THE SONS OF GOD and THE DAUGHTERS OF MEN
Who Are They? Why Does It Matter?
By Dan Gayman
The Book of Genesis, chapter six, records marriages between the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men.” The progeny of these unions are known as the famous Nephilim, a class of giants that possessed supernatural strength. The intermarriage of the sons of God and the daughters of men, together with wholesale miscegenation of other races, precipitated the most catastrophic event in earth’s history: the Genesis Flood. The identification of the sons of God is something you desperately need to know. So, roll up your theological sleeves, unplug the television set, get out your Bible, and let us supplicate the Holy Spirit to be our teacher as we open the Word of God.
Pastor Dan Gayman
Please open your Bibles to Genesis 6:1-6 and let the Holy Spirit guide us as we study this subject. Ponder these inspired words: “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. 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. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of 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. And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” Two of the most important questions to be answered in this study are these: 1) Who are the sons of God? 2) Why is it important to know their identity? It is clear from the context of this passage above that the end result of these marriages and the offspring born to them consisted of wickedness so great that it grieved the Living God that He had created man. Moreover, the conclusion of these and the absolute degree of wickedness then upon the earth precipitated the Genesis Flood.
The Deluge of Genesis 6, 7, 8, and a portion of chapter 9, required eighty-seven verses to encapsulate a brief analysis of these catastrophic events. No other event accords as much coverage, not even the Creation story itself.
Before establishing why every Christian should understand the significance of the phrase sons of God and the circumstances around their marriages to the daughters of men, it is necessary to identify them. Who were they? If this question were to be asked during the first four centuries of the Christian era, only one answer would be forthcoming.
The early church viewed the sons of God as angels through the late fourth century. Up to this point, the idea that the sons of God were Adamites who had married into some other line of mortals was never on the table. The sons of God in Genesis six were identified as angels who had rebelled against God, left their first estate, were cast out of heaven, and upon their arrival on earth endeavored to satisfy their insatiable rebellion by engaging in lustful sexual unions with the fair daughters of Adam.
Angels are subject to the laws of God. These marriages and the progeny of these unions were thus a clear violation of the law of kind after his kind, enumerated ten times in Genesis 1. The progeny of these unions were a hybrid race of Nephilim (from the Hebrew root meaning to fall, translated as giants in Genesis 6:4 and Numbers 13:33. These giants were huge beings of supernatural strength. In fact, we can capture an idea of their size and strength when we examine briefly the biblical record of those beings, or giants, known as the Emins, Anakims, Horims, Zamzummims, and other names in Scripture (Deuteronomy 2:9-22). When the Israelites endeavored to spy out the land of Canaan in preparation for conquest under Moses (Numbers 13), they suddenly became fearful of these giants and retreated from the conquest of Canaan: “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 were we in their sight.” One such giant was Og, King of Bashan, a surviving giant whose bed is described in Deuteronomy 3:11: “For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon? Nine cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man.”
David, the shepherd boy destined to be king of Israel, engaged the giant Goliath when he was but a lad of seventeen. I Samuel 17:4-7 gives the height of Goliath as being six cubits and a span, or just under ten feet tall. The weight of his coat of mail is estimated to be about 180 lbs. The staff of his spear was much like a weaver’s beam; his spear’s head weighed in excess of twenty-one pounds. The presence of these giants in the land of Canaan, together with the vile and wicked Canaanites, was a primary reason for the order given the children of Israel by Jehovah God to utterly destroy the Canaanites (including all the giants) from off the land! In the initial military engagements under Joshua, the Israelite armies destroyed men, women, children, and everything that had breath. They left nothing alive according to the record contained in the Book of Joshua. Only after Joshua’s death were surviving remnants of these Canaanite nations and giants left alive.
Time Out, Please!
If God intended the Genesis Flood to destroy all of the Nephilim, how did they reappear after the Flood? The answer is found in Genesis 6:4: “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.” If you carefully examine this text, you will confirm that there were children born to the sons of God both before and after the Flood. Notice the phrase “and also after that,” which refers to the fact that the sons of God and the daughters of men were having offspring before and after the Flood.
But wait a minute, you say. Does the Bible not teach that the Genesis Flood was a universal deluge that covered the entire earth? You are absolutely correct about that! So, then, how does one account for the giants or nephilim being present after the Flood? The answer to that question is that there has been more than one defection of angels in their rebellion against Jehovah.
Consider the testimony of E.W. Bullinger (1837-1913), an Anglican clergyman and one of the premier theologians of his day. The following is found in appendix #25 of Bullinger’s notes in the Companion Bible: “…We read of the Nephilim again in Num. 13:33: ‘there we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, which come of the Nephilim.’ How, it may be asked, could this be, if they were all destroyed in the Flood? The answer is contained in Genesis 6:4, where we read, ‘There were Nephilim in the earth in those days (i. e. in the days of Noah); 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 [the] mighty men (Heb. Gibbor, the heroes) which were of old, men of renown (‘literally men of the name, i. e. who got a name and were renowned for their ungodliness’.”
“So that ‘after that,’ i.e., after the Flood, there was a second irruption of these fallen angels, evidently smaller in number and more limited in area, for they were for the most part confined to Canaan…in Genesis 14:5 they were already known as ‘Rephaim’ and ‘Emin,’ and had established themselves at Asteroth Karnaim and Shaveh Kiriathaim.’ There is no question then, but that angels who left their first estate in rebellion against God did so before and also after the Genesis Flood. The presence of these superhuman giants of great physical strength has left a rather substantial footprint in history.” Consider additional testimony of E. W. Bullinger in Appendix #25 of the Companion Bible in regards to the Nephilim of Genesis 6:
“If these Nephilim, and their branch of Rephaim, were associated with Egypt, we have an explanation of the problem which has for ages perplexed all engineers, as to how those huge stones and monuments were brought together. Why not in Egypt as well as in ‘the giant cities of Bashan’ which exist, as such, to this day?
“Moreover, we have in these mighty men, ‘the men of renown,’ the explanation of the origin of Greek mythology. That mythology was no mere invention of the human brain, but it grew out of the traditions, and memories, and legends of the doings of that mighty race of beings; and was gradually evolved out of the ‘heroes’ of Gen. 6.4. The fact that they were supernatural in their origin formed an easy step to their being regarded as the demi-gods of the Greeks.
“Thus the Babylonian ‘Creation Tables,’ the Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead,’ the Greek mythology, and heathen Cosmogonies, which by some are set on an equality with Scripture, or by others adduced in support of it, are all the corruption and perversion of primitive truths, distorted in proportion as their origin was forgotten, and their memories faded away’.”
In Search of the Origin of Demons
The angels of God in Genesis 6 refer to angels, specifically the angels that left their first estate as in Jude 6: “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.” These angels that kept not their first estate in the heavens had been guilty of a heinous sin. We can identify that sin by turning to II Peter 2:4-6: “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell (tartarus), and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 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; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly.” The sin of the angels is connected to the transgression that brought on the Flood in the days of Noah. This clearly links the angels with the sons of God of Genesis 6 and their heinous crime of leaving their own kind and taking on the fair daughters of Adam kind, with whom they bore children. Hebrews 2:2 and Job 4:18 refer to angels that committed sin.
The Testimony of Enoch
The Book of Enoch has had more influence on the New Testament than any other apocryphal or pseudepigraphic work. Jude quotes from Enoch as inspired Scripture (Jude 14 and 15). Nearly all the writers of the New Testament were familiar with it and more or less influenced by it. With the earlier Fathers and Apologists, the Book of Enoch had all the weight of a canonical book. The following quotes from the Book of Enoch and the Book of Jubilees are relevant to the subject at hand and appear in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English, R. H. Charles, D.Litt.,D.D., Vol. II, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1913:
“And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: ‘Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children. . .’” (Enoch 6:1- 2).
Enoch goes on to explain the nature of the children, the Nephilim or giants fathered by angels and born from the wombs of the daughters of men. These giants, the Nephilim, were superhuman in strength and physical size. “And now, the giants, who are produced from the spirits and flesh, shall be called evil spirits upon the earth, and on the earth shall be their dwelling. Evil spirits have proceeded from their bodies; because they are born from men…they shall be evil spirits on earth, and evil spirits shall they be called…And the spirits of the giants afflict, oppress, destroy, attack, do battle, and work destruction on the earth, and cause trouble: they take no food, but nevertheless hunger and thirst, and cause offences. And these children shall rise up against the children of men and against women, because they have proceeded from them” (Enoch 15:1-12).
Evil Seducing Spirits
Enoch clearly states that evil spirits proceeded from the bodies of the Nephilim (giants), and that these evil spirits afflict, oppress, destroy, attack, battle, and work destruction on the earth. These disembodied spirits proceed from the giants or progeny that come from the angels and the daughters of men. These disembodied spirits are commonly known as demons, devils, seducing spirits, evil spirits, and other such names as are given to them. The New Testament record, particularly the Gospels, is replete with evidence of how Jesus Christ cast out and rebuked these demons or seducing spirits. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John record many examples of Jesus and His ministry of deliverance from those who were afflicted and suffering from demon possession or influence.
These evil spirits are not to be confused with the angels that sinned. Demons derive their origin from the spirits of the Nephilim or giants and were the progeny of angels, called the sons of God, and of the fair daughters of men (Genesis 6:4). We are clearly warned in Scripture that these demons or seducing spirits will be increasingly active in the world, and especially target Christians as they seek to assault the work of God in every way possible: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron. . .” (I Timothy 4:1-2).
Demons or seducing spirits, devils, and evil spirits are real and can possess or exercise influence upon people. These evil spirits are the special emissaries of Satan and so numerous that they make it appear as if Satan has omnipresence. Demons can enter and possess both humans and animals. These seducing spirits earnestly seek to be embodied, without which they are powerless. They are unclean, sullen, violent, and malicious. Demons know and recognize Jesus Christ and His supreme authority over them and are aware of their future judgment and eternal torment in Gehenna.
Demons can inflict physical maladies and cause terrible tumult and suffering. They can influence believers in many ways, seducing them with “doctrines of devils” and causing them to shipwreck and depart from the faith. Believers who have been made a new creation in Jesus Christ cannot be possessed by demons because they are bought and purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ and are His possession. People who live in a fraudulent salvation are special targets for demon influence and potential possession.
Demons and seducing spirits target both believers and unbelievers, but are especially interested in targeting Christians. They make any church that teaches the Word of God their special target of attack and assault. Satan not only assigns evil angels to assault organized church bodies that teach the truth of Scripture, but also encourages seducing spirits to target believers for special influence and attention. One of the characteristics of the of the apocalyptic judgments in the Book of Revelation is the release not only of angels who are now in chains, but also the release of a flood of demons and seducing spirits upon the world. By the authority of Jesus Christ and His shed blood, believers have the power to rebuke and cast out demons. In some cases, this can only be done through prayer and fasting.
Consider now more testimony regarding the sons of God being angels that cohabited with the daughters of man to produce the giants, or Nephilim. The Book of Jubilees, 5:1-6, records the following testimony: “And it came to pass when the children of men began to multiply on the face of the earth and daughters were born unto them, that the angels of God saw them on a certain year of this jubilee, that they were beautiful to look upon; and they took themselves wives of all whom they chose, and they bare unto them sons and they were giants. And lawlessness increased on the earth and all flesh corrupted its way, alike men and cattle and beasts and birds and everything that walks on the earth—all of them corrupted their ways and their orders, and they began to devour each other, and lawlessness increased on the earth and every imagination of the thoughts of all men (was) thus evil continually. And God looked upon the earth, and behold it was corrupt, and all flesh had corrupted its orders, and all that were upon the earth had wrought all manner of evil before His eyes. And He said that He would destroy man and all flesh upon the face of the earth which He had created. But Noah found grace before the eyes of the Lord…”
The Sons of God in the Old Testament
Why do so many theologians across the broad spectrum of Christianity deny that the sons of God in Genesis are fallen angels and insist that they are simply from the line of either Seth or Cain? The primary reason is that the use of the phrase sons of God has not been carefully divided from the use of this phrase in the New Testament. Let us launch our investigation into the sons of God by examining the Old Testament first.
1) Genesis 6:2, 4: The context of these verses clearly demonstrates that the phrase sons of God as employed in these verses refers to angels, not mortals. The idea that these women were from the line of Seth and the sons of God from the differing line of Cain is without biblical sanction or authority. The lineage of Seth, from which the women came, had become corrupt. Further, the males from this lineage would in no way have been candidates for being classified as the sons of God. Genesis 6:12 declares, “And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.”
The very fact that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, admired their beauty (they were “fair to look upon”), lusted after them, and then married them and sired children from them dismisses any idea that they could be from the same race, species, or kind as the women. Moreover, II Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 provide clear evidence that the angels sinned in the days of Noah and assisted in bringing on the Genesis Flood. Finally, for four hundred years, the early Christian Fathers taught that the sons of God in Genesis 6 were angels.
2) Job 1:6 and Job 2:1: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.” This was not a gathering of mortals on earth. As the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10), Satan had come to heaven to present his accusations against Job. The sons of God (obviously angels) had come to present themselves before Jehovah, and Satan came among them. It had been said of Job that he “was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job 1:1). Satan argued that Job did not fear and obey God without good reason. He argued that Job obeyed God in exchange for material blessings, security, and protection. Satan was given freedom to test Job in everything that he possessed, but not within the bounds of Job’s own life.
Job passed this test. After losing all of his material wealth and children, Job still did not sin or charge God foolishly (Job 1:22). Job’s response to the terrible affliction of losing all of his possessions, and even worse, all his children, is a compelling challenge for Christians to emulate: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).
Again in Job 2:1, Scripture declares, “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.” Again, the sons of God had arrived in heaven to present themselves before the Living God and Satan, the accuser of the brethren, came among them. Satan had come to accuse Job and present his case against him. Satan argued that if Job were to be tested in his own bone and flesh he would curse God to his very face Job 2:5.
This time, Job was sorely tested nigh unto death, with boils from the soles of his feet unto the top of his head (Job 2:7). Job’s wife advised him to curse God and die (Job 2:9). Again, Job proved his integrity by remaining faithful to God, saying, “What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips?” (Job 2:10).
There is no possibility that the sons of God who came into the presence of God in the very courts of heaven could have been mortals. These sons of God were angels, not mortals from the race of Adam kind. Again, that old serpent called the Devil and Satan (Rev. 12:9; 20:2) was proven wrong. Good had triumphed over evil. Job’s love for God overcame the rebellion, pride, and hate that tempted Satan and often tempts mortals to sin against God. With Job, love and obedience won. Rebellion and hate lost.
Job 38:7: In the passages preceding Job 38:7, God had been demanding answers from Job to some complex questions. “Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding…Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner stone thereof?” (Job 38:3-6). As to timeline, the context demonstrates that this refers to approximately the time of creation, when the earth was fashioned and formed. Job 38:7 reads, “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” The morning stars are angels. The reference to the sons of God simply identifies the angels who were present at the dawn of creation when the foundations of the earth were laid. Truly, there is no clear indication in Scripture as to when the angels were created. Obviously, they were created either prior to or simultaneously with the creation of the earth.
The Sons of God in the New Testament
There is only one eternal and only begotten Son of God: Jesus Christ. God is spirit, and that which is “born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). In Luke 3:38, Adam is called a “son of God” because prior to the fall, he dwelt in a celestial body rather than a terrestrial body. The difference between the celestial and terrestrial is confirmed in I Cor. 15:40. When Adam sinned, he lost his celestial glory and became a terrestrial body, with all the passions and limitations of flesh and blood (I Cor. 15:50). No mortal after Adam is ever called the son of God except those who have been made a new creation in Jesus Christ.
When the children of Adam become a new creation in Jesus Christ (II Cor. 5:17), they transition from the headship of Adam and the carnal nature to being a new creation in Jesus Christ, the new Adam of the world to come. In this sense, men can then be called the sons of God and women the daughters of God. When we become a new creation in Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:15), we become his sons and daughters. It is in this sense that redeemed children of God are referenced as the sons and daughters of the Living God (II Cor. 6:18). “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14). I John 3:1 declares: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not; because it knew him not.”
The phrases sons of God and daughters of God in the New Testament always refer to those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and made a new creation in Him. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17).
It is imperative to correctly identify the sons of God in Genesis 6:2, 4 because the progeny born to the fair daughters of Adam kind and angels who had left their estate in heaven, called sons of God, became the Nephilim or giants identified in the Old Testament. The spirits of these Nephilim (giants) survived the death of the body and became the demons, seducing spirits, unclean spirits, evil spirits, and devils that are frequently mentioned in the New Testament. These demons became part of the kingdom of Satan, and together with the angels that followed him at sundry times in rebellion against God, make up the spiritual kingdom of darkness of which Satan is the head.
That the invisible world of spiritual wickedness is all too real is what the Word of God is telling us through St. Paul in Ephesians 6:10-12: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Every Christian must engage in spiritual warfare against Satan and all his minions, including the demons, seducing spirits, and devils that seek to wage war against Jesus Christ, His church, and every one who has named the name of Jesus Christ!