Who were the Sons of God & Nephilim? — an explanation of Genesis 6:1-4 

Who were the Sons of God & Nephilim? — an explanation of Genesis 6:1-4

Genesis 6:1 (NKJV)
6 Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.

Now, “sons of God” here has been misunderstood to mean fallen angels due to some instances in the Book of Job (namely, Job 1:6, Job 2:1 & 38:7)

Job 1:6 (NKJV)
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.

Job 2:1 (NKJV)
2 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 (NKJV)
7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

But both refer to two completely different entities; we would have to depend on the context to clarify which is which. Contextual usage of Bible terminologies is a law in Bible interpretation that states that words, terms & concepts MUST be understood within the manner in which they were used in a particular text. An overgeneralization would be unwise.

The context of Job 38, for example, speaks of the creation of the earth

The antecedent text (what came before) bears this out

Job 38:4-6 (NKJV)
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone,

The earth and everything else was created for man (Genesis 1:29-30) including angels, they were created to serve man not God (Hebrews 1:13-14). So because this is in reference to the beginning of the world, verse 7 refers to the creation of angels. Hence “sons of God” in the Book of Job would refer to angels.

But the context of Genesis 6 on the other hand is quite different. Remember, this is the Book of Genesis (begettings). The first three chapters of the Book were written via a vision (Moses wasn’t there physically when the events played out). The remaining fourty-seven chapters however, were historical facts passed down by tradition to Moses and were documented by him (this is made apparent by the aggregate of actual past events, places and personalities which Moses records, such as Adam’s genealogy in Gen. 5, a war in Gen. 14:1-12; King Melchizedek in vs. 18, Abraham’s death & burial in the cave of Machpelah in Gen. 24:11, a famine in Gen. 26:1, Pharaoh’s dream at the end of two full years in Genesis 41:1 etc. See also Gen. 19:36-38, 22:14, 26:32-33, 32:30-32, 35:20; note the recurrent phrase “to this day” indicating actual places, persons and events known even in his day). Hence, they must be understood and treated that way.

Historically, the “sons of God” here (Genesis 6:2) are in reference to the descendants of Seth (Genesis 4:25-26, 5:6-32). A morally upright race; a generation which sought after God, so much so that they were referred to as “the sons of God.” These were MEN and not angels. Such nomenclature was a privilege to that generation because they believed in God just like those in John 1:12-13. At that time of human existence, there were two MAJOR bloodlines on the Earth, the descendants of Seth & the descendants of Cain. The “sons of God” being descendants of Seth (or Sethites), the pure line of Adam. The “daughters of men” are viewed as the descendants of Cain (or Cainites). (Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai; Augustine of Hippo; Julius Africanus; Saint Clement, Bamberger 2006 , pp. 150, 151).

In other words, good men (“the sons of God”) started intermarrying with “the daughters of men” (daughters from the generation that had no regard for God). The word “son” to the Hebrews has SEVERAL meanings/implications, one of which refers to one who imbibes the same personality traits as another, acts like another; one whose thoughts & actions are controlled by the will of another (the “father”). When used in the context of God, it would refer the pious; those who obey God & do His will (see Matthew 5:9 & Luke 6:32-36). It is in this manner that Moses uses the term in Genesis 6:2, not in reference to angels.

Genesis 6:3 (NKJV)
3 And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

And so it was that the evil company which they kept corrupted them. These good men became morally degenerate and joined in the sins of the “sons of men”.

Genesis 6:4 (NKJV)
4 There were giants (nephilim) on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

This is another instance that gave rise to the misconception that the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 were angels. Many believe that these angels mated with women and had deformed human babies (“nephilim”); giants. That is absurd!

Hear Jesus

Matthew 22:29-30 (NKJV)
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they NEITHER MARRY NOR ARE GIVEN IN MARRIAGE, but ARE LIKE ANGELS OF GOD IN HEAVEN.

Angels are spiritual beings! They CANNOT engage in sexual intercourse with men. Their form won’t allow it (see Exodus 3:2, Judges 13:16, 19-20, Hebrews 1:7). They did occasionally take on the form of men but not for sexual purposes but to relay a divine message (as in Genesis 18, see also Hebrews 13:2). And this was mostly just an illusion to conceal their true identity to the human eye, nothing more. They are spirit beings, not humans. Hence, there can be no such thing as a “spirit spouse” (Spirits having intimate relationships with humans). That is simply demonic oppressions of the mind!

The word “nephilim” (in Genesis 6:4) is derived from another Hebrew word “naphal” which refers to a tree feller. The highlighted property of such a one is incredible strength. Hence, a comparison is drawn and used to describe these giants on the Earth at the time. “Nephilim” simply refers to a very strong man. An example of such a one in the Old Testament Scriptures is the giant Goliath

1 Samuel 17:4 (NKJV)
4 And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.

Also the giants in the City of Jericho

Numbers 13:33 (NKJV)
33 There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

See that? If anything, this would refer merely to genetics; very tall and strong men. Nothing spiritual about that.

Notice that there were already giants on the earth before the sons of God “came into the daughters of men.”

Genesis 6:4 (NKJV)
4 There were giants (nephilim) on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

“..and also afterward.”

Note that. That is, before and after! They were not a product of sexual relationship between angels and man. These “giants” are explained in the same verse:

“..Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.”

“Those” here is “hem” in the Hebrew. It means “the same.” That is, it is further describing the “giants” who were on the earth. The author (Moses) calls them “mighty men” which is in the Hebrew “gibbor.” It refers to “strong, valient men. Men of valour.” The same word was used in the following texts (in the uppercase)

Joshua 10:2 (NKJV)
2 that they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its MEN WERE MIGHTY.

1 Samuel 2:4 (NKJV)
4 “The bows of THE MIGHTY MEN are broken, and those who stumbled are girded with strength.

1 Kings 1:8 (NKJV)
8 But Zadok the priest, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and the MIGHTY MEN who belonged to David were not with Adonijah.

2 Kings 24:16 (NKJV)
16 All the VALIANT MEN, seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths, one thousand, all who were strong and fit for war, these the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon.

It doesn’t necessarily refer to giants, it simply refers to mighty men, men of strength.

“..Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

“Renown” here is “shem” in the Hebrew. It means “honour, authority, reputation.” The same word is used in Genesis 12:2

Genesis 12:2 (NKJV)
2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your NAME GREAT; and you shall be a blessing.

Also in Zephaniah 3:20

Zephaniah 3:20 (NKJV)
20 At that time I will bring you back, even at the time I gather you; for I will give you FAME and praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I return your captives before your eyes,” says the Lord.

These “giants” were men who had places of authority in the time of Noah, men who had reputation. Not offsprings of angels!

Now, two portions of Scripture from the Epistles (Romans to Jude) seemingly pose a contradiction to this interpretation.

The first is 2 Peter 2:4-5. Many have said that the angels referred to here are those who had sexual relationships with women in Genesis 6. But nothing in the text implies that. We see that Peter refers to two separate occurrences.

2 Peter 2:4 (NKJV) — some original words in the text have been inserted with a little interpolation

4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell (tartaroó— this refers to the state of fallen angels rather than a place. They have been cast down from a higher state of authority) and delivered them into chains of darkness (this is in reference to the spirit of the fallen angels, they are yielded to darkness as unto chains. This is describing a state), to be reserved for judgment;

Obviously, this doesn’t refer to Noah’s days but the rebellion of the fallen angels led by Satan to tempt man and usurp his authority (see Genesis 3 & “When Exactly Did The Fall of Satan Happen” by Josh Banks)

5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly;

“And” here separates both events. It serves the purpose of a conjunction. So Peter describes two COMPLETELY different events: First the rebellion of Satan THEN the days of Noah. And observe that angels are not mentioned in the latter.

The second text is Jude 1:5-7

Jude 1:5 (NKJV)
5 But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.

Before we go any further, we must note that this is a TERRIBLE grammatical construction from the original Greek text. God did not destroy those who did not believe, He doesn’t destroy! (James 1:13, 1 John 1:5). The verb is not causative in the originals, there is an absence.

Hence, it is better read:
“..afterward those who did not believe [were] destroyed.”

“He” is not present in the originals. His work is to save and save ALONE. They were destroyed by their own unbelief (see Hebrews 3&4).

Jude 1:6 (NKJV)
6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;

“..who did not keep their proper domain”

“Keep” here is “téreó” in the Greek. It means “to maintain.” The word is used in 1 Corinthians 7:37 in reference to a virgin. It refers to maintaining a state.

The same word was also used in the following texts:

1 Timothy 5:22 (NKJV)
22 Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; KEEP YOURSELF PURE.

Ephesians 4:3 (NKJV)
3 endeavoring to KEEP the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

“..their proper domain”

“Proper” is the definitive “ho” in the Greek. It implies specifics/definites.

“Domain” is “arché” in the Greek. It means “the first place/position, the initial starting point.” The Old Testament equivalent (Septuagint LXX) of this is found in Gen. 40:13

Genesis 40:13 (NKJV)
13 Now within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you TO YOUR PLACE, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand ACCORDING TO THE FORMER MANNER, when you were his butler.

So, God initially gave these angels a place (definite function) but they did not maintain it. They went contrary to God’s initial plan; that was their sin. Now, what was that initial plan? They were to serve man! (Hebrews 1:13-14). The sin of these fallen angels was their refusal to wait upon man but rather, wanting to rule over him instead and not sexual relationships with man. That is very clear.

“..but left their own abode,”

“Left” is “apoleipo” in the Greek. It means “to desert, forsake.”

“Own” is “idios” in the Greek. It refers to “something peculiar to an individual.”

“Abode” is “oikétérion” in the Greek. It refers to “a dwelling place.”

So, their sin was that they deserted the dwelling place given to them by God! God created angels to serve man and they were supposed to perpetually dwell in this posture BUT these fallen angels abandoned their “duty posts” (as it were) and tried to usurp authority from man instead. This was their sin.

“..He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;

“He” is not in the originals as well. Their sin caused their fall and now they are reserved (téreó— kept) in that state.

“..everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;

This is not in reference to hell. This is the state of fallen angels NOW. “Everlasting” is “aidios” in the Greek. It actually refers to an irreversible state. It is derived from “aei” which means “unceasingly, perpetually.”

“Chains” is “desmos” in the Greek. It is used metaphorically here to refer to “imprisonment, a state of bondage.”

“Under” is “hupo” in the Greek. It means “subject to the power of.”

“Darkness” is “zophos” in the Greek. It means “murkiness, a state of gloom so dense that it can felt i.e indescribable despair.” This is the state of the fallen angels now. They are perpetually in an irreversible state of imprisonment to darkness. Jude 1 is explaining their state.

There is a future judgment that awaits these fallen angels but it is yet to happen.

Matthew 8:28-29 (NKJV)
28 When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. 29 And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us BEFORE THE TIME?”

Matthew 25:41 (NKJV)
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS:

Now, here is the bone of contention.

Jude 1:7 (NKJV)
7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them IN A SIMILAR MANNER TO THESE, HAVING GIVEN THEMSELVES OVER TO sexual IMMORALITY and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Many use this to say that angels did have sexual relations with men and Sodom and Gomorrah are likened to them here because of the phrase “in a similar manner to these.” But read carefully, the comparison is in the fact that men left God’s original plan and not in relation with sexual immorality.

The antecedent text (what came before) proves this

Jude 1:4 (NKJV)
4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

As well as the succedent text (what came after)

Jude 1:8 (NKJV)
8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.

The context is talking of those who left God’s will and not sexual sin! (Although sexual sin is a part of this, as in the case of Sodom & Gomorrah).

This article was put together to help those who have wondered about the right interpretation of Genesis 6:1-4 and are honest enough to receive what the Bible really teaches concerning same. I trust this helped. Let me know. Share with a friend too.


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2020.


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