Are these "sons of God" angels, as some have concluded? Can angels reproduce?
Scholars debate and disagree over the meaning of the obscure reference to "the sons of God" in Genesis 6:1-4. Some people read into these verses the idea that it refers to angelic beings marrying women and producing a race of giants. Christ explained that is impossible, teaching that angels are neither male nor female (Luke 20:34-36)—that is, they are incapable of reproduction.
Humans are clearly the subject in Genesis 6—not angels. God said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh" (verse 3, emphasis added throughout) and, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth" (verse 7). If angels were capable of reproducing as mankind does, their offspring would be spirit, according to the principle of "according to its kind" portrayed in Genesis 1.
The Bible labels the offspring of these marriages "giants" (Genesis 6:4), meaning simply people of giant stature. Similar people are spoken of in later times, most notably Goliath and his family.
How, then, can we understand Genesis 6:1-4? Human beings are also sons of God. We're not referring to becoming spiritual sons of God through conversion, but to the fact that all people are sons of God by creation (Luke 3:38). The attitudes and actions of these "sons of God" were so wrong that they provoked God to send the Flood.
Halley's Bible Handbook raises the possibility that these sons of God were the descendants of Seth. Seth, the Bible records, was made in the image of Adam, who was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26; 5:1-3). Speaking of Seth's descendants, Genesis 4:26 adds, "Then men began to call on the name of the Lord," a phrase that could also be rendered, "called after the name of the Lord"—that is, the "sons of God." If so, the women, "the daughters of men" whom these "sons of God" married were the descendants of unrighteous Cain. By marrying these women, the sons of righteous Seth turned from God, leading Him to say that the entire world was then corrupt (Genesis 6:5-7, 12).
An alternative explanation is that "sons of God" in Genesis 6:2 refers to self-willed men who called themselves "sons of god," not in worship of the Creator, but of pagan deities. Their marriages were in defiance of the Creator God, as they lived contrary to His will. In light of God's characterization of society riddled with violence (verses 11 and 13), we surmise that the men forcibly took the women as wives.
Regardless of which explanation is accurate, the idea that a half-spirit, half-human race resulted from angels marrying women is impossible, according to the Bible.
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