The sons of God and the daughters of men

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

Genesis 6:1-4

Who were these sons of God?  There are three theories as to their identity.

One is that the sons of God were descendants of Seth while the daughters of men were descendants of Cain.  It was a case of worshipers of God marrying those who did not serve him.  The modern equivalent would be someone who is saved marrying someone who isn’t a Christian.  There are two problems with this theory.

The first is that while believers are often called sons of God in the New Testament they are never called that in the Old.  The earliest use of sons of God being applied to believers is in Matthew 5:19.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

The second problem is that if it were simply a case of saved and unsaved people marrying, wouldn’t the sons of men sometimes marry the daughters of God?  Saved women are just as likely to marry unsaved men as saved men are to marry unsaved women.

The second theory is that sons of God was a title used by the rulers and this speaks of them marrying more than one wife.  Lamech, a descendant of Cain, did have two wives.

And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.

Genesis 4:19

This is a possibility but I have never read of any place in the Bible where a ruler called himself a son of God.

The third theory is that the sons of God were fallen angels, who followed Satan in his rebellion against God.  This is supported by the fact that the book of Job speaks of sons of God and they are clearly angels.  Job 1:6 and 2:1 speak of Satan being among the sons of God when they presented themselves before God and they are also mentioned in Job 38:4-7.

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

The events in Job took place before the time of Moses and some scholars think that Moses wrote the book.  Even if the book itself was written later the Israelites were probably familiar with the events in it and naturally this meaning would come to mind.

Angels are spirits but they can take on human form.  Some people have interacted with them without realizing that they are angels.  The account in Genesis seems to indicate that they are capable of procreation with humans when they are in human form.

(Angels are usually pictured as having wings.  It seems unlikely that anyone would mistake them for humans if that were true.  Cherubim and seraphim have wings and some believe that these are classes of angels.  Angels, cherubim, and seraphim are three distinct kinds of beings and the fact that cherubim and seraphim have wings does not prove that angels do.)

The Genesis account say, “the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive”.  Why would angels find humans attractive?  I can think of one possible explanation.  Angels were created to serve God and were designed so that they desired a close relationship with him.  The angels who rebelled were cut off from this relationship and were looking for a substitute.  Humans are created in God’s image and this similarity to God caused the angels to be attracted to them.

Where are the sons of God today?  Are they still at large seducing and marrying human women?  Perhaps Jude has the answer.

The angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.

He doesn’t say that these are the angels who married humans but it seems likely that is the case.  Most of the angels who followed Satan are still at large helping him carry out his rebellion against God, but these are already confined so they can’t do any more harm to humans.

Posted on January 11, 2017, in Bible study and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Interesting, thanks Clyde


  2. Interesting and well-considered. I happen to love that passage from Job.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t have a firm position on this, but I do tend to side with the third theory. I’ve also heard that one of the reasons why the sons of God took the daughters of men to be their wives was to corrupt the line of descent towards the Messiah. Of course God put an end to that with the flood, and now the offenders are kept in eternal chains for their deeds.

    Liked by 1 person

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