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.
Who are the Nephilim?
Did giant hybrid beings actually walk the earth at one time?
How does the Bible account for the origin and identity of these giants?
How do the giants of Genesis play a central role in the violence and evil in the world before the flood of Noah?
To discover the answer to these questions and more, be sure to check out my latest session in my Genesis Study.
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The Nephilim were on the earth in those days (and also after this) when the sons of God were having sexual relations with the daughters of humankind, who gave birth to their children. They were the mighty heroes of old, the famous men.
[Genesis 6:4 — NET Bible]
While the Biblical record may not provide a comprehensive description of the ancient, antediluvian world, it is far from silent on the subject. Genesis clearly distinguishes the pre-flood world as a unique age when the sons of God (i.e. heavenly beings) procreated with human wives and produced hybrid offspring who built advanced civilizations on the earth.
Nearly every ancient civilization and extra-biblical tradition refer to this era as the “golden age,” when the “gods” came down and lived among men and their offspring ruled the earth as giant kings and heroes before the great cataclysm destroyed them all. Greek legends perhaps provide the most familiar accounts of the golden age when Zeus and Poseidon cohabited with human wives producing men of great renown. Whether the Egyptians, Babylonians, Norse, Romans, or Native Americans, the pagan traditions hearken back to this golden age with longing, as a time of great abundance, progress, peace, prosperity, ingenuity and longevity.
Ironically, the Hebrew account of the pre-flood world is fundamentally different from the pagan mythos. Instead of being portrayed as peaceful progenitors and saviors of mankind, these ancient gods and their hybrid kings of the antediluvian age were not benevolent rulers but rather wicked tyrants who defiantly opposed the Most High God and declared war on Him and His Son. They proliferated evil through brazen idolatry, gross immorality, insatiable violence, and utter corruption of all flesh. God knew man’s days were numbered — and if God had not cut those days short, no flesh would have survived.
This incursion of the rebellious sons of God and the dispersion of their Nephilim offspring on the earth pushed the human race to the brink of extinction — which precisely is why God preserved Noah and prepared the ark. Man and beast alike were on the path to ultimate ruin until God intervened to save mankind and by extension the promised seed of the woman — the One from Adam’s race destined once and for all to crush the head of the enemy.
The Nephilim hybrids were far superior to the sons of Adam in intellect, size, strength, knowledge, and technology, creating a ruling class of mighty ones who subjugated and oppressed mankind. These giant kings of great renown inherited the genetic signature from their celestial fathers, which made them beyond human. Yet by receiving the X chromosome from their mortal mothers, they were human enough to qualify as “men” and therefore legally and rightfully lay claim to the dominion of the earth.
The flood was universal in scope and incomprehensible in devastation. The target of the flood was not mankind. Quite the contrary. As the rightful inheritors and rulers of the earth, man was saved through the flood and given authority to begin again.
The flood had to be catastrophic and complete to utterly wash the earth of the seed of the Serpent — the Nephilim. No longer bearing the image of God. A hybrid race corrupted in the image of the fallen sons of God. So as God judged the hybrid kings on the earth in the flood, He also judged the rebel sons of God by locking them away in the hollow depths of the abyss and handing Jesus the keys.
These fallen sons are eternally cut off from God’s family and expelled from His kingdom for their treasonous transgression against the Most High.
Dismantling the Theological Taboo about Angels
And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.
I readily admit that many acclaimed scholars and theologians reject, ignore, or even scoff at this interpretation of Genesis 6 altogether, primarily on the faulty presupposition that “angels” cannot marry nor are they given in marriage. Furthermore, many simply cannot stomach the thought of angelic beings having sex with human women, as if it is theological taboo. One reason so many struggle to embrace the full extent of human and angelic interaction is because they have exchanged the Biblical description of the divine sons of God for fanciful and fantastic depictions of “angels” as wing-feathered females flying along with their fat, naked, baby cherubs. The Bible reveals no such thing.
Whenever the Scriptures describe an angel (messenger) — aka one of the divine sons of God — they invariably appear human in form and always are depicted as men — “sons” — never as women. What if the sons of men are much more akin to the heavenly sons of God than we ever expected? Angels are depicted as having physicality, being able to eat and drink and wield weapons and wage war and interact with the material world. Angels align with humans both anatomically and corporeally. Angels certainly are supremely capable beings with enhanced DNA and therefore possess their own genetic signature — their own kind (race).
Just because we are unable to perceive and understand the spiritual realm, doesn’t mean that it is non-physical. There seems to be no physical limitation keeping angels from procreating with human women. When Jesus made the statement that angels do not marry (Matthew 22:29-30, Luke 20:34-36), He was referring to the fixed boundaries between heaven and earth. It’s not that angelic beings are incapable of sexual reproduction, it is that they are forbidden from it, which explains in part why the sons of God envied mankind and lusted for their wives. They wanted what they could not have.
God established a created order and made a divine decree from His throne that man is only to reproduce after his own kind. It is not lawful for heavenly beings to intermarry with mankind. The rebellious sons of God violated this law with cross-species hybridization. It was a corruption of God’s image, an abomination and offense to God of the highest degree. One deserving swift and resolute judgment.
What I am proposing is not taboo. It is certainly not heretical. It is not interpretive license. It is not poor exegesis. It is soundly Biblical and theologically viable in every sense of the word.
But just because something in the Scriptures makes us feel uncomfortable is not grounds to reject it. We often fear what we don’t understand. Yet we must always allow the Scripture simply to say what it says and mean what it means.
The Antediluvian Angels Who Sexually Sinned
For those who are not ready to accept the Biblical view of the ancient, antediluvian world — specifically pertaining to the unprecedented procreation between the sons of God and the daughters of men — it is not a matter of dispute from the testimony of Scripture. I find it untenable to argue against this view using the Scriptures.
For sake of time, I will refer to some key passages from the Apostles, who clearly operated in and interpreted Scripture through an ancient Hebrew Genesis 6 paradigm.
Peter acknowledges that there are rebellious spirits (fallen angels) who presently are being held in chains of judgment for their transgression when “God’s patience waited in the days of Noah.” Notice that it is Christ — the firstborn Son of God — who has been given all authority over the angels and all the rulers and princes in the heavenly realm.
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, 19in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.
21Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
[1 Peter 3:18-22]
Peter again mentions the ancient angelic defection in the pre-flood world and connects their motivation as defiling lust and despising authority.
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell [tartarus] and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;5if 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; 6if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked8(for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones,11whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord.
[2 Peter 2:4-11]
Once again, Peter is referring to the sons of God who sinned by taking human wives in the days before the flood — indulging in the lust of defiling passion and despising the authority of God. The only possible candidate in Scripture that qualifies is the Genesis 6 narrative.
Jude confirms this on the testimony of multiple witnesses.
You also know that the angels who did not keep within their proper domain but abandoned their own place of residence, he has kept in eternal chains in utter darkness, locked up for the judgment of the great Day. 7So also Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring towns, since they indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire in a way similar to these angels, are now displayed as an example by suffering the punishment of eternal fire. 8Yet these men, as a result of their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and insult the glorious ones.
Jude echoes Peter by reminding us of the forbidden sin of the watcher angels who did not keep their proper domain in heaven but rather intruded upon the earth to indulge in sexual immorality — namely by pursuing unnatural desire with the human race and perverting God’s created order.
The gravity of this transgression led to the destruction of every living thing on the planet through the flood and the immediate incarceration of the rebellious sons of God who had conspired to corrupt and conquer the earth.
Finally, the testimony of Enoch gives further details of the rebellion of the watchers.
Thou see what Azazel hath done, who hath taught all unrighteousness on earth and revealed the eternal secrets which were in heaven, which men were striving to learn; and Samlazaz, to whom Thou hast given authority to bear rule over his associates. 6 And they have gone to the daughters of men upon the earth, and have slept with the women, and have defiled themselves, and revealed to them all kinds of sins. And the women have borne giants, and the whole earth has thereby been filled with blood and unrighteousness.
And again the Lord said to Raphael, “Bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dudael, and cast him therein. And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there for ever, and cover his face that he may not see light. And on the day of the great judgement he shall be cast into the fire.
Now that we have a better understanding of the seed war that has been raging since the beginning of creation, we can look toward the Seed of the woman — the son of Abraham, son of David — the Son of Adam, the Son of God. And we can look forward to the future culmination this ancient war with the revealing of Antichrist, the coming hybrid age, the battle of armageddon and the coming of the Son of Man to once and for all save the earth!
“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.”
[Genesis 6:4 – KJV]
One of most obvious places where fringe culture, conspiracy theory and Biblical truth intersect is in regard to the giants. Although the modern pundits who propagate Darwinian evolution and naturalism vehemently deny such nonsense, the historical testimony from all over the world cannot be dismissed.
Giants once walked this earth.
Some standing at least 15′ tall, weighing nearly 3,000 lbs. Swift, agile, fierce, and immensely strong giants. Their bodies proportionate and symmetrical, not gangly and deformed.
The giants before the flood — called the Nephilim — are believed to have been even taller.
For those of us who have been educated in a post-enlightenment society, where we are taught to apply a strict rationalism to everything, the idea of giants roaming the earth in the ancient past sounds more like a fairytale or science fiction than it does history. But the historical records abound. Giants are as real as can be.
Abraham Lincoln, prior to becoming president, wrote the following journal entry after visiting Niagara Falls. His is just one of many examples of this known phenomenon.
“When Columbus first sought this continent—when Christ suffered on the cross—when Moses led Israel through the Red-Sea—nay, even, when Adam first came from the hand of his Maker—then as now, Niagara was roaring here. The eyes of that species of extinct giants, whose bones fill the mounds of America, have gazed on Niagara, as ours do now. Contemporary with the whole race of men, and older than the first man, Niagara is strong, and fresh to-day as ten thousand years ago.”
[Abe Lincoln, Sept 1848]
Even in our churches, we practically never hear a preacher broach the subject of giants, despite the fact that giants are references over 20 times throughout the Scriptures. Where we treat the subject of the giants as taboo, the Biblical authors mention giants matter-of-factly, like they were commonplace in the ancient world.
For some reason Christians have no problem embracing certain aspects of the supernatural like angels and demons and miracles and the virgin birth and the resurrection, but we have a hard time wrapping our minds around the fact that there were “giants in the earth in those days; and also after that.”
Although it is worth doing a comprehensive secular study of the historical record of giants in the ancient world, which confirms that nearly every culture has either written and/or oral traditions of the giants, my goal here is simply to present what the Bible says about the giants and where they fit into the Biblical narrative.
Giants were the Hybrid Offspring of an Unholy Union
We are first introduced to the giants, called the Nephilim, in Genesis 6, in what the Bible describes as a forbidden union between the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men.” Most scholars agree that the word Nephilim is derived from the root Hebrew word, nephal, which literally means to fall or to lie.
The “sons of God,” therefore, are the fallen ones who abandoned their proper domain and lusted after the daughters of men, forcefully taking any they chose as wives in order to procreate.
The result of this perverse, unholy union? Giants. The Nephilim were a dominant, superior, hybrid offspring of giant warriors, who became known as the mighty men of old, heroes and men of renown in the ancient world. It only stands to reason that giant warriors of such stature would naturally become the dominant kings and rulers of the earth.
Jude describes how this heavenly rebellion in Genesis 6 was profane and treasonous in the eyes of the LORD.
“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— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, [strange flesh] serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”
Jude says the angels who abandoned their proper position in heaven indulged in “unnatural desire,” or literally different flesh. The Book of Enoch adds that the Watchers lusted after human women and came down and took all they wanted [1 Enoch 6:2].
In other words, the sons of God had no business intermingling with the daughters of man. It was a direct violation of the created order established by God and therefore a most perverse act of immorality.
The result of this ungodly transgression was the birth of the giants — a hybrid class of demonic offspring. The giants were not made in the image of God, but in the image of the fallen ones. And they were a direct threat to the human race.
Giants Perpetuated Evil and Violence on Earth
There is no mistake that the giants are directly connected to the complete corruption and defilement of all flesh prior to the flood of Noah’s day. The Biblical account implies that there is a connection between the manifestation of these giants and the wickedness in the earth.
“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart… Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”
[Genesis 6:5-6, 11-12]
The Book of Enoch confirms the Biblical account and elaborates on the evil agenda of the Watchers and their giant progeny. The fallen sons of God introduced all sorts of witchcraft, occult magic, astrology, enchantments, sorcery, use of drugs, weapons, genetic engineering, sexual perversion, and demonic blood sacrifice. The giants were bloodthirsty and violent, devouring mankind at will. [See 1 Enoch 7-8]
As I have mentioned before, the giant offspring of the Watchers were designed to accelerate evil and utterly destroy mankind from the earth.
Giants were to be Utterly Destroyed
The more I understand the role of giants in the Biblical narrative, the more I have come to understand God’s purposes in the flood and the subsequent conquest of Canaan. I believe the reason God resolved to destroy the entire earth with a global flood is directly connected to the total elimination of the Nephilim.
At the time of the great flood, only Noah and his family had been uncorrupted genetically. Everyone else on the face of the planet had been compromised by the corruption of all flesh — both man and animal.
The total annihilation of all flesh on the earth makes perfect sense when we insert the presence of the giants in those days. Interestingly, we see the very same relentless command given by God to utterly destroy all the inhabitants of Canaan during the conquest — men, women and children.
What is the connection between the flood and the conquest of Canaan?
GIANTS were in the land. Show them no mercy.
“So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, ‘The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.’”
Giants are the Seed of Satan
Ultimately the mystery of the giants can be understood in one simple verse in Genesis 3, where the LORD tells Satan.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
Everywhere the giants are found, they have one mission — destroy mankind and eliminate the seed of the woman. Satan knew enough to understand the coming Messiah would be born of a woman, so in his deranged mind, Satan’s purpose with the giants was to utterly wipe out mankind from the earth and so cut off the lineage of the promised Messiah.
All of sudden the role of the giants can be seen in light of the greater spiritual battle of cosmic forces.
Fortunately, every time Satan and the fallen sons of God have attempted to wipe out mankind from the earth, they have failed and God has triumphed.
Jesus Christ was born of woman in the fullness of time, and He has come to destroy the works of the devil and has conquered all the spiritual forces of evil that have been at work from the beginning!
As David symbolically cut off the head of the giant Goliath … so Jesus, the Son of David, has ultimately crushed the head of the Serpent! Amen!
And the rest of Gilead, and all Bashan,beingthe kingdom of Og, gave I unto the half tribe of Manasseh; all the region of Argob, with all Bashan, which was called the land of giants. (Deuteronomy 3:13 KJV)
The Bible is no book for the faint of heart. At times, God’s Word is not what we would consider to be “kid friendly.” Much of what is written in the Scriptures could easily be classified as outside the proverbial “box.” To say that the Bible often pushes the boundaries of the human imagination is an understatement.
At its core, the Bible is a supernatural book, revealed by the Immortal God. Why would we be surprised to discover that truth is much stranger than fiction? All the imaginations of man cannot possibly fathom the unsearchable mind of God, who’s thoughts are not our thoughts.
Personally my view of Scripture has expanded exponentially over the last year. I read the Bible in an entirely new light. I try to imagine what it was really like in the ancient past, and I especially have become awakened to the reality of the prophesies concerning the last days.
Seriously, there is no movie, no epic tale, no end time scenario, no imaginary dream that could even begin to compare to what we will see in this world before the Return of our LORD. And what’s most fascinating is that I’m not basing that conclusion on a hunch. I’m basing it strictly on what I find revealed in the Bible.
Case in point. Let’s talk a little about The Biblical land of Bashan. In the days of Moses, Bashan was known as the land of giants (Deut. 3:13), or Rephaim. The Rephaim were the giant clans who settled in the land of Bashan after the flood. You can think of them as cousins to the Nephilim from Genesis 6 and Numbers 13. Apparently there were many different clans of giants who had settled in or around the land of Canaan.
The King of Bashan was a giant by the name of Og. King Og of Bashan was somewhere in the neighborhood of standing 12′ tall, according to Deut. 3:11. He was one of the last surviving warriors of the Raphaim. One of the very last accomplishments of Moses before he died was leading the Israelites to defeat King Og and his armies.
Even though Og was one of the last of the giants to live in Bashan, he certainly was not the first. Dating back to the late 1860s, historian and author Rev. F. L. Porter wrote extensively of his own travels to the land of Bashan. In his book, The Giant Cities of Bashan, Porter found overwhelming evidence of these giants. He was an eyewitness to “graves of enormous dimensions,” some as long as 30 feet (pg 12).
To take it even further, the book of 1 Enoch identifies Mt. Hermon as the original place where the Watchers descended in Noah’s day and ensued to produce their giant offspring. It just so happens that Mt. Hermon was the northern most boundary of the land of … Bashan.
Even more interesting, when Bashan reappears throughout the Scriptures, it often is connected to the Second Coming passages and the Day of the LORD.
Consider Psalm 68:21-23
21But God will strike the heads of his enemies, the hairy crown of him who walks in his guilty ways. 22The Lord said, “I will bring them back from Bashan, I will bring them back from the depths of the sea, 23that you may strike your feet in their blood, that the tongues of your dogs may have their portion from the foe.
Could it be that one aspects of the last days and the coming of Jesus will be the return of these giants on the earth? If antichrist is mustering his demonic hordes to wage war against the Lord, is it outside the realm of possibility that this evil army will include all kinds of demonic beasts and giant warriors? Not only is it possible. I say it is probable.
We already know the final battle on earth will involve all kinds of powers and supernatural wonders in accordance with the forces of darkness. We already know that grotesque creatures will come upon the earth from the abyss in the great tribulation (Revelation 9). Other demons will be released, and satan himself will be cast to the earth (Rev. 12). My mortal mind might be able to fathom some surreal scenarios, but the Scriptures push the boundaries beyond my imagination.
Honestly, I believe that the last days will be so surreal that our human minds won’t be able to process what we will see. Only those sealed with the Holy Spirit, who have the mind of Christ, will be able remain sane in those days.
Will giants walk again upon this earth before Jesus returns? I am convinced of it. I believe the reemergence of giants in the last days is one of the key components that Jesus was predicting when He compared His day to the days of Noah.
I leave you with one final passage from Ezekiel 39. Clearly this passage is depicting the Day of the Lord and His final judgment on the antichrist and the demonic hordes that follow him.
As for you, son of man, thus says the LordGOD: Speak to the birds of every sort and to all beasts of the field: ‘Assemble and come, gather from all around to the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast on the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood.18You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth—of rams, of lambs, and of he-goats, of bulls, all of them fat beasts of Bashan.19And you shall eat fat till you are filled, and drink blood till you are drunk, at the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you.20And you shall be filled at my table with horses and charioteers, with mighty men and all kinds of warriors,’ declares the LordGOD. (Ezekiel 39:17-20)
I find three context clues that again strongly suggests that giant warriors will be judged on the Day of the Lord.
1. The Lord calls on the carrion and birds of prey to gorge themselves on the flesh of these fallen warriors and their kings. This is a parallel passage to Revelation 19:11-21, which is an obvious Day of the Lord passage.
2. Ezekiel uses the word “mighty men” twice in this passage, which is the same Hebrew word (gibborim) used first to describe the Nephilim in Genesis 6 and also Nimrod in Genesis 10. The rule of first reference almost certainly indicates that these warriors are more than human. They are giants.
3. Finally, we find another reference to Bashan in this passage – the land of giants. Coincidence? I’ll let you decide.
All I know is that the end times picture that is beginning to come into focus is far more sensational and surreal than anything I could have ever imagined. And to believe that I will live to see all of this play out in real time is both exhilarating and sobering at the same time.
I can almost feel the surge in my heart and the stirring in my soul that the boy David must have felt himself when he stepped into battle with the mighty giant Goliath. For who should dare defy the armies of the living God?
“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.
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.