Question: Who were the sons of God that married the daughters of men in Genesis?
There have been a lot of mystery and controversy surrounding a somewhat obscure story that appear in Genesis 6:1-4.One of the most popular views is that the sons of God are angels of God who came down to marry the daughters of men and then produced giants on the earth. While this position is very popular, I do not think it is correct for a few reasons.
- Jesus himself said Angels do not marry. In Matthew 22:30, Jesus said Angels do not marry. Remember, in Genesis 1:26-27, the Bible says God created Man as male and female. Angels on the other hand are not 'gendered', by that I mean they do not have sexes.
- Only God has the power to create. The Bible does not teach that Angels can create bodies. But one may object that there are several appearances of Angels in human form in the Bible. I believe that is because God enabled them to take on human form at that moment. If Angels could take on human form at will, then there would have been tons of instances in the Bible where Satan and his angels would appear as humans. There is no single instance of that. In the Bible, we only see demons POSSESSING people, not BECOMING people.
- If Angels could become humans at will, why did they suddenly stop? Why don't we see them doing the same thing today?
Who then are the sons of God referred to in that passage? To understand it, we need to read the story in context.
Genesis 6: 1-4 says: "When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then theLord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in[a] man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim[b] were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown."
One of the reasons why people conclude that the sons of God were angels is because it is believed that their offspring became giants. A plain reading of this text shows that giants were already in the land. In fact the children of the union were simply referred to as mighty men of old, in other words, influential people.
There are alternative ways to look at this passage in such a way that it aligns with the rest of the Bible.
- The Sons of God may be the descendants of Seth as seen in Genesis 4:26. Seth produced a line of people who unlike the descendants of Cain, called upon the name of the Lord. The descendants of Cain were so radically left field as we see in Genesis 4: 17-24, that they totally forgot about God. God came back into reckoning with the descendants of Seth. Is it any surprise that they could have been referred to as the sons of God? We can read the story to mean that as time went on and people multiplied, Seth's descendants intermarried Cain's descendants.
- Is it not possible that this is just a way of speaking? Different authors employ different writing styles in their stories. For example Solomon usually said things like "there are six things that God hates, no, seven things that are an abomination to him" (Proverbs 6:16-19). Is it that he forgot they were seven or was it just a style of writing. Is it not possible the author of Genesis was in a manner of speaking characterizing the human race by calling them the sons of God (on the one hand humans are created in God's image and likeness) and the daughters of men (on the other hand they have fallen are are depraved)?
It is important to always ensure that when we see difficult things in the Bible, we interpret them in light of other parts of the Bible. It is risky to bring interpretations that do not correspond with a biblical worldview out of our hats.