Apparently this is quite the interesting argument in Christian circles. When reading Genesis 6, the KJV says in verses 2-4: “That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. 3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. 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.”
There are two main positions on this matter that I have encountered over the years. One believes that the “sons of God” mentioned here are angels (fallen angels, to be more specific). The other side believes them to be the “sons of Seth”, or a godly line of male descendants from Adam’s “good” son who fell for the secular line of Adam’s “bad” son, Cain.
*A third position has been brought to my attention recently, and it is the most intriguing of the non-angels arguments. The “sons of God” are those humans (whether of Seth, Cain, or their descendants) who remained faithful to God. I will refer to this as the “Faithful Few” position.
The “Seth” proponents point to Hebrews 1:5 which says “5For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?”
Let’s break this down a little. This verse is saying that God has never said the words “thou art my Son” to an angel, therefore, the “sons of God” could not have possibly been angels.
HOWEVER, the next words are “this day have I begotten thee.” This is important because Jesus Christ is the ONLY BEGOTTEN SON (John 3:16). Begotten is an incredible important word here. Christians are “sons of God” through our Faith. We are essentially adopted into the family of God when we get saved. The angels are “sons of God” through creation. Adam is a “son of God” (Luke 3:38) through creation as well. ONLY Jesus Christ was born into this world as the Son of God. He is the only one who is begotten.
There are no “sons of God” mentioned in any Scripture that were begotten by humans, but I will go into more detail on this later.
The NIV and MEV (among others) leave out the word begotten here; a grave error in translation. The NIV, ESV, and others also leave “begotten” out of John 3:16. Whether you believe Genesis 6 is referring to angels or sons of Seth, someone other than Christ can be a “son of God”. Leaving out “begotten” is incredibly dangerous as it removes the deity from Jesus Christ, but I digress.
When the “sons of Seth” side leaves out “begotten” when they argue Hebrews 1:5, they are making a huge error. Their use of the verse to counter Genesis 6 is faulty.
They also claim that the very idea of the “sons of God” being angels comes from the “Book of Enoch” ch. 6 and 7 where the fallen angel leader “Semjaza” devised a plan to mate with human women and his followers made a pact to go through with the plan no matter what.
The Book of Enoch is, of course, not a book of the Bible. Therefore, the very idea that the angels are “sons of God” must be extra-Biblical as well. Right? That’s like arguing that since Jesus in mentioned in the Quran, that we should dismiss his mentions in the Bible.
Well, here is MY POSITION.
The “sons of God” are angels. In Genesis 6, they are fallen angels who came to Earth and did produce hybrid offspring with human females.
Yes, I know that this is a very strange concept, but bear with me through my arguments.
The Law of First Mention
The Law (sometimes called “principle” or “rule”) of First Mention is a Biblical hermeneutic (or method of study) that demonstrates that a word or phrase retains the same meaning throughout Scripture as it has when first mentioned. The meaning can change when the context changes, but first mention is key to comparing Scripture with Scripture to define Biblical concepts.
Genesis 6 is the first mention of the “sons of God.” If, as I argue, they are angels, then that should become more obvious in other passages. Here is a list of all the remaining times this phrase is used:
Job 1:6, 2:1, and 38:7 seem to be referencing angels (more on that in the next section).
Then the context changes, as all the remaining verses are found in the New Testament and refer to Christians – John 1:12, Romans 8:14, Romans 8:19, Philippians 2:15, 1 John 3:1-2
*Another rendering is “sons of the LIVING God” in Hosea 1:10, which reads, “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.”
*This argument was presented as a means to show that the sons of God are, in fact, begotten humans, as this passage is referring to the children of Israel. However, careful study of this passage demonstrates that 1. this is a contextual change so First Mention is not the same as the verses in Genesis and Job, and 2. this verse is prophetic and does not refer to the children of Israel as the group that existed at the time the passage was written. We can see it’s spiritual application for CHRISTIANS in Romans 9:25-26. Verse 25 says, “I will call them my people [Christians], which were not my people [Jews]” and verse 26 essentially repeats Hosea 1:10 (the notable change is Paul says, “children of the living God” rather than Hosea’s use of “sons”). Therefore, Hosea 1:10 is not referring to begotten Jews in ancient Israel, but to born again Jews in the “last days.”
*Further evidence for Hosea 1:10 being a future event is given in context of the rest of the passage. Verse 5 says, “And it SHALL come to pass AT THAT DAY” – a clear reference to future events. Verse 6 talks about God removing His mercy from Israel and they will be taken away. This happened from 70AD to 1948AD. In verse 11, the children of Israel AND Judah SHALL be gathered together and “they shall come up out of the land.” This is the restoration of Israel that began in 1948 and will be completed at the Second Advent.
*The “sons of the living God” refer to a spiritual son-ship, just as with Christians who are born again into the family of God.
BONUS – mentions of “Son of God”
Daniel 3:25 is a Christophany, or Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ, who stood in the fiery furnace. Luke 3:38 mentions Adam as a son of God. All other mentions of the “Son of God” are specifically about Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the ONLY BEGOTTEN SON of God. Adam, angels, and Christians are not “begotten” (Christians are not “sons of God” when we are begotten, but are “born again” spiritually to BECOME sons of God).
The book of Job (not Enoch) references angels as “sons of God”.
Job 38:4-7 has God asking Job “4Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
Did you catch that? When God was laying the foundations of the earth, the “sons of God” shouted for joy. Were the sons of Seth around when God was creating the earth? No. No human beings were. *This is the strongest argument against the Faithful Few. Clearly the “sons of God” are not human, so no sons of Seth or Faithful Few were around to fulfill this verse. However, there is more!
Job 1:6 (Job 2:1 says something quite similar) says “6Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.”
So here we are in heaven where God sits on his throne, and the “sons of God” present themselves alongside Satan. To me, this is a picture of the fallen angels walking behind their leader, Satan. Those who believe they are the “sons of Seth” have to reconcile how in the world those human souls made it to heaven and why Satan enters among them.
*The Faithful Few would say that Satan came along with the sons of God. This demonstrates that the Faithful Few were not only there first, but that Satan is not one of them, so they cannot be angels. However, they forget that Satan is a Cherub, not an angel. So yes, he is not one of the “sons of God.”
Another big problem is that the “old testament saints” did not go to heaven. They went to “Paradise” or “Abraham’s Bosom,” not the third heaven where God is seated. Neither the sons of Seth nor the Faithful Few could not have presented themselves to God in heaven, because they simply were not there.
Angels, however, were.
Furthermore, Jude 6 says “And the angels which kept not their principality but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.” This is a clear reference to the fallen angels. They “left their own habitation [heaven]” and came to Earth. I believe that they are “reserved in everlasting chains . . .” because they had sex and produced children with humans.
Finally, 2 Peter 2:4-5 states, “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 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;
Thus, the flood came upon the “world of the ungodly” when the “angels that sinned” were cast into hell. How did these angels sin? By mating with humans.
Most of us would agree that there are plenty of fallen angels roaming around on the Earth right now. This means that the Lord did not imprison all angels who sinned and fell. Why some and not others? I believe the answer is clear.
The hybrid offspring of angels and humans are the “giants” and “men of renown” in Genesis 6:4.
This is consistent with the idea that these half-angelic offspring would be supernatural supermen. If an angel and human had a child, I would imagine that child would be a giant (and we are talking GIANT – as in 9 – 12 feet tall, like Goliath). I would also imagine that it might have some supernatural abilities. Could these beings be worshiped as gods? Absolutely! In fact, I can think of no better explanation as to how the concept of the gods could so thoroughly infiltrate every civilization on the planet virtually simultaneously unless there was a common genesis (pun intended) for their existence. Furthermore, there are countless stories of the gods (angels?) creating demigods by having sex with human women.
It also makes sense of how giants could still be around after the Flood, when only Noah and his family were on the ark. I believe that either 1) one of Noah’s daughters-in-law (probably Ham’s wife given the Giants were in the land of Canaan, Ham’s oldest son, and Syria, part of Nimrod’s territory) may have carried some of the hybrid genes into the new world (see my Notes on Genesis 8-11); or 2) more fallen angels could have come and mated with humans again to produce entire races of giants like the Anakim of the giants of Gath, where Goliath and his brothers hailed from.
*The argument from the Faithful Few cites Acts 17:26, which says, “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;”
*They argue that “one blood” is a proof text that human blood could not have been tainted by the fallen angelic offspring, because that would mean there is more than one blood mixed in us. We do not know how widespread or prevalent this was (just a few people/angels or all but Noah), for how long (one generation or multiple), or how many offspring were Nephilim vs “mighty men” and “men of renown” (kings and demigods?) vs “normal.”
*Genesis 6:9 tells us, “These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.”
*Why perfect in generations? I believe his line was untouched from this wickedness. Noah had pure blood, untainted by the fallen angels. So when Acts 17:26 refers to the “one blood,” one only has to trace that line through Noah’s untainted bloodline, as all the others were wiped out in the flood, save for possibly Ham’s wife.
*If the bloodline was still tainted after the flood through Ham’s line, what happened to the giants after the flood? The Jews wiped them all out as they conquered the promised land. That genocide of the giants that continued until the sons of the giant were destroyed in 2 Samuel 21. There is no more tainted bloodline. The “one blood” argument is insufficient at disproving that the fallen angels mated with humans.
Angels are capable of producing offspring.
This is a point of contention that usually ends with the other side simply saying “I just don’t believe it,” although there is Biblical precedent that is often overlooked.
Opponents of the “sons of God” as angels who can mate with humans often point to Matt. 22:30 which says, “in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” We see that the angels in heaven do not marry, but the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 did. Therefore, they cannot be angels. Right?
The key here is “in heaven.” As I mentioned before, the fallen angels “left their habitation” (Jude 6). They were not in heaven.
“Yeah, but angels cannot produce offspring,” you might say. However, this has a simple response – they did in Genesis 6.
Genesis 3:15 says, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
God is speaking to Satan here, so “thy seed” means the offspring of Satan while “her seed” is referencing Jesus Christ. Satan can produce offspring. Therefore, fallen angels can likely produce offspring.
“But angels are spirits, not physical,” you might say. That’s a great point, however, Hebrews 13:2 tells us, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
If they were just spirits, I believe we would be aware.
Also, remember the “men” who visited Abraham (Gen. 18) and went to Sodom (Gen 19)? These were angels in a physical form that ate food (Gen. 19:3) and physically grabbed Lot (verse 10).
There is Biblical proof that angels physically ate, why would they not be able to procreate?
The “sons of Seth” were not a part of some special, godly line of believers.
There is no evidence that states otherwise. This took place centuries before the Law of God was written for God’s children (Israelites). A believer marrying an unbeliever was not a sin at this time like it would be later, and polygamy was actually quite common even after the flood (Abraham, Joseph, David, Solomon) and was rarely punished by God. It would take a fall of epic proportions to progress from a godly line of Seth to the destruction of all life on Earth save for those in the Ark.
Furthermore, there is absolutely ZERO evidence of the “sons of God” being the line of Seth in any other mention in the Bible. The aforementioned passages in Job are clearly not the sons of Seth, and in no other place are the sons of Seth found. In fact, the “sons of Seth” are not mentioned at all other than by name (Enos, for example) in the listed genealogies.
Just look at the text of Genesis 6. We see “sons of God” not “sons of Seth.” We see “daughters of men” not “daughters of Cain.” There is no mention of the daughters of men being ungodly or from whose line they belonged. The daughters of Seth and Cain were most likely included, and we have no idea of their religiosity.
*As I mentioned before, the Faithful Few is a superior challenge to the sons of God as angels. However, they just cannot explain away Job as easily as they might like.
This topic will continue to be debated, as both sides seem to be ingrained in their positions (which is common in almost all debates these days). However, there is more Biblical evidence to support that the “sons of God” are angels than there is to support that they are sons of Seth, or of any human being for that matter. It seems to me that the true “extra-Biblical” stance is to ascribe the non-Scripture based interpretation of the “sons of God” to anything other than angels.
What do I know, though? I’m not a “Bible scholar” and have never been to seminary. I’m just a regular guy who reads his King James Bible and tries to understand the worlds of the natural and supernatural in the way God intended me to.