This is a major topic, both in size and importance. But the goal is not to support the Day-8 view so much as to destroy the view that demons could ever be called sons of God. There is a prize for those who hang in there during all the detailed arguments – you will find Jesus in a new place, rejoicing with his Father, and you will see how God views us as His children.
Ladies and gentlemen, the subject of this appendix is a point of great passion for me. It is quite long and in the hard-copy book, I decided to only provide this executive summary. Perhaps that will be all you need to read.
Who are the “sons of God” and “daughters of men” described in Genesis 6? There are many scriptures that show that “sons of God” can be viewed as descendants of Adam. Assuming this, the following suggestions have been made to explain the intermarriage between these groups:
None of these explanations are particularly convincing and are not well supported. But the remaining option is terrible. This option says that the sons of God are demons. I hate this option, but not those who proposed it. I do not believe that God would ever compromise the uniqueness of Jesus by calling angels, let alone demons, His sons.
The Hebrew phrase for “son of God” in Genesis 6 is “bane elohim”. This is used in only four other places in the Old Testament, several of which are mistakenly assumed to refer to angels:
So, you think that would be it, but there are lots of twists. The Jews translated the Old Testament into Greek, about 200 years BC and all the above references to the sons of God were translated as “angels of God”. Well, they simply made the same mistakes. But we can cut them some slack because they did not have access to Hebrews 1:5-8 where it is clear that God never described angels as His sons. In fact, it is my opinion that they did this because they were earnestly expecting their Messiah, the son of God, and wanted to avoid any confusion between the Messiah and these other references to the sons of God.
Then there is the Book of Enoch which does describe angels as sons of God, specifically referring to the same period of time as Genesis 6. However, this book is not in your Bible and rightly so, because it has Satan’s fingerprints all over it. There are lots of other issues suggested as support for the idea of demons, but they are all flawed. For example, angels were not created male and female and just don’t have the equipment to procreate. And, if it really was demons in Genesis 6 then it is not an example of man’s sin, so why does God’s judgement fall on mankind.
All these issues have little twists and ways to work around the obvious – that “sons of God” could not be referring to demons. I don’t think that theologians were particularly happy to suggest that the sons of God in Genesis 6 are demons. However, there just happened to be more support for this idea than the suggestion that they are descendants of Adam. And in the absence of a really good understanding, a bad one was accepted.
Do you want to know the really sad part? All this conjecture blinds us to the most important message in Genesis 6. We have focused on the apparent extreme evil of that generation and the monstrous demonic outbursts to justify God’s righteous judgement in sending the flood. But we lose focus on the fact that all this grieved God, to the point where His Spirit was withdrawn. We really need to see the big picture. Mankind was wicked then and is still wicked today. But before God could send His son Jesus, to redeem mankind, He had to exhaust all other options. What is happening here in Genesis 6 is that God is playing the “start all over again” card. When do you think the best time to play that card would be? Wouldn’t it be when the population of mankind was still small – when they were just starting to spread out over the face of the earth, exactly as stated in Genesis 6:1?
There are many places where we see a one-off judgement against man for some sin that is common today:
Today, man is still guilty of these evils and still deserves the same judgements, but we don’t see these judgements. Why? Because each was just God playing another card, before He could send Jesus. And now, when we look at Jesus we know that there was, and is, and can be, no other way.
This is a huge read. I consider it to be very important. You may need to pace yourself. But if you think I have done enough to put this demon idea to rest in the above summary, then you probably won’t need all that follows. However, I still think it’s worthwhile – just to get more detail of Jesus in Job 38 and to see how God refers to worshippers as His sons.
In the seven verses at the start of Genesis 6 we change from man spreading out over the face of the earth, seemingly under the blessing to be fruitful and multiply in Genesis 1:28, to God declaring that He is going to wipe out all life on the earth. This is the most tumultuous change in history. It all seems to occur because of intermarriage between two ill-defined groups of people called the “sons of God” and “daughters of men”. Major physiological changes occur as a result of this. Their lifespan drops progressively down from nearly 1,000 years to 120 years. And then there is the immediate appearance of a new super-sized race of men called the Nephilim. God is so grieved that He is sorry He made man and declares that His spirit will not abide with man forever.
The “sons of God” and “daughters of men” described in Genesis 6 have long been debated by Christian theologians. Basically this means that no-one has got a really good explanation. This has also been a favourite place for non-believers to attack the credibility of the Bible.
I am now going to step into a debate that I am not qualified to enter. However I do feel I have the answer and some specific insights. This appendix presumes you are familiar with the Classic view and Day-8 view outlined in Chapter 12 “Introducing day-8 man”, and particularly its relevance to Genesis 6, outlined in Chapter 15 “Sons of God and daughters of men”, and Chapter 20 “About the Nephilim”.
Initially, I had only wanted to present my own simple and clear explanation of these verses. Several comments came back and I could see people sticking to the Classic explanations and seeming not to see the serious problems and how these problems corrupted the image of God. And as so often happens, I also started to see it more clearly myself. (By the way, you can stick with the Classic view, just be careful about your explanations.)
All through this discussion I am going to appear critical of existing theology, but as you read on you will see me confess my own propensity to make the same mistakes. So I call those explanations wrong that seem to corrupt God’s image. If that is the way you used to see it, then you can choose to change or not. I challenge understandings that have been developed over centuries, based on the Classic view. Some mistake that for an attack on the Bible, but that is simply not so.
My source is the Bible plus some Bible software utilities (Libronix DLS 3.0), that allow me to search multiple translations and view the original Hebrew. I also supplement that with the resources at www.BibleGateway.com and the Online Parallel Bible (http://biblehub.com) to provide additional translations. I have no real experience in Hebrew except that the software makes it easy to translate words and see where they are used. But there is very little in this argument that has any dependence on Hebrew that is not obvious from English translations.
Scholars as little as a decade ago depended on multiple books and a very good memory and I acknowledge their great learning and dedication in many places has been a blessing. Ever-improving translations have been a blessing. But we, collectively, have allowed our lack of a good understanding of these Genesis verses to cause us to accept some poor explanations. These explanations were not poor because of any lack of diligence in searching the scriptures, but they were poor because we presented the wrong image of our God.
I confess several biases in my discussion. First, I have seen the Day-8 view and its potential to explain who the “sons of God” and “daughters of men” are and to show why the dramatic physiological changes occurred. It explains why God was grieved. But I have also come to hate it when we keep suggesting that God cursed His children to produce the changes, or that demons could create the super-sized Nephilim. But even more, I totally reject that demons can ever be called “sons of God”.
The idea that demons are sons of God in Genesis 6 defames the uniqueness of Jesus, the Son of God, and defames God as the Creator. Hebrews 1:5-8 makes it clear that God does not call angels “His sons”. Though my following arguments will be clear and well supported, unless you also hate these things I fear you will just carry on with the Classic explanations.
But then we should all recognise our biases. Theologians, who have valiantly defended the word of God, have faced great attacks on the authenticity of the Bible, specifically because of the Nephilim and the age change. So they have been pressured to explain it. And if I had not seen the Day-8 view I might well have supported some of the explanations.
The following sections are quite large and need some concentration. I hope this outline will help you see how things are going to unfold.
It is my guess that, under the Classic view, there are two broad groups of explanations. Well, that’s what my Study Bible offers. These explanations are discussed in the next two sections.
Here are scriptures that show that “sons of God” can be viewed as descendants of Adam: Luke 3:38, Deuteronomy 32:8, Deuteronomy 14:1, John 10:34-35, Psalm 82:6 and Exodus 4:22. Even when displeased, God acknowledged Israel as His children in Isaiah 1:2-4, Isaiah 45:11, Isaiah 63:8, Jeremiah 3:19-22 and Ezekiel 16:20-21.
Deuteronomy 32:8 describes the allocation of land according to the number of people. This typifies some of the problems and several translations make note of this. Have a look at the note in the NLT® translation. Apparently, in the Dead Sea Scrolls, it reads the number of the sons of God, and in the Greek version (Septuagint), it reads the number of the angels of God; and the Masoretic Text reads the number of the sons of Israel. ESV® and NAB® translations choose to show “sons of God” and for that reason I have included it. But NIV® and NASB® choose to show “sons of Israel”. I don’t know why these choices were made but I generally respect these translations.
Note that Deuteronomy 32:5 refers to Israel as not His children because of their perverse actions. Deuteronomy 32:20 also affirms that this generation are sons with no faithfulness. It seems to me that Deuteronomy 32 is repeatedly picturing Israel as God’s children or sons, albeit rebellious sons.
I cannot make any sense of ever using the “angels of God” version in the context of this text and I would have you recall this when later attempts are made to, in my opinion, incorrectly replace “sons of God” by “angels of God”.
If you view the sons of God as descendants of Adam, as seems logical, then under the Classic view it is very hard to explain who the daughters of men are. Further, you don’t know why they would have such different DNA to Adam that the dramatic physiological consequences of age reduction and the Nephilim would occur. So you tend to assume that the age reduction was yet another curse God applied. I hate this! God cursing His children, the ones He loves. God was grieved by this.
Here are a few options that I extracted from my study Bible notes:
Perhaps we could read into the text that “daughters of men” is a demeaning way to describe women, being lesser than men who are the “sons of God”. But this doesn’t explain why God was so grieved by this.
I read one suggestion that “daughters of men” were “sinful women”, perhaps even from Cain’s lineage. Not convincing. If so, it seems that the sin is with the men who intermarry. Also there is no reason to disallow intermarriage between the lineage of Cain and Adam.
Could the “sons of God” be leaders in Adam’s lineage taking many wives (harems)? This doesn’t sound right to me. God was happy for Jacob and David to have multiple wives. But you can never dismiss anything easily. Psalm 82:6 seems to picture leaders amongst men as “gods”. Now this is not “sons of God” and still does not explain why the intermarriage was so evil in the sight of God.
Now if you read a commentary that supports the option that “sons of God” are demons, that commentary usually criticises the above options, suggesting that there are plenty of alternate language constructs that could (implying would) have been used if these were male descendants of Seth and female descendants of Cain. So it’s not just me who finds the above options wanting.
My conclusion is that I am not the only one to propose that the “sons of God” are Adam’s descendants, but I am the only one using the Day-8 view to show that the “sons of God” and “daughters of men” are logical language references for these two distinct groups with distinct DNA to explain the consequences of age reduction and the Nephilim. Actually, it explains even more, but you have to read chapter 15.
I had read briefly about this and simply not liked it. When my Day-8 view of events was criticised by a theologian I could see that I would have to clearly present why “sons of God” cannot be demons. But theologians did not come up with this solution without finding some sort of Biblical support. So I must address and correct all this supposed support that allows demons to be called “sons of God”.
The Septuagint was a translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek more than 200 years BC. It was for Jews living outside Israel where these Jews had reverted to the everyday Greek language. It is still used today in places where segments of the original Hebrew is missing because it is thought that this was based on better OT documents than we have available today.
OK, the Septuagint was a pre-Cross translation by the same people who could not reconcile how their Messiah could be both the suffering servant and the king to reign forever, and so crucified Jesus. The Hebrew words for “sons of God” are “bane elohim” or “bene elohim” (I’ve seen both), and are clearly present and are translated by virtually all English Bibles I have come across as “sons of God”. The words “bene” and “elohim” also occur separately and are usually translated as “son” and “God” respectively. The NIV, NASB, NAB, Amplified, NLT, KJV, NKJV, NRSV, ESV, NCV, ASV, YLT and Darby Bible translations all have sons of God in Genesis 6:2. Only CEV says “supernatural beings”.
In the earlier discussion about Deuteronomy 32:8, I pointed out that the Septuagint version, “angels of God”, just did not work in the context of that scripture. There is no indication that any of the original text is missing and the “bane elohim” is used in several places so there seems no reason to question that “sons of God” should be used. There are other words for angels that could have been used had the intent of the text been to suggest angels.
So I just cannot see why the Septuagint is a credible source in this particular debate. However, the idea that the Septuagint translators had access to older Hebrew texts, implying more correct texts, leaves the tantalising thought that perhaps they knew something that we did not. And of course they were Hebrews chosen because they were well versed in the scriptures. Well, they actually did not know something that we do know, namely Jesus. They did not have access to the Book of Hebrews 1:5-8. In my opinion they simply got it wrong or we are misunderstanding what they intended by “angels of God”. But you will have to weigh this opinion up.
An interesting twist is that the Septuagint has “angels of God” in Deuteronomy 32:8 so we can be sure that the Hebrew texts they used showed “bene elohim” in that verse because they universally translated “bene elohim” as “angels of God”. The Dead Sea Scrolls also showed “bene elohim” in verse 38 – just the same. So the Septuagint actually confirms the Dead Sea Scrolls version is what the translators of the Septuagint used. Thus we can be sure that “bene elohim”, “sons of God”, was present in the oldest text.
Deuteronomy 32:8 is unquestionably talking about partitioning the land according to the number of Israelites. The source for the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls both used “bene elohim”, “sons of God”. So this actually confirms that “sons of God” can refer to Israelites. That the Masoretic Text reads “the number of the sons of Israel” in this verse suggests this understanding was so obvious that someone actually changed the text at some point. Why did they change the text? Because “angels of God”, either as a translation or as an understanding of “bene elohim” makes no sense. CONCLUSION: don’t let it influence this debate!
The angels were not created male and female and just don’t have the equipment to procreate. So how can we even consider that they are candidates to take wives? (Mark 12:24-25, Luke 20:34-36) It seems like this logic should have been used to reject this interpretation of angels. There seem to be two ways to side-step this show-stopper:
Once you have convinced yourself that the “sons of God” are angels or demons, why not reinterpret “taking of wives”, not as marriage, but as possession. Similarly, where verse 4 says “the sons of God came in to the daughters of men”, understood as sexual relations, also becomes possession. But why is God’s displeasure with man since this puts the blame on the demons?
OK, to explain why demons can gain such access to man (women actually), you must assert how sinful the people of that day must have been. But actually it’s the other way around – the demons lie to us first and then we become sinful as we follow their advice. Now it is clear God described man’s every thought as wicked or evil in Genesis 6:5. But the only evidence of this wickedness on a widespread basis is the “sons of God” taking multiple wives from amongst the “daughters of men”. If this is actually demons then it’s not man’s wickedness.
I don’t deny that man’s heart had become evil, but I will show later that the emphasis on the evil of that day leads to some misunderstandings, so stay tuned.
There are those who argue that the demons did actually have sex with women. This argument says that although angels are not “male and female”, they do appear as male, and although there will not be marriage in heaven, nor procreation in heaven because each angel was created by God, that does not deny the possibility that angels have a penis and gonads producing compatible semen. What can I say? Let the conjecture roll on – and it does. You then have to explain away why this demon intercourse only seemed to occur in Genesis 6 because we still see demonic possession today but we do not see the Nephilim. So conjecture proposes that this is because these were particularly rebellious demons or a special class of demons that overstepped the rules and were imprisoned. There is more on this in section 2.9.
These options seem to forget two things:
God put enmity between demons and women in Genesis 3:15. (So does that mean we reinterpret taking wives as raping women?)
God’s spirit was still upon mankind; contending with mankind at the start of Genesis 6, just as the Holy Spirit today delivers protection to believers. So how pathetic is God and His Holy Spirit that God allows this thing to happen that is against the rules! As if God did not know.
I hate this theology that sounds like so many other religions where gods have sex with women to produce super human offspring. But I know that some of the people who support such ideas are passionate about God and Jesus. It seems so fundamentally wrong. God created Adam and Eve so that He might have children who freely loved Him. The other reason for creating man as a bride for Jesus was that the angels in Heaven were not a suitable partner for Jesus. So why create angels with procreation equipment? When God did bring a life into this world through Mary, scripture says that His Holy Spirit overshadow her and placed within Mary the spirit of His only son, who already existed. Why not use the angels?
Everything about this demon intercourse seems fundamentally inconsistent with God’s character and purposes. I am somewhat grieved that so many horrid academic arguments are even entertained when they differ so greatly from the nature and character of God.
Still wanting to blame the demons, but recognising that physical intercourse was a bad solution, others have proposed that some sort of genetic engineering or selective breeding, or even witchcraft was involved. Sorry folks, we just credit the demons with too much. This is just adding more bandaids to a bad solution.
One seemingly good reason to support “sons of God” as angels has been that Job 1:6, 2:1, and 38:7 refer to the “sons of God”, “bane elohim”, in a context that is presumed to be angels. So confident are we of this context that some translations of the Job scriptures like NIV, NLT, Amplified actually refer to “angels”. The more literal translations (NASB®, ESV®, YLT®, NAB®), just use “sons of God”, but it seems that many people still read angels into this. So what I now share is going against the popular understanding.
Job 1:6 and 2:1 picture the “sons of God” presenting themselves before God and then Satan turns up. This sounds a bit like angels in heaven but could easily be the Israelites gathering at appointed festivals as ordained by God. In fact, since Satan was cast out of heaven and is a restless wanderer over the earth, it seems much more probable that this is a gathering at a festival. And indeed in Job 1-5, just before this, Job was sacrificing just after a feast. I cannot prove it was an official feast of Israel but whatever, we know that God inhabits the praises of His people.
We also know that in heaven God’s presence is everywhere, like the noonday sun, and that the angels seem to be in a continuous chorus of praise. So the angels do not gather on particular days, reinforcing that this event is not unfolding in heaven. (God help me – someone will say that perhaps the angels gathered here on earth.) There is more confirmation later when Psalm 29:1 and Psalm 89:6 are discussed.
In Job 38:7, “all the sons of God” shout for joy during what seems like the creation of the earth. That verse most of all seems to suggest angelic beings created before this world. It is highly poetic with the stars singing in chorus. And the stars were created after the earth was created so the order is wrong for it to be taken literally. But guess what? There is a beautiful image hidden here. First note that the “all” word used here is not used in any of the other “sons of God” occurrences. It has the connotation of “the whole of” which I stretch to “the fullness of”, and what do you see, or should I say who do you see shouting for joy as his Father commences the preparations for his bride? It’s Jesus, the ONLY son of God at that time, that God is picturing here rejoicing. Proverbs 8:30 also pictures Jesus as “wisdom” rejoicing before God during creation.
However, it gets even better but first I have to discuss parallelism. I had not heard of it but if you will bear with these definitions you will see how it fits in. Parallelism is commonly used in poetic writings like Job, Psalms and Proverbs. The same thing is repeated on consecutive lines to reinforce or contrast the subject. It’s a really good way to build up a more intricate word picture. Here are the types of parallelism with brief explanations:
Now, each verse in Job 38:4-17 has two lines that seem to say the same thing. So those “morning stars” that sang together, and “all the sons of God” that shouted for joy in verse 7 must also point to the same thing! At first I thought that the stars might be picturing angels, like the heavenly bodies, rejoicing with Jesus. But then the two lines don’t match. Oh dear, but praise God, the Bible came to my rescue. The trick was not what I thought the “morning stars” might be but what the Bible actually said they could be. Here is the list of options:
OK, so Jesus is the morning star, and Jesus is the son of God. Both lines in Job 38:7 depict Jesus just as expected in parallelism! I will just make that very clear in this table:
When the morning stars sang together
|... the bright morning star|
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
|... the only son of God|
OK, I am absolutely convinced that Job 38:7 is picturing Jesus. But why is the plural used in both the morning stars and all the sons of God? First of all I just want to note that adding an ‘s’ does not change ‘Jesus’ into ‘angels’. That is a decision some might choose to make, but let me show you something better:
Look at the context of Job 38. The verse is suggesting that all of heaven was there to throw the emphasis back to, “and where was Job?” The plural was necessary to stress that Job was not there.
Nowhere in the Old Testament does God reveal that His Son was with Him from the beginning. So this had to be a veiled reference to Jesus.
But have you noted something? There is only one morning star! It is a singular entity. And so is the son of God! Even here God has been careful to show the uniqueness of His son in heaven.
Want more? The morning stars sang together. The ‘together’ word is ’‘yawchad’ which Strongs 3162 describes as “to be (or become) one, join, unite”. The translation of singing together is correct when picturing stars singing but now that you see it’s Jesus, we have this beautiful picture of Jesus singing as one and in unity with his Father.
This is so beautiful that I can’t understand how any believer could ever again look at this verse and use it to say demons are sons of God.
Job 38:4-41 and all of Job 39 are about what God did. It is all about God humbling Job. Job 38:4-12 and debatably many more verses are specifically about what God did during creation. Verse 7 is uniquely out of place in all this if it is about what angels did. But now we see that it is about God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, rejoicing in unity as creation unfolds. This is what Proverbs 8:30 describes. John 1:1-3 also tells us that Jesus was with God and was God and that God created all things through Jesus. God testifies to this even in Job.
The Jews, 200 years BC, did not have access to the books of Hebrews, Revelation or John, and so could not have figured this out. Perhaps that is why they concluded the sons of God were angels. But for whatever reason, it means that this revelation is just for New Testament believers. In particular, Job 38:7 was a veiled revelation of Jesus; indeed of the entire Godhead rejoicing during creation.
For completeness I need to mention some other analogies with stars lest you think my presentation above was biased:
Revelation 1:20 says the seven stars are seven angels of the seven churches. Revelation 9:1 talks about a star as if it was an angel. Revelation 12:4 suggests that stars are angels and one third are cast out of heaven. So angels can be stars but not the morning star. This is an important distinction because stars are numerous but the morning star is unique and has a position of distinction.
Isaiah 14:12 talks about the King of Babylon. It uses the word heylel, which is variously translated as “star of the morning”, “Lucifer”, “Day Star”, “shining one”, or “bright star”. It is different from boqer=morning and kowkab=star used in Job 38:7. It does not make sense to insert the King of Babylon or kings in general into Job 38:7. However, when I insert Jesus the King of Kings, into Job 38:7, it does make sense!
If you don’t really care that demons are called “sons of God”, then the explanations I have given here for “sons of God” in Job as worshippers of God at appointed Festivals, and of Jesus himself, will not matter and you will probably stick with the popular explanation. A friend reminded me that it does not matter what I like (care about), but what scripture says. That is true, but what you believe colours everything you read and think. I did not believe that God would inspire words that compromised the uniqueness of His son amongst the heavenly hosts. I think the Bible backs that up!
There are similar but different Hebrew words “bar elohim” in Daniel 3:25, translated as “son of god”, and “bar elim” in Psalm 29:1 and Psalm 89:6, translated as “sons of the mighty”. They are sometimes presumed to be angelic beings and this has been used to lend support to acceptance of angels. But this is wrong!
In Daniel 3:25, king Nebuchadnezzar is describing a fourth man in the fire that has the “appearance of a son of god”. No problem it’s just the appearance that is stunning. It is not declaring that the apparent angel is a son of God. And in any case it’s a declaration by king Nebuchadnezzar who at the time was trying to get everyone to worship his golden image. This is not a person whose theology should be followed. (But it’s nice to imagine that perhaps Jesus came personally to stand with the three men in the fire.)
The Psalms references both translate “bar elim” as “sons of the mighty”. But Psalm 29:1 does not imply that these are angels. It ends by declaring how the LORD will bless His people and it is then logical that the opening verse is His people praising God.
The preceding verse, 89-5, says that “the heavens will praise Your wonders” and then “also Your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones”. Now Israel was required to call holy convocations, also translated as sacred assemblies (Leviticus 23:1-8, Numbers 28:18-26, and Numbers 29:1-12). Surely these are the “assembly of the holy ones”. So we see both the heavenly hosts and the Israelites praising God in verse 5. Then in the first half of verse 6, “For who in the skies is comparable with the LORD”, is referring to who in heaven can compare with God. Then in the second half of verse 6, “who among the sons of the mighty is like the LORD”. This is saying who on earth can compare with God. Just as the first and second halves of verse 5 talked about heaven and earth praising God, so too the first and second half of verse 6 declares God’s incomparable Glory both in heaven and on the earth. Verses 7 and 11 also contain praise of God both in heaven and on the earth. This means that again the “sons of the mighty” are simply Israelites worshipping God.
Here are some further relevant points:
The theme of heaven and earth is repeated in verse 2 which ends with “In the heavens You will establish Your faithfulness”, and then verse 3 follows describing God’s faithfulness here on earth to David, “I have made a covenant with My chosen”. It is also repeated in verse 11.
Verse 6 says, “For who in the skies is comparable with the LORD”. This by itself means that angels cannot be sons of God for that would make them comparable with God. (John 5:18)
Look at verse 19 where God speaks in a vision to “Your godly ones”. God speaks to men in visions, not angels. Surely this indicates that the “holy ones” in verse 5 and “sons of the mighty” in verse 6 can be men – actually, must be men.
Verse 19 is the introduction to a great prophesy about Jesus. Surely God is not saying that angels are His sons in verse 6, and then in the same Psalm, declaring in verses 26 and 27 that Jesus is His son?
One person suggested that parallelism implied that if the first half of verse 6 was describing heaven then so too the second half and hence the “sons of the mighty” are angels. But I see the Synonymous Parallelism being between verses 5 and 6 which both refer to heaven and earth. The first and second half of these verses are more like Synthetic Parallelism where first the heavens are praising God and then this is extended by the earth praising God.
To be rigorous I have to demonstrate that “the assembly of the holy ones” in Psalm 89 is not holy angels. Deuteronomy 33:2-3 refers to “holy ones” and seems to be the people of Israel. Psalm 34:9 also confirms that we who fear the LORD are “holy ones”. Aaron was a holy one in Psalm 106:16. In Daniel 8:24 the holy ones can be pictured as believers. But there are other places where “holy ones” is used and appear to be angels, e.g. Daniel 8:13. Some translations use “holy ones” where others use “saints” with the latter more common in the New Testament. But excluding the New Testament that is in Greek and not Hebrew, it seems that there is good precedent to allow “holy ones” to be Israelites, especially viewed in the context of priests and at specified holy assemblies. Angels are also called holy ones. In fact, what we learn is that those doing the will of God can be regarded as holy. Angels serving Him are holy. Aaron was holy. Israelites gathering according to God’s decree are holy. And also for us today, read Colossians 1:22 and 1 Peter 2:9.
To summarise these similar words... Daniel 3:25 is irrelevant or it’s Jesus. In Psalm 29:1 and Psalm 89:6 we see that the “sons of the mighty” refer to men, Israelites, gathered in worship. This is exactly what I have proposed for the Job 1:6 and Job 2:1 understanding of the “sons of God”. Recall that God is inspiring the words written in Job and Psalms even if the psalmist did not fully understand what God inspired. That He sees His chosen people worshipping Him as “His sons” and engaged in a mighty act of faith; holding true to Him, should be quite acceptable to us.
P.S. My 9-year-old son just walked in. He wanted to get on the computer. I showed him the “sons of the mighty” phrase in Psalm 89 and straight away he said, “That’s us”.
Once you have accepted “sons of God” should be “angels of God” then the next step is to turn them into demons. I have seen Jude 1:6-7, 2 Peter 2:4-6 and 1 Peter 3:19-20 used to support this interpretation. Although these refer to fallen spirits or angels, there is nothing to connect them with the “sons of God”. So there is no confirmation except that we know that Satan and his demons have been cast out of heaven and were at work even in the days of Noah, and even as the snake in the garden. But none of this justifies calling demons the sons of God.
The verses in 2 Peter 2:4-6 mention the flood immediately after the angels but this does not imply a causal connection; simply that both were examples of God’s judgement. In the same way, Jude 1:6-7 also talk about judgement coming to beings that abandoned their created order. First to angels who abandoned the created order or domain and then to the people of Sodom who abandoned the created order of sexual desire. The similarity that Jude draws attention to is that they both suffer judgement. If anything, Jude confirms that sexual behaviour can be against the created order and this is why God was so grieved when day-8 man took day-6 women as wives.
Sadly, and depending on translation, you can read into Jude 1:7 a comparison of sexual immorality of Sodom with the angels. Certainly the men of Sodom sought to have sex with the angels that God sent into the city. I prefer translations that liken the behaviour of the cities around Sodom and Gomorrah, as also like, (in the same way), that of Sodom and Gomorrah. This is important because these other cities were also destroyed. This means that the immoral sexual behaviour is not being likened to the behaviour of the angels in Jude 1:6.
The connecting word between verse 6 and 7 is “just as”. I don’t think this is likening the sexual deviancy of the people in Sodom and Gomorrah to angels. Rather it is linking their respective judgements: eternal chains and darkness; and eternal fire. For completeness I note that verse 5 talks about a judgement on the people of Israel after exiting Egypt. This has no relation to verses 6 and 7 except judgement, so why do we try and link the sins in verses 6 and 7. Well, I have expended a ridiculous number of words to close a very tenuous insinuation that angels might interact sexually with mankind. But if it denies son of God status to demons – I’ll do it.
The trouble is, these scriptures from 2 Peter and Jude mention angels, Noah and Sodom, all at the same time. So our brains try and make links. I have said that the link is judgement but if you want to see something sexual; then you will. However, I would like to offer something a little bit different. It’s also a little bit tenuous, though no more than other suggestions being made.
I have drawn attention to the spirit of God lifting off of Adam’s descendants after the flood and claimed that they were not targets of possession before then. I think it reasonable that God would make an extremely strong example to the rebellious angels of their fate at that time, should they try and possess or oppress His children. That is why 2 Peter 2:4 uses unprecedented severity in the description of their judgement. Can you see now that just as the judgements on man were a warning to man, so the judgement on angels also warned them, and at the appropriate time. Perhaps that is what we were supposed to see and not that the angels were responsible for, and being judged for, the illegal intermarriage of Genesis 6:1.
Again, the link between the sin of angels and of man is judgement – not the specific sins that each engaged in. We know that the sin of man in the days of Noah and at Sodom and Gomorrah was great, but only brief examples are given. What about the sin of the angels? Rather than looking for something exotic in Genesis 6, look for the plain and simple declarations. The snake deceived Eve in Genesis 3. In Genesis 4:7, God tells Cain that “sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it”. Doesn’t this sound a bit like Satan who we learn to resist in the New Testament? Isn’t Satan a murderer and the father of lies? (John 8:44) Demons could not possess man at this time but they certainly could deceive man. Now you have a rock solid example of the sin that fallen angels or demons were engaged in.
Finally, I would like to show you something in 1 Peter 3:18-22. It is saying that Jesus preached or proclaimed to the spirits in prison. The spirits here must be the spirits of men – not angels because Jesus is man’s kinsman redeemer (Galatians 4:4-5). This is about the first resurrection and people who died before Jesus was crucified and were raised at that time, when Jesus descended into hell (Matthew 27:51-53, John 5:24-29). The really amazing thing is that it refers specifically to man in the days of Noah. This shows that the spirit of God was indeed contesting with mankind right up to the flood. It confirms that after the flood the Holy Spirit lifted off of mankind. It reinforces that we need the Holy Spirit to be saved.
I have seen references to the apocryphal books of Enoch to support this demons theory. Initially I did not want to look there. It’s not in my Bible and I don’t want to research anything that I know is wrong because Jesus alone is “The son of God” in heaven. Neither angel nor demon can ever hold that title, but I can hold that title because of the Cross. However, because a friend still asserted that this book confirmed the understanding of demons, seemingly in spite of the other things I pointed out, I have made a detailed response in Supplement S1, Challenging “The Book of Enoch” – Demons are not sons of God. I think a brief summary is sufficient here.
The Book of Enoch disappeared soon after Christ and was only found again in Ethiopia in 1773. It does seem to be a valid translation of the text that was around 100 years either side of Jesus. But it has huge theological problems. It also has huge credibility problems. If you actually just read it, many sections are an abomination. Neither Moses, nor the Jews, nor Christians recognise it as scripture. It should not be considered in any Bible discussion.
Other commentators have described the Book of Enoch as a complex, poorly structured document that has been tampered with over a period of time in the few hundred years B.C. and perhaps also A.D. It has multiple authors but lays claim only to Enoch. That makes it deceptive. It has many unusual, or better stated inconsistent, handling of angels compared with true scripture, and in general it glorifies or elevates the demons.
To me it offers up lies in regard to the angelic activities associated with Genesis 6 and as such, its assertion that these angels were the sons of God or sons of the heavens, is also a lie. Oh, and if you want to read it, try a web search. You will find copies at most satanic and spiritualism websites.
At the end of one summary by a certain scholar, that contained all the above points, he asserted that:
The intent of the writer, he assumed Noah, was to show a monstrous outburst of demonic forces leading to universal corruption and judgement.
Wow, where did all that come from? I thought that the intent of the Bible was to show the interaction of man and God. Sadly, I think a lot was influenced by the Book of Enoch. It’s also possible that in our attempts to justify God’s decision to send a flood, we simply read into the text far more than is there. Again we credit demons with more than they are. Demons rob, kill and destroy. The Pharisees were similarly eager to attribute the miracles done by Jesus to Satan. (Luke 11:15) Satan loves to take all the credit and he loves us to ascribe powers to his demons that they don’t have. And just think about it. If this was all due to the demons, then why does God get so displeased with man and wipe out man?
Another theologian sent me this clarification of who were “sons of God” and “daughters of men” in Genesis 6 to correct my understanding. By the way, this was not a recognition by him that my arguments even dignified a response in theological circles – actually quite the opposite was made clear. I don’t want you to get an elevated idea about me. But this man was good enough to put together a lengthy email in response to my query, even though he thought my suggestions were wrong, and I did learn several things from his reply.
Overall, no-one can be absolutely sure as to the meaning of these historical figures. In Genesis 6:2 “Angels of God” was the uniform interpretation of the ancient Jews in the OT Septuagint. The Hebrew word nephilim (“fallen ones”) can possibly relate to the nature of their spiritual “parents,” the fallen angels, and is used in connection with the giants in Canaan (Numbers 13:33), the Septuagint Greek word being “gigantes.” Similar to animal genes being inserted into human DNA in experiments today, Satan’s demons could have indwelt certain men and women and performed selective breeding experiments to produce a race of giants.
This was supposed to show me how the demons solution to the sons of God can explain the Nephilim because that was the nature of my question. But all I saw was uncertainty and conjecture that glorifies demons.
It is nice to know that in theological circles, it is acceptable to suggest that the name Nephilim, meaning “fallen ones”, can possibly relate to their spiritual “parents”. I have suggested the sons of God, descendants of Adam, who was man in God’s likeness and spirit, were taking wives from the descendants of day-6 man who was merely the image of God, an exterior spiritless look-alike, created as servants. How far Adam’s descendants had fallen! Just as children born out of wedlock are demeaningly referred to as bastards or illegitimate, through no fault of their own, so too “fallen ones” was applied to the children of this intermarriage.
This is an exercise in logic that you can probably do without, so don’t bother reading this section if you are feeling a bit tired. It is so hard to apply logic without someone else finding some alternate logic.
In several places I have suggested that treating the sons of God as demons simply does not make any sense. If the intermarriage (or reinterpreted possession), in verse 2 is the activity of demons then why does God indicate in verse 3 that He will withdraw His Spirit from man and that man’s lifespan will reduce? These seem like a direct consequence, and these consequences all fall upon man. So if this was not caused by man then God would have been unjust. To me this goes against a fundamental principle of reaping what we sow, and of the consequences of sin. So causality means that the sons of God cannot be demons.
But there is an interesting defence here:
In verse 5 God declares that man’s wickedness is great, that is, what man is doing, but even more so, the root cause is that man’s heart conceives nothing but evil. This is the prelude to God declaring His intent to wipe out all man and animals and birds in verse 7. This is a tremendously broad statement about the evil of mankind. So God is not making this statement just because of the intermarriage in verse 2.
I agree with the assessment so far, but the argument goes on:
Therefore, the demons were not causing this and hence there is no logical error and no injustice on God’s part.
The argument still seems logical but it would have been much better if God put verse 5 at the start of Genesis 6 if He wanted us to understand it that way. Now I have not heard it said exactly this way, but this is what I presume some people think:
It was man’s evil that gave demons this access to mankind and so it is man’s fault. Hence it is logical for the consequences in verse 3 to fall on mankind.
Now, don’t forget that I cannot even justify calling demons “sons of God” in the first place, but if you do, the above argument explains how obvious causality concepts have been swept aside. Is it OK to sweep them aside? The order of the text is really not quite right as I pointed out. Furthermore, we are now left with this jaw-dropping declaration of man’s evil and nothing to exemplify what it was.
Adam’s sin was described and then the consequences. Cain’s sin was described and then the consequences. But if the intermarriage really is a demon issue then there is nothing in the text to exemplify mankind’s sin in Genesis 6, although the consequences abound. So this defence wins some points for artistic merit but it runs against the plain reading where we do get the feeling that the verse 3 lifespan reduction and spirit withdrawal, and the verse 5 declaration of man’s evil, is caused at least in part by the intermarriage and so the intermarriage cannot be the action of demons.
There is another way to sidestep these causality problems. You simply argue that there is no causal relationship. This is a tremendous stretch. I cannot say that it is wrong. I stretch things on occasions. You exercise your own discernment. I can find no excuse to have demons there in the first place. This defence is just another example of how far we have had to twist the plain reading to fit in a bad explanation.
The following link is to an article I came across on the CMI website in July 2010. I had prepared the rest of this appendix well before then:
I have very great respect for the CMI team and even though I disagree with some conclusions in this article, it gives a well-researched overview about the sons of God and Nephilim in Genesis 6. I don’t want to have a little point-by-point debate about issues I disagree with, that should be fairly apparent. But I will make these points:
This CMI article has a bias to support the idea that demons are behind some apparent present-day alien manifestations. I agree with this, but I do not agree that Genesis 6 is good support. In Genesis 6 the Spirit of God was still upon mankind, even though they were doing and conceiving evil. One of the main issues in Genesis 6 is that God declared that His Spirit would not continue to strive or contend with mankind because they had turned (or were turning to) the flesh. Since the Holy Spirit was upon them they were not targets of demonic possession just as believers today, filled by the Holy Spirit, can’t be possessed.
Because of the bias this article offers conjecture supporting the idea that angels could have sex with women. This is despite the fact that it quotes several scriptures saying plainly that angels do not marry nor procreate (Mark 12:24-25, Luke 20:34-36). This is an example of why we need to recognise our biases.
But most of all, I note that this article makes no
mention of the
I don’t know for sure. We did not understand the sons of God and daughters of men. People were attacking the Bible and saying that this was evidence that it was incorrect. When we come to a teacher and ask him to explain something, it’s not easy for the teacher to admit ignorance. In modern times we could not understand how or why the intermarriage of male and female descendants of Adam could have the dramatic consequences of age reduction and give rise to the Nephilim. So our scholars are pressured to find an explanation and if a good one is not available, a bad one will suffice.
Now I have to say this again. When I first read Genesis some 25 years ago I assumed Adam was more detail of day 6 – the Classic view. I am so glad that I never looked critically at this Genesis 6 passage in my early days. I vaguely recall not understanding it but I just read on. If I put myself under pressure to explain it then I would probably have come up with something weird. I thank God that He has allowed me to see the Day-8 view that reveals the understanding of the sons of God and daughters of men. It explains the consequences of their interbreeding. It does not require God to curse His children and it does not require us to defame Jesus and God with the talk of demons.
None of us are really any different. The earlier explanations in sections 1 and 2 add a tremendous amount of conjecture to scripture. Most sermons start with a few verses and then add whatever. Sometimes it’s God-inspired and sometimes it’s not.
Secular science also has its bad explanations. It had no way to explain the universe or life on earth so, having excluded God it came up with the Big Bang and Evolution. These theories are simple to the point of being vague. They continue to evolve as new data reveals their inadequacies. Even amongst secular scientists the Big Bang is challenged. But in the absence of a “good” theory, or should I say “God” theory, they persist with a bad one.
I was feeling quite pleased for about 30 seconds. I had silenced poor theology about demons and God cursing His children with the age reduction. In other places I showed how God was grieved, not angry over what happened. Wow, we could all see our loving merciful, slow to anger God. But in the next verse, Genesis 6:7, God declares that He will wipe out all life on the earth. (Well, at least 1 Peter 3:20 also thinks God was patient.)
OK, now I need to conjure up an explanation. Sometimes I call this hand-waving. You decide if it’s good or bad.
A lot of the theology I have read focused on the apparent great wickedness of that generation. Thereby, it implies that they deserved this punishment and so God was acting justly. Do you see how we try to defend God’s reputation, but actually we defame God again! God does not delight in the death of the wicked. God is and has always been seeking ways to draw man back to Himself.
God would have been acting justly if He destroyed Adam or Cain, but He did not. Taking extra wives was not frowned upon by God when Jacob did it or King David did it. Only when David took another man’s wife was God upset. The wickedness I see today and over the last few centuries seems to be even worse. And why kill all the animals as well as mankind?
I don’t understand. I know that if God did not step in and act, man would have been lost forever, not just in this world but cast into eternal torment. Whatever He did to cauterise the wound meant that today, billions who believe will rejoice in heaven with Jesus. I know that God delayed His actions until He could find a righteous man Noah, through whom He could save mankind. I know that God tried all available options before allowing His son to come and die on the Cross (Matthew 21:33-45).
Well you see what I know. It would seem logical if all alternatives were to be exhausted before sending Jesus, and God knew that they would all fail, then the alternative to wipe out all mankind and start again through one man is best done before man spreads out over the face of the earth, exactly as Genesis 6:1 declares. That is, while the population was still small.
Genesis 6:5 talks about the wickedness of mankind. Nothing has changed. They were not especially evil in that generation. All the talk about extreme evil and demonic outbursts deludes us. It makes us feel that we are not like that generation. But we are like that and deserve the same fate. It’s only the grace of God in Jesus Christ that can separate us from that fate. You and I need to know that. I know that He will act once more when all the children He set His heart upon have been brought in.
In the Old Testament we see God’s seeming anger or judgement because of some horrible thing happening. It was only as I wrote the above section that it dawned on me that it was not because that horrible thing was so uniquely or especially wicked. God was just exhausting all the options, knowing that eventually He would have to allow His son to come and die on the Cross. That was to be the absolute last option.
So here, when He flooded the world, it was not that man’s wickedness was so much worse than today. When he scattered mankind at the Tower of Babel, man’s wickedness in seeking self-importance through technology was no different to what is happening today, or at other points in history as empires were built. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was not because they were more deserving of death than people today. Rejecting Jesus makes you worse than Sodom (Matthew 11:24-25). In fact, the main reason God may have acted was not so much that it was especially wicked and evil, but it was to prevent things going completely off the rails before He sent Jesus.
Well, now that you see wickedness again abounding all over the world, and now that God has played the final card by sending Jesus, what do you think will happen? I’ll tell you – He will send Jesus again! God gave Himself one extra option. He had promised Israel that their Messiah, their King would rule and reign forever. And that is what Jesus will do before the final wrap-up!
One of the tragedies that we miss in these verses of Genesis is the start of Genesis 6:3, before God declares the age reduction. God says that:
My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh...
So the spiritual Day-8 lineage of man has turned from the likeness and nature and spirit of God to the natural, flesh. Indeed, it literally manifest when day-8 man, Adam’s lineage, took wives from the spiritless day-6 lineage (man in God’s image). And why did they do it? Because the women looked attractive – external image. What was happening in the natural was also unfolding in the nature and spirit of day-8 man. So God classifies the sons of God as being just fleshy ordinary man.
When God’s Holy Spirit meets us it is primarily a sprit-to-spirit interface. Now that man has turned from the spirit, God’s Holy Spirit is going to be withdrawn.
We know that God talked with Adam and Cain. God walked with Enoch. God prophesied through Lamech in Genesis 5:29, and God talked to Noah. But after the flood it seems that the word of God, His Spirit, only came upon a few individuals.
Can you see what is happening? First Adam lost the full-on direct presence of God that we saw in the garden. But God is still speaking to Adam’s descendants. However now, in Genesis 6, even that is lost. But that is what is restored when we accept Jesus as our saviour. And when God establishes the new heaven and earth, the full-on presence of God is restored. I feel like saying, “Praise God, Hallelujah!”, but I’m not sure if you are allowed to get excited in debates about theological issues.
Chapter 21 “Life for life”, and Chapter 22 “Noah’s outburst”, further reveal the effects of God’s spirit being withdrawn, based on the events in Genesis 9.
It looks like I have stepped into a murky debate that has been going on for centuries. I have trodden on some toes. I think I have a simple, clear explanation but I’m sure other people will want to tell me their explanations. Well, I want to set the bar a little higher. I’m not interested in any other explanation if:
If you can’t come up with something that can get over that hurdle then don’t tell me. ... Actually, don’t tell anyone.
A friend could see that I was genuinely grieved about calling demons “sons of God”. But he pointed out that attempts to “fix” Scripture end up opening much deeper sores elsewhere. He offered his simple explanation of why demons can be “sons of God”:
Angels have been seen to look like men who are the image of God and so angels are also like, or in the image of God. God is a supernatural being. So too angels are supernatural and have been observed to perform supernatural deeds. So the logic runs: angels were created by God; angels are like God; angels are a sort of offspring of God; angels are sons of God. Demons were created as angels and although they have fallen, they are similarly “sons of God”. God created living creatures in this world: fish, animals and man, but they are not supernatural and so are not like God and not sons of God. God created cherubim in heaven but they are not visibly like God and are not sons of God.
That is extremely logical. There are flaws, but it is my opinion that the Jews 300 years BC who made the Septuagint used exactly the same logic. Perhaps the Book of Enoch also influenced their understanding. That was their understanding of “sons of God” and so they uniformly translated “bene elohim” as “angels of God” even if it did not make sense, as in Deuteronomy 32:8. But modern translations do their best not to put any “spin” on the text – you translate what is there and add a note somewhere to give clarification.
Now these Jews who translated the Septuagint were devout and revered the Word of God which the Jews had preserved nearly letter perfect for over 1,000 years at that time. But for whatever reason they thought the “sons of God” were angels. What motivated them to change the actual text from “sons of God” to “angels of God”? The “bene elohim” occurs in about 5 places. It seems totally unreasonable that if all these places actually had different wording that none have survived. So they did not do this because the “angels” word was actually present in earlier Hebrew manuscripts. This is especially so because it would seem that there was clear pressure to change the wording from sons to angels. The fact that there are no Hebrew texts showing this would seem to confirm it was never there. (By the way, I have not studied Hebrew texts, I just assume that if those who do study them ever found such an instance, they would have loudly announced it and it would be used as confirmation.)
So I am now going to offer an opinion about why the Jews changed the words in the Greek translation. First we note that early translations of the Old Testament, post Jesus, replaced the name of God “Yahweh”, with “the LORD”. I have heard it said that this was out of reverence for His name. Well, I think the same reverence was at work in the “sons of God” translation, though misplaced.
The Jews did not know that Jesus, the son of God, had been at his Father’s side right through creation and all of history. They did not know that God would never have inspired text to compromise the uniqueness of “His only begotten son” in heaven. But the Jews did expect their Messiah, the Son of God, to arrive (Matthew 26:63). The Jews also knew that the son of God would be equal to God (John 5:18) and angels were clearly not equal with God. So having assumed that the “sons of God” were actually angels, for them, leaving the words “son of God” mistakenly elevated the status of the angels and undermined the significance of their earnest expectation of the coming Messiah, the son of God. And how important would it have been to stress this to Jews living far away from their homeland without access to good teachers and only having this Greek translation!
So I think it was their zeal that led these Jews, 300 years BC, to try and “fix” the scriptures by changing sons to angels. And just as my friend said without knowing it, it has opened much deeper sores elsewhere. Now that we have seen Jesus, the only son of God revealed, we have to get rid of this defamation against his name – that demons could ever have been called sons of God, especially in the Genesis 6 and Job references which were dictated by God. Removing the option for angels or demons to be called “sons of God” is not “fixing” scripture but “restoring” it.
And what is the fruit of this restoration. We see God acknowledging Adam’s descendants as His sons (Genesis 6). We see God acknowledging people gathered together to worship Him as His sons (Job 1:6, 2:1), and we see Jesus shouting for joy as his Father is creating the earth for his bride (Job 38:7).
Demons acknowledged Jesus as the son of God (Matthew 8:29), and so they themselves acknowledged that they are not sons of God. In many places in the Gospels, Jesus told his disciples about “your Father” in heaven. There is no better example than in John 20:17, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”. This assertion of their son-ship would have been a jaw-dropping revelation to Jesus’ disciples. In the Old Testament it was generally, “I will be your God, and you shall be my people” (Jeremiah 7:23), not “my children” and this was always conditional on obedience to the Law. But a son is a son forever.
There were hints and places where God referred to Israel as His children and these have been listed earlier in section 1, “The sons of God are Adam’s descendants”. I don’t think that these were understood by the Jews 300 years BC. We cannot allow their flawed theology to compromise the uniqueness of Jesus or our own sonship. So get the demons out of Genesis 6 and build a new theology. I am of the opinion that the Day-8 view provides that theology.
I just heard a DVD by Joseph Prince on the Parable of the Lost Son. It pointed out that the father referred to his lost son who had returned using the Greek word for a mature son, but referred to his first son, who had been obedient, with the Greek word for a young child. So Israel, who was trying to earn the favour of God was like the first son, and are pictured as immature children. But the second son, who knew he had failed and sought his father’s forgiveness, was recognised as a mature son. This has nothing to do with the debate in this article but everything to do with what the son of God has done for us.
Scripture quotations taken from