4 times in the OT outside Genesis 6 and should warn us from drawing conclusions from slender data. Especially as 3 of the 4 are in one book (Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:6) and Dan.3:25 is not the same expression in the original.

In fact in Daniel the text is contrary because when Nebuchadnezzar looked into the "burning, fiery furnace," he said, "Lo, I see four men loose, and walking in the midst of the fire... and the form of the fourth is like a (not 'the') son of God!" Now if, as Pember and Bullinger say, the OT expression, "sons of God, refers only to angels" then Nebuchadnezzar should have seen in that furnace three men and one angel; but no, he saw "four men"! Whatever peculiarity may have distinguished that fourth figure, the form was human: there is no getting past that.

What of Job?

The claim "Sons of God" (is) clearly used of angels in Job.38:7" (p.143 Answers Book, Creation Ministries publ). But there are other views -

(1) The expression might refer to angels but does not mean Genesis 6 does because -

Both Job 1:6 & 2:1 have the same words - "There was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah; and Satan came also among them." Note the distinction between the angels and Satan. Why this distinction? Because Satan is an angel (or spirit-being), so according to the 'angel theory' - Satan is a "son of God" for (in Pember's words) he is a being "directly created by the Divine hand." Yet to call Satan a "son of God" is preposterous. The "sons of God" in Job 1:6 and 2:1 are unfallen angels, its obvious from the contrast between them and Satan; and appears the more certain in Job 38:7, where these unfallen sons of God shout "for joy" over God's creative work.

(2) Sons of God in Job were NOT angels.

Some argue the "sons of God" who came "to present themselves before Jehovah" were not angels but godly men on earth at that time who came to worship in God's presence, as we find repeatedly in the OT Theophanies. Eg., "On the day when the sons of God came...." (Job.1:6. 2:1) Referring to 'earthly days'. There are no 'days' in eternity or heaven God's angels are continually in His "presence" (Lk.1:9. 15:10. Rev.14:10). Satan joining this earthly gathering is challenged by God (Jb.1:7 2:2) he had been wandering the 'earth' (Jb.1:7. 2:2). This is an earthly gathering of God's people on certain days, not a heavenly gathering of angels in heaven. God has always had His earthly people, before the flood (Gen.6:2), after (Isa.43:6) and today (1 Jn.3:1-2).

While Job 38:7 refers to the foundation of the earth, vs.7b refers to when God's people came together (Jb.1:6 2:1) but Job was not present. Job, a rich man, wasn't an Israelite. And according to Heb.1.5, "Unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my son....and again, I will be to him a Father and he shall be to me a son?". The answer is - 'unto no angel' as angels were not called 'sons of God'. We cannot cover all aspects of this interpretation; but if true, it demolishes the idea the title "sons of God" is only used of angels in the OT.

According to the Answers Book the 'sons of God' are "evil angels (who) actually cohabited with women" (p.143-144). If only the authors read Genesis ch.5. This title is never used anywhere of evil angels. Rather, "As many as are led by the Spirit of God they are called the sons of God" (Rom.8:14) The character of Seth’s descendants proves they were "sons of God" (Gen.5:3-29, 6:9, 7:1). "The family of Seth were professedly religious" (Jamieson, Faussert, Brown). The godly line goes through Seth - Enos - Cainan - Mehalaleel - Jared - Enoch - Methuselah - Lamech - Noah. So as Calvin says, "It was, therefore, base ingratitude in the posterity of Seth, to mingle themselves with the children of Cain, and with other profane races" (J. Calvin Gen.6:1-22). The character of Cain’s descendants proves they were not, like Cain a fugitive and vagabond (Gen.4:8-14) his descendants were polygamists and murderers (Gen.4:17-23). They "and others who joined them are called 'men' because they had quite cast off all regard for God, and His ways and the professors of the true religion are called 'sons of God'. They had a visible relation to Him... Regardless of God's direction they followed their fancies and married them. Such unequal marriages are expressly prohibited by the law of God. 1 Cor.7:39 2 Cor.6:14-15 Mal.2:11 Deut.7:3-4..." (Rev. J. Brown. Family Bible)

Seth's descendants were 'sons of God' and “born from above, children of the kingdom... children of God” (Clarke’s Commentary Gen.6:4). Yet “The posterity of Seth did not keep to themselves as they ought, but intermingled with the race of Cain” (J. Wesley’s Notes on the OT Gen.6). The promised seed from which the Messiah would come was through Seth and his sons (Gen.3:15). One can trace this 'Highway of the Seed' all the way to Christ.

The Nephilim.

Now here is another contradiction in the angel theory which puts its champions on the horns of a dilemma. Gen.6:4: "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also, after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown." Through a misapprehension of the Septuagint, the English version renders Nephilim "giants".

Gary Bates says, "It is entirely possible that these beings were indeed very large, so in one sense this translation could be correct". (Alien Intrusion p.386).

But the Hebrew word indicates a verbal adjective or noun of passive or neuter signification from Naphal - to fall. It does not imply a great stature but 'the fallen ones'.

"...giants (the Nephilim, a word of uncertain meaning, but in Num.13:33, men of gigantic stature)..." "...The word 'giant(s)' occurs 21x in the OT of the KJV as the rendering of four different norms., but does not occur in the NIV..." (Gen.6:4. New International Dic. of OT Theology and Exegesis. Zondervan).

The theory claims the Nephilim were fallen angels, alias the so-called "sons of God." Bullinger says they were the progeny from the sinning angels and sinning women, "Their (i.e., the angels') progeny, called Nephilim, were monsters of iniquity; and, being superhuman in size and character, had to be destroyed. This was the one and only object of the Flood."

Bates says they were 'expressly mentioned as the offspring of this union' the sons "started to take women, and after that, they had children by them." (p.386 & 392 Alien Intrusion). So they insist "the strongest argument for the (angel) view comes from the simplest understanding of the text itself" (p.140 "Answers Book" 2006 CMI).

So what does it say?

The Nephilim were in the earth in those days and also AFTER THAT when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men" (Gen.6:4) So, whoever these Nephilim were, they were already on earth before the off-spring of the supposed angel human unions occurred; the words, "after that," make this clear. The offspring of those unions are called "mighty men" and "men of renown," not Nephilim.

However, the theory assumes the Nephilim were sinning angels and their progeny, and the Flood was to destroy this unholy brood. If so, what of Numbers 13:33, where we read the Nephilim as still being a race of people, over 800 years after the Flood? 10 of the 12 spies who spied Canaan came back saying "we saw the Nephilim, sons of Anak of the Nephilim, and we were in our own sight grasshoppers". This is awkward for the Pember and Bullinger scheme. They both argue a further occurrence of angels leaving "their first estate" invading the earth to marry human wives, sometime after the Flood!

Yet there is no support in Scripture for this! And it would mean God allowed this unholy traffic to reoccur! Pember says, "A similar occurrence after the Deluge agrees with the passage in Numbers where the sons of Anak are said to have been Nephilim, and seems also to account for God's command that the whole race of the Canaanites should be extirpated." But again with this theory, surely it is the sinning angels which should have been "extirpated" not the deceived and helpless human victims! The real reason these Canaanites were destroyed was their own vileness (see Lev.18:24, 25, 20:23).

Bullinger writes, "We read of the Nephilim again in Numbers 13:33. How, it may be asked, could this be, if they were all destroyed in the Flood? The answer is contained in Genesis 6:4, where we read: "There were Nephilim in the earth in those days (i.e., in the days of Noah); and also AFTER THAT, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became (the) mighty men (Heb. gibbor, the heroes) which were of old, men of renown'.... So that `after that,' i.e., after the Flood, there was a second irruption of these fallen angels, evidently smaller in number and more limited in area, for they were for the most part confined to Canaan, and were in fact known as 'the nations of Canaan'."

That is enough to make any reader gasp, "What next!?" We are asked to believe the words, "after that," suddenly switch the remainder of the verse to years after the Flood. So these "mighty men" and "men of renown" which were "of old" did not belong to Noah's days but a later age!

Remember, Moses compiled his books near the time the 10 spies return with their report (Num. 13:33) concerning the Nephilim in Canaan. If in Gen.6:4 the words "after that" switch us from pre-Flood to an irruption of angels years later and their prodigy-offspring (Nephilim) still alive, he would not say, "the same became mighty men which were OF OLD, men of renown"! But "the same are the mighty men of renown to-day."

Gen.6:4 simply says the offspring of the "sons of God" and "daughters of men" became mighty men of renown. We should not assume the Nephilim are the offspring of the "sons of God" and daughters of men. And then the "sons of God" is a further irruption of immoral angels centuries later. Making the "mighty men of renown" into a new breed of Nephilim still living in the time of Moses! Or the so-called UFO's flying around the skies today. Amazing how well-meaning men can distort Scripture to fit a theory!


Another strong point with the angel theory is that it is proved or corroborated in the NT. The three texts are 1 Pet.3:19-20; 2 Pet.2:4 and Jude 6. Bullinger writes:

"That there was a fall of angels is certain from Jude 6. The nature of their fall is clearly stated in the same verse. They left their own oiketerion. This word occurs only in 2 Cor.5:2 and Jude 6, where it is used of the spiritual (or resurrection) body. The nature of their sin is stated to be `in like manner' to that of the subsequent sins of Sodom and Gomorrah (Jude 7). The time of their fall is given as having taken place 'in the days of Noah' (1 Pet.3:20; 2 Pet.2:5). . . . For this sin they are 'reserved unto judgment' (2 Pet.2:4), and are 'in prison' (1 Pet.3:19)."

He says Christ went in His resurrection body preached to these fallen angels in the Hades abyss:

He had a glorious triumph as well. He went in His resurrection body and made proclamation of it to 'the-in-prison spirits.' What and who can these be? To answer this question we have to go a little further afield, but not far. The same Peter tells us overleaf, in 2 Peter 2:4, of the angels that sinned in the days of Noah, and who are now cast down to Tartarus and there 'delivered into chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment'." How to Enjoy the Bible (p.190)

A difficulty in replying to this, is that when one gets borne along by this theory, one can jump from one assumption to another. It takes time correcting one point and then the other, before you ever come to show the fallacy of the main contention. One simply takes for granted point after point which can with little difficulty be disproved. Note:

(1) The theory assumes the "spirits in prison" are angels: but that is yet to be proved.

(2) The theory assumes the "spirits in prison" in 1 Pet.3:19 are the same as the angels in 2 Pet.2:4 and Jude 6 (and both are identical with those "sons of God" Gen.6). But this needs to be proved!

(3) The theory asserts 1 Pet.3:20 & 2 Pet.2:3 give "the time of their fall" as "in the days of Noah"; which in one case is right and the other wrong.

(4) The theory asserts Jude 7 declares their sin to be "in like manner" to that of Sodom and Gomorrah; which is questionable.

Lets examine the 3 NT texts claimed to support the angel theory -

Firstly 1 Peter 3:18-20.

"Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God; being put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the spirit; in which also he went and preached to the spirits in prison, which afore-time were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah…" (RV)

Admittedly some puzzling references here, but it's easy to show these "spirits in prison" were not the "angels that sinned". Yes Peter connects the "spirits in prison" with Noah's day and the "prison" is Hades, but these "spirits in prison" are not "the angels that sinned" (2 Pet.2:4) and "left their first estate" (Jude 6), nor are they angels, because -

The context. To quote Peter literally from the Greek, our Lord, "having been put to death in the flesh, but quickened in spirit," went and "to the in-prison-spirits preached." What did He preach? Peter's word here for "preach" is kerusso, a common NT word for preaching the Gospel (used 40-50 times of Christ's and the Apostles' Gospel preaching). And who were these "spirits" in Hades, to whom Christ preached? Ch.4:6 continues the subject irrespective of the chapter break. Peter says what was preached and why, and who these "spirits" were -

"For this cause was the Gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to MEN in the flesh, but live to God in the spirit." Clearly these "spirits" who were "disobedient in the days of Noah" were MEN, not angels!

But the angel theory, assuming these "spirits in prison" are fallen angels, must distort Scripture. Bullinger realizes our Lord could not be thought of as having preached the "Gospel" to fallen angels. For the Gospel of the Son of God who became human in order to save the race of Adam is for fallen man; so he argues Christ's preaching to these supposed fallen angels was not the Gospel, but a proclamation of His resurrection-triumph, "to show them that all this triumph was in spite of the Satanic plot referred to in Genesis 6, and in which they had so great a share and so great a guilt." Now could there be a more theatrical "explanation" than that?

Bullinger having said Christ went to these "spirits in prison" to proclaim His resurrection-triumph, must make His visit to Hades occur after His resurrection, whereas the only visit Scripture records was between Christ's death and resurrection (Acts 2:31; Eph.4:9, 10). Surely, in 1 Pe.3:19, Peter is amplifying his own words of Acts 2:31 concerning our Lord's going into Hades between His death and resurrection. Why, the wording of 1 Peter 3:19 show this: "Being put to death in flesh, but quickened in spirit; in which also (i.e., in spirit, not in flesh) he went and preached to the spirits in prison." Not only the wording, but the parallel here makes the meaning clear - our Lord, being no longer in flesh, but in spirit, went and preached to these who themselves were no longer in the flesh but in spirit. Where does Dr. Bullinger find the slightest warrant in Scripture for our Lord's going again into Hades, this time with His glorified body? The well-meaning old doctor is no longer on earth to say; but perhaps his followers could tell us.

Now having mis-explained Peter's words in ch.3:18-20, Bullinger is obliged to do likewise with that later verse which says, "For this cause was the Gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit" (ch.4:6). What unbiased mind can read these words without seeing their connection with those earlier words in the same context, about the "spirits in prison"? But those having made 'human spirits' into angels, cannot have it that the Gospel was preached to them. So they make ch.4:6 mean the Gospel was preached to men and women of former times who are now dead, but who had the Gospel preached to them in advance, before they died! Really, when one starts on the fallacy of this theory, its -

O'er moor and fen,
O'er crag and torrent,
Till the night is gone!

One can find rich reward in Bullinger's painstaking biblical researches; but some of his text-manipulations leave us flat. What artful theories the best-intentioned expositors can invent, to bolster a theory! One thing is clear: those "spirits in prison" were not "the angels that sinned" but HUMAN spirits.

2 Peter 2:4 & Jude 6.

Bullinger says 2 Peter 2:4 gives "the time of their (i.e., the angels') fall as having taken place 'in the days of Noah'." But if we read the context, we find it actually separates the angel's fall from Noah's time. Peter gives 3 examples of divine judgment on the wicked. First, "the angels that sinned" (vs.4). Second, the pre-Flood era (vs.5). Third, Sodom and Gomorrah (vs.6) -

(1) "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved to judgment;

(2) "And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly;

(3) "And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example to those that after should live ungodly...."

Now if, as the angel-theory advocates say, number 1 happened at the same time as number 2, why not 2 at the same time as 3?

Is it not more reasonable that Peter speaks of order of events occurring successively not simultaneously? It is; and that means, this fall of angels happened before Noah's time. Events which occurr in heaven occur in a place not measured by earth's time.

Jude 6. It is claimed this verse reveals the nature of the sin in which the angels fell, because it says (so its claimed) they "left their own habitation" and sinned "in like manner" to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. But does the verse really teach that the angels sinned in that sexual way? The 2 verses:

"And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation. He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness to the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire" (Jude 6, 7).

Those who say the "sons of God" in Genesis 6 were these angels of Jude 6 make much of the words, "in like manner" in Jude 7. But instead of meaning the people of Sodom and Gomorrah sinned "in like manner" to those wicked angels, do not the words mean that they are a WARNING EXAMPLE "in like manner" as the angels? Read again with this emphasis:

"Even as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them, IN LIKE MANNER, having given themselves over to fornication and having gone after strange flesh, ARE SET FORTH AS AN EXAMPLE, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."

But if this reading is grammatically unacceptable, what of the A.V., punctuation,

"Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, AND THE CITIES ABOUT THEM IN LIKE MANNER, having given themselves over. . .

This joins the "in like manner" to the cities of the plain instead of to the angels. We have noted the objection of Alford and a few others to this, but in our own judgment it is feeble.

However, even if we agreed that the words, "like manner," connected the sinning of Sodom and Gomorrah with that of the angels, even then it certainly need mean no more than their sin was fundamentally similar (i.e., rebellion and apostasy) and not identical in detail.

And there is a further fact, on grammatical grounds, against making this text teach that the angels sinned as those of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is this: Even if we agree the words, "in like manner," describe the nature of the sinning, the fact remains this text DOES NOT SAY the angels sinned in like manner to Sodom and Gomorrah. It puts it the other way round, it was the people of Sodom and Gomorrah who sinned "in like manner" to the angels! No strict exegesis can ignore this. If the angels' sin had been sexual, it would have been quite enough for Jude to leave it that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah sinned "in like manner," without needing to specify again it was sexual. Yet as soon as he has said that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah sinned "in like manner" to the angels, he adds, "giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh." Surely the very necessity to add these words indicates the point at which the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah diverged from that of the angels!

This is made more certain by Jude's use of the adjective heteras, which the A.V., translates as "strange," but means "other." As Kéil remarks, the fact that they went after "other flesh" means they had flesh of their own, which the angels have not!

And still more devastating to the angel theory, if Jude meant us to believe these angels sinned as Sodomites, then these angels could not be the "sons of God" of Gen.6. For the sin there is not the wholesale fornication and beastly homosexual vileness Scripture connects with Sodom, but unhallowed (and probably polygamous) marriage unions. There's no hint in Gen.6 the "sons of God" sinned Sodomishy.

Jude 6 says the sinning angels "left their own habitation." The Greek "habitation" is oiketerion, and, as Bullinger points out, occurs only once elsewhere (2 Cor.5:2), where it denotes the believer's resurrection body. Or "spirit-body" as Bullinger calls it. On this basis, then, it is supposed the angels left their spirit-bodies to cohabit with sinning women on earth. But who says the angels have bodies?

Is not the whole teaching of Scripture that angels are pure spirit, as to their substance and so bodiless? And even if the sinning angels had "spirit-bodies," in that immaterial state, being absolutely without any nervous system or senses such as we have in the human body, how could they possibly have felt attraction for something fleshly to which they were incapable of response?

So if those angels left "spirit-bodies," where did they leave them? And where are they now? Such bodies are not subject to decomposition! They cannot be buried! And how did the angels become human? - they could not become husbands to rear children apart from an actual incarnation as human beings. What the angel theory asks us to believe is that these angels actually un-angeled and then humanized themselves!

One would never base such an argument on comparing Jude 6 with 2 Cor.5:2, if they understand that in 2 Cor.5:2 the word oiketerion is used of the resurrection body which will belong to each believer individually; whereas in Jude 6, the one oiketerion covers the angels collectively.

They "left their own (plural) habitation (singular)." The word in Jude 6 has no reference to individual angel-bodies: it denotes an exalted plane of being, as does the preceding clause of the text - "the angels which kept not their own principality" (see RV).

So much, then, for the 3 NT texts which are supposed to substantiate the angel theory. 3 things are clear -

(1) 1 Pet.3:18-20 is not angels but the departed spirits of human beings;

(2) 2 Pet.2:4, the time of the angel fall "angels that sinned" is not said to be the time of Gen.6.

(3) In Jude 6, the evil angels are not identified with the "sons of God" in Gen.6, nor is the sin of these angels said to be the same with the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah.

So after examination it appears there is no NT warrant for the theory the "sons of God" in Gen.6 were angels.


If this "angel" theory is so completely false, how did it originate and become in vogue?

We must go back to about 200 B.C. to the later part of the 1st century A.D. There appeared from time to time certain pseudepigraphic, apocalyptic writings, the earlier of which, it would seem, emanated from a Jewish sect known as the Essenes. Called "apocalyptic" because they were visionary unveilings of the future and called "pseudepigraphic" because they were written under falsely assumed names, and purport to have come from earlier times than they were actually written. It was the view taken by the Jewish church, Justin, Athenagoras, Clemens, Alexandrinus, Tertullian and Lectantius. 'Their semi-pagan imaginations were dazzled by the Book of Enoch'. Held also by Josephus, Philo, Judaeus Chrysostom, Augustine and the authors of "The Book of Enoch" and "The Testament of the Twelve Patriarch's". Such spurious writings could not hope to survive the test of time and investigation, yet it is easy to appreciate that for a time they would have a rather exciting and considerable influence.

One of these is the Book of Enoch (which, is really several in one) and written (the part we are concerned with) probably after 200 B.C. Here we first find this idea of the sinning angels associated with Genesis 6; and probably the pseudonymous author got the idea from pagan mythologies with their crude stories of gods coming down to earth and indulging sensual appetites. The book is plentiful in errors and far-fetched extravagances. It says the number of angels who committed the outrage of Genesis 6 was 200.

The fanciful angelology of these apocalyptic pseudepigraphs is one of their conspicuous features; and this is preeminently so with the Book of Enoch.

Now this Book seems to have had a considerable popular appeal for some time, two instances of which here concern us. The first is in connection with the famous Septuagint Version of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek. In the 3rd century B.C., when Hebrew was less and less spoken among the Jews, Greek was more and more the international language. So a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek became an urgent necessity. It was translated at Alexandria, under royal patronage (so we are told), and is known to us as the "Septuagint" (from Septuaginta, the Latin for 70) because of the tradition it was made by 70 Jewish scribes. This Septuagint Version quickly became the standard "Bible" of the Jews. Later it was the accepted version of the OT among Christians. The writers of our NT repeatedly give their OT quotations from it. And it lies behind our English version of the OT.

The original manuscripts of the Septuagint are lost to us; and it is one of the fascinating functions of textual criticism to collate the various manuscript copies of it which have come down to us. Of these, the 3 oldest and most important are,

(1) Codex Sinaiticus - 4th century A.D.
(2) Codex Alexandrinus - 5th century,
(3) Codex Vaticanus - 4th century.

The second of these, gives the word "angels" in Gen.6:2, instead of "sons of God" (advocates of the "angel" theory have made much of this). But can we accept the Codex Alexandrinus in that particular verse? The answer is, NO, for the following reasons:

(1) Not one of the Hebrew manuscripts has "angels" in that verse. They all have "sons of God." (beney haelohim)

(2) The other leading Greek manuscripts have "Sons of God" in that verse.

(3) The Codex Alexandrinus is not a copy of the original manuscript of the Septuagint, but only of one of the many copies which were made in the last two centuries of the B.C. era and the opening centuries of the A.D. era: and we know what textual corruptions had set in by then (see International Standard Bible Ency.).

(4) The obvious probability is that the word "angel" was inserted by a transcriber holding the fascinating new idea of Gen.6:1-4 which had been popularized by the Book of Enoch.

So much for the Pentateuch; but also note the Jewish historian, Josephus (born 37 BC), evidently accepted the angel idea as we see from a brief reference to Genesis 6, in his 'Antiquities of the Jews'. That, however, is not surprising as Josephus tells us that he had earlier been connected with the Essenes, the Jewish sect from which the pseudepigraph Enoch presumably emanated.

Such then, is the order-first in the Book of Enoch, then slipping into transcriptions of the Septuagint, and made public through the pen of Josephus. From that point it was easy to connect the idea with verses as 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6. Some of the early Christian Father's also adopt it, though after fuller discussion it seems to have been the later consensus of the early church the opinion was untenable.

The fact is, if we are faithful to the wording of Scripture there is no warrant in OT or NT for any connection between Genesis 6 and the two NT texts. We owe it to the apocalyptic pseudepigraph, the Book of Enoch. Hence "very early the Church Fathers followed by many of the reformers, referred (sons of God) to the descendants of Seth" (International Bible Commentary. FF Bruce). Most in the early church regarded it as ''wild and revolting fiction".

Who Then Were Those "SONS OF GOD"?

"One wonders why the Scripture did not say “sons of Seth” and “daughters of Cain…… family heritage is not an automatic producer of piety.” (p385 Alien Intrusion). Why not say "sons of Seth"? Because it was significant that they were different with an intimacy and personal knowledge of God. They were chosen, the beginning of an historical pattern for election and for the concept of sonship - That is not interpreted in purely natural categories. Israel was to give the expression and position of sonship greater development. Otherwise, why not call them 'angels'? The response to this,

"There is nothing to suggest that Seth’s line was any more pious than anyone else on the face of the earth, and conversely, there is no implication that any daughters of Cain would have been more sinful than anyone else. According to 1 John 3:12, Cain belonged to “the wicked one” because he murdered his brother Abel, but this passage does not refer to his offspring. If the remaining descendants of Seth were so “godly,” why were they not spared the judgment on sin that everyone received, except Noah and his family?” (p.385. Alien Intrusion)

This is simply not true. Firstly, Jesus identified Cain's 'offspring' as the seed of "the wicked one" with the words "you are the children of your father.... he was a murder from the beginning" (Jn.8:37, 44). Children manifest their father's characteristics. And secondly, obviously both Cain and Seth's descendants, who had corrupted themselves, ultimately did perish. But to say Seth's line was identical with Cain's ignores the text for three reasons -

(1) The setting and the wording of the passage.
(2) The weakness of the objection.
(3) The untenableness of any suggested alternative.

(1) The Setting and Wording.
It is most important to see the two occurrences of the expression, "the sons of God," in Genesis 6:2, 4, in their contextual connection. This is always the best safeguard against fanciful error. What then of the context? We submit the following considerations.

First; on reading through Gen.4-5 (which lead up to the "sons of God" of chapter 6), we see that in the descent from Adam the Seth line (Children of God ch.5) is clearly distinguished from the Cain line (Children of men ch.4). The writer intends that the reader note this history of Adam's descendants through two distinct and separate lines. Cain's descendants to Lamech (the 7th from Adam Gen.4:16-24) were outcasts, worldly minded, which climaxed in the wickedness of Lamech. Then the line through the elect Seth which godliness climaxed with Enoch, also the 7th from Adam. Noah was the 10th from Adam (4:25-5:32). In ch.6 the separation between the people of God and the children of the world disappears. Human apostasy reached to Heaven calling for judgment. However the lineage distinction suggests that the distinction with "Sons of God" and "daughters of men" is a continuation of that distinction between the two lines mentioned.

Second; the special features of the Seth line make the title "sons of God," seem natural and appropriate to them. Seth, as his very name means, was "appointed" to take the place of murdered Abel. Eve recognized this divine appointment in calling him Seth (4:25). This means the Seth line was Messianic, from which the promised Redeemer would come (as indeed the Seth line proved to be). The "Seed of the woman" who should "bruise the head" of the serpent did not come of the Cain line, that line was rejected. Cain was "of that wicked one" (1 John 3:12). Seth and his sons, through the line of Enoch and Noah, were the chosen ones; that is, they were the line of God's elect, through whom the divine purpose ran. How understandable that these should be called "the sons of God"! This view held by Luther, Calvin, Keil, Faber, Hengstenbery, F.F Bruce, & Jamieson. "Not only is the world shown in the story of Cain but the in a sense the church too. The seed of Seth was the appointed representative of the slain Abel and if we understand aright the two seeds are actually called the children of God and the children of men. Such is the background to the Apostles thought" (R.W. Orr International Bible Commentary with NIV 1 Jn.3:1, 10-11).

Third; the moral traits of the Seth line, in contradistinction to those of the Cain line, make the title, "sons of God" still more appropriate.

"That sober race of men whose lives
Religious titled them 'the sons of God'.

Take the Cain line first. Cain himself was a murderer. He was also a man of the earth, earthy. All his aspirations were earthy. He "went out from the presence of the Lord" (4:16). Thenceforth there is not a mention of God or of worship in the Cain line. With the 7th man of this line, Lamech we find polygamy, murder, and a godless boastfulness (4:23, 24). How different is the Seth line! At the very beginning Seth himself is recognized as a special appointment of God (4:25). We are told also that Seth was begotten in Adam's "own likeness" (5:3), which means the contrast which existed between Cain and the original nature of Adam did not exist between Seth and Adam.

Seth was more nearly in that beautiful, original image. Again, we are told that Seth had son named Enos, and that "then (evidently led by Seth Enos) began men to call upon the name of Jehovah" (4:26), a statement bandied about by expositors, but which simply means that men then began most definitely to worship God. As we can easily see from Genesis 12:8, 13:4 21:33, 26:25, where precisely the same words occur in Hebrew as well as in our English translation. And further, with the 7th man of this line, Enoch, we find (in utter contrast with the 7th man of the Cain line) the most beautiful example of godliness anywhere recorded: "Enoch walked with God; and he was not; for God took him." The NT agrees, "And I shall be a father unto you and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty" (2 Cor.6:18). If all these considerations do not make it clear that the Seth line were the true worshippers of God, the spiritually-minded men, and that the designation, "sons of God," befitted them, then we are strangely mistaken!

Fourth; it is clear that "the sons God" in chapter 6 were the men of the Seth line, by the remarkable development of the narrative from chapter 3 to chapter 7.

There is much we wish we knew about the antediluvian age, the narrative is severely reticent. 16 hundred years are packed into two-and-a-half pages. It is as though the inspired author or compiler was anxious above all else that we should not miss seeing the connection between the Fall and the Flood.

Thus, in chapter 3 we have the Fall Next, in chapter 4 we are shown the Cain line Next, in chapter 6 we the two lines cross (ie "the sons of God" with "the daughters of men," etc.). Finally, in chapter 7 there comes the judgment of the Flood.

The development from the Fall to the Flood is presented in almost dramatic form. The movements are drawn with such vividness there seems no doubt to the writer's intention. He means us to see the breakdown of the vital separation between the two lines and if this is so, then "the Sons of God" must be the men of the Seth line.

Besides this the wording and the incidental references of Genesis 6 confirm that these "sons of God' were the men of the Seth line. Take verse 1, "And it came to pass when men began to multiply on the face the earth…" If the "sons of God" were the Sethites, then we can well understand why the ill-fated intermarriages took place only after men had begun to multiply, for the hitherto separated lines were now brought geographically near each other, and mutual intercourse was engendered. But if these "sons of God" were angels, why had they to wait all those hundreds of years before seeing "the daughters of men that they were fair"? The explanatory clause of that first verse just does not fit to angels.

Take verse 2. Surely the expression, "sons of God" indicates the persons concerned were not angels but a, "Pious people, professors of the true religion who truly reflected the Divine image were 'The sons of (Elohim) God', and called by that name long before the theocracy had brought the Israelites into the special relationship of God's children Ex.4:22,23 Deut.14:1 32:5 Ps.82:6 89:6 Isa.63:16 Hos.1:10) The idea was fully developed in the Christian church, Jn.1:12 Rom.8:14,19 1 Jn.3:1-2" (p.88 Commentary Critical, Experimental and Practical. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown)

Certainly if Moses was the writer of the Pentateuch and we accept the conservative view he was the author. No less than 15 times in the Pentateuch angels are referred to; and always called angels, never once "sons of God." If we accept the general Mosaic authorship, then it seems the word 'angels' would have been used in Genesis 6:2, if angels had been meant.

But again verse 2. The "daughters of men were fair". Assuming this refers to the daughters of the Cain line, it finds at once an incidental confirmation in Gen.4:22, where we are told Lamech's daughter was called Naamah ("beautiful"). And further verse 2 "the sons of God" saw the daughters of men were fair, and took wives of which they chose. Surely this assumes these "sons of God" were persons already on earth, as were the sons of Seth.

There is not the faintest hint these "sons of God" somehow came to earth for the purpose, much less a suggestion they were falling angels committing a staggering monstrosity. Or the writer would have said they "came" or "descended" or "appeared," instead of "saw" and "took"!

Again verse 2 says the "sons of God took them wives." The usual word for the proper marriage relationship. Now, as the Imperial Bible Dictionary says, "Even carnal intercourse between such parties (angels and women) had been impracticable, but the actual taking of wives is still more abhorrent to the ideas set forth in Scripture as to the essential distinctions between the region of spirits and the world of sense." Surely, the idea angels should not only take bodily shape, but done so permanently, and lived as husbands of human wives, and toiled for their living, and reared families, is preposterous the more one thinks of it!

And to say the Nephilim were the prodigy-offspring of such angel-human wedlock is wresting Scripture, for verse 4 says the Nephilim were in the earth before the "sons of God" took wives of all which they chose.

Now verse 4. AV renders it, "There were giants (Nephilim) in the earth in those days". Nephilim does not in itself mean giants and it is good some versions indicate this. (The AV has `giants' and follows the Septuagint translation, already mentioned, and the Septuagint so rendered because the Nephilim mentioned in Numbers 13 were evidently men of great stature). Now those who hold to the angel theory regarding Genesis 6 explain that the word Nephilim does not necessarily mean giants, but fallen ones, from the Hebrew verb naphal, "to fall." Then they say Nephilim were the fallen ones, that is, fallen angels, alias "the sons of God."

But verse 4 refutes that. First, the Nephilim were on earth before the "sons of God" fell by "going in unto the daughters of men" (so if the Nephilim were "sons of God" it's absurd that they were "fallen" before they fell). Second, according to Hebrew scholars, naphal does not mean merely to fall, but to "fall upon", indicating violence (see Gesenius, Calvin, Kurtz, Keil, Edersheim etc).

These Nephilim were men of violence, and size or stature secondary. But likely their violence was made worse by reason of an outstanding physical build. However, the point is that once again, if we rule out the idea of angels, and see that these Nephilim were violent men, we have incidental corroboration in the narrative, and so verse 2 "the earth was filled with violence." If we say that they were angels, once again we distort Scripture to make it fit a theory.

But then the whole chapter is against the "angel" theory. Verse 5 says: "And God saw that the wickedness of MAN was great in the earth." Verse 7 says: "I will destroy MAN for it repenteth Me that I have made them." Verse 13 says: "The earth is filled with violence through THEM (men)." No hint anywhere of angels! From this we are justified saying the wording and setting of Genesis 6 makes it abundantly clear the "sons of God" were the godly sons of the Seth line. And "The sons of God are the godly line who have come down from Adam through Seth, and the daughters of men belong to the line of Cain. What you have here now is an intermingling and intermarriage of these two lines...." McGee, J. V. Thru the Bible commentary. Thomas Nelson)


What are the objections brought against the view that the "sons of God" were the godly sons of Seth? None bring them together better than the great German scholar, Kurtz. After reading all he says, note the main objections.

First; he says it is decisive that "the sons of God" are contrast with "the daughters of men" so "the sons of God" cannot be human. Yet it is simply gratuitous to say that these contrastive expressions necessitate a contrast between angelic and human. On that basis Kurtz and Bullinger are compelled to contradict their "explanation" of verse 4 ("There were the Nephilim in the earth in those days; and also, after that, when the sons of God, etc."). Kurtz and Bullinger say the Nephilim and "Sons of God" are identical. But why then does Moses so awkwardly stick the two titles for the same persons on top of each other? Why does he not simply say: "There were the Nephilim in the earth in those days; and also, after that, when they came. . . ." The "they" would be enough, without inserting "sons of God," if the expressions meant the same. The use of the terms indicate the Nephilim and "sons of God" are not identical; yet Kurtz and Bullinger argue these contrastive titles refer to the same persons!

In view of the distinctive features and godly characteristics of the Seth line, why shouldn't verse 2 call them "sons of God" as distinct from "the daughters of men", without meaning that they are not human?

Second: Kurtz says the expression, "sons of God," is used only of angels, in the OT. But, the fact is the expression occurs only 4 times (Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7, Dan.3:25). Of these only the first two are identical with Genesis 6:2, and are held by some to refer to men, not angels (see Appendix). The Daniel citation refers to One who was in human form, in the fiery furnace. Also, in the Pentateuch, the uniform way of referring to angels is by the word "angels." If the title, "sons of God," in Genesis 6:2 means angels, it is certainly a solitary exception.

This objection refutes the objectors, for in the NT the title "sons of God" (in the exact Greek equivalent of the Hebrew) is used repeatedly of men, ie, the regenerate in Christ. Both Pember and Bullinger say this is because all who are the direct creation of God are called His "sons," and the new nature which is in us as regenerate believers is a direct creation of God. So the regenerate are "sons of God." Then consider the Seth line. Were not the worshipping Seth and Enos and the sanctified Enoch and the "just" and "perfect" Noah (who "walked with God") regenerate? Who will dare say "No"? Why can't they be truly "sons of God"?

Third; it is argued it was necessary to destroy the whole race, this proves the angel-outrage theory. When God commenced a new race with Abraham He did not deem it needful to destroy all others: then why did He deem it needful when He started a new race with Noah? But surely such arguments that if circumstances were so-and-so, God ought to have done so-and-so, are unwise assumptions? And again the objection carries its own refutation. Why did God spare Sethite Noah at all? Vs.9, "Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generations", that is, he (a man - nothing to do with angels!) kept himself separate from mixed marriages, polygamy and sexual compromises of the time (which again, implies it was for man's sin, not angels, the Flood came).

Kurtz's argument the Flood was necessary because of the immorality angels is absurd. If that was so, it would be a strong argument why a Flood to destroy mankind was unrighteous and necessary. Why did not God simply destroy the sinning angels and their unholy brood, and justly spare mankind? (see Appendix).

The only other objection of Kurtz worth mentioning is his re-rendering of verse 4. Sadly this first-rank scholar tries to force a meaning to fit a theory and alters the verse:

"There were Nephilim in the earth in those days and that just after the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bare children to them. These are the men of renown which were of old"

According to this, the Nephilim, instead of being on earth before the sons of God came to the daughters of men, were the offspring. They came "just after"! But that will not do. Look up the best Hebrew scholars, such a rendering is wrong. Any one can see Dr Kurtz cannot find a place for the little words "also" and "when" (which both come in the Hebrew). Read the verse again with these two words emphasized, this refutes Kurtz.

"There were Nephilim in the earth in those days; and ALSO (or MOREOVER) after that, WHEN the sons of God came".

There is another objection in Bishop Ellicott's commentary which rejects the "angel" theory, but objects to identifying the "sons of God" with the Seth line: "No modern commentary has shown how such marriages (i.e., between Sethite men and Cainite women) could produce `mighty men' . . .`men of renown'." However, this ignores the fact that in the Hebrew, the expressions, "mighty men" and "men of renown" do not indicate any abnormality. The first is common in the OT, to mean the doughty warriors in Israel's armies. The other is uncommon, but Numbers 1:16 gives its sense:

"These (heads of the tribes) were the renowned of the congregation, princes of the tribes of their fathers, heads of thousands in Israel"

The two expressions mean no more than outstanding men-outstanding as warriors or popular leaders. And as for "no modern commentator" having shown how such mighty men or popular leaders could come from intermarriage between the men of the Seth line and the women of the Cain line, why, it does not need showing! It is obvious. The men who grew up from these intermarriages would be the men who were popular with both sides, who had friends and relatives in both the lines, and who blended in themselves the strongly developed and outstanding qualities of both posterities! They would have the intelligence and lawlessness of the Cainites added to the peculiar superiorities handed down from religious ancestors.

In every age the greatest corrupters of religion and society have been the demoralized descendants of religious ancestors.

There is only one other objection. Over against our argument that the angels, as bodiless spirit-beings, are absolutely incapable of sexual processes, it has been counter-argued "the possibility of progeny in consequence of the influence of a spirit-being (i.e., of angels) may be inferred from the fact that the virgin (Mary) conceived by the influence of the Holy Spirit." But such an inference is absolutely wrong. The human nature of the eternal Word was begotten in the virgin mother by a direct creative act of the Holy Spirit. But no such creative power could possibly be ascribed to angels or to any other created being. Also, this absurd idea that the angels could have remained spirit-beings and yet have begotten physical progeny on earth leaves altogether unexplained the marital desire implied in the words, "the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and they took them wives of all which they chose."

So these are the main objections against accepting the natural, straightforward conclusion that the "sons of God" in Genesis 6 were the godly sons of Seth: and we do not hesitate to call them, in the words of Jeremiah, "broken cisterns that can hold no water."


The conviction that those "sons of God" were the godly sons of Seth is finally confirmed by the untenableness of the suggested alternatives. There are four.

First; the theory they were angels. This is untenable for 4 reasons:

(1) It involves an absolute psycho-physiological contradiction.
(2) Careful examination shows the setting and wording of Genesis 6 are against it.
(3) The title, "sons of God" is not restricted to angels and is inappropriate for fallen angels.
(4) Identifying the Nephilim with angels or "sons of God" is an outrage on the clear wording of the passage.
(5) The supposed NT confirmation of the theory is found, on careful inspection, to be an illusion.

Second; there is the theory of many Jewish interpreters, that the "sons of God" were persons of quality, princes and nobles. While the "daughters of men" whom they married were females of low birth. This argument is based on an idiom of the Hebrew language, in which there is no superlative. When the Hebrews would speak of a very great city or a very great wind or most excellent cedars, they would call them a "city of God," a "wind of God," "cedars of God." The expression "sons of God," should therefore be understood as "sons of the mighty." So Genesis 6 would teach that antediluvian princes took wives from attractive women of an inferior class. Yet surely this would mean that the climax of corruption for which the Flood came was simply marrying below one's rank! No such stigma is attached anywhere in the Bible to condescension in wedlock. In fact, the case of Boaz and Ruth it is extolled!

Third; we may dismiss the strange theory of Bishop Ellicott, that the "sons of God" were the descendants of Cain. Even the soundest of expositors can have lapses, yet even so it is strange to find Bishop Ellicott's commentary advocating such an interpretation of Genesis 6.

On the basis of chapter 4:17-24 he holds the descendants of Cain were superior to the descendants of Seth in a civil and social and martial sense. And were really the "sons of the mighty" or "sons of God." The Sethite men could not have taken the daughters of the Cain line, because the Cainites were too strong for them; but the Cainite men could take the daughters of the Seth line, because the men of the Seth line were inferior and unable to prevent them. But this idea is self-defeating. The Bishop rightly points out that the expression, "the daughters of men" is literally "the daughters of the Adam" and he claims that the word "Adam" here means the Seth line. But alas for him, the very next verse reads: "And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with the Adam" - so that we get the strange contradiction of the Spirit striving with the innocent Sethites for what the naughty Cainites were doing!

Fourth; the eminent scholar, Delitzsch, who leaned toward the "angel" theory realized the insuperability of the psycho-physiological difficulty in relation to sexless spirit-beings like the angels, tried to take a half-way position. He says: "They were demons who accomplished what is here narrated, by means of men whom they made their instruments, who with demoniacal violence drew women within the radius of their enchantments, and made them subserve the purpose of their sensual lusts". Yet in reality there is no half-way position, for if they were men who so acted, even though under the urge of evil angels, they were still men. So the "angel" theory breaks down. But what exegesis is it which makes "sons of God" into demon-possessed sensualists?

The theory also has it that their offspring were half angel half human, and God had to destroy them. Apparently He was not entirely successful for they have become the demons on earth today. So here we have a bizarre idea that demons were once half-angel and half human.

So the "sons of God" in Genesis 6 were the godly sons of Seth for there are two clearly demarcated lines - Seth and Cain. The Seth line is the Messianic line, the line of the elect. The moral traits of that line give added appropriateness to the title, "sons of God." The development of the narrative from Gen.3-7 adds confirmation. We see incidental corroborations in verse after verse of the chapter, and in the words of Jesus concerning "the days of Noah." Also, again and again we find the godly called the sons of God, even though not in the exact Hebrew wording of Genesis 6:2. The angel theorists claim the title 'sons of God is used exclusively of angels in the OT' (p.144 Answers Book CMI). This is not true. Note, the word "Sons" is the same Hebrew word as Gen.6:2:

"Ye are the sons of Jehovah" Deut.14:1. ('Every spiritual Israelite is indeed a child of God', Matthew, Henry)
"Thy sons" (i.e., of Elohim) Psa.73:15. ('Ye are gods...' or 'like God'. All of them said to be Children of God')
"Sons of the Most High"Psa.82:6. (29:1 89:6)
"Bring My sons from far" Isa.43:6.
"Thou hast slain My sons" Eze.16:21.
"Sons of the living God" Hosea 1:10. ("Not children after the flesh...but a people of God'. Wesley)

Specially note Psa.82:6 and Hosea 1:10, the expression "sons of Elyon" and "sons of Elkhayee" is practically the equivalent of "sons of Elohim" in Gen.6:2. Note also "Thy sons" in Psa.73:15. All through this Psalm the name of God is Elohim (vs 1, 26, 28) or El (vs 2, 17). So "Thy sons" means sons of Elohim. Surely this is the end of the claim only angels are "sons of Elohim"! Note also Jesus used the exact Greek equivalent of the Hebrew in Mt.5:9 "Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the sons of God."

So the claim that the expression is only used in the NT of those who are Christian believers of the Church age is untrue. And if, as some think, the "sons of God" in Job 1:6 and 2:1 were not angels but godly men (see Appendix), then the demolition of the angel-theory is more pronounced.


So the "sons of God" in Gen.6:2 were the godly sons of the Seth line. And if some ask: What then of "the angels that sinned" and who are mentioned in 2 Pe.2:4 and Jude 6? We reply that there are not a few hints and clues given to us in Scripture on that score, into which we cannot go here, but which we briefly review in an Appendix to this study.

There is a great and serious lesson in Gen.6. After we settle in our minds that those "sons of God" were indeed the men of the Seth line. We are confronted with a warning which recurs in Scripture, namely, the need for separation of God's people from the people of the world. Seen in the calling-out and separation of Abraham and his family. The segregation of Israel in Egypt. The baneful influence of the "mixed multitude" who came up with Israel from Egypt The lapse of Israel's sons with Moab's daughters. The strict regulations imposed on Israel in connection with the occupation of Canaan. Seen in the sorrows and servitudes which accompanied Israel's later compromises, and in the banishing of the tribes into exile.

The same lesson is brought home again and again, in the history of the organised Christian church from sub-apostolic times to this day. One of the most difficult lessons to learn; yet written in stark, black letters right through Scripture and right through the centuries for us to read. Neglect of it results in religious confusion, moral breakdown, and divine judgment. As Calvin wrote, "Moses points it out as the most extreme disorder; when the sons of the pious, whom God had separated to himself from others, as a peculiar and hidden treasure, became degenerate". (Commentary on Genesis. ch.1-10 John Calvin)

This lesson is more important today for God's people than ever before in church history. Today there is a complexity in life, a multiplicity of subtle inducements to a false "broad-mindedness". A herding of vast populations into small areas, a loose attitude to the authority of the Bible, and a religious-flavoured humanism floating about. All which makes compromise easier, perhaps than ever before. And there is the old plea that we simply must make concessions on this or that if our message is to be acceptable to the worldly crowd. But we never really lift men by going down to their level. And not where moral principles are concerned.

The call to us today is to renew our separation. All around us we see blurred principles and lowered morals, and the organized church seems stricken with spiritual paralysis. The result of compromise. The "sons of God" are to be a separated people. Sonship and separation are two ideals which go together again and again in Scripture. Surely Paul had this in mind in 2 Cor.6:17 -

"Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye SEPARATE, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My SONS AND DAUGHTERS, saith the Lord Almighty."



Kurtz's argument is that the necessity for the Flood, and the total destruction of Adam's race, can only be accounted for on the supposition that "the angels who sinned" had perpetrated the sex outrage. But if it was for the sinning of angels the Flood came, then the sinning angels needed judgment and destruction, not outraged mankind.

There is a further remark of Kurtz. He says that when God commenced a new race with Abraham, He did not deem it necessary to destroy all others. Why then did He destroy all others when He started a new race with Noah, unless it was for some monstrosity which angels (supposedly) committed?

This is speculative and hypothetical reasoning. All we need are the plain biblical facts. There is no parallel between Noah's time and Abraham's time. Kurtz apparently forgets three simple factors in the antediluvian age which no longer operated in Abraham's day. (1) the extraordinary longevity of human life, which gave perverted human nature extraordinary knowledge, power and opportunity for wickedness; (2) the existence of one universal language among all people on earth, which facilitated collective evil-doing; (3) organized human government had not then been instituted: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

In Abraham's time the duration of human life had been cut down almost to what it is today; and the "confusion" of language had been introduced at Babel; and the restraint of human government had been imposed. So there is simply no parallel between Noah's time and Abraham's. Also God would have violated His own covenant and promise if He destroyed the race again in Abraham's time. He had given mankind the promise of Gen.8:21, 22 "I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remains, seed tithe and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease".


As we have said, there are those who hold that the "sons of God" who "came to present themselves before the Lord," in Job 1.6 and 2:1 were not angels but godly men. For instance Mr George Rapkin in his book on Genesis says -

"We have, in the Book of Job, the statement in 1:6 and 2:1, `The sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord.' The expression here for 'sons of God' is the same as in the Hebrew of Genesis 6:2, namely, beni ha Elohim. It has been concluded by scholars that Moses was the author of the Book of Job, and that he (Job) lived in the Patriarchal period, probably before the Flood. Here, again, is the expression, 'the presence of the Lord.'Now can it be assumed that the angels are not always in His presence? But these beni ha Elohim were not always there, and came at a certain season for this purpose.

"The story of Job opens by telling of a devout father, who, when he knew his children were feasting, offered sacrifice for them, lest they should have blasphemed God. Then came the day of appearing before God, and of Satan being granted the permission to harass the father.

"The 'sons of God' were the godly men of the time who came for worship in the presence of the Lord. They came before the Lord just as David later urged the congregation to do, when urging thanks giving. Coming before the Lord and entering His presence is not so striking when we find the Bible speaking of men and congregations doing this. Nimrod is said to have been a 'mighty hunter before the Lord,' but we do not stretch our fanciful imagination to the extent of saying he must have been an angel. Now Job and his sons, with other righteous men, were the sons of God who presented themselves before the Lord for the act of worship and sacrifice, the father then acting as the head, or priest, of the family worship and sacrifice.

Mr. Rapkin is not alone in this view. The Book of Job is perhaps the oldest in the Bible. It goes back to earliest times, when there seems to have been visible manifestation of the divine presence among men, in connection with their worship. These "sons of God" in Job came before "the presence of Jehovah" and it was from the same "presence" that "Satan went forth." The same expression as in Gen.4:6 where "Cain went out from the presence of Jehovah"; and the same with Jonah who fled "from the presence of Jehovah" (Jonah 1:3, 10).

None would say Cain or Jonah were going out from some audience with God in heaven! They were both on earth, they passed out from some visible presence of God on earth (which, incidentally gives the lie to those who stupidly imagine that Jonah thought he could escape from the general presence of God. Jonah's own words in vs.9 should have shown otherwise). So, the "sons of God" in Job were not angels coming before God in heaven, but godly men coming before Jehovah on earth. Also the coming into "the presence of Jehovah" was voluntary ("the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah"); so that this was no compulsory report of angels and Satan to God. And also they came before Jehovah, which is especially a name of God toward man. We do not say, whether we accept this view; but if true, it leaves the angel-theory in ruin.


If the "sons of God" in Genesis 6 were not the "angels that sinned" (2 Pet. 2:4) and which "kept not their first estate" (Jude 6), then when did that fall of angels take place? This is a question which is certain to have arisen in some minds.

A preliminary caution is wise, perhaps, on such a subject: We must be careful not to mix human speculation with divine revelation. On this matter we can only know what the Spirit of inspiration has revealed; and there is a marked reserve about it in Scripture. It is worthy to note: Ez.28:12-15 and Isa.45:9-14 go beyond the kings of Tyre and Babylon.

We know that Satan's own fall was before the beginning of human history since he tempted Eve. It seems clear he was a prince and leader among angels, with great influence. And now the commanding power over fallen angels who operate with him. In Psa.78:49 we read of "evil angels." In Mat.25:41 we read of "the devil and his angels." In Rev.12;3-4 we read of the "dragon" whose "tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven"; and the ensuing verses interpret the "dragon" and these "stars" as "the devil" and "his angels" (7, 9), who fight against "Michael and his angels," but "prevail not."

We read also of evil spirit-beings, or more probably combines of spirit-beings, named "principalities and powers in the heavenlies" and "world rulers of this darkness, the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies" (Eph.3:10, 6:12, RV); and Satan is their leader for he is called "prince" (or ruler) having "power (or authority)of the air" (Eph.2:2).

He is also leader over "demons" ("Beelzebub, the prince of the demons," Mat.12:24-6), and these are so numerous as to make Satan's influence practically ubiquitous (see Mk.5:9, demon-spirits are called "Legion", indicating numerousness and organized warfare). These may be the same as the evil angels, though that is a point on which there is not absolute certainty. But, it is clear that over all these various spirit-beings and combines Satan is lord and leader.

It is also clear this awful being has special relationship with this world. Our Lord calls him "the prince (or ruler) of this world" (Jn.12:31 14:30, 16:11). In 2 Cor.4:4 he is called "the god of this age." It was he who, at the very beginning, inveigled our first parents, in Eden, thus bringing about the fall of mankind. In Job, we see him "going to and fro in the earth" (Job 1:7, 2:2). And other OT passages make it easy to believe that Satan was not always evil or created evil.

In Ezekiel the phraseology takes us beyond the king of Tyrus to an angelic being, created by God. The expression in vs.18, "Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries," is in the singular in many Hebrew manuscripts - "Thou hast defiled thy sanctuary," and it immediately sets up a connection in our minds with Jude's words about the angels who "left their own habitation."

Then, of course Isa.14:9-15, has an underlying mystic reference to Satan, in eternity, and his effect over the present world-system. Some scholars who limit these passages in Ezekiel and Isaiah simply to Tyrus and Babylon. But others insist these and other passages like Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 have a secondary application and Ezekiel 38 and Isaiah 14 have a deeper reference to Satan.

Besides, even when we have allowed for poetic license or florid Orientalism, some of the expressions simply cannot be limited to Tyrus or Babylon. For instance, to pick just one such expression out: "I will exalt my throne above the stars of God." We have seen how the "stars of heaven" in Rev.12 are angels. So is it in Job 38:7 "the morning stars sang together." But whether the "stars" in Isa.14 are angels or literal stars, the king of Babylon never envisaged such a conquest as that! And these references to Satan tally with the many other hints and clues and statements scattered through the Scriptures concerning Satan.

And what do we learn from these passages when taken with the various other revelations of Scripture concerning Satan and the fallen angels and other evil spirit-agencies? First we see that the fall of Satan was likely before the creation of man. Second, the fall of the evil spirit-powers over whom Satan is prince is connected with his fall, and presumably happened at or about the same juncture. Third, there is no word or suggestion of any fall of angels subsequent to the beginning of human history. We need say no more along this line. Speculation is easy and tempting: but enough has been said to show that the fall of angels spoken of in 2 Peter 2:4, and Jude 6 may well have taken place in eternity and coincided with the fall of Satan himself.


(S.R. Schrader (B.S M.Div. Th.M. Th.D)

(1) Elohim in Scripture is used in reference to human leaders in Ex 21:6; Ps 82:1. It is significant that in verse 6 Elohim (judges) is synonymous with benelyon. Note, "I said, 'Ye are gods and all of you children (sons) of the Most High!" So one cannot say that sons of God is never used with reference to men in the O.T.

(2) “Son of” is an idiom, meaning to bear the character of someone or something. Thus, the judges in Israel were called sons of (Elohim) God because they bore His character in judgment among the Israelites.

(3) Elohim is used in an elative sense in the O.T in 23:6; 30:8; Ex 15:15; Jonah 3:3 meaning "mighty, great, or exceeding" (cf. in vs. 4 the mighty men ... of renown).

(4) The Aramaic targum Onkelos supports this view with sons of nobles, and so does Symmachus’ Greek translation (the sons of the kings or lords).

(5) Archaeology attests to the fact that a Near Eastern king would consistency be referred to as the son of his god (note: son of Re or Keret as Krt bn il = Keret, the son of the god).

(6) The offspring in vs.4 are depicted as mighty men which were of old, men of renown, i.e., men who made a name for themselves, a reputation. Compare Nimrod, a city founder, called a mighty one in the earth in 10:8, and a mighty hunter before the Lord in 10:9. Also, at Babel the desire was to make us a name (11:4) or a reputation.

(7) The context certainly provides a proper hermeneutic for understanding this in the light of the culture and language of the day. City building in 4:17, polygamy in 4:19, tyranny in 4:23–24, along with leaders taking law and order into their own hands for personal benefits, and warfare among the leaders in 4:23–24 are all described. These same sins have been committed since the Flood; but their combination and the widespread general wickedness caused God to judge the earth. Also, verse 3 records that God did strive with man, not angels.

(8) The Gilgamesh Epic and Sumerian flood stories introduce their flood accounts with allusions to the theme of kingship, centring in cities whose kings had their own sons appointed as kings, much like chapter 4.

(9) The nepilim, in Arabic, means princes born into royal houses.

This view does the most justice to a grammatical, historical, and literal method of interpretation, in addition to the exegetical data; and it contains the fewest problems of all the views.

God said, ‘My spirit shall not always strive with man’. Two interpretations are possible: (1) a reference to the Holy Spirit striving, in the sense of judging or executing judgment on mankind for its sinfulness or (2) a reference to the fact the human spirit that God placed in human beings would not always abide. That is, mankind was doomed to death. Man was given 120 years after this warning before the Flood judgment actually came. This verse poses a problem for the view that the sons of God were angels.

(KJV Bible commentary 1997 Thomas Nelson: Nashville)