Who Were the 'Sons of God' in Genesis 6:2?

Unusual Terms

There are numerous terms in the Bible which are not explicitly defined or explained which raise some interesting questions. The question over the identity of the “Sons of God” in Genesis 6:2 is a fitting example.

Two Theories

So, who are these “Sons of God”? We will look at two major theories:

The lineage of Seth

The first theory describes the “Sons of God” as being the more righteous lineage of Seth, as opposed to the “Daughters of Men” being another, less righteous lineage. That many of the descendants of Seth proved to be more upright before God can be seen with the example of Enoch who “walked with God” (Gen. 5:24, NASU). The main idea behind this theory describes these righteous men being turned aside from their love of God by the enticement of women from less righteous families. The end result of such action was their downfall into sin, leading to the need for the destruction of the world with a flood.

Angelic beings

The second theory describes the “Sons of God” in similar fashion to the other Biblical uses of this term (cf. Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). In the context of Job, this term describes the heavenly host of angelic beings around the very throne of God. Given the spiritual nature of such a scene, very little detail is given for such beings. The main idea behind this theory describes these angelic beings being brought down from righteousness by the enticement of human women, leading to the need for destruction of the world with a flood. Each of these theories has problems:

Examination

The first theory assumes much, especially concerning the “uprightness” of all the sons of Seth. It also assumes the “Daughters of Men” coming from a separate family (such as another child of Adam & Eve, or even Cain). The term “Sons of God” is not used to describe human beings in other references, only angelic beings.

The second theory describes angelic beings engaging in carnal acts, which many have assumed is not possible. Jesus explained that those in heaven “neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Mat. 22:30), which many assume to mean than angelic beings are sexless. However, this is not a necessary understanding.

Application

In either case, the most important focus concerning the “Sons of God” is not their identity, but what their actions caused. These “Sons”, whether men or angelic beings, were at one time upright followers of God. They were brought down by the temptations of this world and it lead to a world which thought of evil continually (Gen. 6:5). When the people of God compromise with the world, the only outcome is world worthy of destruction.

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