Debating Bible Basics Duncan Heaster  


Sons of God and Daughters of Men

Genesis 6: 2-4: “...the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown”.

Popular Interpretation

It is thought that “the sons of God” are angels who, on being thrown out of heaven for their sin, came down to earth and married attractive women, resulting in them having very large children.


1. There is no mention at all of “the sons of God” coming down from heaven.

2. Why assume these “sons of God” are angels? The phrase is used concerning men, especially those who know the true God (Deut. 14:1 (R.S.V.); Hos. 1:10; Lk. 3:38; Jn 1:12; 1 Jn. 3:1).

3. If believers are to be made equal to angels (Lk. 20:35-36), will they still experience the same carnal desires which then motivated the sons of God, or have the possibility of giving way to them? Of course not!

4. Luke 20:35-36, clearly says that the angels do not marry: “They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage...for they are equal unto the angels”.

5. It is commonly believed that the angels who are thought to have sinned came down to earth at the time of the garden of Eden incidents, but Genesis 6 concerns the time of the flood, which was many years later.

6. The Hebrew word for “giants” in Genesis 6:4, is also used to describe the sons of a man called Anak in Numbers 13:33. Freak human beings of unusual size or strength are sometimes born today, but it does not mean that their parents were angels.

7. We are not specifically told that the giants were the children of the “sons of God”. “There were giants…and also after that…the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men” (:4).

Suggested Explanations

1. We have shown that the “sons of God” may refer to those with the true understanding of God. The “sons of God’ of every generation have kept themselves separate from the people of the world, and are warned by God not to marry such people because they will influence them away from following the true God (Ex. 34:12,15,16; Josh. 23:12-13; Ezra 9:12; 1 Cor. 7:39; 2 Cor. 6:14-16). Genesis 3:15 describes how the seed (descendants) of the serpent would be in constant conflict with the seed of the woman (cp. Gal. 4:29). The early chapters of Genesis highlight the fact that there were these two sorts of people; the descendants of Seth called themselves “by the name of the Lord” (Gen. 4:26 A.V margin) and comprised the righteous “sons of God”, the seed of the woman. By contrast, the descendants of Cain, are described as being associated with murder and instituting polygamy (Gen. 4:23 & 19), the art of weapon production (Gen. 4:22) and entertainment (Gen. 4:21). The names of these people imply that at this time they started an alternative , apostate, system of worship to replace the true worship of God, which angered God; e.g. Cain named a city after Enoch, whose name means “dedicated”; Irad means “eternal city”; Mehujael means “God combats”; Lamech means “Overthrower” (of the truth ?). The sons of God marrying the daughters of men would therefore describe the inter-marriage of these two lines, so that only Noah and his family were the “seed of the woman” at the time of the flood.

2. Careful reflection on Genesis 6 indicates that the “sons of God” must have been men:-

they “took them wives of all that they chose”. This process of choosing an appealing woman for marriage is so obviously something experienced by men. Notice how the “sons of God” probably took more than one wife each - “wives of all that they chose”. This was a characteristic of the seed of the serpent (Gen. 4:19), showing us that the two lines had merged; because of the sons of God marrying the daughters of men, God said that in 120 years’ time, He would destroy man (Gen. 6:3) in the flood. Why should God punish and destroy man if the angels had sinned? Seeing that angels cannot die (Lk. 20:35-36), there would have been no point in destroying the earth with a flood to try and destroy them. Things fall into place far better if the “sons of God” were men:- therefore God said, “The end of all flesh(mankind) is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with (from ) the earth” (Gen. 6:13). The violence on the earth which vs. 3-5 associate with the apostasy of the “sons of God” arose through man - man, not angels or the devil, had filled the earth with violence:- another reason God brought the flood was because the earth had become corrupt. Why did this happen? It was corrupt, “for (because) all flesh had corrupted His way upon the earth” (Gen. 6:11 & 12). Man had corrupted the true way of God - due to the sons of God, who understood “the way”, mixing with the people of the flesh. “The way” is a phrase used to describe the true understanding of God (e.g. Gen. 3:24; 18:19; Ps. 27:11; 119:32-33; Acts16:17; 9:2; 18:25; 19: 9 & 23; 2 Pet. 2:2). This corruption of “the way” by the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 is commented on in Jude v. 11, where the apostate Christians of the first century are likened to those men who went “in the way of Cain” - not of the truth. Cain was the father of the seed of the serpent line;

- the actions of the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2 , are described in v. 5 as “the wickedness of man”, which “was great in the earth...every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”;

Jesus said that the world in the last days would be similar to what it was at the time of Noah. He implied that in the same way as men had the wrong attitude to marriage in Noah’s time, so men also would in the last days before His return (Lk. 17:26-27). The only reference to attitudes to marriage at Noah’s time is in Genesis 6:2, thus again implying that the “sons of God” who married wrongfully were men.

3. “There were giants in the earth in those days”. The word “giants” has two possible meanings: “fallen ones” (which would be relevant to their being the “sons of God” who had spiritually fallen away) and “assailants, hackers”. This is the root of the Hebrew word for “giant”, and is used in 2 Kings 3:19 & 25, to describe a vicious attack on the Moabites by Israel. Thus we get the impression that there were men, perhaps of great physical size and strength, who went around viciously attacking people. They became famous (or infamous) - “men of renown”. Job (22:15-17) comments upon them: “Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden? Which were cut down out of time, whose foundation was overflown with a flood: which said unto God, Depart from us”. Notice that this refers to men, not angels. In passing, it would seem these men may have their latter day counterpart in the gang warfare and its associated mentality of our modern world.