Who were the sons of God and the Nephilim?

Who are the “sons of God” and the Nephilim in Genesis 6:4? I was taught that the “sons of God” were fallen angels (possibly possessing the bodies of men) and that the Nephilim were the hybrid human-angel offspring. I always had a problem with this interpretation, mainly because I could not fathom the Bible referring to fallen angels as “sons of God.” Fallen angels would have given up the right to this title as we have as sinful humans. It is only those who repent who have the right to be called the “children of God” (John 1:12).

There’s also the problem that angels are spirit beings. They may take on human form, but they’re not going to be able to reproduce since they’re not actually going to be in human bodies. There is the possibility that the fallen angels possessed wicked men, but then they still would not be able to pass on characteristics to the offspring between the humans (the DNA would be from two humans). The Nephilim would still be human, and the “sons of God” might as well be simply humans.

I think it is much more likely that “sons of God” refers to godly descendents of Adam (not necessarily Seth’s children, because Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters) and that “daughters of men” refers to ungodly descendents of Adam (probably in Cain’s line). The Nephilim would then be their descendents, and just because they were “giants” does not mean they had supernatural powers. There are other possibilities, too, such as that the word simply refers to bullies or tyrants. Either way, I don’t see any reason to attribute supernatural powers to someone just because they are tall.

The argument that “sons of God” refers to angels in the Old Testament is weak in my opinion. If you look at Job 1:6 you can see that the title does not apply to satan. These, then, are obedient angels who thus have the right to be called the “sons of God” (Job 38:7). Since obedient angels wouldn’t be trying to subvert God’s plan by marrying humans it’s obvious that the passage in Genesis can’t be talking about obedient angels. Neither can it be talking about fallen angels.

Gotquestions.org says, “Why would God decide to bring the Flood on the earth (Genesis 6:5-7) when God had never forbidden powerful human males or descendants of Seth to marry ordinary human females or descendants of Cain?” Well, because godly men married ungodly women who corrupted them and produced more ungodly descendents, with the result being that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth” (Genesis 6:5).

For further reading:

There were giants on the earth
Who are the sons of God and the Nephilim?
Who Were the Nephilim and Sons of God?
Sons of God – Daughters of Men

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4 Responses to “Who were the sons of God and the Nephilim?”

  1. Kansas Bob says:

    I have always generally agreed with this Casey:

    “I think it is much more likely that “sons of God” refers to godly descendents of Adam (not necessarily Seth’s children, because Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters) and that “daughters of men” refers to ungodly descendents of Adam (probably in Cain’s line).”

  2. casey says:

    One thing I forgot to mention explicitly is that both “sons of God” and “daughters of men” likely include male and female descendents. I mean, it would be quite strange for the passage to say “sons of God” married “sons of men,” right?

  3. Sicarii says:

    Thank you for writing this, Casey.

    Just a couple of days ago I was watching a series of videos on YouTube that linked the Nephilim to UFOs and alien abductions, etc…

    Yea, go figure.

    I just want to say that this is one topic I find it hard to answer non-Christians who ask about it. I do agree with you on your definitions, and will certainly check out the links once the weekend is here.

    I dislike being this busy and yes, I can’t wait for Sabbath! LOL!

    God bless you, brother.

    Shalom!

  4. Good post. Just because we Christians are open to the possibility of the supernatural does not mean we need to invoke it at any convenient point, particularly when a perfectly natural(istic) explanation exists!

    Robert