Sons of God

Posted by Matt Postiff April 23, 2014 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Bible Texts 

This post is about Genesis 6:1-7 and particularly concerns the identity of the sons of God in verse 4.

Someone sent me an article from on the subject. Using the article's numbering system, view #1 is the view that the authors embrace, namely that the sons of God are fallen angels. This post explains that this view is the least Biblical view. God created everything to reproduce according to its kind (Genesis 1:11 and many others). The angel kind and the human kind are not compatible. That closes the case and points us elsewhere for the correct interpretation.

As to their objections to view #2 (sons of God = powerful rulers) or #3 (sons of God = godly line of Seth), they write:

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 forbade powerful human males or descendants of Seth to marry ordinary human females or descendants of Cain? 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.

I respond to the first objection: the information that God placed into human genome can easily account for the production of giant humans. There are humans known to reach 8 feet in height in the modern era, and no reason why humans could not grow to a tremendous stature under the right conditions and with the right genes. In fact, the text mentions the giants first, before the sons of God are mentioned.

I respond to the second objection: the Bible tells us precisely why God sent the flood on the earth, and that is because "the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." God's sorrow at making man refers to the entirety of mankind, not just the sons of God and daughters of men. God's statement about his Spirit not striving with man occurs BEFORE the giants and BEFORE the sons of God are mentioned, so they are not the sole reason for His judgment.

As far as the support that the article marshals for its view (sons of God = fallen angels), it is quite lacking.

1. The authors say that the phrase "sons of God" always refers to angels in the Old Testament. I note in response that in the New Testament the same phrase always refers to humans, and always believing humans. This would support view #3 (sons of God = godly descendants of Seth or godly men more generally). Further, the other citations in the Old Testament are limited to the book of Job. Nowhere else in Moses do we find the exact phrase. God does refer to Israel as His son (Exodus 4:22) which at least slightly undermines the article's argument.

2. The authors say that angels can appear in human form. The simplest explanation for the perverted desire of the Sodomites was that they thought the angels were actually human men because they appeared to be so.

3. The authors suggest that angels can replicate human sexuality. This is an utter speculation that is not explicitly backed by any other Scripture (I include Jude 6 in that statement).

A fourth interpretation is held by some interpreters, that the fallen angels (= demons) indwelt men and heightened their evil desires and actions (MacArthur Study Bible, note at Genesis 6:2). This is basically a variation of view #1.

Let me review then the different interpretations: 1) The sons of God = fallen angels is impossible for the above reasons. To re-emphasize, this view breaks the "according to its kind" principle is far more problematic than the remaining views because it calls into question the veracity of God's word in the earlier chapters of Genesis and ultimately casts doubt on the operation of the created order. 2) The sons of God = powerful human rulers is far better, but the appellation "sons of God" seems too positive for such people. 3) The sons of God = godly line of Seth is the most reasonable. However, I grant there is a problem that these supposedly godly men erred in taking ungodly wives, which is not right but altogether too common down to the present day. 4) The sons of God = demon-possessed people cannot be sustained in the sense that nowhere else are demon-possessed people called by the positive term "sons of God."

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