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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)
STUDIES IN PROBLEM TEXTS" 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".
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.
So there we are; they have no reply. Yet this one psycho-physiological objection is enough to discredit the theory.
OTHER DIFFICULTIES OF THE ANGEL 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
"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)
(2) THE WEAKNESS OF THE OBJECTIONS
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."
(3) THE UNTENABLENESS OF SUGGESTED ALTERNATIVES
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.
THE ABIDING LESSON
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
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".
ON THE "SONS OF GOD" IN THE BOOK OF JOB
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.
ON THE ANGELS THAT SINNED
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.
NINE REASONS WHY 'SONS OF GOD' CAN REFER TO 'MEN'.
(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)