Summary: When scholars disagree the best thing we can do is examine the evidence for each view and see which case is the strongest.

A modern book titled Sex After Sixty Five was written to encourage older

people to realize their is still sexual life after retirement. This would have

sounded like a joke to the people before the flood. In Gen. 5:21 we are told that

Enoch was 65 when he had his first son Methusalah. Then in chapter 5 we see

it ending by telling us that Noah after he was 500 had his three sons. Men had

an enormously long span of life in which they could father children, and so we

can understand why their was a rapid growth in the population, as it states in

verse one. After stating that there was a population explosion, this chapter tells of a

problem that resulted from it. The sons of God saw the daughters of men, and

they desired to have them as their wives. This does not sound too unlike the

world of today where women watchers finally see one they feel they can't live

without, and so they ask her to marry them. The problem here is in trying to

determine just who these sons of God are. It is not any easy task, for Bible

scholars of equal love for the Word of God, and equally skilled in interpreting

it have come to 3 different conclusions. Either they are angels, the line of Seth,

or the upper class of nobles.

When scholars disagree the best thing we can do is examine the evidence

for each view and see which case is the strongest. So lets look first at the view

that they are angels.


This view goes way back into the centuries before Christ. The book of

Enoch, which was written in the second century B. C. Says these sons of God

were wicked angels who lusted after the daughters of men. Josephus and

Philo, and most of the Jewish writers held this view. The oldest church fathers

like Justin, Tertullian, Cyprian, and Ambrose also held this view. The

arguments for it are very strong.

A. The expression sons of God is used in the Old Testament of angels. I Job 1:6

we read, "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present

themselves before the Lord."

B. This takes place just before the flood, and Peter in II Pet. 2:4-5 pictures the

angels being judged just before the flood. This seems to indicate they had

something to do with the flood. In Jude 6-7 we read of the angels again being

judged just before Sodom and Gomorah for their immorality, suggesting the

angels may also have been judged for sexual sins.

What appears to have happened according to this view is that the angels took

upon themselves the bodies of men in order to cohabit with human women.

C. This view explains the many legends and myths about divine beings

producing children on earth who were giants and great men. Greek mythology

is full of this type of thing.

II. Sethites.

Those who hold this view see this account as a strictly human affair of the

pure line of Seth (called sons of God), and the corrupt line of Cain (called the

daughters of men). They point out that there is no other reference to angels,

either before or after, and their is no reason to drag them in here. Leupold

points out that there is no reference to angels in the first 5 chapter of Genesis

and there is no basis for to suddenly introduce them here, when the whole

history is dealing with men only.

A. The view that they could be angels has to be rejected on the basis of words

of Jesus in Matt. 22:30 where he says, "At the resurrection people will neither

marry or be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven." We

have no reason to believe that angels would ever have any desire to marry

human women. The text in Gen. 6 makes it clear that these were not just one

night stands and affairs. These were marriages that led to settling down and

raising families. If these were angels who had defied the laws of God, there

would have been judgment on them long before they raised families from these


B. The flood was the result of the wickedness of men, and there is no hint that

it was a punishment for fallen angels. Angels were judged by being sent to

hell, and not by being drowned in a flood. These sons of God were the pure

line of Seth who departed from the will of God and married the ungodly

women from the line of Cain. These intermarriages led to the complete

breakdown of the godly chain. Noah only was left.

C. The people of God are often called the sons of God. God said to Pharaoh in

Ex. 4:22-23, "Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, 'let my son go, so he

may worship me.'" In Deut. 32:19 we read, "The Lord saw this and rejected

them because He was angered by His sons and daughters." There is no need

to introduce angels here, for God's people were called sons of God. Warnings

about the marriage of believers and unbelievers are a common theme in the

Old Testament. There are no warnings about intermarriage with angels.

D. The idea of daughters being born was nothing new. There had been

daughters all along born to men, and the angels could have come down

anytime if that were the case. But the point here is that the population was

getting so great that the two lines of descent could no longer be kept isolated.

The population explosion forced the sons of God to be exposed to these

daughters of godless Cainites. If you mix any two classes of people together,

you will have marriages of these two classes. We see it all through history, and

it happens everywhere yet today. This is a typical human issue, and there is

no need to introduce angels. The preceding chapter deals with the Sethite line

of godly men like Enoch, Methuselah, and Noah, and there is no reason why

chapter 6 would drop that line and pick up on a line of angels that has never

been mentioned.

E. It is true that the angels were judged, but no where is there any reference to

it being due to marriage with women, or to any sexual activity. The New

Testament passages that the angel theory refers to do not say anything about

angels and immorality as they do humans. The fact that they are in the same

context cannot be used to imply they were guilty of the same sins. Angels fell

long before men even existed, and so if you bring angels into this text, you

have a second fall of the angels, which the Bible does not support.

F. If this text deals with angels, it has no lesson for the rest of history, but if it

deals with the godly marrying the ungodly, it has a lesson for all of the history

of God's people. This has always been a major problem. In Ex. 34:15-16 we

read God's warning to His people, "Be careful not to make a treaty with those

who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and

sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. And

when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those

daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead our sons to do the

same." In Deut. 7:3-4 we read, "Do not intermarry with them. Do not give

your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they

will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the

Lord's anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you." These and

others like them are parallel with the text in Gen. 6. And the N.T. says also,

"Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers." This is the age old and universal

problem, and not the danger of intermarriage with angels.

G. Take note of the judgement in this passage. In verse 3 God says, "My spirit

will not contend with man forever,..." In verse 5 it says, "The Lord saw how

great man's wickedness on the earth had become,..." In verse 6 we read, "The

Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth..." Verse 7 says, "So the

Lord said, 'I will wipe mankind, whom I have created from the face of the

earth-men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds

of the air-for I am grieved that I have made them.'" You will note that there is

no judgment on angels, and no reference to God's regret that He had made

angels. They do not appear at all in God's expression of anger and judgment.

All of this evidence lead the great Christian scholars of the early church like

Chrysostom, Augustine, and Jerome, and the reformers like Luther and

Calvin, and the majority of modern commentators to reject the angel theory in

favor of this Sethite view.

There are some miner views that are held by very few, but most will choose

one or the other of these major views. No one could know for sure which is

correct, and so one must keep an open mind. Whatever the case, the children

born to these marriages were men of great stature. Verse 4 calls them

Nephilim. This might seem to support the angel theory because these giant

men seem to be supernatural products, but this is not the case. This same

word is used in Num. 13:33 to describe the big men that the spies saw in the

Promise Land which made them fear to invade it. It says, "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."

This was long after the flood, and unless we are to assume that different

groups of angels kept coming down and taking wives, these giants were clearly

products of human marriage. There is no need for angels to be involved in

producing these giant men.

This is not a vital issue at all, and godly Bible scholars disagree, but if I had

to choose, this is why I would choose the Sethite theory. I would do so for two

main reasons.

1. The angel theory gets us involved in a strange mixture of the heavenly and

earthly, and it sounds too much like mythology. If we are not compelled to get

into such a strange and awkward realm of angels marrying earthly wives, and

settling down to raise families, why do it? If the entire account fits humans

only, then we should leave it at that and not turn it into a mystery that reveals

no special meaning with value.

2. The whole context stresses the fact of the wickedness of men. The flood was

a judgment upon man and not angels. God was angry because the godly line

of Seth intermarried with the ungodly line of Cain, and except for Noah, there

was no one left to produce a godly line heading for the Messiah. It all makes

perfect sense without angels. On the basis of God's attitude an anger toward

men I choose to believe that the sons of God were the descendants of Seth, and

not angelic beings.