Summary: Who are the sons of God and why did their marriage to the daughters of men produce violence and unrestrained sin in the world? Jesus used this as a reference to the sign of His second coming, so how do we apply this today?
The Sons of God and the Daughters of Men
Genesis 6:1 Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them,
2 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.
3 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."
4 There were giants 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.
5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
7 So the LORD said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them."
8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
A Common View
This passage is generates a lot of controversy. My understanding of this passage may be radically different than some of the popular theories of this passage. I am going to begin by looking at an explanation in which I disagree so that we can grasp a complete picture of this passage. I always use scripture to interpret scripture. When we apply this passage to the rest of scripture, I believe we get a clear understanding of this passage. We will often do injustice to a passage if we try to make it a self-contained truth and remove it from the context of the rest of scripture.
Chuck Missler offers a detailed explanation of this passage in his article ’Mischievous Angels or Sethites?’ He contends that the two prominent beliefs are: the sons of God are either angels or from the line of Seth. It has been argued that the children of Seth were holy and the rest of the world corrupted. They polluted themselves my mixing their holy blood with the other races of the earth. Chuck attests that this passage is a direct reference to angels intermarrying with mankind to produce a polluted race of giants. He goes on to explain that this didn’t happen only once, but twice and will surely happen a third time. The polluted race was wiped out by the flood, but 2,000 years after the flood, the Israelites entered the Promised Land only to find them again. The proper biblical translation for ’giants’ is ’Nephilim’. This same word is translated as giants in Numbers and Deuteronomy. Here is how Chuck Missler explains this reoccurrence after the flood:
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.
Chuck also believes this will happen again in the end times, which brings on God’s final judgment. He explains that Peter and Jude describe angels that were judged for failing to keep their first estate but sinned. This sin was physical union with man. As a result they are immediately sent into hell and bound with chains of darkness.
I have a problem with this explanation. There are three areas I see in scripture that disagrees with this idea. First, why would angels continue to commit a sin knowing that the repercussion is immediate and swift judgment? Unlike people, they don’t have blind desires tempting them from unseen sources. If they saw their peers destroyed, they would not willingly put themselves in the path of judgment. We see this fear in Luke 8:31. Jesus was casting out demons and they begged Him not to send them to the abyss before the appointed time. They know their time is short and are not eager to be judged.
Second, angels do not have the power to create nor do they have the power to procreate. Only God has the power to create life. The Bible gives several examples of this. Matthew 22:30 tells us, "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven." Sexual union is unique to physical creation and is temporary. When we live in our glorified bodies, we will no longer need or desire sex. All pleasure on earth is only a foreshadow of what is to come in heaven. God promises that He will be more to us than anything we can experience or even imagine here on earth. What we experience here will pass away to make room for what is abundantly better.