"But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."
Matthew 24:37 KJV
The three primary views on the identity of the sons of God are 1) they were fallen angels, 2) they were powerful human rulers, or 3) they were godly descendants of Seth intermarrying with wicked descendants of Cain. Giving weight to the first theory is the fact that in the Old Testament the phrase “sons of God” always refers to angels (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7).
The weakness of views 2) and 3) is that ordinary human males marrying ordinary human females does not account for why the offspring were “giants” or “heroes of old, men of renown.” Further, why would God decide to bring the flood on the earth (Genesis 6:5-7) when God had never forbidden powerful human males or descendants of Seth to marry ordinary human females or descendants of Cain?
The most prevailing views today are the first (Angel View) and third (Line of Seth view). Let us examine each of them in more detail.
Sons of God: Angel View2 & 3
Unless you understand Genesis 6 you will not understand much of the Old Testament, much of the New Testament and will have a prophetic blind spot.2
Genesis 6:1-2 KJV, "1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, 2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose."
Genesis 6:1-2 is one sentence. The daughters of men were daughters that were born in general, not a subset. Some try to argue that the daughters of men are specific subset.2
Sons of God is translated from the Hebrew words Bene HaElohim and always refer to angels. As always, the Bible is the best commentary on the Bible. Consider:2
Job 1:6 "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them."
Job 2:1 "Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord."
Job 38:7 "When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
In the New Testament "sons of God" refers to believers. John 1:12, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:" In The Old Testament "sons of God" is never used to refer to believers.2
The Book of Enoch was non canon but was highly venerated by Jewish Scholars from second century AD to second century BC. In the book of Enoch "sons of God" were clearly understood to be angels.2
The Old Testament was translated into Greek 3 centuries before Christ was born. This translation was called the Septuagint. It is the the translation from which most New Testament quotes of the Old Testament were taken from. It is highly authoritative translation. It translates "Bene HaElohim" as angels.2
There is no way to escape the idea that the text implies that fallen angels came down and had intercourse with women that were offspring of Adam. It's bizarre and uncomfortable, but that is what the text says.
Daughters on Men - benoth adam = daughters of Adam
The text refers to the daughters of Adam, not the daughters of Cain or some other subset.
Genesis 6:4 "There were giants [Nephilim] 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."
Nephilim is translated as "giants" in the KJV Bible. The Nephilim were the result of the unnatural union between sons of God and daughters of men. Fallen angels were the parent and the Nephilim were the offspring. Notice the offspring were males "mighty men" and "men of renown."
Nephilim in Hebrew means the "fallen ones." It comes from the Hebrew verb Nephal which means to fall, be cast down to fall away, desert. HaGibborim means the mighty ones, the men or renown.
When this was translated into Greek (Septuagint) Nephilim was translated as gigantes, or transliterated as giants. They happened to be giants, but it was more than that. Gigantes came from gigas which means "earth born." The Hebrew translators said they were the "fallen ones" and the Greek translators called them the "earth born."
Genesis 6 is the prelude to the flood of Noah. As you study Genesis 6 you find some other strange remarks.
Genesis 6:9 "These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God."
Perfect: tamiym = Without blemish, sound, healthful, without spot, unimpaired"
Throughout Leviticus tamiym referred to offerings. they had to be perfect and without blemish. What does this mean that Noah had an unblemished genealogy?
As men began to multiply, fallen angels came down and began to contaminate the purity of the human race with these Nephilim. The Nephilim were the source of unusual violence. It became so corrupt that God had to do something about the earth.
Genesis 6:12 "And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth."
God sends the flood to wipe the corruption out. Another way of looking at the condition of the earth was that there was a gene pool problem in the human family tree.
If the above is true, we should see it in the New Testament, and indeed we do in at least three places.
Jude 6 & 7 "6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. 7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, 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."
These angels are set aside for special judgement. Strange: heteros other or different - such as angels and human flesh. Meaning flesh of a totally different kind.
2 Peter 2:4-5 "4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell [Tartarus], and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;"
Peter echos the same thing Jude says, but adds a few insights. He ties it to the days of Noah. These are angels that sinned. Where are they now? They are in a special holding place. They are not in Hell as we think of it, but in a place Peter calls Tartarus. The word Tartarus only appears here in the Greek New Testament.
Tartarus: Tartaroo the deepest abyss of Hades:
- Greek word for dark abode of woe
- Pit of darkness in the unseen world
- In Homer's lliad "...as far below Hades as the earth is below heaven..."
- This is not just a regular place, but a place that is really special.
Sons of God: Line of Seth View2 & 3
Summary of the Line of Seth View:
- "Sons of God" really refers to the Sethite Leadership?
- "Daughters of Adam" really refers to the Daughters of Cain
- Sin is the Failure to maintain separation
- No good definition of Nephilim in this view
Problems with this View:
- "Sons of God" never used for believers in Old Testament
- Seth was not God, Cain was not Adam (must change what God's Word says)
- No mention of Daughters of Elohinm
- Grammatical Antithesis ignored Psalm 81:1-7
Psalm 82:6-7 "6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. 7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes."
The lines not separated until Genesis 11. The separation was imposed on Isaac. Ishmael was not totally separate. Genesis 6:12 says "And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth." Note it says that all flesh was corrupted, not just one group.
Inferred Godliness of Seth:
Only Enoch and Noah's 8 family members were spared. Were there no other Godly people on earth? Noah's son's took wives "as they chose"? Why did the "Godly" Sethites perish in the flood? Enosh, Seth's son, initiated the defiance of God
Apostasy Began With Enosh
In this verse "call" could have been translated as "profane."
Genesis 4:26 "...then men began to call [profane] the name of the Lord."
In the days of Enosh is when apostasy began. This is a small point, but clouds the statement that the the line of Seth were the "good" guys.
Daughters of Cain:
The implication here is that the daughters of Cain were the bad guys. There is no basis for a subset of the daughters of Adam. The Cainites were not necessarily godless (Gen. 4:18). Many had God's name in theirs. Were the daughters of Seth so unattractive?
What are these Nephilim? They had supernatural offspring: "Mighty Men." When a believer and an unbeliever get married they may have a "monster" of a child, but it is not supernatural. Were there no X chromosomes among Sethites? Why were there no "women of reknown?"
New Testament Confirmations:
"In the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses:" Jude 6, 7; 1 Peter 3:19-20; 2 Peter 2:4-5 all support the "angel view" of Genesis 6. Even the unique use of Tartarus as a special holding cell for "special" prisoners. The New Testament corroborates the "angel" view of Genesis 6.
History of the Line of Seth View:
It had a 5th century origin. Celsus and Julian the Apostate used traditional belief in angels to attack Christianity. Julius Africanus resorted to the Sethite theory as more a "comfortable" position. Cyril of Alexandria used the "angel" view to repudiate the orthodox position. Augustine embraced the Sethite theory and became the doctrine of the Catholic church, and ultimately was derived in the denominational churches. It prevailed as the dominate view into the middle ages.
Summary and Conclusion
The two most popular beliefs as to what the Sons of God refer to in the Bible are 1) they were fallen angels, 2) they were godly descendants of Seth intermarrying with wicked descendants of Cain.
As we just saw the Sethite view presents several problems, including:
The oncoming judgment of Genesis 6:5-7 is linked to what took place in Genesis 6:1-4. Only the obscene, perverse marriage of fallen angels with human females would seem to justify such a harsh judgment of a world-wide flood.1
- The Text Itself: The Sons of God is translated from the Hebrew words Bene HaElohim and always refer to angels in the Old Testament, and the Hebrew words benoth adam refers to the daughters of Adam, not the daughters of Cain or some other subset.
- Inferred Separation: The lines not separated until Genesis 11. The separation was imposed on Isaac.
- Inferred Godliness of Sethites: Why did the "Godly" Sethites perish in the flood?
- Inferred Cainite subset Adamites: There is no basis for a subset of the daughters of Adam. The Cainites were not necessarily godless.
- Unatural Offspring: How did humans give birth to supernatural offspring, the Nephilim (giants)?
- New Testament Confirmations: Jude 6, 7; 1 Peter 3:19-20; 2 Peter 2:4-5 all support the "angel view" of Genesis 6.
- Post-flood & Prophetic Issues: You will be blind to if you adhere to Seth view.
"Angel" View Prior to the Birth of Christ Supported By: Traditional Rabbinical literature, Book of Enoch (2nd Century BC), Testimony of the 12 Patriarchs, Josephus Flavius, Septuagint (LXX), and others.
Early Church Fathers That Believed the "Angel" View Included: Philo of Alexandria, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Athenagoras, Tertullian, Lactantius, Amrose, Julian, and others.
Many good men can have different views of areas in the Bible. Genesis 6 is not one of those. If you accept anything other than the Angel View, you will not understand much of the Old Testament, much of the New Testament and will have a prophetic blind spot.
None of this really matters if you don't know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you think you are already saved, then I recommend you take the Salvation Test, just to make sure. Otherwise, you can learn how to be saved here.
1 Got Questions: Who were the sons of God and daughters of men in Genesis 6:1-4?
2 Jesus' Strange Prediction Part 1 - Chuck Missler
3 Jesus' Strange Prediction Part 2 - Chuck Missler
Nephilim - Additional Notes and Information
Commentary Jude 1:6-7
Commentary 2 Peter 2:4-6
Get notifications of new articles and Daily Inspirational Bible verses by Clicking Here.