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James Montgomery Boice, Baker Books,
Sons of God/Daughters of Men
When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years." (Genesis 6:1-4)
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days-and also afterward-when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.
The first verses of Genesis 6 are transition verses. On the one hand, they wrap up the pre-Flood history of the earlier chapters, showing the state of degeneracy to which the race had fallen. On the other hand, they prepare for the story of Noah and the Flood that follows; it was because of this degeneracy that the Flood came. Unfortunately, the meaning of these verses is not self-evident. They have raised questions that have been discussed for years.
The passage tells us that "When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose" (vv. 1, 2). This apparently straightforward statement is actually confusing because the subject of the sentence might refer to either of two things. "The sons of God" might mean descendants of the godly line of Seth, who according to this interpretation would be said to have married unbelieving women. Or it might refer to angels, as do the only other exact uses of the phrase in the Old Testament (Job. 1:6; 2:1; 38:7).
The thing that makes these verses so interesting is that three New Testament passages seem to refer to them: 1 Peter 3:18-22; 2 Peter 2:4, 5; and Jude 6, 7. These passages say in part: "Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built" (1 Peter 3:18-20); "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others" (2 Peter 2:4, 5); and "the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home-these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day" (Jude 6).
If these passages are related, as they seem to be, the incident of Genesis 6 has bearing on the doctrines of judgment, the afterlife, and even the work of Christ following His crucifixion but before His resurrection or ascension. The New Testament verses explain what Christ was doing when, as we say in the Apostles' Creed, "he descended into hell."
THE GODLY AND THE UNGODLY
The interpretation of Genesis 6 which takes "the sons of God" as referring to the godly line of Seth is most natural since it avoids the obvious problem of how spirit beings could copulate with humans. Moreover, it has weighty support in that it is the view of many theological giants of church history. It is not an early view--we will come back to that later--but it appears in such thinkers as Chrysostom and Augustine in the early church, and is adopted by reformers such as Luther, Calvin, and their followers.
Of the early views Augustine's is most important because he had a great influence on later interpreters. Moreover, he placed his interpretation within a broad theological context. Augustine's treatment occurs in The City of God, in which he is trying to trace the origin, nature and development of the two cities (the society of those who love God and the society of those who love self). This is significant, because it fits his objective to view Genesis 6 as continuing the story of the two cities which, according to Augustine, emerges in Genesis 4 and 5. He writes of the passage, "By these two names [sons of God and daughters of men] the two cities are sufficiently distinguished. For although the former were by nature children of men, they had come into possession of another name by grace.... When they [the godly race] were captivated by the daughters of men, they adopted the manners of the earthly to win them as their brides, and forsook the godly ways they had followed in their own holy society." (1)
This view fits into the pattern of Genesis 4 and 5. Moreover, it fits into the whole of Scripture in which, as Francis Schaeffer notes, "there is a constant prohibition against the people of God marrying those who are not people of God." (2) If this is the proper interpretation of Genesis 6, the point is well taken.
THE SPIRITS IN PRISON
However, there are reasons for rejecting this interpretation in favor of the angelic or supernatural view, and it these we now come. The first reason is linguistic. That is, so far as the biblical use of the phrase "the sons of God" is concerned, there is every reason to it as referring to angels.
This has been denied by the side, of course. Keil and Delitzsch maintain that the angel view is "not warranted by the usages of the language" and is "altogether unscriptural." (3) But what is the evidence? The phrase "sons of God" (bene elohim) is used only three other times in the Testament, as indicated earlier-in Job 1:6; 2:1; and 38:7. In each case it clearly means spirit beings, twice those fallen spirits who accompanied Satan in his periodic appearances before the Lord in heaven. This is so clear that the translators of the New International Version drop the longer phrase entirely and simply substitute the word angels: "One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came with them." (Job 1:6; cf. also 2:1). A similar form of this phrase (bar elohim used in Daniel 3:25 of the fourth figure Nebuchadnezzar saw when he looked into the burning furnace into which Daniel's three friends had been thrown. In this case it probably refers to a fallen angel or even a theophany, but the actual identity of the being involved is not given. Nebuchadnezzar merely says, "The fourth looks like a son of the gods."
An objection to this view says that the phrase "sons of God" is used in the New Testament of all believers, hence men and women, as opposed to angels or demons, and that it appears in Luke 3:38 specifically of Adam. But this actually proves the point. For what is it that distinguishes Adam (but not Eve), believers in the New Testament period (but not necessarily believers in the Old Testament period) and angels from all other beings in the universe? The answer is that each is directly created by God. Adam clearly was. So were the angels. Believers are termed "sons of God" because they are born of God directly by His Spirit (cf. John 3:3-8).
The second reason why the angel view of Genesis 6 should be preferred is that this was the view of the translators of the Septuagint, who rendered "sons of God" as "angels," and of other Jewish writers prior to the time of Christ. The key book is 1 Enoch. It is available to us through an Ethiopic text of which only three manuscripts survive. Yet in spite of this paucity of manuscripts it was probably "the most important pseudepigraph [a work written in the name of someone other than the actual author] of the first two centuries B.C.--the judgment of R. H. Charles. (4)
Enoch writes, "And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: 'Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.'They were in all two hundred[They] took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms and enchantments.... And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells.... And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways" (chs. 6-8). The book continues by showing the judgment of God against the fallen angels, in which they are bound up in prison in "the uttermost depths" of the earth.
First Enoch is not a biblical book, of course. Its interpretation of Genesis 6 is not inspired. It could be wrong in many places and undoubtedly is. Nevertheless, it is significant for our interpretation of the text because it was apparently known by Peter and Jude who, in their oblique references to the same subject, seem to put their stamp of approval on it, at least in this matter.
Several studies ago, when we looked at Enoch and his preaching to the ungodly of his age, we quoted Jude 14, 15: "Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: 'See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him."' We did not mention it at the time because it was not pertinent then, but these words are actually from 1 Enoch. The phrase "seventh from Adam" is found in 1 Enoch 60:8. The prophecy itself, containing the fourfold repetition of the word "ungodly," is found in 1:9. Since Jude clearly has Enoch in view in verses 14 and 15, how can he not also have Enoch in view in verse 6, just eight and nine verses earlier, when he says that "the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home" have been judged and "kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day"
When we carry our inquiry to 2 Peter we find the same situation. To begin with, 2 Peter and Jude are closely related in that most of 2 Peter 2 is paralleled in Jude, and there are parallels in the other two chapters. This causes us to think that Peter, like Jude, was probably also aware of the angel interpretation. Again, Peter uses language similar to Jude's in referring to the angels who sinned. He speaks of God's judging the angels by "putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for [final] judgment" and of God's judging the people by flood.
We are moving in the same realm in 1 Peter, where Peter writes, "Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built" (1 Peter 3:18-20). This text adds the idea of a special ministry of Christ to these fallen angels during His descent to hell between the times of His death and resurrection. It does not mean that He offered the gospel to them; that would suggest that after death there is a "second chance" for salvation--a doctrine repudiated elsewhere (Heb. 9:27; 2 Cor. 6:2). It is rather that Christ proclaimed His victory over sin and the devil to the demons. Peter refers to this event to encourage believers in their witness before this world's magistrates. (5)
The third reason for preferring supernatural interpretation of Genesis is the way in which both 2 Peter Jude connect the judgment of God on the angels with the judgment of God on Sodom and Gomorrah, particularly the way in which Jude refers to the second incident. Apart from the language of Jude the connection could simply be that of two obvious examples of great judgment. But Jude seems to say more, after having spoken of the judgment the angels for their sin, he goes on to say, "In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and version" (v. 7). In this verse the comparison is not in the matter of judgment itself. Jude does not say, "In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah were judged." The comparison is rather in the area of the sin that occasioned the judgment, and this, as Jude shows, was sexual sin of a particular kind. In modern versions this is hidden by translations as "sexual immorality perversion" (NIV, PHILLIPS) or "unnatural lust/s" (RSV, NEB). But the Authorized Version is closer to the Greek text when it speaks of the Sodomites as "giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh" [sarkos heteras]. The men of Sodom did this in desiring sexual relations with the angels who come to visit Abram and Lot (Gen. 19). The implication would be that in doing so they recapitulated the sin angels of Genesis 6, who "in a similar way" had desired relationships with women. (6)
The objection to this supposed union of angel flesh and human flesh is that the angels are supposed to be sexless, since Jesus said, "At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven" (Matt. 22:30). But this is not the equivalent of saying that the angels are sexless or that they could not have had sexual relations with women if they had chosen to do so. In heaven human beings will not marry but will nevertheless retain their identity, which includes their being either male or female. In the same way, the angels could also have sexual identities. It is significant perhaps that when the angels are referred to in Scripture it is always with the masculine pronoun "he," and they are always described as men. So, as Henry M. Morris says, "When Jesus said that the angels in heaven do not marry, this does not necessarily mean that those who have been cast out of heaven were incapable of doing so." (7)
The final point of evidence for the angel view of Genesis 6 is the reference to the giants or Nephilim in verse 4: "The Nephilim were on the earth in those days--and also afterward--when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown."
Since we have no information about the results of an angel/human union, except what is found here, it is impossible to argue how such a union might produce giants. It is enough to say that it is conceivable that this could happen and that this is the probable meaning of verse 4. The New International Version has hedged its translation by refusing to translate, simply transliterating the Hebrew word Nephilim. But in Numbers 13:33 the word clearly means giants (though not necessarily those produced by an intermarriage of angels and human beings). What would be more natural than that this union would produce the "mighty men" of antiquity? Since this verse specifically refers to the "heroes of old," what would be more probable than that this is the origin of those stories of half- human, half-divine figures present in virtually all ancient mythologies? The stories of Homer and other writers would be embellished, of course, but they probably reflect memories of these ancient outstanding figures of the pre-Flood period.
BACK AT THE RANCH
A study like this involves so many technical details that it is easy to find oneself wondering about the point of it all and asking whether the outcome really matters. In one sense, the natural interpretation is quite valid and its point well taken. But I am convinced that to view Genesis 6 in this way is actually to lose something important.
Earlier we pointed out that one thing in favor of the natural interpretation is that it seems to fit in well with the general theme of chapters 4 and 5, namely, the contrast between the godly and the ungodly lines. But this is not the only contrast we have seen in the opening section of Genesis. What of the serpent? What of Satan? What of his desire to subvert the race and draw men and women after himself against God? If Genesis 6 does not refer to demonic activity, Satan apparently fades out of the picture entirely after chapter 3. But if Genesis 6 refers to a further attempt by Satan to pervert the race, then we have a reminder of his continuing hostility not only to God but to ourselves as well.
Satan was in the garden when the promise of a deliverer was given. He heard God say, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel" (Gen. 3:15). Like Eve, he too must have thought that Cain, the woman's offspring, was the deliverer and must therefore have plotted to turn him into a murderer. He succeeded! He corrupted Cain by getting him to murder Abel, thereby eliminating one of Eve's children and rendering the other unfit to be the Savior. Yet Satan failed! For, as he was soon to learn, God simply continued on His unruffled way to develop the godly line through which the deliverer would eventually be born. What was Satan to do now? At this point he conceived the plan of corrupting the entire race by the intermarriage of demons and human beings. The Savior could not be born of a demon-possessed mother. So if Satan could succeed in infecting the entire race, the deliverer could not come. In narrating this incident, Genesis 6 is saying, in effect, "Meanwhile, back at the ranch the villain is still hatching his plots."
Satan is still doing it today. Because he is a being who learns by experience, he is a much wiser and more dangerous devil today than he was in the time before the Flood. A person who knows this and who knows that we struggle "not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world a against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms" (Eph. 6:12), will fear Satan and draw near to Jesus, who has defeated him.
Again, there is this practical application. Without detracting in the slightest from the fact that the Flood was a real judgment of God on the ungodliness men and women and consequently warning of an even greater judgment come, we can also see that it was at the same time an act of the marvelous grace of God. For in preserving the race intact uncontaminated by Satan's attempts demonic perversion, God actually provided for our salvation through keeping open the way for the Redeemer to come. If Satan had succeeded, Jesus could n have been born and the race as whole--including Adam and Seth a Enoch and all the rest--would have been lost. But by destroying the contaminated race and saving uncontaminated Noah and his immediate uncontaminated family and by binding the demons who participated in this great sin in Hades until the final judgment God made the salvation to be achieved by Christ both sure and possible.
1. Augustine, The City of God, Book 15, p. 303.
2. F. Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time, p. 126.
3. C . F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. 1,
4. The Pentateuch by James Martin (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, n.d.), p. 128.
5. R. H. Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English, Vol. 2, Pseudepigrapha (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1913), p. 163.
6. Cf. Bo Reicke, The Epistles of James, Peter and Jude (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1964, pp 109-11.
7. Paul's discussion of the nature of our resurrection bodies in 1 Corinthians has bearing on this interpretation, for he used the word heteros, meaning something that is entirely different, in comparing the glory of "heavenly bodies" and the glory of "earthly bodies" (1 Cor. 15:40). One verse earlier he spoke of the differences between the flesh of men, animals, and birds. But there he used the word meaning different but nevertheless of the same kind.
NOTE (July 13, 2012): Lambert Dolphin Ministries is grateful to have received permission from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group http://www.bakerpublishinggroup.com to post this 42nd Chapter from Genesis, Volume I by James Mongomery Boice, ©1998. All rights to this material are reserved. Material is not to be reproduced, scanned, copied, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without written permission from Baker Publishing Group.
from The Genesis Record, 1976. Henry Morris
Genesis 6:1, 2
Moral and spiritual conditions in the antediluvian world had deteriorated with the passing years, not only among the Cainites but eventually among the Sethites as well. Materialism and ungodliness abounded, except for the small remnant connected with the line of the promised Seed, along with those few who may have been influenced by the witness of such men as Enoch.
Then, in the days of Noah, a strange and terrible event took place, leading rapidly to such a tidal wave of violence and wickedness over the earth that there was no longer any remedy but utter destruction. The "sons of God" saw the "daughters of men" and took them as their wives, the children of such unions being "giants in the earth," mighty men of renown, monsters not only in size but also in wickedness (Genesis 6:1, 2, 4).
One's first reaction to this passage (and the standard interpretation of the liberals) is to think of the fairy tales of antiquity, the legends of ogres and dragons, and the myths of the gods consorting with men-and then to dismiss the entire story as legend and superstition.
On the other hand, modern Christians have often attempted to make the story more palatable intellectually by explaining the "sons of God" as Sethites and the "daughters of men" as Cainites, with their union representing the breaking down of the wall of separation between believers and unbelievers. Another possible interpretation which avoids supernaturalistic implications is that the phrase "sons of God" referred to kings and nobles, in which case the commingling so described is merely an account of royalty marrying commoners.
Neither of these naturalistic interpretations, however, explain why the progeny of such unions would be "giants" or why they would lead to universal corruption and violence. Although Scripture does teach that believers should not wed unbelievers (II Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 7:39), there is no intimation that this particular sin is unforgivable or more productive of general moral deterioration than other sins. Regardless of intellectual difficulties, it does seem clear that something beyond the normal and natural is described here in these verses.
The interpretation of the passage obviously turns on the meaning of the phrase "sons of God" (bene elohim). In the New Testament, of course, this term is used with reference to all who have been born again through personal faith in Christ (John 1:12; Romans 8:14; etc.), and the concept of the spiritual relationship of believers to God as analogous to that of children to a father is also found in the Old Testament (Psalm 73:15; Hosea 1: 10; Deuteronomy 32:5; Exodus 4:22; Isaiah 43:6). Not one of these examples, however, uses the same phrase as Genesis 6:2, 4; furthermore, in each case the meaning is not really parallel to the meaning here in Genesis. Neither the descendants of Seth nor true believers of any sort have been previously referred to in Genesis as sons of God in any kind of spiritual sense and, except for Adam himself, they could not have been sons of God in a physical sense. In context, such a meaning would be strained, to say the least, in the absence of any kind of explanation. The only obvious and natural meaning without such clarification is that these beings were sons of God, rather than of men, because they had been created, not born. Such a description, of course, would apply only to Adam (Luke 3:38) and to the angels, whom God had directly created (Psalm 148:2, 5; Psalm 104:4; Colossians 1: 16).
The actual phrase bene elohim is used three other times, all in the very ancient book of Job (1:6; 2:1; 38:7). There is no doubt at all that, in these passages, the meaning applies exclusively to the angels. A very similar form (bar elohim) is used in Daniel 3:25, and also refers either to an angel or to a theophany. The term "sons of the mighty" (bene elohim) is used in Psalm 29:1 and also Psalm 89:6, and again refers to angels. Thus, there seems no reasonable doubt that, in so far as the language itself is concerned, the intent of the writer was to convey the thought of angels-fallen angels, no doubt, since they were acting in opposition to God's will. This also was the meaning placed on the passage by the Greek translators of the Septuagint, by Josephus, by the writer of the ancient apocryphal book of Enoch, and by all the other ancient Jewish interpreters and the earliest Christian writers.
Apparently the first Christian writers to suggest the Sethite interpretation were Chrysostom and Augustine.
The reason for questioning this obvious meaning, in addition to the supernaturalistic overtones, is (for those who do not reject the idea of angels) the opinion that it would be impossible for angels to have sexual relations with human women and to father children by them. However, this objection presupposes more about angelic abilities than we know. Whenever angels have appeared visibly to men, as recorded in the Bible, they have appeared in the physical bodies of men. Those who met with Abraham, for example, actually ate with him (Genesis 18:8) and, later, appeared to the inhabitants of Sodom in such perfectly manlike shape that the Sodomites were attempting to take these "men" for homosexual purposes. The writer of Hebrews suggests that, on various occasions, some "have entertained angels unawares" (Hebrews 13:2).
It is true that the Lord Jesus said that...in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven" (Matthew 22:30). However, this is not equivalent to saying that angels are "sexless," since people who share in the resurrection will surely retain their own personal identity, whether male or female. Furthermore, angels are always described, when they appear, as "men," and the pronoun "he" is always used in reference to them. Somehow they have been given by God the capacity of materializing themselves in masculine human form when occasion warrants, even though their bodies are not under the control of the gravitational and electromagnetic forces which limit our own bodies in this present life.
When Jesus said that the angels of God in heaven do not marry, this does not necessarily mean that those who have been cast out of heaven were incapable of doing so. It clearly was not God's will or intention that angels mix in such a way with human women, but these wicked angels were not concerned with obedience to God's will. In fact, it was probably precisely for the purpose of attempting to thwart God's will that this particular battalion of the "sons of God" engaged in this illegal invasion of the bodies of the daughters of men.
Satan had not forgotten God's prophecy that a promised Seed of the woman would one day destroy him. He had implanted his own spiritual seed in Cain and his descendants, but God had preserved the line of the true Seed through Seth. When Noah was born and Lamech was led to prophesy that "comfort" concerning the Curse would come through him (Genesis 5:29), Satan and his angels must have feared that their opportunities for victory in this cosmic conflict were in imminent danger. Desiring reinforcements for a coming battle against the hosts of heaven, and also desiring, if possible, to completely corrupt mankind before the promised Seed could accomplish Satan's defeat, they seem to have decided to utilize the marvelous power of procreation which God had given the human family and to corrupt it to their own ends. Men now were rapidly multiplying on the earth and by implanting their own "seed" in humanity, they might be able to enlist in only one generation a vast multitude as allies against God. So these "sons of God" saw the daughters of men and "took them wives [or, literally, 'women'] of all which they chose."
Some commentators have said that, since the phrase "took them wives" is the same phrase as normally used throughout the Old Testament for "taking a wife," there can be nothing involved here other than normal human marriage. Therefore, they argue, these "sons of God" must be merely male believers in the Sethite line who married good-looking women of the Cainite (or other) line with no regard to whether or not they were true believers in God. This argument, however, is weak and is hardly sufficient to overthrow the heavy weight of evidence otherwise. The word used for "wife" (Hebrew ishah) is commonly also used for "woman," regardless of whether or not she was a married woman. The word for "take" (Hebrew laqach) is a very common verb, and can have any noun as its object. Shechem, for example, "took" Dinah and lay with her, though he was not married to her (Genesis 34:2).
The fact that these creatures could take whatever women they chose further suggests a general state of profligacy which made indiscriminate sexual unions quite commonplace. This is also suggested by Christ's descriptive phrase "marrying and giving [out] in marriage" (Matthew 24:38) as characteristic of the careless attitudes of the days of Noah.
If, for the sake of argument at least, we assume that the bene elohim were, indeed, angels, and that angels can assume such a total human form that they actually have male reproductive systems, then a grave question would have to be posed relative to the nature of the progeny that would result from their sexual intercourse with human women. The identity of the "giants" is discussed further below, but the seriousness of this problem does have a bearing on how we should interpret these unions. Fallen angels have no possibility of salvation, but fallen men and women do have at least this possibility. What, then, would be the case with "people" who were half-angel, half-men?
This seems to be such a grotesque situation that it does appear extremely doubtful that God would have allowed it at all, even if it really were physiologically a realistic possibility. And yet, as already indicated, it does violence to the actual text of the passage if we make it mean merely that the sons of Seth began to marry the daughters of Cain. (If this were what it meant, why did not the writer simply say so, and thus avoid all this confusion?) And why the giants, and why the universal violence?
The sons of Seth were surely not all godly men; so why should they be called sons of God (remember, they all perished in the Flood)? Furthermore, Adam had many sons in addition to Cain and Seth; were they spiritual "sons of God," too? Not very likely, at this period of history. Furthermore, why stress only the union of godly men with ungodly women? What about the "daughters of God"? Were they being married to "sons of men"?
This naturalistic interpretation is so forced and awkward that it seems to do disservice to the doctrine of divine inspiration to suppose that this is really what the writer meant to say. He surely meant to convey to his readers the idea that, in these days of Noah, such an awful irruption of abnormality and wickedness burst forth on the earth that it could only be explained by a demoniacally supernatural cause.
Rationalistic exegetes, of course, do accept the plain meaning of the text here and agree that it speaks of angel cohabiting with human women. Then, being rationalists, they maintain that since this sort of thing is impossible, the writer of Genesis was simply drawing on the myths and legends of demigods in various religious traditions.
On the other hand, is it not possible that the Bible has the true record and these various legends of giants and demigods represent the distortions that had accrued through long centuries of verbal transmission of the tales in cultures removed from the true patriarchal transmission line?
It is significant that the Septuagint renders the phrase "sons of God" as "angels of God." This was the Old Testament version in dominant use in the Apostolic period, and thus this would be the way the phrase would have been read by Christ and His apostles. The apocryphal book of Enoch was extant then, as well, and was apparently known to the New Testament writers (Jude 14); and it intensely elaborated this angelic interpretation. As an apparent result of these facts, this interpretation is strongly implied, and probably required (as noted below) by three New Testament passages: Jude 6; 11 Peter 2:4-6; 1 Peter 3:19, 20.
Admittedly, however, there is a grave difficulty in the idea of angel/human sexual unions, not only the question of whether such a thing is possible, but even more in the theologically paradoxical and grotesque nature of the progeny of such unions. Is there any way to resolve this dilemma?
A solution seems to consist in recognizing that the children were true human children of truly human fathers and mothers, but that all were possessed and controlled by evil spirits. That is, these fallen angelic "sons of God" accomplished their purposes by something equivalent to demon possession, indwelling the bodies of human men, and then also taking (or "possessing") the bodies of the women as well. The men whose bodies they possessed were evidently thereby made so attractive to the careless and rebellious women of the age that they could take over and use any of the women they chose. The seductive beauty of the women, probably enhanced by various artificial cosmetics and allurements developed by that time, was itself sufficient to induce men to constant obsession with sex, assuring a maximum rapidity of multiplication of the population. Thus, the "sons of God" controlled not only the men whose bodies they had acquired for their own exploitation, but also the women they took to themselves in this way, and then all the children they bore.
These particular Satanic angels, therefore, compounded their original sin in following Satan in his rebellion against God by now leaving "their own habitation" and keeping not their "first estate" (literally, "principality"), "going after strange flesh" as later did the Sodomites "in like manner" (Jude 6, 7). Therefore, God no longer allows them to roam about the earth like other demons, but has confined them "in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day," casting them down to a special "hell" (literally, "Tartarus," not the ordinary place of departed spirits) where they are "to be reserved unto judgment" (2 Peter 2:4).
This fearful phenomenon of demonic "taking" and "habitation" of human bodies has often been repeated since, though apparently never yet on the global scale which Satan attempted in the days of Noah. Many such cases of demon possession are noted in the New Testament, and missionaries still testify to its common occurrence in heathen lands today. Even in modern "Christian lands" where the influence of the gospel has until now kept it to a minimum, this form of Satanic activity is evidently rapidly increasing. Spiritism, witchcraft, and other forms of occult belief and practice-even Satanism itself-are captivating the minds and bodies of multitudes today, specially among young people.
A closely related phenomenon is the tremendous recent upsurge of interest in the "host of heaven"--in terms of astrology, the so-called chariots of the gods, the various unidentified flying objects, and their strange occupants. Although scientists quite properly have pointed out the fallacious assumptions and interpretations involved in these, there remains a stubborn residuum of scientifically inexplicable, yet apparently well-verified, phenomena attached to these highly unusual types of data.
It should not be forgotten that there do exist "principalities and powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12) and that Satan is "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2). Evil angels, as well as God's unfallen holy angels, apparently on certain occasions have the ability both to appear in material forms of various sorts (even as "ministers of righteousness" -- II Corinthians 11:15) and also to inhabit and control the bodies of human beings. Furthermore, Jesus warned that, in the last days, "fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven" (Luke 21:11). It may be that this particular feature of the days of Noah is beginning to be repeated in the modern proliferation of this great complex of unexplained and spiritually intimidating occult phenomena, the purpose of which seems to be to gain direct Satanic control over the minds and bodies of hosts of human beings before Christ returns.
from Textual Controversy: Mischievous Angels or Sethites? by Chuck Missler
Why did God send the judgment of the Flood in the days of Noah? Far more than simply a historical issue, the unique events leading to the Flood are a prerequisite to understanding the prophetic implications of our Lord's predictions regarding His Second Coming. (1)
The strange events recorded in Genesis 6 were understood by the ancient rabbinical sources, as well as the Septuagint translators, as referring to fallen angels procreating weird hybrid offspring with human women--known as the "Nephilim." So it was also understood by the early church fathers. These bizarre events are also echoed in the legends and myths of every ancient culture upon the earth: the ancient Greeks, the Egyptians, the Hindus, the South Sea Islanders, the American Indians, and virtually all the others.
However, many students of the Bible have been taught that this passage in Genesis 6 actually refers to a failure to keep the "faithful" lines of Seth separate from the "worldly" line of Cain. The idea has been advanced that after Cain killed Abel, the line of Seth remained separate and faithful, but the line of Cain turned ungodly and rebellious. The "Sons of God" are deemed to refer to leadership in the line of Seth; the "daughters of men" is deemed restricted to the line of Cain. The resulting marriages ostensibly blurred an inferred separation between them. (Why the resulting offspring are called the "Nephilim" remains without any clear explanation.)
Since Jesus prophesied, "As the days of Noah were, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be," (2) it becomes essential to understand what these days included.
Origin of the Sethite View
It was in the 5th century AD that the "angel" interpretation of Genesis 6 was increasingly viewed as an embarrassment when attacked by critics. (Furthermore, the worship of angels had begun within the church. Also, celibacy had also become an institution of the church. The "angel" view of Genesis 6 was feared as impacting these views.)
Celsus and Julian the Apostate used the traditional "angel" belief to attack Christianity. Julius Africanus resorted to the Sethite interpretation as a more comfortable ground. Cyril of Alexandria also repudiated the orthodox "angel" position with the "line of Seth" interpretation. Augustine also embraced the Sethite theory and thus it prevailed into the Middle Ages. It is still widely taught today among many churches who find the literal "angel" view a bit disturbing. There are many outstanding Bible teachers who still defend this view.
Problems with the Sethite View
Beyond obscuring a full understanding of the events in the early chapters of Genesis, this view also clouds any opportunity to apprehend the prophetic implications of the Scriptural allusions to the "Days of Noah." (3) Some of the many problems with the "Sethite View" include the following:
1. The Text Itself
Substantial liberties must be taken with the literal text to propose the "Sethite" view. (In data analysis, it is often said that "if you torture the data severely enough it will confess to anything.")
The term translated "the Sons of God" is, in the Hebrew, B'nai HaElohim, "Sons of Elohim," which is a term consistently used in the Old Testament for angels, (4) and it is never used of believers in the Old Testament. It was so understood by the ancient rabbinical sources, by the Septuagint translators in the 3rd century before Christ, and by the early church fathers. Attempts to apply this term to "godly leadership" is without Scriptural foundation. (5)
The "Sons of Seth and daughters of Cain" interpretation strains and obscures the intended grammatical antithesis between the Sons of God and the daughters of Adam. Attempting to impute any other view to the text flies in the face of the earlier centuries of understanding of the Hebrew text among both rabbinical and early church scholarship. The lexicographical antithesis clearly intends to establish a contrast between the "angels" and the women of the Earth.
If the text was intended to contrast the "sons of Seth and the daughters of Cain," why didn't it say so? Seth was not God, and Cain was not Adam. (Why not the "sons of Cain" and the "daughters of Seth" There is no basis for restricting the text to either subset of Adam's descendants. Further, there exists no mention of daughters of Elohim.)
And how does the "Sethite" interpretation contribute to the ostensible cause for the Flood, which is the primary thrust of the text? The entire view is contrived on a series of assumptions without Scriptural support.
The Biblical term "Sons of Elohim" (that is, of the
Creator Himself), is confined to the direct creation by the divine
hand and not to those born to those of their own order. (6) In
Luke's genealogy of Jesus, only Adam is called a "son of
God." (7) The entire Biblical drama deals with the tragedy
that humankind is a fallen race, with Adam's initial immortality
forfeited. Christ uniquely gives them that receive Him the power
to become the sons of God.(8) Being born again of the Spirit of
God, as an entirely new creation, (9) at their resurrection they
alone will be clothed with a building of God (10) and in every
respect equal to the angels. (11) The very term oiketerion,
alluding to the heavenly body with which the believer longs
to be clothed, is the precise term used for the heavenly bodies
from which the fallen angels had disrobed. (12)
The attempt to apply the term "Sons of Elohim" in a broader sense has no textual basis and obscures the precision of its denotative usage. This proves to be an assumption which is antagonistic to the uniform Biblical usage of the term.
2. The Daughters of Cain
The "Daughters of Adam" also does not denote a restriction to the descendants of Cain, but rather the whole human race is clearly intended. These daughters were the daughters born to the men with which this very sentence opens:
And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
It is clear from the text that these daughters were not limited a particular family or subset, but were, indeed, from (all) the Benoth Adam, "the daughters of Adam." There is no apparent exclusion of the daughters of Seth. Or were they so without charms in contrast with the daughters of Cain? All of Adam's female descendants seem to have been involved. (And what about the "sons of Adam?" Where do they, using this contrived dichotomy, fit in?)
Furthermore, the line of Cain was not necessarily known for its ungodliness. From a study of the naming of Cain's children, many of which included the name of God, (13) it is not clear that they were all necessarily unfaithful.
3. The Inferred Lines of Separation
The concept of separate "lines" itself is suspect and contrary to Scripture. (14) National and racial distinctions were plainly the result of the subsequent intervention of God in Genesis 11, five chapters later. There is no intimation that the lines of Seth and Cain kept themselves separate nor were even instructed to. The injunction to remain separate was given much later. (15) Genesis 6:12 confirms that all flesh had corrupted His way upon the earth.
4. The Inferred Godliness of Seth
There is no evidence, stated or implied, that the line of Seth was godly. Only one person was translated from the judgment to come (Enoch) and only eight were given the protection of the ark. No one beyond Noah's immediate family was accounted worthy to be saved. In fact, the text implies that these were distinct from all others. (There is no evidence that the wives of Noah's sons were from the line of Seth.) Even so, Gaebelein observes, "The designation 'Sons of God' is never applied in the Old Testament to believers," whose sonship is "distinctly a New Testament revelation." (16)
The "Sons of Elohim" saw the daughters of men that they were fair and took them wives of all that they chose. It appears that the women had little say in the matter. The domineering implication hardly suggests a godly approach to the union. Even the mention that they saw that they were attractive seems out of place if only normal biology was involved. (And were the daughters of Seth so unattractive?)
It should also be pointed out that the son of Seth himself
was Enosh, and there is textual evidence that, rather than a reputation
for piety, he seems to have initiated the profaning of the name
of God. (17)
If the lines of Seth were so faithful, why did they perish in the flood?
5. The Unnatural Offspring
The most fatal flaw in the specious "Sethite" view is the emergence of the Nephilim as a result of the unions. (Bending the translation to "giants" does not resolve the difficulties.) It is the offspring of these peculiar unions in Genesis 6:4 which seems to be cited as a primary cause for the Flood.
Procreation by parents of differing religious views do not produce unnatural offspring. Believers marrying unbelievers may produce "monsters," but hardly superhuman, or unnatural, children! It was this unnatural procreation and the resulting abnormal creatures that were designated as a principal reason for the judgment of the Flood.
The very absence of any such adulteration of the human genealogy in Noah's case is also documented in Genesis 6:9: Noah's family tree was distinctively unblemished. The term used, tamiym, is used for physical blemishes. (18)
Why were the offspring uniquely designated "mighty"
and "men of reknown?" This description characterizing
the children is not accounted for if the fathers were merely men,
even if godly.
A further difficulty seems to be that the offspring were only men; no "women of reknown" are mentioned. (Was there a chromosome deficiency among the Sethites? Were there only "Y" chromosomes available in this line?) (19)
6. New Testament Confirmations
"In the mouths of two or three witnesses every word shall be established." (20) In Biblical matters, it is essential to always compare Scripture with Scripture. The New Testament confirmations in Jude and 2 Peter are impossible to ignore. (21)
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell [Tartarus], and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; (2 Peter 2:4-5)
Peter's comments even establishes the time of the fall of these angels to the days of the Flood of Noah.
Even Peter's vocabulary is provocative. Peter uses the term Tartarus, here translated "hell." This is the only place that this Greek term appears in the Bible. Tartarus is a Greek term for "dark abode of woe"; "the pit of darkness in the unseen world." As used in Homer's Iliad, it is "...as far beneath hades as the earth is below heaven." (22) In Greek mythology, some of the demigods, Chronos and the rebel Titans, were said to have rebelled against their father, Uranus, and after a prolonged contest they were defeated by Zeus and were condemned into Tartarus.
The Epistle of Jude23 also alludes to the strange episodes when these "alien" creatures intruded themselves into the human reproductive process:
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (Jude 6,7)
The allusions to "going after strange flesh," keeping "not their first estate," having "left their own habitation," and "giving themselves over to fornication," seem to clearly fit the alien intrusions of Genesis 6. (The term for habitation, oiketherion, refers to their heavenly bodies from which they had disrobed.  )
These allusions from the New Testament would seem to be fatal to the "Sethite" alternative in interpreting Genesis 6. If the intercourse between the "sons of God" and the "daughters of men" were merely marriage between Sethites and Cainites, it seems impossible to explain these passages, and the reason why some fallen angels are imprisoned and others are free to roam the heavenlies.
7. Post-Flood Implications
The strange offspring also continued after the flood: "There were Nephilim in the earth in those days, and also after that..." (25) The "Sethite" view fails to meaningfully address the prevailing conditions "also after that." It offers no insight into the presence of the subsequent "giants" in the land of Canaan.
One of the disturbing aspects of the Old Testament record was God's instructions, upon entering the land of Canaan, to wipe out every man, woman, and child of certain tribes inhabiting the land. This is difficult to justify without the insight of a "gene pool problem" from the remaining Nephilim, Rephaim, et al., which seems to illuminate the difficulty.
8. Prophetic Implications
Another reason that an understanding of Genesis 6 is so essential is that it also is a prerequisite to understanding (and anticipating) Satan's devices (26) and, in particular, the specific delusions to come upon the whole earth as a major feature of end-time prophecy. (27) We will take up these topics in Part 2, next month.)
If one takes an integrated view of the Scripture, then everything
in it should "tie together." It is the author's view
that the "Angel View," however disturbing, is the clear,
direct presentation of the Biblical text, corroborated by multiple
New Testament references and was so understood by both early Jewish
and Christian scholarship; the "Sethite View" is a contrivance
of convenience from a network of unjustified assumptions antagonistic
to the remainder of the Biblical record.
It should also be pointed out that most conservative Bible scholars accept the "angel" view. (28)
Among those supporting the "angel" view are: G. H. Pember, M. R. DeHaan, C. H. McIntosh, F. Delitzsch, A. C. Gaebelein, A. W. Pink, Donald Grey Barnhouse, Henry Morris, Merril F. Unger, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Hal Lindsey, and Chuck Smith, being among the best known.
For those who take the Bible seriously, the arguments supporting the "Angel View" appear compelling. For those who indulge in a willingness to take liberties with the straightforward presentation of the text, no defense can prove final. (And greater dangers than the implications attending these issues await them!)
For further exploration of this critical topic, see the following:
George Hawkins Pember, Earth's Earliest Ages, first published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1875, and presently available by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids MI, 1975.
John Fleming, The Fallen Angels and the Heroes of Mythology, Hodges, Foster, and Figgis, Dublin, 1879.
Henry Morris, The Genesis Record, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids MI, 1976.
Merrill F. Unger, Biblical Demonology, Scripture Press, Chicago IL, 1952.
Clarence Larkin, Spirit World, Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate, Philadelphia PA, 1921.
1. Matthew 24:37.
2. Matthew 24:37.
3. Matthew 24:37; Luke 17:26, as well as Old Testament allusions such as Daniel 2:43, et al.
4. Cf. Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7 (where they are in existence before the creation of the earth). Jesus also implies the same term in Luke 20:36.
5. A footnote in an edition of the famed Scofield Bible, in suggesting that "sons of Elohim" does not always denote angelic beings, points to one ostensible exception (Isaiah 43:6) but the term in question is not there used! God simply refers to Israel as "my sons" and "my daughters." Indeed, all of Adam's race are termed God's "offspring" in Acts 17:28 (although Paul is here quoting a Greek poet).
6.The sons of Elohim are even contrasted with the sons of Adam in Psalm 82:1, 6 and warned that if they go on with the evil identified in verse 2, they would die like Adam (man). When our Lord quoted this verse (John 10:34) He made no mention of what order of beings God addressed in this Psalm but that the Word of God was inviolate whether the beings in question were angels or men.
7. Luke 3:38.
8. John 1:11, 12.
9. 2 Corinthians 5:17.
10.2 Corinthians 5:1-4.
11. Luke 20:36.
12. This term appears only twice in the Bible: 2 Corinthians 5:2 and Jude 1:6.
13. Genesis 4:18.
14. Genesis 11:6.
15.This instruction was given to the descendants of Isaac and Jacob. Even the presumed descendants of Ishmael cannot demonstrate their linkage since no separation was maintained.
16. A.C. Gaebelein, The Annotated Bible (Pentateuch), p. 29.
17. Gen 4:26 is widely regarded as a mistranslation: "Then began men to profane the name of the Lord." So agrees the venerated Targum of Onkelos; the Targum of Jonathan Ben Uzziel; also the esteemed rabbinical sources such as Kimchi, Rashi, et al. Also, Jerome. Also, the famed Maimonides, Commentary on the Mishnah, 1168 AD.
18. Exodus 12:5, 29; Leviticus 1:3, 10; 3:1, 6; 4:3, 23; 5:15, 18, 25; 22:19, 21; 23:12; Numbers 6:14; et al. Over 60 references, usually referring to the freedom from physical blemishes of offerings.
19. Each human gamete has 23 pairs of chromosomes: the male has both "Y" (shorter) and "X" (longer) chromosomes; the female, only "X" chromosomes. The sex of a fertilized egg is determined by the sperm fertilizing the egg: "X+Y" for a male child; "X+X" for a female. Thus, the male supplies the sex-determining chromosome.
20. Deut. 19:15; Matthew 18:16; 26:60; 2 Corinthians 13:1; et al.
21. Jude 6, 7; 2 Peter 2:4-5.
22. Homer, Iliad, viii 16.
23. Jude is commonly recognized as one of the Lord's brothers. (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Gal 1:9; Jude 1:1.)
24.The only other use in the New Testament is 2 Corinthians 5:2, alluding to the heavenly body which the believer longs to be clothed.
25. Genesis 6:4.
26. 2 Corinthians 2:11.
27. Luke 21:26; 2 Thess 2:9, 11; et al.
28.The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Vol V, p.2835-2836.
Additional Related Resources: (http://www.khouse.org)
Return of the Nephilim
by Chuck Missler - Briefing Pack,
Flood of Noah
by Chuck Missler - Briefing Pack,
Alien Encounters Conference
by Chuck Missler and Dr. Mark Eastman - Video,
Alien Encounters Book
by Chuck Missler and Dr. Mark Eastman - Book,
Copyright © 1996-2000 by Koinonia House Inc., P.O. Box D, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83816
from SIGNS OF COLLAPSE, by Ray C. Stedman
In this present series we have been looking at the great principles that govern human society, those principles which produce straining social problems, such as war, crime, poverty, unequal distribution of food, improper use of leisure, and urban blight. These all arise when men who are made in the image of God, but have lost the likeness of God, seek to fulfill the original command of God to master the earth and fill it, but without the Spirit of God within. As is so evident in our day, man succeeds only in darkening the skies, ravishing the ground, poisoning the water, setting men against each other in violence and cruelty, and in spreading death, fear, and hatred throughout the earth. But all this is done in the midst of increasing comfort and luxury and the technical brilliance that builds impressive cities and produces astonishing gadgets of incredible complexity and power. The seeds of all this are found in the first five chapters in Genesis, as we have been seeing.
Now no house built upon such a shaky foundation can long stand, therefore the record of history has been the collapse of one civilization after another. Arnold Toynbee has indicated there have been in the past some twenty-one or more different civilizations, each one in turn collapsing and giving way to another. Therefore we should not be at all surprised to find here, in this definitive passage of Scripture, a description of the signs that accompany the imminent collapse of a civilization. Since many of us feel that we are living in such an hour today, it is easy to see how contemporary this is.
The Bible, as you know, speaks of "times and seasons" in the affairs of men (cf, Dan 2:21, Acts 1:7, 1 Th 5:1). Times are those major divisions of history which are marked by a special character. The Bible speaks, for instance, of the "times of ignorance," (Acts 17:30) and by that it is referring to the ages before the coming of Christ, when men lived in relative ignorance of the understanding of God. It speaks again of the "times of the restitution of all things," (Acts 3:21 KJV) in the future when God would work out all his purposes and unite all things together in Christ. We use language somewhat similar. We speak of the Dark Ages, characterized by widespread ignorance and moral darkness. But seasons are those divisions of time in which certain events come to the fore. I do not think I can do better than to quote Archbishop Trench, from his Synonyms of the Old Testament, in this respect:
The "seasons" are the joints or articulations in the times; the critical epoch-making periods, ordained of God, when all that has been slowly, and often without observation, ripening through long ages, is mature and comes to the birth in grand decisive events which constitute at once the close of one period and the commencement of another.
Remember that Jesus said to his disciples after his resurrection, "the times and seasons are not for you to know," (cf, Acts 1:7). They will unfold as history goes on its way, but we cannot predict when they will occur in the span of time. It is very important that we recognize these divisions when they do occur, and especially to understand what our Lord meant when he said, "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man," (cf, Matt 24:37). Now we are studying the days of Noah. Our Lord linked these two epochs together and said that one is the parallel of the other. If we are living in the days immediately preceding the return of Jesus Christ we shall find similar conditions to the days of Noah. So in Genesis 6 we have the real story behind the headlines of history. Here we find three steps traced for us that mark the signs of the imminent collapse of civilization.
The first one is given to us in Verses 1 through 4 and, as we shall see, it is that of a demonic invasion:
When men began to multiply on the face of the ground and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose. Then the Lord said, "My a spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh, but his days shall he a hundred and twenty years." The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown. (Gen 6:1-4 RSV)
Interest immediately focuses on the question, Who were these sons of God? What kind of beings did these strange things?
One suggestion that we must take note of is that here we have the blending of two lines; the line of Cain, and the line of Seth (which have been followed briefly in previous chapters); and that here is the intermarriage between these two lines, that of the godly (the line of Seth), and the ungodly (the line of Cain). But there are several severe objections to this idea. One, of course, is that this would make the line of Cain the "sons of God," and that hardly seems fitting in view of the character that is given to us in the Bible of Cain and his descendants. It seems much more likely that that description would be applied to the sons of Seth, rather than those of Cain. Then, too, it appears that the ungodly have only sons, while the godly have daughters.
Now that is a perfectly acceptable view as far as I am concerned, since I have four daughters. But it hardly seems possible to accept such a view. It is all too clear that this theory does not take account of all the factors evidenced.
There is an alternative view that takes note of the fact that in Scripture it is only by a specific divine act of creation that any being can be termed a son of God. God is a Spirit, and man is flesh, and in the New Testament we are told that "that which is born of the flesh is flesh, but that which is born of the Spirit is spirit," (John 3:6 RSV). So you cannot have men of the flesh termed sons of God, except a divine creative act be performed. In the New Testament, Adam is called a son of God because he is the direct result of divine creation, Jesus Christ is called the Son of God because he is eternally begotten of the Father; and believers are called sons of God because they are born again by faith in Jesus Christ, in a divine creative act.
Also, in the Bible, angels are called sons of God for they came directly from the creating hand of God and are not reproduced sexually, as men are. It is interesting that in the Old Testament every other use of this term sons of God refers to the angels. You will find in the book of Job that the angels are called sons of God (Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7).
Now we learn from Jude and Peter in the New Testament that there was a fall of angels, and the time of that fall is given as "the days of Noah." There are two very interesting passages that link up with Genesis 6. In First Peter, Chapter 3, we have a passage that has been a puzzle to many but which does directly apply to this account: Peter says of Jesus that he went "in the spirit" and preached to "the spirits in prison," (1 Pet 3:19). Now, there has been much controversy as to what this meant.
Some have thought it meant that Jesus descended into hell and preached to the spirits in hell during the three days between his crucifixion and resurrection. Personally, I do not ascribe to that theory at all. I think it means that it was through the Spirit that Jesus preached in the days of Noah, speaking in the person of Noah. Noah, we are told, was "a preacher of righteousness" (2 Pet 2:5), and the Spirit of Christ preached through him. But, at any rate, that is somewhat beside the point.
The passage goes on to say that these were spirits in prison,
...who formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. (1 Pet 3:20 RSV)
Also in Second Peter, Chapter 2, Verse 4, Peter recounts a fall of the angels:
For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to the pits, of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, (2 Pet 2:4-5a RSV)
Note that he links this fall with the days of Noah. Then in the book of Jude we have another reference to this event:
And the angels that did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling have been kept by him in eternal chains in the nether gloom until the judgment of the great day; just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 1:6-7 RSV)
There Jude gives us the nature of the sin of the angels. He said it was like that in Sodom and Gomorrah; it was "unnatural lust." This you can see is directly in parallel with the statement in Genesis 6, that the "sons of God" came in to "the daughters of men" and married them, taking wives as they chose. This is evidently regarded in the Scriptures as an unnatural act. Thus we have the picture of fallen angels joining in sexual intercourse with the daughters of men and producing a strange race.
There have been those who object to this idea by pointing out that Jesus said that angels are sexless. In Matthew 22, Verse 30, he does say that those who are in the resurrection "will neither marry nor be given in marriage, but are like the angels in heaven." It must be noted, however, that he adds the words, "in heaven," as opposed to the angels in hell. Some have suggested that perhaps there was a time when angels did have sexual powers, and this, of course, would permit the kind of thing recorded here. However, it seems more likely that the explanation is given to us by Jude when he says of these angels that they "left their proper dwelling" (Jude 1:6), and presumably took up improper dwelling places. Now bodies, in Scripture, are called dwelling places. The very term Jude uses is, elsewhere in Scripture, applied to the body. Its use here implies that the angels took up residence where they did not belong. This, therefore, is suggestive of what we have in the New Testament in the days of our Lord, in the many, many cases of demonic possession recorded so frequently in the pages of the gospels. Evil spirits, fallen angels, possessed the bodies of men, and these demon-possessed men married women and produced a race of strange beings called here in Genesis 6, "the Nephilim." They were a race of giants. The word Nephilim is confirming of this whole idea, because it means "the fallen ones."
All this strongly suggests that demonic possession has the ability to affect genetic structure. The chromosomes are changed so that the progeny are markedly different; a sort of mutation takes place, and the result is a pronounced change in the children of such a union. We know today that LSD has this kind of an effect upon the genetic structure. Chromosomal changes take place and children can be malformed and mentally deficient because of the use of LSD by their parents. It is interesting that, in the book of Revelation, the Bible links drugs with demonism and suggests that drugs are a means by which the human spirit is opened up to the control of demonic beings.
Time Magazine reported a new theory to the effect that "a genetic abnormality may predispose a man to antisocial behavior, including crimes of violence..." A normal male baby has an XY chromosome pattern, but occasionally one is found with an XYY pattern. According to an all-woman team of researchers in Scotland, this "may be a supermale, over aggressive and potentially criminal." It was further noted that "the XYY (males) averaged 6 ft 1 inch tall whereas the average for (others tested) was 5 ft 7 inches."
It is clear that the result of this union of demon-possessed men with women was a race of mighty men, "men of renown." Here, I think, is the explanation for the stories of mythology with which many of you are familiar, the demi-gods -- half man and half god -- such as Hercules, and others. Mythology is no mere invention of the mind of man; it grows out of the traditions, memories, and legends which were a corruption and perversion of primitive truths. We are told in this passage that this occurred "also afterward." This "also afterward" means that after the Flood a similar incursion of demonic beings took place.
This second invasion resulted in the presence in the land of Canaan of certain gigantic races which are called in our Bible, the Canaanites. Many of you who have stumbled over those long lists of "ites" in the Old Testament are familiar with these various races -- the Jebusites, the Geshurites, the Hittites, etc. All of these are divisions of the Nephilim (they are also called the Rephaim in the Old Testament) who were already in the land when Abraham came to the promised land. They represent an attempt on the part of demonic powers to derail the divine program of bringing a Redeemer into the world through the human race.
It is interesting that archaeologists have now discovered the giant-cities of Bashan, and they confirm the fact that there did exist in this area races of gigantic beings whose beds are ten, eleven, or twelve feet long. (They had king-size beds in those days, but only because they needed them.) It was these people that the Israelites were commanded to exterminate completely. It was these giant cities they were to wipe off the face of the earth; to exterminate the whole populace and their animals.
When this invasion of demonic powers into mankind takes place, notice that God, in his governing grace, immediately limits it:
Then the LORD said, "My spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years." (Gen 6:3 RSV)
That is sometimes regarded as a reference to the length of life of man before the Flood, but in this context I think it is clear that it means, rather, the number of years before the Flood, the length of time in which God would permit this kind of thing to go on in human society. The one thing the Bible makes clear everywhere is that God controls human society; he restrains demonic forces and only permits them to operate to a limited degree and for a limited period of time. Here we have clearly suggested the idea that he marked off before the Flood a hundred and thirty years, which would be the time when Noah would be permitted to preach the grace of God and extend an invitation to the people of his day to turn from their wicked ways and revive the promise of salvation. This First Peter confirms. Noah was indeed a preacher of godliness, of righteousness, and the people refused to hear his word during the one hundred and twenty years of the preaching of grace.
Dr. Charles Malik, who was for a long time President of the United Nations and delegate from Lebanon, once said,
... we are still living, as the Germans say, zwischen den zeiten (between the times) when demonic forces can quickly soar very high and can take possession of the world in very short order.
There is a word from a world statesman confirming the fact
that demonic forces are at work in human society. The first mark
of an imminent collapse of civilization is this appearance of
demonic powers at loose. They manifest themselves primarily in
open and unchecked wickedness.
We shall see that this is the second mark given to us in the first part of Verse 5:
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, (Gen 6:5a RSV)
Unusually intense (that is the meaning of "great") and very widespread (in the earth) wickedness -- that is the second mark. The whole of the world of that day was involved in this. This wickedness is described in detail in various portions of Scripture. Wickedness is always the absence of the life of God at work in human society. It is always opposed to the things of God. Perhaps the most vivid, most accurate and detailed description of wickedness given to us in the New Testament is in the book of Galatians, where the apostle describes the works of the flesh. It is the flesh that is "enmity against God" and produces wickedness. He says,
Now the works of the flesh are plain [i.e., they are easy to identify; they are obvious]: immorality, impurity, licentiousness [notice how he begins on the sexual level], idolatry, sorcery [witchcraft, or anything to do with the occult], enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. (Gal 5:19-21a RSV)
That is wickedness. It is very noteworthy that in every listing of wickedness you will find, first, sexual wickedness. In the gospels it was "unclean" spirits that were possessing the bodies of men. This word unclean is used elsewhere in the New Testament as the word for lust, therefore these were lustful spirits, i.e., sexually twisted and distorted spirits. Their presence in society is always marked by outbreaks of sexual perversity. This is what Paul describes in Romans 1, where he is tracing the decline and fall of a society. He gives there, as the ultimate sign of imminent collapse, the turning of men to unnatural lusts with other men, and women to unnatural lusts with other women, and the breakdown of society at this sexual level. Thus we have clearly, as the second mark, a widespread and unusual manifestations of sexual wickedness; not sporadic, but continuous; not localized, but everywhere. Naturally there have been occurrences of this sort in every civilization at some time. But here, it has a double character; it becomes a continuous thing and is everywhere taking place.
Now in the second half of that same verse we have the third mark of the imminent collapse of civilization. It is what Moses calls here, evil (debased) imaginations.
The Lord saw...that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Gen 6:5a, 6:5c RSV)
The outward wickedness rested upon a deeper corruption within. The "imaginations of the heart" are the desires and urges for ever more stimulating experiences, what Paul calls in Ephesians "deceitful lusts," which constantly urge men and women, boys and girls, to try to find something more exciting; what in modern parlance we call kicks, something that satisfies and is exciting. Now this urge for kicks constitutes debased imaginations. They would find expression in any society in the creative arts, those which depend upon imagination for their motivation and expression, such as literature, art, and drama.
It is most significant that more and more today we are finding this area given over to the expression of the salacious, the lewd, and the sensual. Recently I heard of a teacher in public school who refused to teach literature anymore because of the salacious content of what he had to teach. He simply gave up his training and professional background in order to avoid having to teach this kind of stuff.
All of this is summed up for us in two words in Verse 11:
Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence. (Gen 6:11 RSV)
Corruption is inward pollution, the polluting of the mind, the heart, the imagination, the inner nature. The inner kingdom becomes extremely sensual and is polluted. The result is outward violence, destructiveness, the outbreak of cruelty and violence on every side.
There you have the marks of an impending collapse of civilization. Rather sobering, isn't it? When civilization reaches this stage then the Bible clearly implies that judgment is certain, by divine fiat. We read on in Verse 6:
And the LORD was sorry that he had made men on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. (Gen 6:6-8 RSV)
When the account says, "God is sorry," it is really the word, "God repented." We know from other Scriptures that it is impossible for God to repent. He does not change his mind like man does. But this is a powerful figure to express in a vivid way the anger and determination of God. When society reaches this stage of dissolution and deterioration, God's anger burns. It appears that he has changed his mind completely even though he is but acting on principles that are entirely consistent with his own being.
Yet, in the midst of this, we read that it grieved him, and grief is always the activity of love. What we finite human beings do not understand is that God's love and wrath are exactly the same thing. They are two sides of the same coin. What entrances us and warms us about God, and draws us to him, is love, the manifestation of his total being. He is the God of love, who loves regardless of merit. This is what attracts us. But it is because we respond that he appears to us in that way. To those who reject his love, the same quality in God becomes wrath and it seems to be a wall of fire, burning and consuming everything.
We can see this also in ourselves. It is our love that causes us to be angry at anything which injures what we love. You injure a mother's child in the mother's presence and watch her love flame out in wrath and anger against you. Thus we have here clearly described a time when man, in his rejection of God, passes beyond the place of seeing God as love, and begins to experience his love as wrath. But it is exactly the same thing.
With mankind goes the whole creation because the creation is linked with man. The animals were made for man, so when man goes, the animals must go as well. But always there is the shining of grace, Verse 8:
But Noah found favor [or, literally, grace] in the eyes of the LORD. (Gen 6:8 RSV)
God was calling throughout this whole age, just as he is calling in our age today, pleading with men to turn from their ways, to resist the widespread lie of Satan. One man and his family turned and found grace in God's sight. He did not deserve it, and he could equally have turned and gone the other way, but he responded to the wooing and pleading of God and found grace in his sight.
That same grace is why we are here this morning. Bring this down to this 20th-century hour, and draw the parallel between the days of Noah and the days in which we live. You can see it plainly everywhere. We must remember that if we are delivered from the wrath to come, if we escape the judging hand of God upon society, it is not because of anything we have done; it is the manifestation of God's grace.
Remember the Christian who saw a drunkard staggering down the street wallowing in his own vomit, and turned to his friend to say, "There but for the grace of God go I." We can all say that. What has kept us? What has brought us to the truth? Was it any goodness on our part? No, it is God's grace. It is that he loved us and called us, he wooed us and won us, seeking us out and, through many influences upon us, bringing us at last to see that the age in which we live is an age under the bondage of a lie. He has opened our eyes, partially at least, to the truth, till we have turned to the Lord Jesus and rested under the grace of God.
As our age deteriorates, as other ages have done before us, and our civilization nears the point of utter collapse, we can thank God that we have been snatched away as brands from the burning, like Noah and his family, if our hearts are responsive to the appeal of God's grace.
Ray C. Stedman's summary of the New Testament
Epistle of Jude
JUDE: Contending For The Faith
by Ray C. Stedman
The letter of Jude is a thunderous word from a man who refers to himself in the first verse simply as,
Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James. (Jude 1:1a RSV)
That identifies him, for James was very well known as a leader in the early church in Jerusalem, and he was also the author of the Epistle of James which we have in our New Testament. But he was famous not only because he was in himself an outstanding man, but also because he was the brother of the Lord Jesus Christ -- the physical half-brother of Jesus. He had grown up in the little town in Nazareth with Jesus himself.
But notice that he says nothing about this relationship in the opening of his letter, instead refers to himself as "a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ." In that we can see that this man who grew up with the Lord Jesus and his brother James has now learned to see Jesus no longer after the flesh, but, as he truly was, God become man. He now worships him. Jude and James had an unique experience in the Christian church, in becoming the disciples of the One with whom they grew up.
What clear testimony this gives of the deity of the Lord Jesus. If anyone would be in a position to refute the claim of Jesus of being God, it would be the brothers of Jesus. Although they did not come to believe in him until after his resurrection from the dead, nevertheless these letters constitute a seal of confirmation that the claims of the New Testament concerning Jesus Christ are valid, in that they are supported even by those who would have every reason to deny them.
I am struck, too, by the fact that Jude takes the place of second fiddle to his brother James. Often, brothers and sisters of famous personalities are disturbed by being introduced as the brother or sister of so-and-so. But Jude is quite content to say he is the brother of James. He has learned the spiritual secret that God always has a place for every one. If it helps to identify him that way, he is perfectly willing to take that place.
Then he tells us how he came to write the letter:
Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 1:3 RSV)
He had started out to write a letter containing certain insights and understandings of the faith. Certainly he was in a position to do this, and had perhaps been pressured by others to write his memoirs and to recount what he had experienced as the brother of the Lord. He had determined to do that when news came to him of an outbreak of some false and very distasteful teaching.
He feels constrained by the Holy Spirit to stop the treatise that he was going to write, and to write a tract instead. The treatise evidently never got written, but the tract is a very valuable addition to the New Testament scripture. So he writes to them to "contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." There are some striking things about that instruction. That says:
First, that our faith is not something that anybody has manufactured; it was delivered to us. It is not fabricated, or worked up by a collection of individuals. It is one body of facts that is consistently delivered by authoritative persons, the apostles. It has come to us through them.
Furthermore, Jude says that it was once for all delivered. It was only given at one time in the history of the world. It does not need any additions. This little letter, lying as it does at the very back door of the New Testament, is a wonderfully helpful letter to use in answering the claims of the cults, -isms and false doctrines abroad today. It is my judgment that the essence of every false doctrine that has ever been exposed by anyone is answered here in this letter of Jude. For example, the Mormons tell us that the revelation that God gave us did not stop with the New Testament, but that we need new books and new revelations. But you see how clearly Jude answers this when he says, "I want you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." It was given to us through the apostles, at one particular time in history, and it does not need any additions.
The third thing is that it needs to be proclaimed, or contended for. Now some think that contending for the faith means to roll the Bible up into a bludgeon with which to beat people over the head. Such people feel that they need to be very contentious in contending for the faith. But this is not what Jude has in mind at all. He is simply talking about the need for proclaiming the truth.
As Charles Spurgeon used to put it: "The truth is like a lion. Whoever heard of defending a lion? Just turn it loose and it will defend itself." This is the way the Word of God is. If we begin to proclaim it, it will defend itself. The reason for this counsel, as he goes on to tell us, is that there were certain false teachers who had crept into the church:
For admission has been secretly gained by some who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly persons who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4 RSV)
What bothered Jude was that this was not an attack from outside the church; these were not pagans. These were people who professed to be Christians. They had arisen within the church and were doing two things:
First, they were changing the grace of God into license to live an immoral, sexually degraded life. They were teaching basically that it did not make any difference what you did with your body as long as your spirit was right. You could indulge the body to the full, since it was no good anyhow; it was the spirit that counted.
Second, they were saying that the grace of God is so broad that God will forgive anything you do; therefore, the more you sin, the more grace, so go to it. This same idea is being promulgated in our own day. People from within the church are saying we have progressed beyond these old-fashioned Biblical ideas against licentiousness and immorality, and that we now have a new morality. It is based on the Christian theme of love. If you love someone, they say, it does not make any difference what you do with them. Love justifies anything. This is an exact duplicate of this 1st century heresy, that called forth such condemnation from the Apostle Jude.
Let us look briefly at how Jude handles this problem. First he points out that God will not ignore this kind of thing; the judgment of this kind of person is certain. That is Jude's theme and he supplies three Biblical examples to support it:
To begin with, he reminds the people that when God brought the people out of Egypt, he did a great thing; well over a million people were saved by the power and right hand of God. But they were a mixed multitude, as the Old Testament tells us. While some of them were really believers, others were not. They were all delivered and they were all set free. They all went through the Red Sea and all experienced the miracles of God's fatherly care. But when they came into the wilderness, God began to choose and judge among them. Those who murmured and complained and rejected his leadership, refusing to enter into the land, he judged. Finally, out of all the multitude that left Egypt, only two men entered into the land -- Joshua and Caleb. The rest all perished in the wilderness. Their children entered in, but this was God's way of saying that he has a way of handling those who refuse to act by faith.
In the second example, he reminds us of the angels who did not keep their first position. These angels lived in the very presence of God and ministered before him, serving constantly at his bidding, and yet they followed Satan in his rebellion. They came to earth and became involved with the daughters of men. Thus, they too were reserved for judgment. His point is that even angels are not excluded from judgment, when they fall through pride and lust. And pride and lust characterized these men that Jude was talking about.
Third, Jude reminds them of the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. These two cities in the plain, down at the southern end of the Dead Sea, had fallen into the practice of homosexuality. So open, so blatant, so widely accepted was the practice, that when the angels visited Lot, the men of the city surrounded his house and ordered Lot to bring those men out so that they might have their way with them. For this, God judged that city.
Jude reminds us that God does not take these things lightly. There is a judgment provided for it. It may be sudden, as in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah. It may be long-delayed as in the case of the angels; or it may come about in the natural course of events, as in the case of those who came out of Egypt. God is not going to ignore it. Reading further, we see what was wrong with these men:
Yet in like manner these men in their dreamings defile the flesh, reject authority, and revile the glorious ones. (Jude 1: 8 RSV)
Verses 9 through 13 expand upon those three divisions, taking them in reverse order:
First, Jude takes the reviling of the glorious ones, and refers to an incident that is not recorded in our Bible. It comes from a book called The Assumption of Moses which was familiar to the readers of the 1st century. Many have been troubled by this because they think Jude is referring to a book that has perhaps been lost from the Bible. It has not been lost; we still have it. It, and other so-called "lost books" can be read in any reputable theological seminary library. But they are a mixture of truth and error, and what these New Testament writers sometimes do is refer back to them for some recorded instance that is true, so that what is recorded here is perfectly true, but not everything in The Assumption of Moses is.
A little further on in Jude's letter, there is a quotation from the Book of Enoch, another book we do not find in our Bible, but which is also available today. The quotation Jude uses is truth; the entire book from which it was taken is not.
What happened is that when Moses died, Michael, the great archangel, the highest of the angels, had disputed with the devil over the body of Moses. The claim of the devil was twofold; he said he had a right to the body of Moses, first, because Moses was a murderer -- he had slain an Egyptian. Second, the devil said the body of Moses belonged to him because it was in the realm of material things over which he was lord. But Michael disputed this. He claimed the body for the Lord, just as the whole of Scripture claims that our bodies are important to God. God has a plan for them as well as for the spirit.
The point he is making here is that even the archangel Michael did not speak directly to Satan when he confronted him face to face, but simply said, "The Lord rebuke you." Jude's argument is, if archangels, who have so much power and knowledge of truth, are careful to respect the God-given dignity of a fallen angel, then why should we, mere men, speak contemptuously of the principalities and the powers in high places? It is a thing to think about, isn't it, when certain people today just sneer at the idea that the Scriptures present the existence of demons or Satan. Now the second matter he takes up is that of rejecting authority:
Woe to them! For they walk in the way of Cain, and abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error, and perish in Korah's rebellion. (Jude 1:11 RSV)
Jude is tracing the way sin, especially rebellion, develops in a life. He personifies rebellion with three Biblical men: Cain, Balaam and Korah: He speaks of "the way of Cain," which was essentially selfishness. Cain stands forever as the man who thought only of himself, who had no concern or love for his brother, but put him to death. He looked out only for his own welfare, and Jude says that is the first step on the way to ultimate rebellion -- selfishness.
The second thing was the "error of Balaam." There are two stories about Balaam in the Old Testament. In one story, a pagan king hired him to curse the children of Israel. As he was riding along on a donkey to do this, the donkey balked because he saw the angel of God blocking the way. Balaam could not see the angel, and finally the donkey had to speak with a human voice in order to rebuke the madness of this prophet, (Num 22:21-35). The thing that leaps out at you in that whole story is the greed of this man, and this is confirmed by the second story. In return for money, Balaam taught the children of Israel how to sin, (Num 31:15). He sent the pagan women among the camp to seduce the men of Israel sexually, as well as to introduce them to the worship of idols, which involved sexual rites. Thus, he became guilty of teaching others to sin. That is the error of Balaam. To teach someone else to sin is far worse than sinning yourself. Jesus said, "it would be better for him [by whom temptations come] if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin," (Luke 17:2 RSV). That was the error of Balaam.
And the development from selfishness, through teaching someone else to sin, ends finally in the defiant rebellion of Korah: Korah and his group were the ones who said to Moses and Aaron, "Who do you think you are, making yourselves the leaders of Israel? We are as good as you; we have as much authority as you have in Israel. What makes you think you have the right to speak for God?" (cf, Num 16:3 RSV). Thus, he openly and blatantly challenged the God-given authority of Moses and Aaron. Do you remember what happened to them? God said, "Look, Korah and your group, you stand over there. Moses and the rest of you, stand over here. I'll show you what is going to happen." Suddenly the ground opened up beneath Korah and his group and they went down alive into the pit (see Num 16:20-35). This was God's remarkably dramatic way of saying that defiance of God-given authority represents ultimate sin.
Jude goes on, and is evidently getting pretty worked up. He now tackles the third matter, "defiling the flesh." He says these people are blemishes on your love feasts, as they boldly caroused together. Now love feasts were potluck suppers. In the early church, the Christians would gather together and bring the food with them to the service on Sunday. After the service, they would all partake together, and they called this a love feast.
What a blessed name! I like potluck suppers, but I do not like the name. I am physically opposed to the first syllable and theologically opposed to the second. But love feast! Now there is a term for you!
Anyhow, these love feasts were wonderful times for fellowship for a while. But then people began to divide into cliques, and some of them kept the chicken for themselves. Others set aside the best pieces of angel food cake, and soon there was division; people began to boldly carouse together, looking after themselves. That is the mark of this kind of a person.
As Jude goes on, we can see his remarkable sense of imagery. It reminds us of James and also of the Lord Jesus in his ability to use all the events and scenes of life around him as illustrations. Listen to all of these, all describing useless people:
...waterless clouds, [promising rain, but never coming through] carried along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, [not only dead in Adam, but dead in that second death -- rejecting Christ] uprooted wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars for whom the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 1:12b-13 RSV)
Then he quotes Enoch, in that quotation I referred to above. He says that these are exactly the kind of men that were before the flood, and finally, he describes them as,
...grumblers, malcontents, following their own passions, loud-mouthed boasters, flattering people to gain advantage. (Jude 1:16 RSV)
That hurts, doesn't it? Some of us are guilty of some of these things, even though we do not fall into this classification. But now comes the positive, as Jude comes to a close:
...you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; (Jude 1:17 RSV)
They told you this would happen, so what are you going to do about it?
...you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith: (Jude 1:20a RSV)
That means study your Bible; learn what the truth is. He doesn't say to them, "Organize a counter-movement. Try to get these people thrown out of the church." He says to oppose them with the positive; learn the truth. And second:
...pray in the Holy Spirit; (Jude 1:20b RSV)
To pray in the Holy Spirit means to pray according to his teaching, and in his power, depending upon God. Study and learn what prayer is, follow the teaching of the Scripture about it. Obey the Holy Spirit in your prayer life. Third, he says,
...keep yourselves in the love of God; (Jude 1:21a RSV)
Now some have misunderstood that to mean that it depends on us to stay in the family of God -- as if your salvation depended wholly upon us. But what he is saying is, "Look, God's love is just like the sunshine, constantly shining on us. But we can put up parasols and various barriers that shut it off." Jude says we must learn how to keep walking in the experience of the love of God.
When there is no unjudged sin in your life, God's love is constantly able to warm your heart, fill your life. Of course, he loves you whether you are walking in the light or not, but if you walk in the light, you will experience that love. That is what it means to "keep yourselves in the love of God." Finally:
...wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. (Jude 1:21b RSV)
That refers to the second coming; keep your hope sharp and bright, looking for the intervention again of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now what about others? Jude mentions three things concerning our attitudes and behavior towards other people:
...convince some, who doubt; (Jude 1:22 RSV)
Answer their arguments; reason with them. And next,
...save some, by snatching them out of the fire; (Jude 1:23a RSV)
There are some with whom we need to move right in so as to try to bring them back from disaster. And then, finally,
...have mercy with fear, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. (Jude 1:23b RSV)
That is a wise word. Be careful. There are some you cannot help yet; you are not experienced enough, or old enough yet. You are not wise enough to help these others. Even the wisest have to handle them with great fear, being very careful not to contract the disease they are trying to cure. Now, at the end, we have this great benediction which is one of the great words of the New Testament:
Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25 RSV)
This too falls into three divisions:
"Now to him who is able to keep you from falling" indicates the potential in the Christian life. It does not say "Now to him who does keep you from falling," because God does not always keep us from falling. He is able to, Jude says, but he does not always do it. We need to fall sometimes; some of us will not learn any other way. If we were not so thick-headed and stubborn, and if we would obey him, he would keep us from falling. In that sense, we never need to fall.
But even when we do fall, he is able "to present us without blemish before the presence of his glory." The word translated "without blemish," is the word anomas, which means "apart from the law." He has so completely dealt with us that even our falls have already been handled in Christ. Therefore, after we have learned the painful lesson of it, he is free to wipe it out of the record, and to present us faultless before his glory!
And this will be done, he says, "with rejoicing." That means we will have had a part in this too. We are also involved in the process, and when we get where we're going, we can say, "Hallelujah! Thank God, I've won!" As Paul says, "I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness," (2 Tim 4:7b-8a RSV).
Then there is the final recognition of the only God, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. To him be "glory, majesty, dominion, and authority before all time and now and for ever." That takes in everything, does it not? From the beginning, through the present to the eternal future, he is the One around whom the universe itself gathers.
Title: JUDE: Contending for the Faith
By: Ray C. Stedman
Scripture: Jude 1
Date: June 30, 1968
Series: Adventuring through the Bible
Message No: 66
Catalog No: 266
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Comments from Bryce Self (firstname.lastname@example.org) (June 11, 2002)
Regarding Genesis 6 -- where the apostle says that certain angels left their "first estate" the word used is 'oikoterion', a word used only one other place in Scripture, referring to our spiritual bodies after the resurrection.
Secondly, the difficulty we have in thinking of angels cohabiting with mortal women stems from our un-Biblical idea that 'spirit' equals immaterial or insubstantial. In fact, spirit is MORE substantial than matter and governs matter. Jesus in his resurrected body ('oikoterion') could pass through the walls or locked doors behind which the disciples were hidden. I think it is C.S. Lewis who in this connection points out that spiritual beings (or resurrected humans) are so much more "real" and "solid" than matter that they can through it similarly to the way we pass through a fog.
Third, if the angels were DESIGNED to providentially govern various material realms providentially under God, they are able by nature to manipulate matter in ways far beyond our technological tinkering. We do know they can take physical form as men, and walk, speak, eat and otherwise manipulate matter as we do while in our form. With their abilities to mold matter at a spiritual level to the extent even of taking on an apparently fully functional human body, we cannot logically rule out an ability to engender semi-human offspring through use of manufactured DNA from those bodies (or, less likely to my thinking, to make alterations to the genetic structure of normal humans of whom the have taken possession).
Lastly, remember, these are fallen angels whose work is rebellion and corruption of all that God has made good. And we do know that they are especially involved in blaspheming the Lord through attacking and destroying His image in mankind, spirit, soul, and body. Matthew 22:30 and Mark 12:25 are very specific -- "in the resurrection/when they shall rise from the dead" (future tense, and referring explicitly to humans being only) -- "they neither marry nor are given in marriage" (the relationship of marriage first and foremost, and only by implication to include sexual cohabitation and procreation) -- "but are as the angels of God in heaven/as the angels which are in heaven" (only and explicitly the unfallen good angels who have been been confirmed forever in their right standing before God -- this says nothing whatsoever about fallen angels, their natures, capacities or activities in the past, present or future.) These verses bear the unparalleled stamp of Dominical authority, but simply cannot exegetically be used in connection with Genesis 6.
In his "Plea for the Christians," Athenagoras (2nd Century apostolic father), identifies Satan as the angel originally placed in charge of matter in the universe (the 'covering' cherub), so that with his fall the material cosmos became impregnated with evil, just as all under Adam's dominion (animals, etc.) fell with him. This is a very good explanation of how universal corruption and futility came about effecting a much more extensive domain that merely what had been committed to Adam. It also explicates Christ's being exalted above ALL fallen creation, so that our final state in Christ is on a much higher level in the ontological "chain of being" than mankind held at creation.
Incidentally, he grounds his interpretation of Genesis 6 on the Scriptures and apostolic tradition. In this public appeal on behalf of Christians, he would certainly only have use arguments and expositions which were in the common stream of the Faith in that day. This was the universally held view of the early Church.
From PLEA FOR THE CHRISTIANS (Athenagoras of Athens, circa A.D. 177)
CHAP. XXIV.--CONCERNING THE ANGELS AND GIANTS.
What need is there, in speaking to you who have searched into every department of knowledge, to mention the poets, or to examine opinions of another kind? Let it suffice to say thus much. If the poets and philosophers did not acknowledge that there is one God, and concerning these gods were not of opinion, some that they are demons, others that they are matter, and others that they once were men,there might be some show of reason for our being harassed as we are, since we employ language which makes a distinction between God and matter, and the natures of the two. For, as we acknowledge a God, and a Son his Logos, and a Holy Spirit, united in essence,the Father, the Son, the Spirit, because the Son is the Intelligence, Reason, Wisdom of the Father, and the Spirit an effluence, as light from fire; so also do we apprehend the existence of other powers, which exercise dominion about matter, and by means of it, and one in particular, which is hostile to God: not that anything is really opposed to God, like strife to friendship, according to Empedocles, and night to day, according to the appearing and disappearing of the stars (for even if anything had placed itself in opposition to God, it would have ceased to exist, its structure being destroyed by-the power and might of God), but that to the good that is in God, which belongs of necessity to Him, and co-exists with Him, as color with body, without which it has no existence (not as being part of it, but as an attendant property co-existing with it, united and blended, just as it is natural for fire to be yellow and the ether dark blue),--to the good that is in God, I say, the spirit which is about matter, who was created by God; just as the other angels were created by Him, and entrusted with the control of matter and the forms of matter, is opposed. For this is the office of the angels,--to exercise providence for God over the things created and ordered by Him; so that God may have the universal and general providence of the whole, while the particular parts are provided for by the angels appointed over them. Just as with men, who have freedom of choice as to both virtue and vice (for you would not either honour the good or punish the bad, unless vice and virtue were in their own power; and some are diligent in the matters entrusted to them by you, and others faithless), so is it among the angels. Some, free agents, you will observe, such as they were created by God, continued in those things for which God had made and over which He had ordained them; but some outraged both the constitution of their nature and the government entrusted to them: namely, this ruler of matter and its various forms, and others of those who were placed about this first firmament (you know that we say nothing without witnesses, but state the things which have been declared by the prophets); these fell into impure love of virgins, and were subjugated by the flesh, and he became negligent and wicked in the management of the things entrusted to him. Of these lovers of virgins, therefore, were begotten those who are called giants. And if something has been said by the poets, too, about the giants, be not surprised at this: worldly Wisdom and divine differ as much from each other as truth and plausibility: the one is of heaven and the other of earth; and indeed, according to the prince of matter,- "We know we oft speak lies that look like troths."
CHAP. XXV.--THE POETS AND PHILOSOPHERS HAVE DENIED A DIVINE PROVIDENCE.
These angels, then, who have fallen from heaven, and haunt the air and the earth, and are no longer able to rise to heavenly things, and the souls of the giants, which are the demons who wander about the world, perform actions similar, the one (that is, the demons) to the natures they have received, the other (that is, the angels) to the appetites they have indulged. But the prince of matter, as may be seen merely from what transpires, exercises a control and management contrary to the good that is in God:- "Ofttimes this anxious thought has crossed my mind, Whether 'tis chance or deity that rules The small affairs of men; and, spite of hope As well as justice, drives to exile some Stripped of all means of life, while others still Continue to enjoy prosperity."
Prosperity and adversity, contrary to hope and justice, made it impossible for Euripides to say to whom belongs the administration of earthly affairs, which is of such a kind that one might say of it:- "How then, while seeing these things, can we say There is a race of gods, or yield to laws?"
The same thing led Aristotle to say that the things below the heaven are not under the care of Providence, although the eternal providence of God concerns itself equally with us below, "The earth, let willingness move her or not, Must herbs produce, and thus sustain my flocks," - and addresses itself to the deserving individually, according to truth and not according to opinion; and all other things, according to the general constitution of nature, are provided for by the law of reason. But because the demoniac movements and operations proceeding from the adverse spirit produce these disorderly sallies, and moreover move men, some in one way and some in another, as individuals and as nations, separately and in common, in accordance with the tendency of matter on the one hand, and of the affinity for divine things on the other, from within and from without,--some who are of no mean reputation have therefore thought that this universe is constituted without any definite order, and is driven hither and thither by an irrational chance. But they do not understand, that of those things which belong to the constitution of the whole world there is nothing out of order or neglected, but that each one of them has been produced by reason, and that, therefore, they do not transgress the order prescribed to them; and that man himself, too, so far as He that made him is concerned, is well ordered, both by his original nature, which has one common character for all, and by the constitution of his body, which does not transgress the law imposed upon it, and by the termination of his life, which remains equal and common to all alike; but that, according to the character peculiar to himself and the operation of the ruling prince and of the demons his followers, he is impelled and moved in this direction or in that, notwithstanding that all possess in common the same original constitution of mind.
CHAP. XXVI.--THE DEMONS ALLURE MEN TO THE WORSHIP OF IMAGES,
They who draw men to idols, then, are the aforesaid demons, who are eager for the blood of the sacrifices, and lick them; but the gods that please the multitude, and whose names are given to the images, were men, as may be learned from their history. And that it is the demons who act under their names, is proved by the nature of their operations. For some castrate, as Rhea; others wound and slaughter, as Artemis; the Tauric goddess puts all strangers to death. I pass over those who lacerate with knives and scourges of bones, and shall not attempt to describe all the kinds of demons; for it is not the part of a god to incite to things against nature.
"But when the demon plots against a man, He first inflicts some hurt upon his mind."
But God, being perfectly good, is eternally doing good. That, moreover, those who exert the power are not the same as those to whom the statues are erected, very strong evidence is afforded by Troas and Parium. The one has statues of Neryllinus, a man of our own times; and Parium of Alexander and Proteus: both the sepulcher and the statue of Alexander are still in the forum. The other statues of Neryllinus, then, are a public ornament, if indeed a city can be adorned by such objects as these; but one of them is supposed to utter oracles and to heal the sick, and on this account the people of the Troad offer sacrifices to this statue, and overlay it with gold, and hang chaplets upon it. But of the statues of Alexander and Proteus (the latter, you are aware, threw himself into the fire near Olympia), that of Proteus is likewise said to utter oracles; and to that of Alexander- "Wretched Paris, though in form so fair, Thou slave of woman" - sacrifices are offered and festivals are held at the public cost, as to a god who can hear. Is it, then, Neryllinus, and Proteus, and Alexander who exert these energies in connection with the statues, or is it the nature of the matter itself? But the matter is brass. And what can brass do of itself, which may be made again into a different form, as Amasis treated the footpan, as told by Herodotus? And Neryllinus, and Proteus, and Alexander, what good are they to the sick? For what the image is said now to effect, it effected when Neryllinus was alive and sick.
CHAP. XXVII.--ARTIFICES OF THE DEMONS.
What then? In the first place, the irrational and fantastic movements of the soul about opinions produce a diversity of images (eidwla) from time to time: some they derive from matter, and some they fashion and bring forth for themselves; and this happens to a soul especially when it par takes of the material spirit and becomes mingled with it, looking not at heavenly things and their Maker, but downwards to earthly things, wholly at the earth, as being now mere flesh and blood, and no longer pure spirit. These irrational and fantastic movements of the soul, then, give birth to empty visions in the mind, by which it becomes madly set on idols. When, too, a tender and susceptible soul, which has no knowledge or experience of sounder doctrines, and is unaccustomed to contemplate truth, and to consider thoughtfully the Father and Maker of all things, gets impressed with false opinions respecting itself, then the demons who hover about matter, greedy of sacrificial odours and the blood of victims, and ever ready to lead men into error, avail themselves of these delusive movements of the souls of the multitude; and, taking possession of their thoughts, cause to flow into the mind empty visions as if coming from the idols and the statues; and when, too, a soul of itself, as being immortal, moves conformably to reason, either predicting the future or healing the present, the demons claim the glory for themselves.
The Sons of God, by Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Th.M., Ph.D., Ariel Ministries
In discussing Genesis 6:1-4, one of the early echoes of the promise of Genesis 3:15, it has been stated that these verses describe the intermarriage of fallen angels with human women. Because this view is contested by some, it will be necessary to study these verses in some detail and provide a justification of the interpretation which has been given.
The Multiplication of Humanity - Genesis 6:1
1:1 Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them,... (NASB)
Verse 1 emphasizes the multiplication of humanity before the Flood. The Hebrew word for "men" used here is generic and refers to humanity in general, including male and female. The word, as such, cannot be limited to the sons of Cain. It included both Sethites and Cainites, and both of these groups died in the Flood.
Another key word found in verse 1. is "daughter," a Hebrew word that means "females." The emphasis in the second part of verse 1, "daughters were born unto them," is on the female portion of humanity. Again, the expression cannot be limited to the female descendants of Cain, as some teach. It simply is a word that means "the female portion of the population." Verse i can read: "Man [humanity] multiplied and daughters (females] were born unto them." The distinction in verse 1 is not between male Sethites and female Cainites, but the emphasis is on the female portion of humanity in general which would include both Cainites and Sethites.
The Intermarriage - Genesis 6:2
2 that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. (NASB)
Verse 2 describes an intermarriage. The first key phrase is, "sons of God." The term "sons of God" is a general term which means "to be brought into existence by God's creative act." Because the term carries this meaning, it is used very selectively. Throughout the Old Testament the term "sons of God" is always used of angels. This is very clear when the usages of the term are compared in the Old Testament. Elsewhere, the term is used in Job :1:6; 2:1, and 38:7. No one debates that the other places where "sons of God" is found in the Old Testament clearly refer to angels. But some want to make Genesis 6:1-4 the one exception, and there is simply no warrant for making an exception here.
In the New Testament the term "sons of God" is expanded. Adam is called the son of God (Luke 3:38) because he was brought into existence by creation. Believers are called sons of God (John 1:12) because believers are considered to be a new creation (Galatians 6:15). But in Genesis, the text is dealing with a specific Hebrew expression, benei elohim, and, as it is used in the Hebrew Old Testament, it is a term that is always used of angels. The distinction in this passage, then, is not between Sethites and Cainites, but between humanity and angels, The word men here emphasizes humanity. The term "sons of God" emphasizes angels.
The second key expression in verse :z is "daughters of men." This is a generic term for women, which includes females of both Sethites and Cainites. What the verse is saying is, "the sons of God saw the daughters of men." There is no justification for this verse to be interpreted to mean "godly males" intermarried with "ungodly females." Would truly godly men marry ungodly females? The "daughters of men" simply means womankind, and the "sons of God" refers to angels. If the meaning is kept consistent with its usage elsewhere in the Old Testament, the passage is clearly speaking of fallen angels intermarrying with human women. This is obvious in two ways.
First, it is always a one-way intermarriage; it is always "sons of God" marrying "daughters of men." There is no record of "daughters of God" marrying "sons of men." If the distinction was between Sethites and Cainites, it simply would not happen this way. In human society, intermarriage occurs both ways. Today, saved males sometimes marry unsaved females, and sometimes saved females marry unsaved males. If the other claim was true, it would mean that male Sethites married female Cainites, but male Cainites never married female Sethites, which is entirely unlikely. Intermarriage would thus be confined to godly men with ungodly women, but not godly women with ungodly men. But in Genesis 6 there is only a one-way intermarriage, the "sons of God" intermarrying with the "daughters of men."
Second, the context clearly speaks of a cohabitation that is unusual and unnatural and causes the worldwide Flood. Verses 1-4 deal with the angelic cause of the worldwide Flood, while verses 5-6 deal with the human cause. Cohabitation between Sethites and Cainites would not be unusual or unnatural, while cohabitation between angels and humans would be.
Those who do not like this teaching object to it by quoting Matthew 22:30, claiming that this verse clearly teaches that angels are sexless:
22:30 "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven." (NASB)
What Jesus said is that human beings "in the resurrection" and "in heaven" do not 11 marry, nor are [they] given in marriage." The angels that Jesus was speaking of are 11angels in heaven." The comparison is not with angels in general, but with angels "in heaven." The emphasis is that in heaven, good angels neither marry nor are given in marriage. Matthew 22:30 makes the same point about human beings. Humans in heaven do not marry, nor are they given in marriage. What about humans here on earth? Humans on earth certainly do marry and are given in marriage. This is a contrast between what happens in heaven as compared to what happens here on earth. Genesis 6, however, is speaking of angels on earth. So in heaven, angels do not marry, nor are they given in marriage, and humans in heaven will not marry nor be given in marriage. But Genesis 6 discusses things happening on earth. Angels are never declared to be sexless. In fact, the male gender is always used. Matthew 22:30 teaches that angels do not procreate after their kind, meaning that angels do not give birth to other angels. But angels are always described in the masculine gender, not in the feminine, nor in the neuter. They are always masculine gender in both the Old and New Testaments. Whenever angels became visible, they always appeared as young men. Anytime an angel appeared to a person he always appeared as a young man and never a woman (Genesis 18:1 - 19:22; Mark 16:5-7; Luke 24:4-7; Acts 1:1o-11). Matthew 22:30 cannot be used as an argument against the angelic interpretation of Genesis 6:1-4, because it is dealing with a situation on earth, not in heaven; nor does Matthew 22:30 teach that angels are sexless.
Another question is: Why did Satan have some of his fallen angels intermarry with human women? Why bother? The reason for this can be understood by investigating the greater context of Genesis. Three chapters earlier (Genesis 3:15), the first messianic prophecy is recorded. The prophecy declared that the Messiah would be the seed of the Woman, and this Seed would crush the head of Satan. What is happening in Genesis 6:1-4 is a Satanic attempt to corrupt the Seed of the Woman by having some of his angels take on human form - angels always appear as young males when they take on human form - and intermarry with humankind to try to corrupt the seed. Therefore, the events of Genesis 6:1-4 were a Satanic attempt to cancel out the prophecy of Genesis 3:15.
The Result of the Intermarriage - Genesis 6:3
The result of this intermarriage was the judgment of God:
3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." (NASB)
In verse 3 God pronounced the judgment: the Holy Spirit would not continue to strive with this kind of evil forever, and God decreed the destruction of humanity to be fulfilled Izod years later. The means of the destruction would be the Flood. The purpose of the Flood was to destroy the product of the union of angels and women, discussed in the next verse.
The Product of the Intermarriage - Genesis 6:4
4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. (NASB)
To get a clearer concept of what this verse is saying as a whole, individual parts need to be discussed first.
First is the name Nephilim. In some translations the word Nephilim has been translated by the word "giant." People reading it picture huge human beings. But the word does not mean "giants"; rather, it means "fallen ones." The word does not refer to giants in the sense of huge beings, but to a race of fallen ones. The reason it was translated as "giant" is because in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament made around 250 B.C., the Jewish scholars translated verse 4 by the Greek word gigentes which means "Titan." Our English word "giant" comes from this Greek word gigentes. But what were the Titans in Greek mythology? They were part man and part god, because they were products of gods and men. When the Jewish scholars in 250 B.C. translated the word Nephilim to Greek, they used the Greek word for Titans because they recognized this to be a union not of two types of human beings, but of angels and humans which produced a being that was neither angelic nor human. So at least the Jewish scholars Of 250 B.C., who lived much closer to the time when Moses originally wrote this passage, clearly understood this to be an intermarriage between angels and human women. As a result of this union, a new race of beings called the Nephilim, a race of fallen ones, came into being. They were gigentes, they were superhuman, but not in size. They had human characteristics but were, at the same time, superhuman. They had extra capacities, both mentally and physically, though they may not have been any larger than normal human beings. It is from the events of Genesis 6:1-4 that the source of Greek and Roman mythologies were derived. These mythologies record how gods from Mount Olympus intermarried with human beings on earth and produced children who had superhuman characteristics, who were greater than men but less than the gods. The book of Genesis gives the true history of what really happened, while Greek and Roman mythologies give the corrupted account. In Greek and Roman mythologies the human perspective is given, and what happened is elevated to something special and glorified, but God called it sin.
The second word to note in this verse is giborim, which is translated as "the mighty men... the men of renown." Again, because this was a product of fallen angels and human women, they were unique. They were the giborim. Notice that there is no mention of mighty women, which would be strange if this were a product of a normal union. After all, a normal union produces both males and females. If this were a natural union, then the product should have been mighty men and mighty women. But there are only mighty men because this is a new race of beings that is neither human nor angelic. The only way to explain the origin of the giborim is that they were the product of this union, the point of verse 4.
Only by the angelic explanation of chapter 6 do other areas of biblical teaching make sense. It provides the only adequate explanation for certain statements in II Peter and Jude which will be studied next. It is a peculiar sin, it is connected to the flood, and it is different from the original fall of the angels; otherwise, all fallen angels would be permanently confined.
II Peter 2:4-5
2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; ... (NASB)
Verse 4 gives the location of the permanently confined demons. The temporarily confined demons are found in the Abyss, but the permanently confined demons are elsewhere. The Greek word translated in this passage as "hell" is tartarus. Tartarus is a section of Sheol or Hades where the permanently confined demons are located. Both the Abyss and Tartarus are sections of Sheol or Hades. The Abyss is for demons that are temporarily confined, but Tartarus is for demons who are permanently confined. Tartarus is referred to as "pits of darkness" and these angels are reserved there unto the "judgment." This will be the Great White Throne Judgment, the final judgment. This means that at no time will these angels ever be released. When the time comes, they will go directly from Tartarus to stand before the Great White Throne Judgment and then be cast into the Lake of Fire. There will never be a time when they will be free to roam - they are permanently confined.
Verse 5 reveals the timing of their confinement: it was in conjunction with the Flood. This agrees well with the events of Genesis 6:1-4 which are also connected with the Flood. The purpose of the Flood was to destroy this product of fallen angels and human women. So by comparing the II Peter passage with the Genesis passage, there is good evidence to show that Genesis is not speaking about Sethites intermarrying with Cainites, but fallen angels intermarrying with human women. This is a valid conclusion just from a study of the Old Testament passages themselves. However, the New Testament also supports this particular interpretation.
6 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. 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (NASB)
Verse 6 emphasized the fall of a select group of angels and described their fall in four statements. First, "they kept not their own principality." The word "principality" is frequently used of the angelic realm and is one of the various ranks within the angelic realm. It means that they did not remain in their position and place of rank within the Satanic cosmos. Second, they "left their proper habitation." They left the demonic angelic sphere of operation and entered into the human sphere by taking on the form of young men and intermarrying with human women. Third, they are now "kept in everlasting bonds under darkness." Here Jude mentioned the same thing as Peter, that these angels are now permanently confined. Peter also revealed the place of their confinement: Tartarus. Fourth, they are to be kept there until "the judgment of that great day," Again, Jude reaffirms Peter's statement that they are being kept in bondage until the judgment of that great day. This is the Great White Throne judgment. Once again, it is reaffirmed that these demons will never be free to roam around but are permanently confined in Tartarus. When the time comes, they will be taken out of Tartarus to stand before the Great White Throne Judgment, and then be cast into the Lake of Fire.
Verse 7 deals with the nature of their sin. The key phrase is "in like manner." In like manner, as Sodom and Gomorrah, they went after "strange flesh." The sin that these angels committed is similar to the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, the sexual sin of going after strange flesh. "Strange flesh" means sexual union that is unnatural; it goes contrary to nature. In the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, the strange flesh was homosexuality; in the case of these angels, the strange flesh was female flesh. Instead of remaining in their usual state of residence, they invaded a new state of residence, one of alien flesh, to commit gross sexual immorality. Sodom and Gomorrah and these angels have one thing in common: they are guilty of sexual sins. In the case of Sodom and Gomorrah it was homosexuality; in the case of these angels, it was intermarrying into the human sphere.
By comparing the Genesis passage with the passages in II Peter and Jude, it is clear that these are angels who intermarried with human women, and not simply Sethites who intermarried with Cainites. ((From Messianic Christology Appendix I, Ariel Ministries, 1998, PO Box 3713, Tustin, CA 92781)
There Be Giants In 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" (Gen. 6:4, KJV).
With this verse in Genesis the Bible introduces to us the existence of giants. The Hebrew term Nephilim used here fundamentally means "fallen ones" rather than giants per se, though the trait of huge size seems inextricably linked to the term. Present in the days of the antediluvians -- "in those days" hearkens back to Gen. 6:1, "when men began to multiply on the face of the earth" -- at first glance the expression "and also after that" may lead one to think they reappeared after the Flood. This is by no means clear, however; the phrase may simply mean they continued to coexist with "normal" humans for an indeterminate period of time. The additional phrase that further describes them as "mighty men which were of old" implies they were no longer extant at the time Moses penned these words. The identity of the Nephilim is much debated by theologians and Bible students, with a key issue being the identification of the "sons of God" -- but that is a topic for another day! Let us press on...
Continuing through the Old Testament, one finds numerous further verses touching on the subject of giants. Other passages dealing with them include Num. 13; Deut. 1, 3, 9; Josh. 11, 12; I Sam. 17; 2 Sam. 21; and I Chr. 20. As they undertook the conquest of the Promised Land under Joshua and continued to extend their dominion over it into the time of David, the Israelites reported a number of encounters with the enormous men known as the Rephaim and Anakim. It should be noted that Numbers 13:33 reports the spies saying that "the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim," but this is likely nothing more than their personal opinion which Moses simply reports, rather than a statement of fact. Most Bible translations include this phrase as part of the spies' quoted words, not as a separate parenthetical observation by Moses; and further, the phrase is textually suspect, being absent from the Septuagint, and scholars such as Eryl Davies (commentary on Numbers in the New Century Bible Commentary) regard it as an explanatory scribal gloss rather than part of the original text. For these reasons, it is safest to understand Numbers 13:33 as simply expressing the opinion of some that the size of the sons of Anak brought the Nephilim to mind.
Regardless of whether the Anakim were actually related to the Nephilim, it is obvious that the Israelites were dealing with giants. If our understanding is correct that a cubit was approximately 18 inches, then Goliath, at "six cubits and a span," was somewhat over 9 feet tall. Og, the King of Bashan whose bed is described in Deut. 3:11 as being about 14 feet long by 6 feet wide, was thought to be 10 to 12 feet tall. As difficult as it may be for us to imagine such huge people today -- Shaquille O'Neal is a mere stripling compared to them! -- the clear impression one receives from these reports is that they record factual information, not mere legend. If we consider for a moment that from dogs we can breed not only toy poodles but also mastiffs, we ought to keep an open mind to the size possibilities incorporated by the Creator into the genes of the earliest humans.
But the skeptic has a right to ask: If the Bible is true, where is the EVIDENCE for these huge beings? Where are the displays in the museums? Where are the archaeological reports that record the discovery of their remains? This is a fair question. If one goes to any of the major museums, you will not find any exhibits of giant human beings. Search the Smithsonian galleries, for example, and you will see not a single giant bone or footprint cast on display. The clear impression given is that evidence of giants has never been found, and, intentionally or not, this tends to cast the Biblical record in an unfavorable light.
Yet concluding such evidence does not exist at all would be quite wrong! Reputable reports, found in the pages of older newspapers and magazines and given by credible witnesses, of the discovery of such remains HAVE come to light from time to time. The problem is, there is a reigning paradigm within the enclave of professional anthropologists which spills over into our museums, and which allows no place for such "anomalous artifacts." The gatekeepers of our major museums adhere to an orthodoxy which mandates that such oddities as giant skulls be kept under wraps, reserved for the eyes of insiders only, presumably lest the unsophisticated begin to doubt the officially-sanctioned history of humanity. As Joseph R. Jochmans has written (Strange Relics from the Depths of the Earth, online at http://joe3998.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/strangerelics.pdf
It is becoming increasingly apparent that not all facts from the past find their "proper" place. Other discoveries have been made that [compellingly] contradict the accepted model. Yet these discoveries are largely ignored, since it is far easier for the majority of scientists and historians to uphold what is "established," than to try to build a new model based on the "exceptions."
It is not unlike the end of the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Having recovered the Ark of the Covenant from the clutches of the Nazis, Indy finds himself compelled in the end to leave it in the hands of the authorities, who promise to "take care of it." And what is the outcome? We find the Ark packed up in a nondescript crate and spirited away to disappear into the bowels of an endless warehouse, conveniently taking along with it all of the uncomfortable questions it might raise. Many feel that this is exactly what has happened to most of the giant artifacts dug up by past generations, and why newer discoveries receive no notice.
Contrary to the impression given by the museums, however, we HAVE discovered evidence that "there were giants in the earth." Space precludes listing more than a few mentioned in Jochmans' article:
- Eureka, NV, 1877: "...the prospector was surprised to find a human leg bone and knee cap sticking out of solid rock....When the surrounding stone was carefully chipped away, the specimen was found to be composed of a leg bone broken off four inches above the knee, the knee cap and joint, the lower leg bones, and the complete bones of the foot. Several medical doctors examined the remains, and were convinced that anatomically they had indeed once belonged to a human being, and a very modern-looking one. But an intriguing aspect of the bones was their size: from knee to heel they measured 39 inches. Their owner in life had thus stood over 12 feet tall" (Jochmans, p. 4).
- Carson City, NV, 1882: "...several human tracks were found. The tracks were in six series, each with alternate right and left tracks. The stride was from two and a half to over three feet, and the individual prints were from 18 to 20 inches in length - that of a giant. The straddle - the distance between the left and right prints - was 18 to 19 inches" (Jochmans, p. 5).
- Carrizo Valley, OK, 1970's: "The shoe prints...reveal their wearers to have been above normal size with the imprints averaging 20 inches long and 8 inches across the ball of the foot [suggesting a height of roughly 12 feet] (Jochmans, p 7).
I recently received a copy of an e-mail about a living missionary who, prior to becoming a Christian, was an anthropologist. It includes the following fascinating information, which I have not yet been able to verify firsthand, but has the ring of truth about it. (Not having been able to confirm the details, I am leaving out the missionary's name.)
... She was privy to things that they don't let the public readily see. They display anomalies for study. They don't prohibit people from seeing them, but they do keep it real quiet and pretty much among themselves. ...The thing I remember most out of the dozens of examples she gave, was that she professed to have seen and held in her hands, a DOZEN human skulls that were TWICE the size of a normal human skull. That would make a 12' tall man, who might weigh over 1000 pounds.
She testified that when she was being witnessed to by the person who eventually led her to Christ, she was encouraged to read the Bible. She finally started to do just that, and opened a Bible to the beginning and started reading. She didn't get six chapters into the book when she came across Gen 6:4 -- "There were giants in the earth in those days ..."
She said a chill went down her spine, because she knew she had handled evidence that this verse was true. She knew that this was exactly the kind of thing the Bible is mocked for, except in this case, she knew the Bible was right. This gave her confidence that she could trust the Bible and doubt the skeptics, instead of the other way around. Shortly afterward she got saved, and the rest is history.
I think it would be an enormous help in setting the record straight if archaeological work could be done at Biblical sites mentioned in Scripture as being the home of giants. If remains of some of the Anakim or Rephaim were freshly unearthed by professionals who are not married to the reigning paradigm, this could go a long way toward getting the other skeletons out of the closet! Possible locations for such work include the sites mentioned in the Biblical passages alluded to earlier - Hebron, Debir, Gaza, Gath, Ashdod, Ashtaroth and Edrei, among others. Unfortunately, the continuing unrest in most of these areas makes formal research infeasible right now. But one way or another, hopefully the day will soon come when the wraps will be removed from this hidden facet of human history, and our museums will pull out of mothballs the "anomalous" remains that have long been kept hidden.
In summary, there are giants in the earth... and some have been excavated, but not put on display for the public to see. I, for one, want to see them with my own eyes, for they are part of the ancient history of this world which the Bible so faithfully records, as it does all the matters of our fact-based faith in the Living God.
ABR ELECTRONIC NEWSLETTER, Vol. 4, Issue 1 Circulation: 3425, January 15, 2004, http://www.biblearchaeology.org/, 1-800-430-0008, email@example.com
The Sons of God and the Daughters of Men
By: Bob Deffinbaugh, Th.M.
Attempts to produce a master race did not begin with Adolf Hitler, nor have they ended with him. Our generation seems to have a fixation on super human. Superman, the Bionic Man, the Bionic Woman, Hulk, and many other television characters contribute to the same theme. And this super-race is not to be understood as dominating only the realm of fiction. It is almost frightening to realize that genetic scientists are seriously working to create the master humans, while abortions can be employed to systematically eliminate the undesirables. I read an article in the paper the other day which gave an account of one organization that makes available to certain women the sperm of contributing Nobel Prize winners.
It is much more difficult to determine the ultimate outcome of these attempts than it is to find the origin of the movement. Its inception is recorded in the sixth chapter of the book of Genesis. I must say as we begin to study these verses that there is more disagreement here per square inch than almost anywhere in the Bible. By-and-large it is the conservative scholars who have the most difficulty with this passage. That is because those who don't take the Bible either literally or seriously are quick to call the account a myth. Conservative scholars must explain the event for what Moses claimed it to be, an historical event. While great differences arise in the interpretation of this passage, the issue is not one that is fundamental one that will affect the critical1 issues which underlie one's eternal salvation. Those with whom I most heartily disagree here are usually my brothers in Christ.
Who are the 'Sons of God?
The interpretation of verses 1-8 hinges upon the definition of three key terms, the sons of God, (verses 2,4), the daughters of men, (verses 2,4), and the Nephilim (verse 4). There are three major interpretations of these terms which I will attempt to describe, beginning with that which, in my mind is the least likely, and ending with the one that is most satisfactory.
View 1: The Merging of the Ungodly Cainite with the Godly Sethites
The sons of God are generally said by those who hold this view to be the godly men of the Sethite line. The daughters of men are thought to be the daughters of the ungodly Cainite. The Nephilim are the ungodly and violent men who are the product of this unholy union.
The major support for this interpretation is the context of chapters 4 and 5. Chapter four describes the ungodly generation of Cain, while in chapter five we see the godly Sethite line. In Israel, separation was a vital part of the religious responsibility of those who truly worshiped God. What took place in chapter six was the breakdown in the separation which threatened the godly seed through whom Messiah was to be born. This breakdown was the cause of the flood which would follow. It destroyed the ungodly world and preserved righteous Noah and his family, through whom the promise of Genesis 3:15 would be fulfilled.
While this interpretation has the commendable feature of explaining the passage without creating any doctrinal or theological problems, what it offers in terms of orthodoxy, it does at the expense of accepted exegetical practices.
First and foremost this interpretation does not provide definitions that arise from within the passage or which even adapt well to the text. Nowhere are the Sethites called the the sons of God.'
The contrast between the godly line of Seth and the ungodly line of Cain may well be overemphasized. I am not at all certain that the line of Seth, as a whole, was godly. While all of the Cainite line appears to be godless, only a handful of the Sethites are said to be godly. The point which Moses makes in chapter 5 is that God has preserved a righteous remnant through whom His promises to Adam and Eve will be accomplished. One has the distinct impression that few were godly in these days (cf. 6:5-7, 12). It seems that only Noah and his family could be called righteous at the time of the flood. Would God have failed to deliver any who were righteous? Also, the daughters of men can hardly be restricted to only the daughters of the Cainites. In verse 1 Moses wrote, 'Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them' (Genesis 6:1). It is difficult to conclude that the men here are not men in general or mankind. It would follow that the reference to their daughters would be equally general. To conclude that the daughters of men in verse two is some different, more restrictive group is to ignore the context of the passage.
For these reasons and others,83 I must conclude that this view is exegetically unacceptable. While it meets the test of orthodoxy it fails to submit to the laws of interpretation.
View 2: The Despot Interpretation
Recognizing the deficiencies of the first view, some scholars have sought to define the expression the sons of God by comparing it with the languages of the Ancient Near East. It is interesting to learn that some rulers were identified as the son of a particular god. In Egypt, for example, the king was called the son of Re.84
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for God, Elohim, is used for men in positions of authority:
Then his master shall bring him unto the judges who acted in God's name (Exodus 21:6, following the marginal reading of the NASB).
God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers (literally, the gods, Psalm 82:1, cf. also 82:6).
This interpretation, like the fallen angel view, has its roots in antiquity.85 According to this approach the sons of God are nobles, aristocrats, and kings.
These ambitious despots lusted after power and wealth and desired to become men of a name that is, somebodies (cf. 11:4)! Their sin was not intermarriage between two groups--whether two worlds, (angels and man), two religious communities (Sethite and Cainite), or two social classes (royal and common)—but that the sin was polygamy.' It was the same type of sin that the Cainite Lamech practiced, the sin of polygamy, particularly as it came to expression in the harem, the characteristic institution of the ancient oriental despot's court. In this transgression the sons of God frequently violated the sacred trust of their office as guardians of the general ordinances of God for human conduct.86
In the context of Genesis 4 and 5 we do find some evidence which could be interpreted as supportive of the despot view. Cain did establish a city, named after his son Enoch (verse 4:17). Dynasties would be more easily established in an urban setting. So, also, we know that Lamech did have two wives (verse 4:19). Although this is far from a harem, it could be viewed as a step in that direction. Also the view defines the daughters of men as womankind, and not just the daughters of the Cainite line.
In spite of these factors, this interpretation would probably never have been considered had it not been for the problems which the fallen angel view is said to create. While pagan kings were referred to as sons of a foreign deity, no Israelite king was so designated. True, nobles and those in authority were occasionally called 'gods,' but not the 'sons of God.' This definition chooses to ignore the precise definition given by the Scriptures themselves.
Further, the whole idea of power hungry men, seeking to establish a dynasty by the acquisition of a harem seems forced on the passage. Who would ever have found this idea in the text itself, unless it were imposed upon it? Also, the definition of the Nephilim as being merely violent and tyrannical men seems inadequate. Why should these men be sorted out for special consideration if they were merely like all the other men of that day (cf. 6:11,12)? While the despot view does less violence to the text than does the Cainite/Sethite view, it seems to me to be inadequate.
View 3: The Fallen Angel Interpretation
According to this view, the sons of God of verses 2 and 4 are fallen angels, which have taken the form of masculine human-like creatures. These angels married women of the human race (either Cainites or Sethites) and the resulting offspring were the Nephilim. The Nephilim were giants with physical superiority and therefore established themselves as men of renown for their physical prowess and military might. This race of half human creatures was wiped out by the flood, along with mankind in general, who were sinners in their own right (verse 6:11,12).
My basic presupposition in approaching our text is that we should let the Bible define its own terms. If biblical definitions are not to be found then we must look at the language and culture of contemporary peoples. But the Bible does define the term the sons of God for us.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, Satan also came among them (Job 1:6).
Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came among them to present himself before the Lord (Job 2:1).
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:7, cf. Psalm 89:6; Daniel 3:25).
Scholars who reject this view readily acknowledge the fact that the precise term is clearly defined in Scripture.87 The reason for rejecting the fallen angel interpretation is that such a view is said to be in violation of both reason and Scripture.
The primary passage which is said to be problematical is that found in Matthew's gospel, where our Lord said, 'You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven (Matthew 22:29-30).
We are told that here our Lord said that angels are sexless, but is this really true? Jesus compared men in heaven to angels in heaven. Neither men nor angels are said to be sexless in heaven but we are told that in heaven there will be no marriage. There are no female angels with whom angels can generate offspring. Angels were never told to be fruitful and multiply as was man.
When we find angels described in the book of Genesis, it is clear that they can assume a human-like form, and that their sex is masculine. The writer to the Hebrews mentions that angels can be entertained without man's knowing it (Hebrews 13:2). Surely angels must be convincingly like men. The homosexual men of Sodom were very capable of judging sexuality. They were attracted by the male angels who came to destroy the city (cf. Genesis 19:1ff, especially verse 5).
In the New Testament, two passages seem to refer to this incident in Genesis 6, and to support the angel view:
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; (II Peter 2:4).
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 (Jude 6).
These verses would indicate that some of the angels who fell with Satan were not content with their proper abode and therefore began to live among men (and women) as men. God's judgment upon them was to place them in bonds88 so that they can no longer promote Satan's purposes on earth as do the unbound fallen angels who continue to do his bidding.
The result of the union between fallen angels and women is rather clearly implied to be the Nephilim. While word studies have produced numerous suggestions for the meaning of this term, the biblical definition of this word comes from its only other instance in Scripture, Numbers 13:33: There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.
I therefore understand the Nephilim to be a race of super-humans who are the product of this angelic invasion of the earth.89
This view not only conforms to the biblical use of the expression sons of God,' it also best fits the context of the passage. The effects of the fall were seen in the godly offspring of Cain (chapter 4). While Cain and his descendants were 'in Satan's pocket,' Satan knew from God's words in Genesis 3:15 that through the seed of the woman God was going to bring forth a Messiah who would destroy him. We do not know that the entire line of Seth was God-fearing. In fact we would assume otherwise. Noah and his immediate family alone seem to be righteous at the time of the flood.
Genesis 6 describes a desperate attempt on the part of Satan to attack the godly remnant that is named in chapter 5. So long as a righteous seed is preserved, God's promise of salvation hangs over the head of Satan, threatening of his impending doom.
The daughters of men were not raped or seduced as such. They simply chose their husbands on the same basis that the angels selected their physical appeal. Now if you were an eligible woman in those days, who would you choose? Would you select a handsome, muscle-bulging specimen of a man, who had a reputation for his strength and accomplishments, or what seemed to be in comparison a ninety-pound weakling?
Women looked for the hope of being the mother of the Savior. Who would be the most likely father of such a child? Would it not be a mighty man of renown,' who would also be able to boast of immortality? Some of the godly Sethites did live to be nearly 1000 years old, but the Nephilim did not die, if they were angels. And so the new race began.
Does God Change His Mind?
While verses 1-4 highlight the angelic invasion in the beginning of a new super-race, verses 5-7 serve notice that mankind in general was deserving of God's destructive intervention into history at the flood. But it is here that we come upon a very serious problem, for it would almost appear that God changed His mind, as though the creation of man was a colossal error on His part. Let us, then, address the question, 'Does God change His mind?" Several factors must be considered.
First, God is immutable, unchanging in His person, His perfections, His purposes, and His promises.
God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19).
And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind, for He is not a man that He should change His mind (I Samuel 15:29, cf. also Psalm 33:11; 102:26-28; Hebrews 1:11-12; Malachi 3:6; Romans 11:29; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17).
Second, there are passages in which God Appears to change His mind.
And the Lord said to Moses, 'I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them, and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation. So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people (Exodus 32:9-10,14).
When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God repented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it (Jonah 3:10).
The Lord changed His mind about this. 'It shall not be,' said the Lord. The Lord changed His mind about this. 'This too shall not be,' said the Lord God (Amos 7:3,6). Third, in those cases where God appears to change His mind, one or more of these considerations may apply:
a. The expression, 'God repented' is an anthropomorphism, that is, a description of God which likens God's actions to man's. How else can man understand then by thinking of God in human terms and comparisons? God's change of mind may only be the way it looks from man's perspective. In both Genesis 22 (cf. verses 2, 11-12) and Exodus 32, that which God proposed was a test. In both cases, His eternal purpose did not change.
b. In cases where either judgment or blessing are promised, there may be an implied or stated condition. The message preached by Jonah to the Ninevites was one such instance:
Then Jonah began to go through the city one day's walk; and he cried out and said, 'Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.' Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat on the ashes. And he issued a proclamation and it said, 'In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent, and withdraw His burning anger so that we shall not perish?' (Jonah 3:4-9).
What the Ninevites hoped for Jonah knew for a fact. They cried for mercy and forgiveness in case God might hear and forgive. When the Ninevites repented and God relented, Jonah was hopping mad:
But it greatly displeased Jonah, and he became angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, 'Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore, in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that Thou art a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.' (Jonah 4:1,2).
Jonah knew God to be loving and forgiving. The message he preached implied one exception. If Nineveh repented, God would forgive them. This is what Jeremiah had written, saying,
At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it; if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it (Jeremiah 18:7-10).
c. While God's decree cannot be altered, we must grant that God is free to act as He chooses. While God's program may change His purposes do not, 'For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable (Romans 11:29).
God promised to bring His people into the land of Canaan. Due to their unbelief the first generation did not possess the land, but the second generation did. When Jesus came He offered Himself to Israel as the Messiah. Her rejection has made possible the offer of the gospel to the Gentiles. Nevertheless, when God's purposes for the Gentiles have been accomplished, God will once again pour out His grace and salvation upon the Jews. God's program changes, but not His purposes (cf. Romans 9-11).
d. While God's will (His decree) cannot and does not change, He is free to change His emotions. Genesis 6:6-7 describes the response of God to human sin. Grief is loves response to sin. God is no stoic; He is a person Who rejoices in men's salvation and obedience, and Who grieves at unbelief and disobedience. While the purpose of God for mankind never changed, His attitude did. Surely a Holy God must feel differently about sin than about obedience. That is the point of verses 6 and 7. God is grieved about man's sin and its consequences. But God will accomplish His purposes regardless. While such a state was ordained from eternity past, God could never rejoice in it, but only regret man's wickedness and willfulness.
A similar illustration is the emotional response of our Lord in the garden of Gethsemane (cf. Matthew 26:36ff). The Lord Jesus had in eternity past, purposed to go to the cross to purchase man's salvation. Yet when the moment for His agony drew near He dreaded it. His purpose did not change, but His emotions did.
The Meaning of this Passage for Ancient Israel
For the Israelites of old this passage would teach several valuable lessons. First, it provided them with an adequate explanation for the flood. We can see that this super-race had to be eliminated. The flood was not only God's way of judging sinful men, but of fulfilling His promise to bring salvation through the seed of the woman. Had the intermingling of angels and men gone unchecked, the godly remnant would have ceased to exist (humanly speaking). Second, this passage would illustrate the word of God to the serpent, Adam and Eve: 'And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed;" (Genesis 3:15a).
Israel dared not forget that there was an intense struggle going on, not just between the Cainites and the Sethites, but between Satan and the seed of the woman. While we are accustomed to such emphasis in the New Testament, the Old has few direct references to Satan or his demonic assistants (cf. Genesis 3; Deuteronomy 32:17; I Chronicles 21:1; Job 1,2; Psalm 106:37; Daniel 10:13; Zechariah 3:1,2). This passage would be a vivid reminder of the accuracy of God's word.
Third, it underscored the importance of maintaining their racial and spiritual purity. God's believing remnant must be preserved. When men failed to perceive the importance of this, God had to judge them severely. As the nation entered the land of Canaan, few lessons could be more vital than that of the need for separation.
The Meaning of Genesis 6 for Christians Today
While the New Testament has much more to say about the activities of Satan and his demons, few of us seem to take our spiritual warfare seriously. We really believe that the church can operate on human strength and wisdom alone, or with a little help from God. We often attempt to live the spiritual life in the power of the flesh. We urge people to rededicate their lives and redouble their efforts, but we fail to remind them that our only strength is that which God supplies.
The battle today between the sons of Satan and the sons of God (in the New Testament sense, ( 1:12; Romans 8:14,19) is even more intense than it was in the days of old. Satan's doom is sealed, and his days are numbered (cf. Matthew 8:29). Let us, then, put on the spiritual armor by which God equips us for the spiritual warfare of which we are a part (Ephesians 6:10-20).
Second, let us learn that Satan attacks us through similar instruments today. I am not aware of any instances in our times when fallen angelic beings have invaded the earth in human form to further Satan's cause. Nevertheless Satan still works through men.
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds (II Corinthians 11:13-15).
Just as Satan sought to corrupt men by disclosing himself (or rather, his angels) in the form of superior human beings, so he works through angels of light today. We are inclined to suppose that Satan works most often and most effectively through the reprobate. We almost expect to find Satan in the pathetic demonic or in the hopeless derelict. It is easy to attribute such tragedy to Satan. But Satan's best work and, in my estimation, his most frequent work is through those seemingly moral, devout, and pious talking men who stand behind the pulpit or sit on the governing board and talk about salvation in terms of society rather than souls, and by means of works rather than faith. Satan continues to advance his cause through men who are not what they appear to be.
Finally, notice that Satan does his best work in the very areas where men and women place their hope of salvation. When the angel-men proposed to the daughters of men they appeared to be the most promising fathers. If these creatures were immortal, then would their offspring not be so also? Was this the way God was going to overrule the fall and the curse? So it must have seemed to these women.
That is precisely what Satan does today. Oh, he is not above promoting himself through atheism or other Isms,' but he finds great success in the arena of religion. He wears his most pious expression and uses religious terminology. He does not seek to abolish religion only to abort it by cutting out its essential element, faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ as the substitute for sinful men. He will readily join any religious cause so long as this ingredient is omitted, or distorted, or lost in a maze of legalism or libertarianism. Watch out, my friend, for Satan in the realm of religion. What better way to sidetrack souls and to blind the minds of men (II Corinthians 4:4)?
Where is your hope for immortality? Is it in your offspring? That way did not work for Cain. Is it in your work? Do you wish to build an empire or to erect a monument to your name? It will not last. All of these things perished in the flood of God's judgment. Only faith in the God of the Bible and, specifically, faith in the Son He has sent will give you immortality and liberate you from the curse. The only way to become a son of God is through the Son of God.
Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.' (John 14:6).
83 A more serious problem for this prevalent view is posed by verse 4. From all appearances, the giants (nephilim) and mighty men (gibborim) are the offspring of the marriages of the sons of God and the daughters of men.' As Kline says:
It is not at all clear why the offspring of religiously mixed marriages should be Nephilim-Gibborim, however these be understood within the range of feasible interpretation... But his (the biblical author's) reference to the conjugal act and to childbearing finds justification only if he is describing the origin of the Nephilim-Gibborim. Unless the difficulty which follows from this conclusion can be overcome, the religiously mixed marriage interpretation of the passage ought to be definitely abandoned."
To summarize the problem: Why does one find the kind of offspring mentioned in verse 4 if these are just religiously mixed marriages?" Manfred E. Kober, The Sons of God of Genesis 6: Demons, Degenerates, or Despots?, p. 15. Kober quotes here Meredith G. Kline, Divine Kingship and Genesis 6:1-4," Westminster Theological Journal, XXIV, Nov. 1961-May 1962, p. 190.
84 In Egypt the king was called the son of Re (the sun god). The Sumero-Akkadian king was considered the offspring of the goddess and one of the gods, and this identification with the deity goes back to the earliest times according to Engell. In one inscription he is referred to as the king, the son of his god.' The Hittite king was called son of the weather-god,' and the title of his mother was Tawannannas (mother-of-the-god). In the northwest Semitic area the king was directly called the son of the god and the god was called the father of the king. The Ras Shamra (Ugaritic) Krt text refers to the god as the king's father and to king Krt as Krt bn il, the son of el or the son of god. Thus, on the basis of Semitic usage, the term be ne ha elohim, the sons of god or the sons of gods,' very likely refers to dynastic rulers in Genesis 6." An Exegetical Study of Genesis 6:1-4," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, XIII, winter 1970, pp. 47-48, as quoted by Kober, p. 19.
85 In an excellent article presenting this view, Kline writes that this view anciently rose among the Jews that the sons of God of Genesis 6 were men of the aristocracy, princes, and nobles, in contrast to the socially inferior 'daughters of men.' This interpretation came to expression, for example, in the Aramaic Targums (the Targums of Onkelos rendered the term as sons of nobles) and in the Greek translation of Symmachus (which reads the sons of the kings or lords) and it has been followed by many Jewish authorities down to the present." Kober, pp. 16-17, referring to Kline, p. 194.
86 Kober, p. 16, quoting Birney, p. 49 and Kline, p. 196.
87 For, example, W. H. Griffith Thomas, who holds the Cainite/Sethite view, says:
Verse 2 speaks of the union of the two lines by inter-marriage. Some writers regard the phrase sons of God as referring to the angels, and it is urged that in other passages--e.g. Job i. 6; Ps. xxix. 1; Dan. iii. 25--and, indeed, always elsewhere in Scripture, the phrase invariably means angels." Genesis: A Devotional Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1946), p. 65.
88 Is this bondage not that which the demons feared in Mark 5:10 and Luke 8:31?
89 Does the fact that the Nephilim are mentioned after the flood mean that this practice continued after the flood? Some have thought so, emphasizing the phrase and also afterward (Genesis 6:4). If so, we would have to say that this practice did not threaten the promise of God at this time. It would intensify the importance of not intermarrying with any of the Canaanites, among whom the Nephilim were to be found.
Personally, I do not think the super-race ever appeared after the flood. The expression Nephilim, as I view it, is not synonymous with this, super race, but descriptive of it. It simply refers to the fact of great physical stature, just as the other expressions (mighty men,' men of renown) refer to their reputation and military prowess. I do not think that we must find super-human creatures in Numbers 13:33, but only giants. The word Nephilim is thus defined in Numbers by Moses as referring to great physical stature. No technical name is given to the super-race, only descriptions which could be used elsewhere for other non-angelic creatures. (from http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=67).
Easton's Bible Dictionary:
Giants: (1.) Heb. nephilim, meaning "violent" or "causing to fall" (Gen 6:4). These were the violent tyrants of those days, those who fell upon others. The word may also be derived from a root signifying "wonder," and hence "monsters" or "prodigies." In Num 13:33 this name is given to a Canaanitish tribe, a race of large stature, "the sons of Anak." The Revised Version, in these passages, simply transliterates the original, and reads "Nephilim."
(2.) Heb. rephaim, a race of giants (Deu 3:11) who lived on the east of Jordan, from whom Og was descended. They were probably the original inhabitants of the land before the immigration of the Canaanites. They were conquered by Chedorlaomer (Gen 14:5), and their territories were promised as a possession to Abraham (15:20). The Anakim, Zuzim, and Emim were branches of this stock. In Job 26:5 (R.V., "they that are deceased; " marg., "the shades," the "Rephaim") and Isa 14:9 this Hebrew word is rendered (A.V.) "dead." It means here "the shades," the departed spirits in Sheol. In 2 Sa 21:16, 18, 20, 33, "the giant" is (A.V.) the rendering of the singular form ha raphah, which may possibly be the name of the father of the four giants referred to here, or of the founder of the Rephaim. The Vulgate here reads "Arapha," whence Milton (in Samson Agonistes) has borrowed the name "Harapha." (also 1 Ch 20:5,6,8; Deu 2:11,20; 3:13; Jos 15:8, etc., where the word is similarly rendered "giant.") It is rendered "dead" in (A.V.) (Psa 88:10; Pro 2:18; 9:18; 21:16); in all these places the Revised Version marg. has "the shades." (See also Isa 26:14.)
(3.) Heb. 'Anakim (Deu 2:10,11,21; Jos 11:21,22; 14:12,15; Num 13:33; 13:22; Jos 15:14), a nomad race of giants descended from Arba (Jos 14:15), the father of Anak, that dwelt in the south of Palestine near Hebron (Gen 23:2; Jos 15:13). They were a Cushite tribe of the same race as the Philistines and the Egyptian shepherd kings. David on several occasions encountered them (2 Sa 21:15-22). From this race sprung Goliath (1 Sa 17:4).
(4.) Heb. 'emin, a warlike tribe of the ancient Canaanites. They were "great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims" (Gen 14:5; Deu 2:10,11).
(5.) Heb. Zamzummim (q.v.), Deut 2:20 so called by the Amorites.
(6.) Heb. gibbor (Job 16:14), a mighty one, i.e., a champion or hero. In its plural form (gibborim) it is rendered "mighty men" (2 Sa 23:8-39; 1 Ki 1:8; 1 Ch 11:9-47; 29:24.) The band of six hundred whom David gathered around him when he was a fugitive were so designated. They were divided into three divisions of two hundred each, and thirty divisions of twenty each. The captians of the thirty divisions were called "the thirty," the captains of the two hundred "the three," and the captain over the whole was called "chief among the captains" (2 Sa 23:8). The sons born of the marriages mentioned in Gen 6:4 are also called by this Hebrew name.
Selected Relevant Scriptures:
Numbers 13:33: "We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them."
Deuteronomy 1:28: "Where can we go? Our brothers have made us lose heart. They say, 'The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there.'"
Joshua 11:20-22 (New International Version): "For it was the LORD himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the LORD had commanded Moses. At that time Joshua went and destroyed the Anakites from the hill country: from Hebron, Debir and Anab, from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua totally destroyed them and their towns.No Anakites were left in Israelite territory; only in Gaza, Gath and Ashdod did any survive."
1 Samuel 17:4: "A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall."
1 Chronicles 20:5" "In another battle with the Philistines, Elhanan son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver's rod."
Deuteronomy 3:11: "(Only Og king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaites. His bed was made of iron and was more than thirteen feet long and six feet wide. It is still in Rabbah of the Ammonites.)"
Deuteronomy 2:11: "Like the Anakites, they too were considered Rephaites, but the Moabites called them Emites."
Last update 08/13/07.