Were the “Sons of God” Fallen Angels?

Several Bible teachers believe that the “sons of God” (Gen. 6:2) which were angels, cohabited with the “daughters of men” (Gen. 6:2), who were human women and produced giants (v. 4). God saw the wicked results, as well as potential ruin and destroyed the earth with a flood. The angels who were responsible were placed in Tartarus to wait for judgment at the Great White Throne judgment. Lawlor gives support for this view.

The Sons of God

The title “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2,4 is used in Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7 to designate angels. Moreover, in the Septuagint the word “sons” in these passages is the Greek for “angels,” and where the Authorized Version reads “sons of God” in Geneses 6:2,4 the Septuagint reads “angels of God.” Nowhere in the Old Testament are God’s people called “sons of God,” with one notable exception in Hosea 1:10, and the meaning there is obvious.

The term “sons of God” denotes beings brought into existence by the creative act of God. Such were the angels, and in the Old Testament the title refers to angels. Men are not “sons” until they are redeemed (Gal. 4:4,5), born again in the New Testament sense (Jn. 1:12,13; 3:3-7).

There was a strong Jewish stream of tradition with regard to Genesis 6:1-4 as being the description of a terrible sin committed by angels attracted by the beauty of mortal women, and who forsook their proper habitation in order to live on earth with the daughters of men.

The early church held that Jude’s statement in verse 6 refers to Genesis 6:1-4. It was not until the latter part of the fourth century that any other view was suggested.

The language of the text is foreign to the view that the “sons of God” are the sons of Seth, while the “daughters of men” are the offspring of Cain. If the “sons of God” are the sons of Seth, and the “daughters of men” are the offspring of Cain, then at the time of the amalgamation God’s true people were limited to the male sex, for the “sons of God” were the ones who married the “daughters of men.” And if the “sons of God” were believers, they perished in the Flood, yet Peter states that it was the ungodly who received that judgment (2 Pet. 2:5).

Daughters of Men

The “daughters of men” can surely be held to include the daughters of Seth as well as the daughters of Cain, and this being so, then the “sons of God” must refer to something entirely different from the human race.

The progeny of the union between the “sons of God” and the daughters of men” was of such a character as to indicate a super-human union. The word rendered “giants” in Genesis 6:4 is the same word as that found in Numbers 13:33, where it is used to describe the sons of Anak, seen by the spies, and who were gigantic in stature. The Hebrew words designate these giants as “fallen ones.” The result of this union was wickedness of such fearful character as to demand a new beginning of the human race (Gen. 6:5-7).

The Corruption of the Human Race

This corruption of the human race by the “sons of God” was in harmony with Satan’s continued policy of trying to frustrate the plan and purpose of God, and thus answers the question of why these angels sinned. Herein is to be found the cause of their evil act. By influencing these angels to rebel, become insubordinate to God, abandon their first estate, leave their own habitation, and come down into the realm of the daughters of men and seek them out for themselves, Satan aimed at the monstrous destruction of the human race (the channel through which the seed of the woman, Genesis 3:15, should come), and at its immediate perversion, by producing a race of frightful monstrosities.

He almost succeeded. Genesis 6:12 says, “All flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.” Only one family remained by the grace of God: Noah’s. Genesis 6:2,4 shows that monstrosities were produced.

The Scriptures reveal that angels fell, came down, and went after strange flesh (Jude 6,7 with 2 Pet. 2:4), and the testimony strongly suggests that their sin was that of Genesis 6. The passage in Jude 6,7 shows the awful sin of the people in Sodom and Gomorrah in comparison with the sin of the angels who fell.

Angels or Not?

Matthew 22:30 is used in refutation of the “angels” view. But in this passage, the words “in heaven” make a great difference with the meaning. The angels in heaven do not marry, nor are given in marriage. But the “sons of God” in Geneses 6:1-4 were no longer in heaven. They left their own place, forsook their habitation, and came seeking after strange flesh, hunting after unlawful alliance with the daughters of men.

(George Lawrence Lawlor, The Epistle of Jude (United States: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1972), pp. 66-68.)

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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