Who are the sons of God in Genesis 6 and Job 1?

Question:  In Genesis 6:2 and now in Job it refers to the sons of God and I’m sure  in other places.  We’re just beginning so I need to understand who the verses are speaking about.

Answer:  In Job the “sons of God” definitely are angels who appear before God along with Satan.  This has led many to suggest that this is the correct identity for those in Genesis 6:2.  On this view, angelic beings, particularly rebellious angelic beings, those who followed Satan, took wives from human women.  Their offspring were called the Nephilim.  Some have suggested that when their offspring died the spirits of these half-men, half-angels, became what we refer to now as demons, desiring to be in human bodies again and therefore eager to possess humans.

The problem with this view is that it assumes it is possible for two completely different “species” to mate and produce offspring.  This is especially difficult to believe of angels since they do not have bodies (they are “spirits” according to Psalm 104:4 and spirits do not have flesh and blood, Luke 24:39).  Angels seem to be able to adopt a physical form to appear to us, since we cannot see spirits normally with our physical eyes.  But does this enable them to also send sperm compatible with human female ova in order to produce offspring?  Seems very doubtful.

Another view is that the “sons of God” are men of accomplishment, rulers among men.  There is evidence that this is a way the Hebrew for this phrase could be used.  This might also help explain how new Nephilim came to be after the flood, when presumably fallen angels were no longer allowed to sire children by human women.  In Numbers 13:32,33 the spies sent by Moses to explore the promised land report Nephilim in the land.  This makes sense only if this is a general term for large and unusual people.  It cannot refer merely to offspring of angels.  Typical of such men is that they want more than the God-given allotment of one wife and they feel they have the power and influence to accomplish this.

A third view is the the “sons of God” refer to godly believers who contradicted God’s desire to marry only other believing women and instead married the “daughters of men,” meaning unbelievers. This resulted in a dilution of the faith in the subsequent families that were raised and resulted also in the sheer number of ungodly persons living at the time of the flood.  Only Noah and his family remained believers worthy of saving.

It is hard for me to decide between the last two views, but I see a lot of problems with the first view.  It can’t be ruled out but it is highly unlikely in my view.

Randall Johnson

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