The Fall of …. Angels? Part 2

And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.” (Jude 1:6)

In Part 1 of this installment, I made the case from Scripture that the sons of God in Genesis 6 were angelic beings who descended to earth and took human wives for themselves, producing a hybrid race of giants called the Nephilim. In this post, I would like to answer the question, “Is that even possible?”

One of the first objections to the fallen angel paradigm in Genesis 6 comes from something our Lord Jesus says in Matthew 22. When speaking to his disciples about the future resurrection, Jesus said the following…

For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” (Matthew 22:30)

Does this one verse eliminate any possibility that angelic beings could somehow take on human form and sexually reproduce with mankind? Not in the least! As a matter of fact, I believe the words of Jesus actually do more to strengthen and support the case for the forbidden angelic incursion in Genesis 6 than anything else. Let me explain.

The first question we must answer is, “do we find any Biblical support for immaterial, angelic beings taking on human form and carrying out physical actions on earth.” The answer is yes. For sake of time I will share only a few.

Angels and Abraham

In Genesis 18, Abraham is visited by the LORD and two angels in human form. This is a pre-incarnate manifestation of God the Son (Christophany) and the physical manifestation of two angelic beings along with Him.

And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. 2He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth 3and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. 4Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, 5while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said… Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate.” (Genesis 18:1-5)

To summarize, the LORD and two angels appear to Abraham in physical form and commence to rest, eat, drink and even have their feet washed. The two angels eventually go into Sodom on a rescue mission for Lot, where they remained in physical form. They even grabbed Lot at one point and pulled him back in the house (Gen. 19:10). But we also know that these were no ordinary men because they were able to strike the perverse mobs of Sodom with blindness. These are angelic beings interacting with men on a physical level.

Angels and Acts

Angels play a prominent role in the book of Acts, and in Acts 12 an angel is sent to rescue Peter from prison. Consider how this angelic being is described. “And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And the chains fell off his hands. (Acts 12:7)

This angel was able to physically strike Peter on the side to wake him up. He obviously had taken on human form to rescue Peter, but the angel also had supernatural powers to break the bonds and open the gates.

There are many other Biblical examples of angelic beings taking on human form. Gideon, Sampson, Hagar, and Joshua, also had encounters with angelic beings appearing in human form. Therefore, it is not problematic for the angelic beings in Genesis 6 also to manifest in human form for the purpose of sexually reproducing with the daughters of men.

Some have proposed that perhaps these fallen “sons of God” used high level artificial insemination or biogenetic engineering to cross breed with humans, which produced the hybrid giant race of the Nephilim. I am open to this scenario as a viable option, but I believe the more likely scenario in view involves the perverse act of forbidden sexual immorality between two races that were never intended to “marry.”

Angels and Jesus

Now back to the teaching of Jesus, who says that in the resurrection, believers in Christ will not marry or be given in marriage, but we will be like the angels in heaven. In other words, in the resurrection and the kingdom of our LORD, we will no longer possess or express sexual desires but we will become like the angels who are in heaven. 

The angels in heaven – in the unseen realm – do not have the capacity for sexual relations or reproduction. This is precisely why I believe what we discover in Genesis 6 is a gross violation of God’s created order and clear perversion of the nature of the angelic host of heaven. These rebellious, angelic beings chose to leave their proper domain and enter into the physical realm in order to corrupt the entire human race. The Genesis 6 incursion was the highest act of treason against the Throne of Heaven, which brought about the total destruction of the earth and the end of all flesh, except Noah and his family.

Angels aren’t supposed to take on flesh apart from God’s good will, and especially not with the intent to carry out the most wicked act of corrupting human flesh in a violation of the created order. In light of this, Jude’s description of the Genesis 6 rebellion makes all the sense in the world.

And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.” (Jude 1:6)

As we will see next time, this very same corruption of all flesh that occurred in the days of Noah is beginning to happen again today. 

The Fall of … angels? Part 1

The Nephilim (giants) were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.”(Genesis 6:4)

The Fall of Man

One doesn’t need to read very far into the Genesis account to discover the the fall of man. Genesis 3 vividly describes how the serpent, the adversary of God, seduced Eve with cunning lies, subverted Adam’s authority as God’s representative on earth, and led the entire human race down the tragic path of sin and death. As a result God cast man out of the garden, cut off Adam and Eve from their very Source of life, and cursed the whole creation. The fall of man caused utter spiritual ruin for the human race, and we continue to suffer the devastating consequences to this very day.

Most people operating from a Biblical worldview understand the significance of Adam’s sin and the consequent fall of the entire human race. After all, the doctrine of original sin is foundational to the orthodox teachings of the church. For example, the Apostle Paul writes … “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12), and also he says, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

There has always been a theological connection between Adam, the son of God (Luke 3:38), with Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus is the “second Adam,” who came to undo what the first Adam had done and to do what the first Adam could not. That is why there truly are only two kinds of people in the world — those who still are in Adam (i.e. separated from God in their sins) and those who are in Christ (i.e. saved by God’s grace through faith). The mission of Jesus from the very beginning has always been to redeem what was lost in the garden. But there is more to the mission of Jesus.

The Fall of the “sons of God”

The fall of man is not the only fall that we read about in the early chapters of Genesis. If we aren’t attentive students of the Word of God, we can easily gloss over one of the most significant events ever to take place in human history. In Genesis 6, we read about another fall — a celestial fall. And this one brief but theologically charged passage of Scripture is essential for a comprehensive understanding of the origin of evil and ultimately of the greater mission of Jesus Christ.

Inherent in the Genesis account is a heavenly rebellion, a satanic subversion of the throne of God. These heavenly beings are called the “sons of God,” and their wicked rebellion in the days of Noah must not be overlooked. The sons of God did that which was forbidden in the sight of God and further corrupted the earth to a point of no return.

Before we take time to discuss what these fallen sons of God had done in Noah’s day, let us take a minute to properly identify who they were.

Descendants of Seth or heavenly beings?

If one were to pick up a modern study Bible today and read the study notes on Genesis 6:1-4, he would likely discover that the interpretation of the term, “sons of God,” alludes to the godly human lineage of Seth, son of Adam, and the “daughters of men” refers to the ungodly offspring of Cain. The problem with this interpretation is that the Old Testament never connects the sons of God with the offspring of Seth. This “Sethite” view of Genesis 6 is a man-made construct that first emerged in the 1500s to try to explain away the plain reading of the Biblical text and give a more palatable interpretation. The orthodox traditional view of both the Jews and the early church was that the sons of God in Genesis 6 were referring to the fall of the angelic host of heaven. [I will address the problems with the Sethite view in detail in a later post.]

When we harmonize the Genesis 6 account with other references to the sons of God in the Old Testament, it is clear that these were no ordinary human beings. For example, the book of Job uses the term, “sons of God,” when describing a heavenly assembly.

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

Furthermore, we read in Job 38 the rebuke of the LORD, where He rhetorically asks Job a series of questions to silence Job’s complaint. Consider the LORD’s description of the creation account …

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy
” (Job 38:4-7)

According to the LORD, the sons of God were singing and shouting for joy as witnesses to God’s creation. These are clearly divine beings in the heavenly realm, not humans in the earthly realm. Likewise, what we read in Genesis 6 depicts much more than the descendants of Seth intermarrying with the descendants of Cain, and to force this view onto Genesis 6 clearly violates the text. But what about the New Testament? How did the New Testament writers interpret Genesis 6? I’m glad you asked.

New Testament Interpretation of Genesis 6

Both Peter and Jude make clear references to this heavenly rebellion in the New Testament. Let’s first consider what Peter had to say about Noah’s day.

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.” (2 Peter 2:4-5)

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared.” (1 Peter 3:18-20)

Peter clearly connects this heavenly rebellion of the past — where the angels “sinned” and “formally did not obey” — with the days of Noah.

Jude also makes this very same connection. He writes, “And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day… Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” Jude 1:6-7)

Jude explains that the true interpretation of Genesis 6:1-4 involves the angelic host who did not keep their proper domain but abandoned their proper abode in the heavenly realm and entered into the earthly realm to carry out profane and grotesque acts of sexual immorality and pursue unnatural desire. This is what is clearly implied when it says “the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them.” (Genesis 6:4) It is also interesting to note that Jude quotes from the ancient book of Enoch (Jude 1:14), which provides a detailed account of the Watchers who came down in Genesis 6.

The Nephilim

So what was the result of this unholy act of immorality? What kind of offspring was produced through this intermingling of the sons of God with the daughters of men? The Bible says that this perverse angelic incursion produced an entirely new race of giants, called Nephilim, which became the mighty men of old and heroes of renown. That’s right. Giants. There were giants on the earth in Noah’s day, and even after that. As bizarre as that may seem to some, it is true.

And as I will share next time, the giants unlock many ancient mysteries that also will help us understand the future. For the truth is much heavier than fiction.