And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose… 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 (mankind), and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:1-4).
There are two main views held by Christians regarding the “sons of God” mentioned in the above scripture. Some argue that the “sons of God” were the godly line of Seth and that when they married the ungodly line of Cain there was a breakdown in separation leading to apostasy and that this brought the judgment of the Flood.
The other view is that the sons of God were fallen angels who cohabitated with women to produce a hybrid race of giants; the purpose of which was to so corrupt the human bloodstream that the promise of the “seed of the woman” (Genesis 3:15) and the line of David, requiring a perfect man to be the Redeemer, could not be fulfilled. This article examines these views and seeks an accurate Scriptural answer.
Were the Sons of God the Godly Line of Seth?
First, let us consider the view that the sons of God were the Godly line of Seth. This view is based on the premise that angels cannot cohabitate with women and produce offspring. Therefore the “sons of God” must be normal human beings and since they are said to be “sons of God”, they must be Godly human beings, or from the Godly line of human beings, who had become corrupted.
This reasoning begs the question: Who were the Godly human beings in the days of Noah? The answer is clearly stated in Genesis 6:6,13; 7:1:
And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart… The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.
There was no Godly line of people existing in Noah’s day. Enoch had been taken to Paradise more than 500 years beforehand. Methuselah and Lamech died just before the Flood came. The reason given for the Flood was that “all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth” (Genesis 6:12).
Does an Unequal Yoke Produce Giant Offspring?
Let us suppose for a moment that it was because the Godly line had become corrupt that God sent the Flood. This raises another question. Would marriage between the Godly line of Seth and the ungodly line of Cain produce offspring that were giants? Of course not. Marriage between Christians and non-Christians produces normal human beings.
Those who hold this view have another problem; they have to redefine the word “giants” to mean “famous bullies”. Why then do we read of giants after the Flood who were men of great stature? Always, these giants are in an evil context requiring judgment. Scripture even tells us how tall these giants were; they terrified the spies who entered the land of Canaan and made them feel like grasshoppers for size. Og King of Bashan had an iron bedstead about 4 meters long! Goliath frightened Saul and the armies of Israel and Saul was no midget; he was head and shoulders above anybody in Israel!
To deny that the offspring of the sons of God and the daughters of men were giants is not honest exposition. The sexual union of the sons of God and the daughters of men produced extraordinarily tall men who were evil. They no doubt used their size to intimidate people.
If a Godly man married an ungodly woman would their offspring be a “giant”? Certainly not. To escape this conclusion it becomes necessary to deny these were tall men and to substitute “famous”, “notorious” or “bully” for “giants”. Evidence in Scripture and outside the Bible indicates that they were monsters who terrorized the people. They were extraordinary creatures. One giant had 6 fingers on each hand and 6 toes on each foot (2 Samuel 21:20). To change the word giant into “famous” or “bully” cannot be justified. The same Hebrew word for giants in Genesis 6:4 is used of the giants in the land of Canaan who were of great stature (Numbers 13:33). They were not ordinary men who were just tyrants.
And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight (Numbers 13:33).
There can be absolutely no doubt that the word for giants in Genesis 6 means men of great stature similar to those observed by the 12 spies who returned from the land of Canaan. If Og King of Bashan is any guide they were 4 meters tall and there were lots of them!
Can Angels Materialize?
Finally, those who believe that the sons of God were the godly line of Seth maintain that because angels are spirit beings and women are physical beings it is biologically impossible for an angel to procreate; but is this true? Christ was conceived of the Holy Spirit and angels are spirits.
The only source of information to help us on this question is the Bible and the Bible tells us that angels appeared as “men” and ate food. Bread, butter, milk and meat was prepared by Sarah “and they did eat”. Two angels appearing as men had a “feast” in Lot’s house (Genesis 19:3). These two spirit beings physically manhandled Lot, his wife and two daughters out of Sodom.
When these angels appeared as “men” to Abraham he “washed their feet”(Genesis 18:4). Their feet accumulated dust!!! Jacob wrestled with a “man” who was a spirit being; either an angel or the angel of the Lord. He said, “I have seen God face to face” (Genesis 32:30). Jacob was physically wounded in the struggle.
An angel rolled back the stone on Jesus’ tomb. There is no doubt angels can materialize.
Who does the Bible Say are the Sons of God?
The expression Son of God appears 47 times in the New Testament and is one of the titles given to the Lord Jesus to express His place in the Godhead with the Father and the Holy Spirit. It occurs once in the Old Testament when Christ appeared in the fiery furnace with Daniel’s three friends (Daniel 3:25).
The expression, “sons of God” appears 6 times in the New Testament and identifies those who have been “born again” of the Holy Spirit and thus are made members of the family of God.
The expression “sons of God” in the Old Testament occurs only five times; three times in the Book of Job (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7) where it can only mean angelic beings. The “sons of God” sang when the “foundations of the earth” were laid. No human being existed when the world was created! The other two instances occur in Genesis 6.
The expression “sons of God” cannot apply to Old Testament saints because Old Testament saints could NEVER be the “sons of God” under the old covenant. To become a son of God requires the “new birth” and that was not possible until the new covenant when the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost. Old Testament saints were servants but never “sons of God”. To be a New Testament “son of God” requires regeneration. Israel nationally was God’s son but individuals could not be sons of God. (Exodus 4:22-23).
Why are Daughters of MEN Mentioned?
The sons of God came in unto the daughters of men (human beings), and they bare children to them (Genesis 6:4).
Why are we told these women were “the daughters of men?” It is to distinguish them from the “sons of God”. Every daughter has a father. Every baby girl ever born was a daughter of some man but the Holy Spirit has used a word for “men” here that means “mankind” or “human beings”. The “sons of God” were spirit beings who materialized as distinct from normal human beings. The women they married were human beings; daughters of the human race. It would be unnecessary to state this if the union of normal men and women. The Holy Spirit repeats the statement to make the point sure. If it was a normal marriage it would not be necessary to say the women were human beings and the offspring would not be giants. But these “mighty” men were men of great physical strength. The Hebrew word means “powerful”. It wasn’t just some of their offspring who are so described but it was a common characteristic of all the offspring. It was because they were all part mankind and part angelic creatures.
When God created Adam the same Hebrew word is used; “Adham”. It is the Hebrew for “mankind in the collective sense”. See Zodhiates Word Study of the Old Testament.
Why would Scripture draw a distinction between “sons of God” and “daughters of men” if the “sons of God” were human beings? Wouldn’t the “sons of God” have men as fathers if in fact they were men? And there would be no point in stating that the women were daughters “of men” for every woman would have been a daughter of some man! The fact is that the “sons of God” were NOT human beings and they cohabitated with women who were humans. That is the point of the text!
Angels can Change their State
The angels were created by God before the world began. When God “laid the foundations of the earth… all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7).
At some time before the temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden, Satan, who was a shining Cherubim, was lifted up with pride and with one third of the angels of God attempted to overthrow the throne of God.
At some time Satan was given a position over the earth for when he tempted Christ on the mount of Temptation, he offered Jesus all the kingdoms of this world saying:
All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine (Luke 4:6-7).
The angels of God have different responsibilities. All the laws of God are controlled by angelic beings. Angels have limitations as to what they can do. Some angels however have left their first estate and have been placed under judgment. Jude tells us about these:
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. 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 (Jude 1:6-7).
Those angels that left their own habitation and like the homosexuals in Sodom went after “strange flesh”, i.e. flesh they were not entitled to and have therefore been confined to Tartaros (2 Peter 2:4). Tartaros is elsewhere called the “bottomless pit” or “abyss”; there these demons await future judgment.
Jude indicates that these angels that left their own habitation, sinned “IN LIKE MANNER” to the men of Sodom. The men of Sodom went outside the God-given boundaries of sexual activity allowed by God in marriage and in like manner, these fallen angels went outside the boundaries set by God for angels. In heaven angels do not have sexual relations with humans. In like manner! Nothing could be clearer.
The Perfect Humanity of Christ is Essential to Salvation
No sooner had Adam sinned than God promised a Redeemer who would be the “seed of the woman” who would break Satan’s power over mankind. The Bible states that it was necessary for Christ to become truly human in order to obtain redemption for mankind.
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrew 2:14).
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned…But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. (Roman 5:12-15).
The perfect humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ is just as important as His perfect Deity. “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). The early Church encountered the Gnostic heresy with its doceticism which denied the real humanity of Christ. After the Davidic Covenant, Satan could not corrupt the true humanity of Jesus but he could deny it was real. John wrote:
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world (1 John 4:1-3).
John began his epistles with an affirmation that Jesus Christ was truly human:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life … That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you (1 John 1:1-3).
John was counteracting the error of Doceticism which was a form of Gnosticism described as follows:
“Docetism, (from Greek dokein, “to seem”), Christian heresy and one of the earliest Christian sectarian doctrines, affirming that Christ did not have a real or natural body during his life on earth but only an apparent or phantom one. Though its incipient forms are alluded to in the New Testament, such as in the Letters of John (e.g., 1 John 4:1–3; 2 John 7), Docetism became more fully developed as an important doctrinal position of Gnosticism, a religious dualist system of belief arising in the 2nd century AD which held that matter was evil and the spirit good and claimed that salvation was attained only through esoteric knowledge, or gnosis. The heresy developed from speculations about the imperfection or essential impurity of matter”
Some gnostics taught that Jesus was not born as the Christ, the Saviour of the world, and that the Christ descended upon him at His baptism. Irenaeus the disciple of John, denounced this view in the 2nd century. The Jehovah’s Witness people have a form of gnosticism today.
Gnostics reasoned that if matter was evil then Jesus could not have a material body and so this false doctrine was preached in the first three centuries. They maintained that Jesus only “seemed” to be truly human. John, his disciple Irenaeus, and Hippolytus the disciple of Irenaeus, exposed this error as did Ignatius in the 2nd century. Thus the docetists could not accept the incarnation; that Jesus was God manifest in flesh from Mary’s womb.
Satan could not destroy the true humanity of Jesus’ blood-line from David after God assured him that Christ would come from his seed, but he could deceive men into denying the true humanity of Jesus Christ.
God’s whole plan to rescue mankind required a perfect man to go to the cross and bear our sins. Jesus Christ had to partake of “flesh and blood” just like us in order to be a Saviour of sinners. If Satan could corrupt the human bloodstream the whole plan of redemption would be null and void and his plan was well advanced until the Davidic Covenant put a stop to it.
Even after Jesus rose from the dead He made very plain that He was truly human as well as truly truly God. He offered Thomas His hands and side as tangible evidence that His resurrection body was real “flesh and bone”. He said, “a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).
Noah’s genealogy however was uncorrupted and we read:
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God (Genesis 6:9-10).
The word “perfect” is obviously not referring to sinless perfection but indicates a “complete” genealogy. It applies to Noah’s genealogy. His family line had not been corrupted by the sons of God.
After the Flood, Satan continued to send his demons to cohabit with women and to create “gods” for men to worship. The ancient world was full of pagan deities. Every nation had its own national god as well as many lesser gods who were once giants on earth.
When these giants died or were killed, they were deified and temples were built to worship them. Josephus speaks of these.
Giants in the Land Promised to Abraham
Giants continued for centuries after the Flood and many are recorded in Scripture. We read of the Zamzummims who lived in Canaan on the east of Jordan before the children of Lot destroyed them (Deuteronomy 2:20) – (about 2000BC).
It was the presence of giants in the land that prevented Israel from entering the land for 38 years. They must have been in large numbers to make 10 out of 12 spies afraid to fight against them. The spies whom Moses sent in to Canaan reported “we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:33) (1577BC).
Thirty eight years later when Israel came into the land of Canaan they encountered the Anakims at Hebron (Numbers 13:33); and the Emims near Moab (Deuteronomy 2:10-11). Bashan east of Galilee was known as “the land of the giants” (Deuteronomy 3:13). Og king of Bashan slept on an iron bed nearly 4 meters long. Satan’s attempt to corrupt the human race before the flood continued after the Flood and the Bible speaks of many giants living even as late as the time of David (1072 to 1032BC). The last of the giants were wiped out in David’s day when the Philistine giant of Gath and his sons were slain.
We don’t read about giants in the Assyrian Empire, the Babylonian, Grecian or Roman Empire but we find a great concentration in the land of Israel where Abraham’s descendants were to live. Doesn’t that suggest Satan had a special target; a blood line he wanted to corrupt to prevent the Lord Jesus being born the incarnate Son of God?
The Davidic Covenant Put an End to the Giants
It was God’s Covenant with David that put a stop to Satan’s attempt to corrupt the human line. God’s promise to David that there would always be one available to sit on his throne (2 Chronicles 6:16) could not be broken. The Davidic covenant states:
For thus saith the LORD; David shall never want (lack) A MAN to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; Neither shall the priests the Levites want (lack) a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually (Jeremiah 33:17-18).
With this assurance, which Satan could not negate, God put a stop to Satan’s attempt to corrupt the human blood line. The promised “seed of the woman”, the virgin-born Son of God, was assured of a truly human blood line and Satan’s plan was thwarted.
In David’s day God established a throne; the throne of David. The Davidic Covenant spelt out guarentees of a pure blood line of descendants from David for ever (2 Samuel chapter 7). And that blood line would continue uncorrupted to Jesus Christ the son of David. The genealogies in Matthew and Luke testify to the true humanity of Messiah, an unbroken line from David to Christ. Satan’s attempt to corrupt the human line failed when the line of David was established. The incarnation was secured. Thus when Christ came His genealogy was recorded in both Matthew and Luke to prove that He was truly a Son of David. No fallen angel could father any of Joseph and Mary’s forebears!
What Did the Early Church Fathers Believe?
From the second century through to the 5th century we have a great store of writings by many bishops of the Church. There is great diversity among them and some are very apostate. The best and most faithful are those who lived closest to the Apostle John. John lived to about the year AD100. Papias and Polycarp were his personal disciples. Polycarp had Irenaeus (2nd century) as his disciple and Irenaeus had Hippolytus (3rd century). A survey of all the Church Fathers reveals there were five that taught that the “sons of God” were fallen angels and only two taught that they were the Line of Seth. Athenagorus, Tertullian, Commodianus, Alexander, and The Twelve Patriarchs all affirm that the “sons of God” were fallen angels. Only Julius Africanus and Clement differed.
The Greek Septuagint translates “sons of God” as angels.
Josephus the first century Jewish historian, who was an “Ebionite Christian”, wrote
many angels of God accompanied with women and begat sons (Antiquities Vol II Chapter III, page 73.)
A footnote states:
The notion that the fallen angels were, in some sense the fathers of the old giants, was the constant opinion of antiquity.
The overwhelming view of the early Church is that the “sons of God” were fallen angels.
The Testimony of Ancient History
There is abundant evidence from ancient records that there were giants who claimed to be part “god” and part “man”. The “Epic of Gilgamish” is one such ancient document that is available in print today.
The Epic of Gilgamish is a poem written very early after the Flood. Gilgamish claimed to have talked to Noah when Noah was very old so that places Gilgamish within 350 years of the Flood. He was a sexual predator and nobody’s wife or son in the city of Erech in Babylon was safe from him. He claimed to be part “god” and part “man” just as the Greeks claimed their “gods” were part “god” and part man. Josephus confirms this. His partner was also made by the “gods”.
That the sons of God were fallen angels is the only conclusion one can come to from a literal reading of scripture. It is supported by the early Church Fathers and antiquity. It is even supported by secular ancient history. To make the “sons of God” anything else requires the text of scripture to be twisted rather than believed. To say that the “sons of God” were the Godly line of Shem creates more questions than answers.
But most important of all is the evidence that the giants ceased after David. Satan had no further opportunity to pollute the human blood stream to Christ when he knew that the Davidic Covenant guarenteed the perfect humanity of David’s line all the way to Christ. He could not destroy the promise of the seed of the woman and his fallen angels who left their habitation were banished to the bottomless pit.
The legion of demons that were cast out of the demoniac of Gadara were terrified of the prospect of being banished to the abyss and pleaded not to be sent there “before the time”. If they had engaged in such activity they too would end up in the abyss. Thus this Demonic activity ceased with the Davidic Covenant.