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Who Are The Sons of God in Genesis 6?

We are going to combine two questions. Who are the “Sons of God” referred to in Job 38:7 and Genesis 6:2? Hover over the text to read passages.

Job was the earliest book written, even before Genesis. Its author is unknown, but was most likely not Moses. It does not refer to things in standard Hebrew terms. There is no mention of the law. Sacrifice is mentioned, but there is no temple or tabernacle. Job’s origins are non-Hebrew, coming from Uz, part of the kingdom of Edom.

What does the surrounding passage say? There is the creation of the earth. There are Morning Stars that watched the earth being created. 

Read Job 38:1-6. It presents God answering Job’s complaint by talking about God’s work of creating the universe. In poetic form, God basically asks Job, “Where were you when I created everything?” It is a rhetorical question with only one possible answer: he wasn’t born yet. Yet God refers to people who saw him do his creative works. He calls them the sons of God.

Where are these terms used elsewhere in the Bible?

“Sons of God” is used five times elsewhere in the scripture. It is also used in Job 1:6, 2:1, Genesis 6:2 and 6:4. 

What do you notice about how the term “Son of God” is used in the Old Testament or New Testament? Son of God may refer to angels. In the New Testament, it refers to Jesus and to Adam. Different authors in different times use it to refer to different things. Thus, the meaning of the term must be derived from its context.

Who is able to present themselves before God’s throne in the context of Job 1:6 and 2:1? ANGELS. Man is not here because he does not have physical access to God’s throne. Interestingly, Job presented himself—remotely—before God all of the time, making sacrifices for his children. His presentation of himself before God was in faith and righteousness, unlike Satan, who came to accuse.

Note how God uses this term and Satan in 1:6. He says the sons of God came to present themselves before him, and then he says Satan also came. What does this suggest? In other words, Satan is not considered to be one of the sons of God. This is significant to understanding its usage in Genesis 6, which we will get to in a moment.

If humans were not created yet, then who could be referred to in Job 1:6, 2:1, and 38:6? ANGELS. 

Now let’s look at Genesis 6:2.

Traditional, historical interpretation has regarded these references as angels because the term “Sons of God” in the Old Testament refers to angels. But could there be another interpretation?

Why do you think the Genesis passages refer to angels? 

Some say sons of God refers to angels because of the Nephilim in verse 4. But there is no readily apparent causal relationship between “Sons of God” and “Nephilim” in this passage. Nephilim are mentioned in Numbers 13:33 with no reference to the sons of God, so a causal relationship is not established. Other giants existed with no angelic reference (II Samuel 21:16,18,20,22; I Chronicles 20:4). Goliath was one of them.

Let’s look at the context for the passage. Read Genesis 5:1-32. Notice two things: 5:1 refers to man being made in God’s image. Nowhere in scripture are angels said to be made in God’s image. 

What is the context of Genesis 5? Genesis 5 is a genealogical record of men. Thus, the context of the passage is man, not angels.

There are two natural breaks in these chapters that give us the context of “men” and not “angels.” Look at 5:1. “This is the book of the generations of Adam.” Then look at 6:9. “These are the records of the generations of Noah.” Thus, the context for our terms must be found between these divisions in the book.

Look at Genesis 6:5-7. What is God doing? Judging men, not angels. Yet if the angels sinned in this way, why are men being judged for what angels did?

Angels do not sin. If angels don’t sin, then the “Sons of God” in Genesis 6 can only be demons. But as we saw with Satan in Job 1 and 2, Satan is termed separately from “Sons of God.” It does not seem likely that God would call demons “Sons of God.”

Common sense implications: If angels can have children with women, then that means they have DNA. That means they are male. That means they have the ability to reproduce. But nowhere else in scripture do angels have the ability to reproduce.

Read Romans 8:12-17. Here, the term sons of God is used about us. Notice: heirs with Christ, struggles with the flesh. Compared with Genesis 6 with sons of God fall ending into sin.

This is another case of the scripture’s authors using terms differently from one another. Genesis 6 does not refer to angels. It refers to a line of men, a righteous line, who have walked away from God, leading to God’s wrath. Men were considered “Sons of God” at creation. The New Testament acknowledges this in Luke 3:38, calling Adam the “son of God.” This is how far man has fallen from God. We were considered, “Sons of God,” but fell away from that lofty position. 

How do we apply this knowledge to our lives? This is a hard one. But I suggest three points of application.

  1. As Christians, we have become children of God, in a special relationship with God through Christ. Remember, we can also fall just as the early humans did (Romans 11:17-21).
  2. Watch ourselves and stay humble. 
  3. Be careful about wild interpretations of scripture. Just because something sounds supernatural doesn’t mean that it really is (II Timothy 4:3-4).
tomterry
tomterryhttps://guywithabible.com
Tom Terry is head of Global Broadcast Strategy for JESUS Film Project and serves as General Manager of The Better FM, an online radio station for Asia. Tom is also the author of several books, including Bible studies and "Like An Eagle," his biography about living in Mongolia for ten years.
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