One of the great blessings from our Facebook Bible Reading Group is the arrival of wonderful questions from members who are trying to not only read through their daily passage, but also read with understanding.
In Genesis 6, the Bible speaks of “sons of God” taking the “daughters of man” as their wives. Scripture goes on in verse 4 to speak of the “Nephilim”, those mighty “men of renown.” These have been some of the more confusing passages in Scripture and several attempts have been made to explain what is happening here. I will outline the more common and probable explanations.
1. The “sons of God” could be the rise of harsh, ungodly, tyrannical kings or rulers who sweep through their land with no cause or concern for anyone or anything but themselves. They possibly could have been demon possessed.
2. Another possibility is that the “sons of God” are followers of God who became overtaken with sexual desire and lust which resulted in marriages that were not God honoring.
3. The third and more radical idea is that the “sons of God” were fallen angels (Job 1:6).
What I believe is the most critical aspect of this text is not so much figuring out who the “sons of God” were, but instead noticing the pattern presented in Chapter 6. The sons of God “saw” the women were “attractive” and “took” them for their wives. Does that pattern sound familiar? “saw” “good” “took”. This is of course the pattern of the original sin, Eve saw the fruit, it was good to the eyes, and she took it. Genesis 6 provides a reminder to us that Satan continues to tempt and deceive throughout the course of human history in much the same way he did in the garden.
I personally hold more closely to the first or second explanation of the “sons of God” as presented above, although fallen angels is not out of the question.
Concerning the “Nephilim”, some read the Greek translation of this Hebrew word as “giants”, especially from the Numbers 13 account of the spies in Canaan, back into the Genesis 6 text and suppose these “men of renown” might be giants. Could be. However, I don’t believe verse 4 necessarily links the offspring of the “sons of God” to the Nephilim, but more likely places the Nephilim in the historical context of when the sons of God were marrying. Chances are this is another example of the greed and lust that was prevalent on the earth, making necessary the ensuing flood from God.