top of page

The "Sons of God" and the "Daughters of Men": A Case Study in the Importance of Careful Exegesis

Introduction

Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” There were nephilim 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. (Genesis 6:1-4)

The account in Genesis 6:1-4 is perhaps the single most enigmatic passage in the Old Testament, raising numerous puzzling questions. Who were these “sons of God”? Who were the “daughters of men”? What was wrong with the former taking wives from among the latter? Who – or what – were the nephilim, and how exactly were they connected to the sons of God and daughters of men? The answers are not immediately obvious.

Three explanations have been proposed by various interpreters through the years. They are:

  1. The “sons of God” were fallen angels who married and had conjugal relations with “the daughters of men” who were human females. (Those who champion this idea may also aver that the nephilim were the angel/human hybrid offspring of these relations.)

  2. The “sons of God” were the descendants of the Godly line of Seth and the “daughters of men” were the descendants of the ungodly line of Cain.

  3. The “sons of God” were exalted kings or rulers who were taking wives, perhaps by force, and building harems for themselves.

Creation Ministries International’s CEO Gary Bates adds a fourth possibility, that the “sons of God” were men possessed by demons (i.e. fallen angels).

We shall examine each of these possibilities in turn, to see which, if any, is correct. As we do this, we will discover the need for great care in exegesis, for although this question may seem to be of only minor, academic interest, we shall see the great harm that can come with an erroneous conclusion and teaching. We will now proceed, beginning with an examination of the nephilim.


Who Were the Nephilim?

The King James Version (KJV) translates Genesis 6:4a as “There were giants in the earth in those days,” rendering nephilim as “giants.” Were the nephilim giants? The Hebrew text of Genesis 6:4a reads,

הָהֵם בַּיָּמִים בָאָרֶץ הָיוּ הַנְּפִלִים.

The first (rightmost) word is הַנְּפִלִיםha-nephilim,” “the nephilim,” where nephilim is a direct transliteration of the actual Hebrew.


The Hebrew word for “giants” is רְפָאִיםraphaim”, which is found in Deuteronomy 2:11, 2:20, 3:11, 3:13; Joshua 12:4, 13:12, 17:15; 2 Samuel 21:16, 21:18, 21:20, 21:22; and 1 Chronicles 20:4, 20:6, and 20:8. הַנְּפִלִnephilim” is found only in Genesis 6:4 and Numbers 13:33.


Why then did the KJV translators render nephilim as “giants”? No doubt it was because of the way the word was translated in the ancient Greek OT translation known as the Septuagint (LXX), which reads, “οἱ δὲ γίγαντες ἦσαν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις,” with γίγαντες (“gigantes”) translating nephilim, and gigantes was taken to mean “giants” by the KJV translators.


Actually, the LXX translators were strangely inconsistent in how they translated these two Hebrew words. They rendered nephilim as “giants” both times, but of the thirteen appearances of raphaim, they transliterated it as Ραφαϊν (“raphain”) seven times and translated it as “giants” six times.

If nephilim were not giants, what were they? It is possible that nephilim comes from the Hebrew verb לנָפַ “naphal” (= to fall). Jonathan Sarfati of Creation Ministries International (CMI) asserts that:

The Hebrew word is nephilim נְפִילִים, which is related to nāphal נָפַל, or fall.

John MacArthur also goes this route, arguing that this indicates that,

they were strong men who ‘fell’ on others in the sense of overpowering them.

He asserts that the nephilim were a separate group from “the mighty men who were of old, men of renown” (6:4b), saying that,

they were already in the earth when the “mighty men” and “men of renown” were born. The fallen ones are not the offspring from the union in 6:1,2.

Henry Morris, by contrast, avers that,

Though some commentators suggest that the word means ‘those who fall upon’ – that is, ‘attackers’ – the more natural and probable meaning is ‘those who have fallen,’ probably a reference to the nature of their pseudoparents.

Morris not only disagrees with MacArthur about the implication of the term, he also believes that the nephilim are the offspring from the union in 6:1-2.


Harris et al suggest that nephilim refers “to a race or nation.” Walton et al, on the other hand, seem to be diametrically opposed to this, insisting that,

Nephilim is not an ethnic designation but a description of a particular type of individual … it is more likely that the term describes heroic warriors, perhaps the ancient equivalent of knights errant.

On this point, Harris et al concur, suggesting that the word may come from “a root nāpal II, akin to other weak verbs, pûl II ‘be wonderful, strong, mighty’ … the word may be of unknown origin and mean ‘heroes’ or ‘fierce warriors.


In light of this uncertainty, it is not surprising that many modern translations simply transliterate the term as nephilim and do not attempt to translate it. We shall leave this for the moment.


There is one more question about the nephilim: were they the offspring of the union between the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men” or were they not? We have already seen that MacArthur says they were not, while Morris says they were. Gary Bates also takes it as a given that they were, writing about “the offspring that resulted from the sexual union of the sons of God and the daughters of men — the Nephilim” and stating that “the Nephilim (the offspring of this union) are always referred to in the masculine gender.


He seems to think that there isn’t even a question but that the nephilim were the offspring of this union. He is wrong.

Let us look carefully at the verse again:

Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” There were nephilim 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.

We note immediately that the text does not explicitly say that the nephilim were the ones born to these daughters of men. On the contrary, it indicates the nephilim were already there; the presence of the nephilim is described as an attendant circumstance, not an outcome of the relations between the sons of God and the daughters of men.


The mind boggles, then, at Bates’ bizarre statement that,

This then begs the question of who are the Nephilim and why are they expressly mentioned as the offspring of this union?

As we have seen, it is patently obvious that the nephilim are notexpressly mentioned as the offspring of this union.” Why Bates thinks they are is difficult to understand. For the record, had the text said, “the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore nephilim to them,” then the nephilim would have been “expressly mentioned as the offspring of this union.” But that is not what the text says.


And it is not only that the nephilim are not expressly mentioned as the offspring of this union. It is also that there are some 126 places (in addition to Genesis 6:4) in the Old Testament that mention that a woman “bore” (or has or had “borne”) offspring, and the offspring are always mentioned directly, never as an attendant circumstance as we see in Genesis 6:4. It seems clear, then, that proper exegesis requires us not to see the nephilim as the offspring of the union between “the sons of God” and the “daughters of men.” This understanding will help clarify this difficult passage. But first, let us move on to the matter of determining the identity of the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men.”


So Who Were the "Sons of God" and the "Daughters of Men"?

We have seen the four proposals that have been offered regarding the identity of the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:4:

  1. The “sons of God” were fallen angels who married and had conjugal relations with “the daughters of men” who were human females.

  2. The “sons of God” were the descendants of the Godly line of Seth and the “daughters of men” were the descendants of the ungodly line of Cain.

  3. The “sons of God” were exalted kings or rulers who were taking wives, perhaps by force, and building harems for themselves.

  4. The “sons of God” were men possessed by demons (i.e. fallen angels).

The fourth proposal can immediately be dismissed as a non-starter (indeed, it is difficult to see why it was ever proposed). Uniformly in the Bible, “son of God” is an exalted status. It is accorded to special servants of God (e.g. 2 Samuel 7:14), to Christian believers (e.g. 2 Corinthians 6:18), and, in a sui generis way, to the Messiah (e.g. Hebrews 5:5). There is no way that this title would ever be given to a demon-possessed man, let alone that it would be given to him because he was a demon possessed man.


The second proposal can also immediately be dismissed as a non-starter. There is no reason to think that all of the direct descendants of Seth remained Godly and all of the direct descendants of Cain were ungodly, which is what this proposal requires. In fact, it is unreasonable to think that such a thing could even happen (Ezekiel 18:1-29); there were certainly very ungodly men, such as King Manasseh, in the “Sethite” line. And, as Bates points out,

If this were the case, however, one wonders why the Scripture did not say “sons of Seth” and “daughters of Cain.”

The third proposal seems more reasonable, but it, too, fails.

First, there is nothing in the language of the passage indicating that the women were being taken by force. The Hebrew word translated “took” is לָקַח “laqach” is the standard word for marrying a woman, used for example in Genesis 11:29 to describe Abram taking Sarai and in Genesis 24:67 to describe Isaac taking Rebekah (and she obviously had a choice in the matter, as shown 24:57).


Second, there is no indication that harem building is in view, or even polygamy, given that both “sons of God” and “daughters of men” are in the plural. But even if polygamy were in view,

it is difficult to imagine why that would be worthy of note, since polygamy was an acceptable practice even in Israel in Old Testament times.

Third, the Bible never refers to pagan kings as “sons of God,” and “sons of God” and “daughters of men” is not used to distinguish social classes. This suggestion, therefore, must be accounted a failure.


This leaves only the first proposal, that the “sons of God” were fallen angels who married and had conjugal relations with “the daughters of men” who were human females. Is this correct? It is certainly the most common view among evangelical scholars and commentators. According to Allen,

The most likely interpretation is that the sons of God were fallen angels. This is the view of Jewish scholars and best explains the text.

MacArthur agrees, as does Morris. So, too, does Bates, who says,

A straight-forward reading of Genesis 6:4 implies that evil angels actually cohabited with women … the strongest argument for this view comes from the simplest understanding of the text itself.

However, being the most common view does not equate to being the correct view. Let us examine this proposal carefully.


Gary Bates of CMI offers a detailed defense of this proposal, so we shall use his arguments as the basis for our examination. In sum, Bates makes the following points to support the idea that “sons of God” here refers to angels:

  1. “The term, ‘sons of God,’ in Hebrew, is bene elohim. It is used five times in the Old Testament (twice in Genesis 6, and once each in Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7, Authorized Version). In the passages outside of Genesis, it is always clearly used of angels.

  2. This view is “held by the translators of the Septuagint … ancient Jewish interpreters, the historian Josephus, the earliest Christian writers, and by many modern notable Christian apologists today.

  3. Jude 6-7 “clearly links the perverted sexual practices of Sodom and Gomorrah with fallen angels who have not ‘kept their place’.”

  4. The “everlasting chains” in Jude 6 “make sense when read with the view that the sons of God in Genesis 6 were possibly fallen angels.

  5. 1 Peter 3:18-20 “could possibly be a third mention of the fallen angels of Noah’s time.

  6. The book of Enoch “describes the spirits of the Nephilim as evil spirits roaming the earth; Mark 5:2-13 gives this ‘radical view … some scriptural support.’”

  7. Nephilim are “half-human/half-angel beings [who] retained some of the supernatural characteristics of their fathers … this view arose because of the description of the Nephilim as the ‘mighty men of old’ and ‘men of renown’.”

Bates makes the following points to rebut objections to the idea that “sons of God” in Genesis 6 refers to angels:

  1. Regarding Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:29-30/Mark 12:24-25, that “when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven,” Bates asserts that this does not overturn the idea that angels were marrying human females in Genesis 6, insisting that “Some use this passage to claim that angels are incapable of having sex or procreating, but this is not what the Scripture says. It does say specifically that the angels in heaven, or those angels who obey God, do not engage in this practice.

  2. According to Bates, “The biggest objection to this view is the belief that it is impossible for angels to have sexual relations with humans because they are spirit beings. But as we have already seen in the UFO/abduction phenomenon, as well as in other parts of Scripture, they can also exist and manifest at a physical level … angels appeared in physical bodies, such as the three visitors to Abraham who sat, ate, and spoke with him (Gen. 18:1-15). We would presume then that they must have had the necessary digestive systems to be able to do this.

Bates’ case may prima facie seem strong, but let us examine it in detail to see if it holds up or not. We begin with his arguments in support of the proposal, and immediately we see some rather serious problems.

In Point 1, Bates argues that,

The term, ‘sons of God,’ in Hebrew, is bene elohim. It is used five times in the Old Testament (twice in Genesis 6, and once each in Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7, Authorized Version). In the passages outside of Genesis, it is always clearly used of angels.

This would seem to be Bates’ strongest point, but it is rather thin gruel.


First, outside of the passage in dispute, the expression appears only three times in the rest of the OT, all in the same book (Job). That means it is not “well attested,” so convincing conclusions cannot be drawn by looking at its usage elsewhere. Second, it is not true that in these other passages “sons of God” is always used of angels, let alone that it is “clearly” used of angels.

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. (Job 1:6)
Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. (Job 2:1)

Now what is there here that suggests that these “sons of God” are angels? Is this a scene in heaven? If so, why does the text say that the “sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD”? Do angels come to present themselves before the LORD in heaven? Are they not always in His presence? And more importantly, how does Satan get into heaven to present himself before the Lord? Satan was thrown out of heaven (Luke 10:18), and there is no reason to think that he can gate crash back in.


There is another explanation of Job 1:6 and 2:1 that is far more reasonable, which is that the conversation between God and Satan takes place in the spirit realm during a worship service on Earth of Godly people, possibly including Job, and that the “sons of God” are these Godly people. We note that the very expression “sons of God” is used expressly to mean this four times in the New Testament; in one of these “sons of God” are explicitly differentiated from angels:

“But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead … are equal to the angels and are sons of God …” (Luke 20:35-36a).

In addition, the concept that believers/members of the covenant people are sons of God is found in many places in both the OT and the NT. Furthermore, Hosea 1:10b reads,

“… In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ There it shall be said to them, ‘You are sons of the living God.’”

Bates tries to blunt the force of this significant verse, arguing that

It is not exactly the same description because it refers specifically to the children of Israel being ‘sons of the living God.’

But surely that is a distinction without a difference.

Incredibly, Bates subsequently attempts to buttress his case by pointing out that:

In Daniel 3:25, the term “son of the gods” or “like the Son of God” (bar elohim) is used, which describes either an angel or a theophany … The expression “sons of the mighty” (bene elim) is also used to describe angels in Psalms 29:1 and 89:6.

Yet in none of these passages is an angel mentioned nor is there indication that the bar elohim or the bene elim are angels. Nor is there any reason to think that they are angels. So here, too, what Bates presents as evidence is not evidence for his view at all.


What is more disturbing is that he tries to rule out the statement in Hosea 1:10 as evidence for the view that “sons of God” means God’s covenant people by saying that:

It is not exactly the same description because it refers specifically to the children of Israel being ‘sons of the living God.’

Yet it is certainly closer than bene elim, which Bates does want to allow as evidence for his view. This certainly smacks of a double standard.


And, in view of the fact that Bates also claims regarding Hosea 1:10 that “One should not resort to exceptions unless there is a good reason,” this is a good time to bring up another point that seems to have somehow been overlooked by Bates: Hebrew has a perfectly serviceable word for “angel,” מַלְאָךְ (“malak”, plural מַּלְאָכִיםmalakim”). This word appears some 114 times in the OT (102 times in the singular, twelve times in the plural), against five total appearances of “sons of God,” which indicates that when God wants to talk about angels in His written word, He calls them “angels.” (Indeed, it appears in Job 4:18, showing that the writer of Job knew of and used this word for “angels.”)


Furthermore, we should not overlook the fact that angels appear fifteen times in Genesis under the name malak – twelve times in the singular and three times in the plural – which indicates that the author of Genesis used this term when he wanted to talk about angels. Apropos to this, we recall that Bates challenged the view that the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 were the descendants of Seth by saying,

If this were the case, however, one wonders why the Scripture did not say “sons of Seth” and “daughters of Cain.

By the same reasoning, given the overwhelming preponderance of the usage of the term malak for angels, we can ask, if the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 were angels, “one wonders why the Scripture did not say ‘angels’ and ‘daughters of men.”


Finally, we recall Bates’ sound advice that:

One should not resort to exceptions unless there is a good reason.

Yet it would be difficult to argue that our view resorts to exceptions, in light of the fact that angels are called malak 114 times in the OT, whereas “sons of God” appears only five times, and only in one of those cases does the context even reasonably (though not conclusively) suggest that angels are in view. Furthermore, in both the theology and the other explicit references to “sons of God” where context is determinative, the reference is undeniably to righteous people of God, the covenant people, not to “angels.” So Bates is setting the possible meaning of “sons of God” in one lone passage against all this mountain of countervailing evidence. It is well and truly absurd.


Bates is not the only one, of course. Morris makes the same risible assertion that:

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.

He makes the very same errors as does Bates, mistakenly assuming that the meaning of bene elohim in Job 1:6, 2:1, and 38:7 “applies exclusively to angels,” wrongly appealing to bene elim in Psalm 29:1 and Psalm 89:6, and failing to consider the implications of the usage of malak and the overall usage and theology of bene elohim. MacArthur also insists that the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 are angels, while Allen claims that,

the most likely interpretation is that the sons of God were fallen angels.

Other CMI functionaries who buy into Bates’ nonsense include Dr. Robert Carter, Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, and Lita Cosner.


Bates’ main argument, then, for seeing the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 as angels is an utter failure. Are any of his other arguments any better?


His second argument is that this view was “held by the translators of the Septuagint … ancient Jewish interpreters, the historian Josephus, the earliest Christian writers, and by many modern notable Christian apologists today.” This is not true as far as “the translators of the Septuagint” go; while they did translate “sons of God” as “angels” in Job 1:6, 2:1, and 38:7, in the passages under consideration, Genesis 6:2 and 6:4, the Septuagint translators rendered the term as οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ θεοῦ (“hoi huioi tou Theou”), “the sons of God”; they did not translate it as “angels” (ἄγγελοι “angeloi”).


As far as “ancient Jewish interpreters, the historian Josephus, the earliest Christian writers” go, it is ironic that Dr. Robert Carter, in an article about this very issue, asks a reader, “are you allowing non-biblical, extra-biblical, or even anti-biblical, arguments to inform your opinion?


Dr. Carter is correct on this; the issue must be settled through careful exegesis of the Bible, not by “non-biblical” or “extra-biblical” sources, such as “ancient Jewish interpreters, the historian Josephus, the earliest Christian writers.” And as for the fact that this view is held “by many modern notable Christian apologists today,” we shall see whether they are justified.


In his third argument, Bates asserts that Jude 6-7 “clearly links the perverted sexual practices of Sodom and Gomorrah with fallen angels who have not ‘kept their place’.” Careful examination is needed to see whether this is so. First, here is what Jude 6 says:

ἀγγέλους τε τοὺς μὴ τηρήσαντας τὴν ἑαυτῶν ἀρχὴν, ἀλλὰ ἀπολιπόντας τὸ ἴδιον οἰκητήριον, εἰς κρίσιν μεγάλης ἡμέρας δεσμοῖς ἀϊδίοις ὑπὸ ζόφον τετήρηκεν
And the angels not having kept their ἀρχή but ἀπολείπω their own οἰκητήριον for judgment of the great day with bonds eternal under darkness He has kept.

There are several different meanings for ἀρχή, but the one that fits the context in this verse is “office” (i.e. the sphere of one’s official activity). ἀπολείπω means “to leave, desert, put aside, give up.” οἰκητήριον means “a place of living, dwelling, habitation.” The verse then reads as:

And the angels who did not keep their office but deserted their own habitation for judgment of the great day with bonds eternal under darkness He has kept.

The sin ascribed to these angels is that they abandoned their office and habitation – which fits in with the picture of angels siding with Satan and being cast out of heaven – not that they had conjugal relations with human females.


Yet Bates strives mightily to convince us that such conjugal relations are in view. He quotes the passage this way, adding bolding himself:

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. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire [emphasis added].

Bates believes that “in a similar way” indicates that Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns “gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion” in the same way as the angels in v. 6. But the Greek text and a more literal translation read as follows:

ἀγγέλους τε τοὺς μὴ τηρήσαντας τὴν ἑαυτῶν ἀρχὴν, ἀλλὰ ἀπολιπόντας τὸ ἴδιον οἰκητήριον, εἰς κρίσιν μεγάλης ἡμέρας, δεσμοῖς ἀϊδίοις ὑπὸ ζόφον τετήρηκεν ὡς Σόδομα καὶ Γόμοῤῥα, καὶ αἱ περὶ αὐτὰς πόλεις τὸν ὅμοιον τούτοις τρόπον ἐκπορνεύσασαι, καὶ ἀπελθοῦσαι ὀπίσω σαρκὸς ἑτέρας, πρόκεινται δεῖγμα, πυρὸς αἰωνίου δίκην ὑπέχουσαι And the angels who did not keep their office but deserted their own habitation for judgment of the great day with bonds eternal under darkness He has kept. As Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities in a manner similar to these, having indulged in sexual immorality and having gone after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, undergoing punishment of eternal fire

Bates would have it that τούτοις (“these”) refers back to “the angels,” so that it is the angels who “indulged in sexual immorality and hav[e] gone after strange flesh.” While that is not grammatically impossible, it is far more reasonable to see τούτοις referring to Sodom (Σόδομα) and Gomorrah (Γόμοῤῥα), which are immediately antecedent to τούτοις; thus the passage is asserting that it is the “surrounding cities” that “indulged in sexual immorality and hav[e] gone after strange flesh” in a manner similar to what Sodom and Gomorrah did.


Now, if one looks at the flow of argumentation presented by Jude in vv. 5-7, we see three examples of God visiting judgment on evildoers, in v. 5 on those who came out of Egypt but did not believe; in v. 6 on angels who deserted their office, and in v. 7 on Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities. The “in a similar manner to these” refers to the actions of the “surrounding cities,” whose citizens acted as those in Sodom and Gomorrah,” and the “as” at the beginning of v. 7 shows the similarity between the events of verses 5 and 6 and the events of v. 7 as examples of God’s judgment rather than in terms of similarity of the sins themselves.


Thus it does not seem possible to use this passage as proof that angels had conjugal relations with human females, either in Genesis 6 or anywhere else. And again we can remind Bates that he previously challenged the view that the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 were the descendants of Seth by saying,

If this were the case, however, one why the Scripture did not say “sons of Seth” and “daughters of Cain.”

By the same reasoning, we can ask here, if the sin of the angels in Jude 6 was in fact sexual relations with human females, “one wonders why the Scripture did not say ‘And the angels who had sexual relations with human females for judgment of the great day with bonds eternal under darkness He has kept.‘”


As an adjunct to the previous argument, Bates suggests that the “everlasting chains” in Jude 6 “make sense when read with the view that the sons of God in Genesis 6 were possibly fallen angels.” Actually, the text explicitly says that these angels are in everlasting chains because they “did not keep their office but deserted their own habitation.” It is neither necessary nor warranted to speculate beyond that.


As his fourth argument, Bates suggests that 1 Peter 3:18-20 “could possibly be a third mention of the fallen angels of Noah’s time.” Inasmuch as this passage doesn’t even mention angels, it is not “a third mention of fallen angels in Noah’s time.” And it couldn’t be a “third mention” under any circumstances, since there has not been a first or second mention.


After this, Bates goes off the rails, offering as if it were actually evidence the fact that the book of Enoch describes the spirits of the Nephilim as evil spirits roaming the earth; Mark 5:2-13 gives this ‘radical view … some scriptural support.Why any evangelical would appeal to an apocryphal book of nonsense is difficult to understand. Bates needs to think about Robert Carter’s question again,

are you allowing non-biblical, extra-biblical, or even anti-biblical, arguments to inform your opinion?

And if he will not listen to Carter, let him at least listen to the Bible and “not [be] giving heed to Jewish fables.” (Titus 1:14a).


And the idea that Mark 5:2-13, in which Jesus sends a number of demons into swine, in any way supports the idea that these evil spirits are the “spirits of the Nephilim,” who are nowhere mentioned in the passage, is just risible. The passage is part of a detailed account of the exorcism of the Gadarene demoniac, who was possessed by many entities that are referred to interchangeably as “unclean spirits” (Mark 5:8) and “demons” (Mark 5:12). Demons are understood to be incorporeal spirits that are angels who rebelled with Satan and were cast out of heaven (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:9), and that is all. There is no possible justification for linking demons in this passage or in any other to the nephilim, and it is frankly surprising that any evangelical would attempt to do so.


Thus ends Bates’ attempt to provide positive evidence for the idea that Genesis 6:1-4 is talking about fallen angels having conjugal relations with human females. His argument from the terminology used failed; on the contrary, a study of the language used in the passage indicates that the “sons of God” are not fallen angels. His appeal to non-Biblical sources was illegitimate and, in the case of the Septuagint translators, mistaken. His attempt to dragoon in passages that say nothing about nephilim nor make any reference to Genesis 6:1-4 nor include the expression “sons of God” (viz. 1 Peter 3:18-20 and Mark 5:2-13) is embarrassing. His appeal to the collection of “Jewish fables” known as the book of Enoch is more embarrassing still. The only argument he adduces that could carry any weight is Jude 6-7, but while this allows for his interpretation of Genesis 6, it certainly does not necessitate it.


To this point, Bates’ case could be seen as innocuous silliness. Real trouble, however, comes when we look at the case against seeing Genesis 6:1-4 as an account of fallen angels having sexual relations with human females, relations that result in actual offspring. Of course, proponents of this view are aware of possible objections and do seek to rebut them. Henry Morris, for example, asserts that the reason for rejecting this view is,

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 that 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.

Bates, too, appeals to these examples of angelic appearances in the OT. He and Morris also respond to a “proof text”, Matthew 22:29-30/Mark 12:24-25 (“when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven”) that is adduced to show that angels cannot marry. According to Bates,

Some use this passage to claim that angels are incapable of having sex or procreating, but this is not what the Scripture says. It does say specifically that the angels in heaven, or those angels who obey God, do not engage in this practice.

Tragically, this analysis is a textbook example of how not to do proper exegesis. For proper exegesis, the didactic statements must be examined first, because they are direct propositional assertions in “God-breathed” Scripture. Examples of historical events recorded in Scripture must be understood in light of these didactic statements, not vice versa. (And it is truly frightening that Bates writes, “as we have already seen in the UFO/abduction phenomenon, as well as in other parts of Scripture, [angels] can also exist and manifest at a physical level,” as if the testimony of people who claim to have been abducted by space aliens should be a determinative factor in Biblical exegesis!)


So let us proceed to do proper exegesis regarding this topic. We begin with the obvious question: What are angels? The answer is not difficult to discover, since the Bible explicitly tells us that they are spirits (Hebrews 1:14). Then we continue with the fact that angels do not have physical bodies. Jesus Himself tells us this, and it is crucial to consider the context of His statement:


Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence. (Luke 24:36-43)

The bodily resurrection of Jesus was such a fantastic thing that even His own disciples had trouble believing it. They supposed that it was only His disembodied spirit that they were seeing when He appeared to them, but Jesus made it clear that it was really Himself risen in His body, proving it by pointing out that He was present with them in flesh and bone (i.e. in physical form), whereas “a spirit does not have flesh and bones.” That, to Jesus, proves the matter and ends the discussion.


Now here is the problem: Jesus’ statement is proof only if it is universally true, that is, if spirits (and angels are spirits) can never have physical bodies. If spirits can sometimes have physical bodies, then Jesus’ proof here is invalid, for He could then simply be a spirit manifesting as physical. Indeed, if spirits can sometimes have physical bodies, then how can we know that Jesus actually rose from the dead? How can we know that it was not an evil spirit taking on a physical form and masquerading as Jesus?


So Jesus’ proof that He had risen bodily depends quintessentially on the universal truth of His statement that “a spirit does not have flesh and bones.” If spirits can even sometimes have flesh and bone, then Jesus was either mistaken or lying when He appealed to the fact that “a spirit does not have flesh and bones” to prove Himself. Yet Jesus is never mistaken and never lies, which means that spirits (including angels) never have flesh and bones. Q.E.D.


And yet Henry Morris, John MacArthur, Ronald Allen, and the CMI writers, including Gary Bates, Lita Cosner, Robert Carter, and Jonathan Sarfati, all glibly assert that angels did indeed take on physical bodies and engaged in sexual relations with human females! If any of them has taken note of or thought about the implications of Jesus’ words in Luke 24:39 for their outré theory, it is not obvious. And if they have, how they can continue to hold to their outré theory is less obvious still.

The biggest objection to this view is the belief that it is impossible for angels to have sexual relations with humans because they are spirit beings. But as we have already seen in the UFO/abduction phenomenon, as well as in other parts of Scripture, they can also exist and manifest at a physical level.

But Jesus said they cannot; does Bates think we should take the testimony of those who claim to have been abducted by space aliens over the testimony of Jesus? Bates continues his mug’s game of trying to prove that angels could become physical, claiming that:

angels appeared in physical bodies, such as the three visitors to Abraham who sat, ate, and spoke with him (Gen. 18:1-15). We would presume then that they must have had the necessary digestive systems to be able to do this.

No, we would assume that a closer look at what happened in Genesis 18:1-15 was called for, since Jesus told us that angels do not have flesh and bones, and this would include not having digestive systems.

Meanwhile, CMI golden child Lita Cosner glibly asserts that:

Angels are spiritual beings … [who] have been known in Scripture to manifest in our realm using corporeal bodies which can eat and so presumably carry out all normal human body functions, including reproduction.

That is quite a presumption for beings that do not have flesh and bones and so cannot carry out all normal human functions and certainly cannot reproduce with human beings.


It is quite incredible that so many evangelical exegetes overlook the significance of Jesus’ words in Luke 24:39. (For example, a search of CMI’s website, which has over 9,000 articles, yields only one mention of Luke 24:39, and then only to argue that the risen Jesus was not a spirit.) How can so many evangelical exegetes argue for a view of Genesis 6:1-4 that knocks Jesus’ own proof for His own resurrection into a cocked hat and not even realize they are doing that?


Bates, again, blithely writes that angels “are spirits (Hebrews 1:14), yet they always appeared to humans as physical men/males when doing God’s bidding (Gen. 19:1; Luke 24:4) … They can appear physically, and so real to humans that we do not recognize them as angels (Genesis 18:1-16; Hebrews 13:2).” Bates is correct that angels are spirits and he is correct that they appeared as physical men (the operative word here being “appeared”; that was the impression received by the viewers), but that does mean they were physical men. Bates is wildly incorrect to say that angels are spirits that can appear physically when Jesus Himself said that spirits “do not have flesh and bones.”


Of course, Bates and Morris and those who advocate the view that angels can become physical do offer putative evidence for their claims. Most commonly they appeal to “the three visitors to Abraham who sat, ate, and spoke with him (Gen. 18:1-15).” Specifically, it is v. 8 that reads,

So he took butter and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree as they ate.

And again in Genesis 19:3b we read,

Then [Lot] made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

Of course, if these were indeed angels who were eating and thereby proving that they had flesh and bones and “the necessary digestive systems to be able to do this,” then Jesus spoke falsehood and we have far more serious problems than the proper understanding of Genesis 6:1-4. But is this what the text really says? Let us look more carefully. The following are Genesis 18:8 and 19:3b in the original Hebrew:

וַיֹּאכֵֽלוּ הָעֵץ תַּחַת עֲלֵיהֶם וְהֽוּא־עֹמֵד לִפְנֵיהֶם וַיִּתֵּן עָשָׂה אֲשֶׁר וּבֶן־הַבָּקָר וְחָלָב חֶמְאָה וַיִּקַּח
וַיֹּאכֵֽלוּ אָפָה וּמַצֹּות מִשְׁתֶּה לָהֶם וַיַּעַשׂ

So what the angels did wasn’t actually “eat”; it was לאָכַ (“akal”). What does this word mean? It appears many times in the OT, and with a variety of meanings. BDB lists the following: eat; eat, devour; devour, consume; devour, slay; devour, consume, destroy. TWOT lists eat, consume, devour, burn up, feed.

We see it used in, for example, Genesis 31:15:

“Are we not considered strangers by [Laban]? For he has sold us, and also completely consumed (לאָכַ) our money.”

Does Bates think that Laban actually ate Jacob’s money and digested it in his digestive system?

We see it used in Genesis 31:40:

“There I was! In the day the drought consumed (לאָכַ) me, and the frost by night, and my sleep departed from my eyes.”

Following Bates’ logic, should we assume that drought can manifest physically, complete with “the necessary digestive systems to be able to do this”?

Exodus 15:7 reads,

“And in the greatness of Your excellence You have overthrown those who rose against You; You sent forth Your wrath; It consumed them (לאָכַ) like stubble.”

Is wrath able to manifest in a physical body, complete with “the necessary digestive system to be able to do this”? And because wrath can לאָכַ, can it “presumably carry out all normal human body functions, including reproduction”? The answers should be obvious.

First Kings 18:38a reads,

Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed (לאָכַ) the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust …

Again, is the fire of the Lord able to manifest in a physical body, complete with “the necessary digestive system to be able to do this”? And because wrath can לאָכַ, can it “presumably carry out all normal human body functions, including reproduction”?


The point should be clear: there are various meanings of לאָכַ, all of them related in some way to destruction (and with the sense of breaking down into component parts until there is no more left). The specific meaning of לאָכַ in any given context is determined by the agent performing the לאָכַ act. When it is people doing this act, it often means to eat (food), though not always (e.g. Genesis 31:15; Psalm 14:4; Jeremiah 10:25). When it is something else – e.g. fire, sword, drought, famine, pestilence – לאָכַ means some other form of destruction. Since angels “do not have flesh and bones” and therefore no digestive systems, when they “consumed” the food with Abraham and with Lot, they must have destroyed it in some other way than eating. (Perhaps the way they did it was what alerted Abraham and Lot to the fact that their visitors were not ordinary men.)


Robert Carter tries another approach to prove that angels had physical bodies, asking, “And what about Gen 19:10 [“But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door.”] and, even better, 19:16 [“And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters …]? They were certainly acting like physical beings in these passages.


Yes, it does seem that way, and indeed if we did not know from Jesus’ own testimony that “a spirit does not have flesh and bones,” we would be inclined to take it that way. But we do know from Jesus’ own testimony that “a spirit does not have flesh and bones.” So, although we do not know exactly how spirit beings interact with the physical world (nor is it necessary to know how), we do know that it is different from flesh-and-bone touching. If that seems strange to Carter, he might remember that gravity holds even the earth and moon in their places without actual physical contact.


These are the only two recorded incidents that can possibly be used to try to prove that Jesus was wrong and that spirits can indeed have physical bodies, and, as we have seen, neither is able to do that. And there is a further problem with claiming that angels “are spirits (Hebrews 1:14), yet they always appeared to humans as physical men/males when doing God’s bidding (Gen. 19:1; Luke 24:4) … They can appear physically.

Since angels are spirits, they have no physical bodies, so if they can appear in physical bodies, where do those bodies come from? Specifically, whence do evil angels get their bodies?


Now, here is the problem: Bates’ co-worker Russell Griggs, in his article “A remarkable witness to creation – Satan,” asserts that by tempting Jesus to turn stones into bread, Satan was actually bearing witness to creation, because “What Satan said in effect was: ‘If you are God, create …! Create the required organic molecules, organize them into the needed complex carbohydrates, protein, fat, fibre, etc …

It is important to notice that Grigg points out that,

creating bread (whether from stones or ex nihilo) [would] prove that Christ was God … [because] one of the attributes of God is His omnipotence, i.e., He is able to do whatever He wills (consistent with His own holiness).”
Satan was challenging Christ to duplicate in miniature form the instantaneous and fiat creation that happened during Creation Week. And of course, for the temptation to have had any meaning at all, Christ must have had the ability to do it … So, truly, this is a remarkable testimony by Satan, not only to the truth of Genesis 1, but also to the fact that Christ was the Creator Son of God.

When Grigg was subsequently challenged with the fact that turning stones into bread is not fiat creation, CMI co-worker Dr. Carl Wieland leaped to his defence, claiming that,

Grigg was not referring to the bringing of matter into existence so much as he was the ordering of that matter into biological (or in the case of bread post-biological) complexity.

But for the issue at hand, it doesn’t matter which, for Grigg and Wieland are clearly saying that the ability to create bread, “whether from stones or ex nihilo, does “prove that Christ is God” – because the ability to create matter out of nothing or to reorganize molecules instantly from one form to another is the prerogative of divinity.


So we ask again, whence do the angels, who are spirits, get their physical bodies? Do they create them ex nihilo? Do they take some form of pre-existing matter (such as stones) and “create the required organic molecules, [and] organize them into the needed complex carbohydrates, protein, fat,” and other things for a physical body identical to a human one? And the DNA and the macro structures? If the ability to create bread from stones is proof of Godhood, how much more the ability to create functioning human body equivalents from simple matter or ex nihilo? Did Bates and Sarfati and Miss Cosner and Carter not notice that by Grigg’s logic angels would have to be God to make for themselves physical bodies? Did they not even stop to ask the basic question of whence the angels, who are spirits, get their bodies?


So here is a second line of evidence (though the first is quite sufficient by itself) that angels cannot have physical bodies. Bates’ only remaining gambit is to argue that when the Bible says that angels are spirits (Hebrews 1:14), that does not mean that they are only spirits. At least, that is what he seems to be doing by averring that,

Although angels are described as spirits, so are human beings … It would appear the spirit is part of our being and not necessarily the sum of it.

This argument is frankly risible. Contra Bates’ assertions, angels are not merely described as spirits; they are stated to be spirits (πνεύματα “pneumata” pl., πνεῦμα “pneuma” sing.) Human beings, on the other hand, are never called “spirits” (πνεύματα) anywhere in the Bible.


He also points out that “God is spirit,” but that only further undercuts his own position. God is spirit, and He does not have flesh and bones. So unless we want to embrace Mormon theology, it is difficult to understand how the fact that God is spirit and has not flesh and bones is supposed to support the idea that spirits can have flesh and bones.

What Bates does get right is his statement that,

It would appear the spirit is part of our being and not necessarily the sum of it.

Exactly; human beings are not called “spirits” because they are not spirits.” They are tripartite beings that have spirits, but that is only one component of the human being. They also have body and soul (1 Thessalonians 5:23b). And the fact that the body and spirit are two separate components is repeatedly made clear in Scripture:

“I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body …” (Daniel 7:15a)
… glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:20b)
… she may be holy both in body and in spirit. (1 Corinthians 7:34b)
… the body without the spirit is dead … (James 2:26a)

Now, of these three components, body, soul, and spirit, which is the one essential to sexual relations and reproduction?

Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:22-24)
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:15-18)

Clearly, it is the physical, flesh-and-bone body that is the component of the human being that is quintessentially involved in and necessary for sexual intercourse and reproduction. Now, if

  1. A physical, flesh and bone body is necessary for sexual relations and reproduction, and

  2. Angels are spirits, and

  3. By Jesus’ own testimony “a spirit does not have flesh and bones,”

then it is impossible for angels ever to have had sexual relations with human women, let alone produced offspring, nephilim or otherwise. Q.E.D. The idea that they did, touted by Morris and MacArthur and Bates and Miss Cosner and Carter and so many others, is revealed to be what it is: nothing more than the plotline for a bad, B-grade sci fi movie.


So Who Were the "Sons of God" and the "Daughters of Men"?

We have seen that there are four suggestions that have historically been given as to the identity of the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:

  • They were fallen angels who married and had conjugal relations with “the daughters of men” who were human females.

  • The “sons of God” were the descendants of the Godly line of Seth and the “daughters of men” were the descendants of the ungodly line of Cain.

  • The “sons of God” were exalted kings or rulers who were taking wives, perhaps by force, and building harems for themselves.

  • The “sons of God” were men possessed by demons (i.e. fallen angels).

Our examination has shown that none of these suggestions is correct. So who then were the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men”? We propose here another explanation that we believe is the best understanding that can reached based on what we are told in Scripture.


First, as we have previously shown, the assumption that “son of God” refers to angels is ill considered. In fact, both the direct expression and the associated concept clearly refer to righteous people or members of God’s covenant people. Such people are necessarily believers.


Second, we recall that one of the chief dangers for believers, one that God repeatedly warns against and is repeatedly shown to have disastrous consequences, is to marry unbelievers. We see this in, inter alia, Exodus 34:14-16; Judges 3:5-7; Ezra 9:1-12; and Nehemiah 13:23-27. This has caused the people of God to stumble again and again. Inasmuch as “sons of God” usually refers to believers in the Bible, could the problem in Genesis 6:1-4 be the first example of believers intermarrying with unbelievers and being led away from God?

Well, is there any passage in Scripture that contrasts God’s people with those who are not God’s people, the latter being described as “children of men”? There is at least one such passage, which is Psalm 14:1-5:

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.
Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge, Who eat up my people as they eat bread, And do not call on the Lord?
There they are in great fear, For God is with the generation of the righteous.

The careless exegete thinks that Psalm 14:1 is teaching the universal sinfulness of all humanity, but the careful exegete who pays attention to the text sees that this is not so. In reality, there are two distinct groups in this passage. The first group is characterized by a denial of the existence of God, by corruption, by abominable iniquity, and by a complete lack of interest in seeking God. But there is a second group as well, because v. 4 draws a clear distinction between “all the workers of iniquity” (which includes the entire first group because it comprises “all” the workers of iniquity) and “my people.” This distinction is reinforced in the next verse, in which “they” (the first group) are in great fear, because God is with “the generation of the righteous” (the second group).


The second group comprises the righteous, the believers, the people of God, whereas the first group comprises the opposite, those who reject and oppose God – and they are designated “the children of men.” So there is at least one clear example in Scripture of “children of men” referring to unrighteous unbelievers.

With this understanding, the mystery of Genesis 6:1-4 may become much less mysterious. The followers of God are choosing wives based on their appearance, not on their faith, and that leads – as it does throughout Scripture – to large scale apostasy and then to judgment.


How do the nephilim fit into this scenario? Recall that Genesis 6:4 reads,

There were nephilim 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.

How the nephilim fit into our scenario depends on who the nephilim were. First, were they or were they not “the mighty men who were of old, men of renown”? As previously noted, John MacArthur asserts that the nephilim were a separate group from “the mighty men who were of old, men of renown” (6:4b), saying that,

they were already in the earth when the ‘mighty men’ and ‘men of renown’ were born. The fallen ones are not the offspring from the union in 6:1,2.

MacArthur, however, seems to think that the “mighty men” and “men of renown” were the offspring of the union in 6:4. He is correct on the first point but wrong on the second, for the Hebrew does not allow that interpretation. There is no actual word for “children” in the Hebrew of this verse; Genesis 6:4b simply reads,

The sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore to them.

With no actual noun for the offspring in the verse, the following demonstrative pronoun cannot refer to them, but must refer to the nephilim, the subject of the sentence.

Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:4b) הַשֵּֽׁם אַנְשֵׁי מֵעֹולָם אֲשֶׁר הַגִּבֹּרִים הֵמָּה

הַגִּבֹּרִים

(“ha-gibbōrim,” sing. And without the article רגִּבּוֹ “gibbōr”) means “the mighty men.” This word gibbōr occurs 156 times in the OT.


הַשֵּֽׁם אַנְשֵׁי

(“enōshē ha-shēm”) literally means “men of the name”. The expression enōshē ha-shēm indicates men of renown in several places in the OT (Numbers 16:2; 1 Chronicles 5:24, 12:30).

So what does all this yield? If Harris et al are correct that nephilim means “‘heroes’ or ‘fierce warriors,” the entire passage coheres perfectly. The meaning would be “There were warriors (or heroes) on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore to them. Those (the warriors) were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.” If nephilim means “fallen ones,” we have the added information that these mighty men were apostates, and the passage still coheres without any difficulty.


The sense of Genesis 6:1-4 then would be this: As the human population began to multiply, believing men began to marry unbelieving women, picking wives on the basis of physical appearance, and that led to spreading apostasy. There were mighty men in those days, who either fought against the apostasy, or (especially if nephilim means “fallen ones”) who facilitated the spread of enmity against God.


The advantages of this understanding, over against the view which Morris and the CMI cohort urge are:

  • It does fit with the actual language of the text

  • It describes the first appearance of problem that does happen elsewhere in Scripture

  • It does not require any B-movie sci fi elements

  • It does not require that we ascribe powers of deity to angels

  • It does not make Jesus mistaken or deceptive when He says “A spirit does not have flesh and bones.”

  • It does not destroy Jesus’ proof for His own resurrection

This should be more than enough to convince any fair-minded Christian. Our careful analysis of the actual Hebrew texts, as well as taking seriously Jesus’ words in Luke 24:39 – which so few evangelical exegetes do – shows that the bizarre idea of angels impregnating women and spawning human/angel hybrid offspring can finally be put to rest. The enigmatic passage, Genesis 6:1-4, has a reasonable answer.


Finally, a warning should be taken from this analysis. The question of the nature of the events described in Genesis 6:1-4 seems to be simply a curiosity, something not relevant to the “big picture” of the Bible’s message. And the idea that these events involved angels marrying human women and having conjugal relations with them and spawning angel/human hybrid offspring called nephilim seems strangely attractive so many evangelicals, who accept it without thinking it through carefully.


Careful thinking involves taking all relevant factors into consideration. It is a sine qua non for this popular idea that angels (and evil angels, at that) be able to manifest in human form, complete with physical bodies, including flesh and bones and “digestive systems.” As we have seen, this idea not only ascribes the power of God to demons, it contradicts Jesus and destroys His own proof for His bodily resurrection. He proved that He did not come back simply as a spirit, because “a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39b) – but that is not true if angels can manifest in physical human form. This severe undermining of the bodily resurrection of Jesus is a high price to pay to cling to a bad sci fi scenario to explain Genesis 6:1-4.

Be warned, then. Even seemingly trivial passages of the Bible can have a bearing on crucial topics. Serious apologetics requires correct exegesis.

 

Sources

1. Radmacher, Earl D. Gen. Ed., Ronald B. Allen. OT Ed., and H. Wayne House. NT Ed. NKJV Study Bible. Second Edition. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007, p. 17


2. Bates, Gary. Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection. Master Books, 2005, p. 381


3. The word is absent in Joshua 17:15 in the LXX.


4. In fact, raphaim appears four times in 2 Samuel 21:16-22, and the LXX transliterates the first three as raphain and translates the fourth as “giants”!


5. While it doesn’t seem possible to interchange nephilim and “giants,” it is possible that large physical stature was a characteristic of the nephilim, a fact known in the days when the LXX was translated, but subsequently forgotten.


6. Sarfati, Jonathan. Response to Daniel R., Canada, 18 August 2012, in Wieland, Dr. Carl and Dr. Jonathan Sarfati. “Some bugs do grow bigger with higher oxygen.” Journal of Creation 25:1 (April, 2011). Posted at http://creation.com/oxygen-bigger-bugs. (The Response to Daniel R. was not in the original journal article.)


7. MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Study Bible. Nashville, London, Vancouver, and Melbourne: Word Publishing, 1997, p. 24


8. ibid.


9. Morris, Henry M. The Genesis Record: A scientific & devotional commentary on the book of beginnings. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1976, p. 172


10. Harris, R. Laird, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. (TWOT) Volume II. Chicago: Moody Press, 1980, p. 587. (Bolding added.)


11. Walton, John H., Victor H. Matthews & Mark W. Chavalas. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000, p. 36. (Bolding and underlining added.)


12. TWOT, Volume II, p. 587. (Bolding added.)


13. Bates, Alien Intrusion, p. 382


14. ibid., p. 386


15. ibid. (Bolding and underlining added.) Bates no doubt means “raises the question” here, not “begs the question.”


16. There is one passage (Genesis 20:17) in which it is stated that women bore, without any mention of the offspring at all.


17. Bates, Alien Intrusion, p.385. This is the same sort of point we made regarding the nephilim; if the nephilim were the offspring of the union between the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men,” why didn’t the text say “they bore nephilim to them”?


18. Walton, op. cit., p. 36. Walton et al suggest that “It is more likely that this is a reference to the ‘right of the first night’ … The king could exercise his right, as representative of the gods, to spend the wedding night with any woman who was being given in marriage … If this is the practice referred to here, it would offer an explanation of the nature of the offense.” This cannot be seen as anything other than a wild guess, and since the language of the passage is that used for actual marriage, it is unlikely.


19. NKJV Study Bible, p. 17. Allen is the OT editor of this book, and since no other writer is stipulated for the study notes to Genesis, we assume that they are the work of Allen.


20. MacArthur, p. 24


21. Morris, op. cit., pp. 165-166


22. Batten, Dr. Don, Ed., Dr. David Catchpoole, Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, and Dr. Carl Wieland. The Creation Answers Book, Creation Book Publishers, 2012, p. 141


23. Bates, Alien Intrusion, pp. 382-390


24. ibid., p. 382


25. ibid., p. 383


26. ibid., pp. 386-387


27. ibid., p. 387


28. ibid., p. 388


29. ibid., p. 389


30. ibid., p. 390


31. ibid., pp. 383-384


32. ibid., p. 383. (Bolding and underlining added.) Morris (op. cit., p. 166) similarly argues that “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.”


33. ibid., pp. 383-384. (Bolding and underlining added.)


34. ibid., p. 382


35. “As for the term ‘poorly attested’, if a word occurs thousands of times, it is well attested; if it occurs only once or twice, it is not.” (Cosner, Lita. “London Times reports that the Bible is not anti-female; is this news?” Posted on February 24, 2009, at http://creation.com/london-times-reports-that-the-bible-is-not-anti-female-is-this-news#endRef4)


36. Allen’s suggestion is even more outré, viz. that “Job 1:6 presents Satan and his angels coming into the presence of the Lord for an audience with His Majesty. Satan’s angels are there called “the sons of God.” (Allen, p. 17)


37. Matthew 5:9; Luke 20:36; Romans 8:14; Galatians 3:26


38. 1 Chronicles 17:13, 22:10, 28:6; Isaiah 43:6; Ezekiel 16:21; Matthew 5:45; Romans 9:26; 2 Corinthians 6:18; Galatians 4:5-6; Ephesians 1:5


39. Bates, Alien Intrusion, p. 382. (Italics added.)


40. ibid., p. 383


41. In fact, the parallelism in Psalm 89:5, in which a line describes what happens in heaven and then the following line describes what happens on earth, suggests the same sort of parallel in 89:6, so that bene elim are people on earth, not angels in heaven.


42. Bates, Alien Intrusion, p. 382. (Italics added.)


43. ibid.


44. ibid., p. 385. This is the same sort of point we made regarding the nephilim; if the nephilim were the offspring of the union between the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men,” why didn’t the text say “they bore nephilim to them”?


45. ibid., p. 382. (The advice was given in regard to Hosea 1:10.)


46. Job 38:7 reads “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy”.


47. Even in Job 38:7, it is not clear that “sons of God” refer to angels. See Appendix 1 for details.


48. Morris, op. cit., p. 165


49. ibid.


50. ibid.


51. MacArthur, p. 24


52. Allen, in Radmacher, op. cit., p. 17


53. Carter, Dr. Robert, in “The watchers and genetic diversity” (Feedback 2014). Posted at http://creation.com/watchers-genetic-diversity


54. Sarfati, Jonathan. “Why Bible history matters (and the timing of the Fall and Ark-building).” Creation 33:4 (October 2011). Posted at https://creation.com/bible-history-fall-ark. While Sarfati doesn’t explicitly say that the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 are angels, he does, to explain his statement “when ‘sons of God’ were mating with the daughters of men in Genesis,” tell his readers to “See Batten, D., ed., Creation Answers Book, ch. 9.” where that very view is promulgated.


55. Cosner, Lita. “The global flood – according to the New Testament.” Posted on May 24, 2012, at https://creation.com/nt-global-flood and Cosner, Lita and Gary Bates. “Is God inconsistent?” Posted on February 4, 2014, at http://creation.com/is-god-inconsistent


56. Bates, Alien Intrusion, p. 383


57. Carter, op. cit.


58. What is truly astounding is that, after saying this, Carter avers that the article by Bates that we are examining “is the single best analysis of the biblical statements on this subject of which I am aware.” This despite the fact that Bates appeals to the book of Enoch, the book of Jasher (which has long been known to be an outright fraud), and the testimony of people who believe they have been abducted by space aliens.


59. Bates, Alien Intrusion, pp. 386-387


60. Bauer, Walter, W.F. Arndt, F.W. Gingrich, and F.W. Danker. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature. (BDAG). Third Edition. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2000, pp. 137-138


61. BDAG, p. 115


62. BDAG, p. 695


63. Bates, Alien Intrusion, p. 387


64. As we are seeing, however, it is conceptually impossible.


67. Bates, Alien Intrusion, p. 385. This is the same sort of point we made regarding the nephilim; if the nephilim were the offspring of the union between the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men,” why didn’t the text say “they bore nephilim to them”?


68. ibid., p. 387


69. ibid., p. 388


70. ibid., p. 389


71. Carter, op. cit.


72. Morris, op. cit., p. 166


73. Bates, Alien Intrusion, p. 383. (Bolding and underlining added.) Morris (op. cit., p. 166), as we have seen, similarly argues that “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.”


74. This is the fatal error committed by those who try to justify allowing women to hold authoritative teaching positions vis-à-vis Christian men in church settings. They gather NT examples that they claim (wrongly) show women holding such positions and then try to use them to overturn the clear teachings of didactic passages such as 1 Timothy 2:12-14. See Tors, John. “Women and Church Leadership: An Inquiry and a Response to Pastor Keith A. Smith’s ‘Can Christian Women Be Pastors and Preachers?’” at https://truthinmydays.com/women-and-church-leadership-an-inquiry-and-a-response-to-pastor-keith-a-smiths-can-christian-women-be-pastors-and-preachers/.


75. Bates, Alien Intrusion, p. 383. (Bolding and underlining added.)


76. Tors, John. “The Irrefutable Case for the Resurrection: How David K. Clark’s Risible ‘Betting on Jesus: The Vanishing of the Christ’ (Free Inquiry, April/May 2014) Strengthens the Case for the Resurrection of Jesus”


77. Bates, Alien Intrusion, pp. 383-384


78. Bates, Alien Intrusion, pp. 383-384


79. Cosner, “The global flood,” op. cit.


80. Cosner, Lita. Response to Lee P. in “Ghosts, experience, and the Bible.” Posted on March 18, 2012, at http://creation.com/ghosts-experience


81. Bates, Gary. “Are ghosts real? Are people really communicating with the spirits of the dead?” (No date, but “this updated and expanded version replaces the original article posted on 28 December 2010.” At http://creation.com/are-ghosts-real.)


82. Bates, Alien Intrusion, p. 384


83. Brown, Francis, S.R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs. The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon (BDB). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979, p. 87


84. TWOT, Volume I, p. 39


85. Cosner, “The global flood,” op. cit.


86. ibid.


87. Carter, op. cit.


88. Bates, “Are ghosts real?” op. cit.


89. Of course God could create a body for an angel, though as we have seen the testimony is that He did not do so. But He will not create bodies for evil angels to do evil things. If those who agree with Bates’ view suggest that God did this, it would mean that God sent a worldwide flood in part to destroy the nephilim, the result of an unspeakably evil act that could happen only because God made bodies for evil angels so that they could commit this unspeakably evil act. This is far beyond merely “incoherent.”


90. Grigg, Russell. “A remarkable witness to creation – Satan.” Creation 30:2 (March 2008), pp.38–39. Posted at http://creation.com/a-remarkable-witness-to-creation-satan


91. ibid.


92. ibid. (Bolding added.)


93. ibid. (Bolding and underlining added.)


94. Wieland, Carl. Response to John T., Canada, 23 May 2012, in ibid.


95. Bates, Alien Intrusion, p. 389


96. ibid.


97. Mormons believe their god has a body of flesh and bone.


98. Bates, Alien Intrusion, p. 389


99. CMI believes that humans are bipartite, thinking that spirit and soul are different designations for the same component. For our following discussion, it matters not whether humans are seen as bipartite or tripartite.


100. As we have seen, there is only one passage in the entire Bible in which “sons of God” can plausibly be seen as referring to angels.


101. In Genesis 6:2 and 6:4, the specific term is “daughters of men,” not “children of men,” but in Genesis 6:2 and 6:4 it is only women who are being taken in marriage. They would be part of the larger group “children of men.”


102. MacArthur, op. cit.


103. It is unlikely but possible that the following demonstrative pronoun “those” refers to the sons of God.


104. TWOT, Volume I, p. 149


105. In the two passages in 1 Chronicles, “name” is also in the plural, hence “men of names” שֵׁמֹות אַנְשֵׁי


106. TWOT, Volume II, p. 587. (Bolding added.)

26 views0 comments

Comments

Couldn’t Load Comments
It looks like there was a technical problem. Try reconnecting or refreshing the page.
bottom of page