Frequently Asked Questions About Christianity, Answered Honestly!
What were The Nephilims in
Relationship to the Sons of God?
-by Tony Warren
f there is one idea in some Christian circles that has always puzzled me, it is the notion that when Genesis chapter 6 speaks about the sons of God taking wives of the daughters of men, it was somehow referring to angels, or heavenly beings mating with human women. It amazes me that not only is such an idea unequivocally accepted by many in the Church, but that it is also put forth by some theologians. In this brief study, we will take a look at what God says, and the Biblical definition of these terms that He uses. Because rather than come up with our own private interpretations of scripture, it is incumbent upon all of us to study the scriptures circumspectly and let God's word itself tell us what is in view. Comparing spiritual things with spiritual things, God reveals the truth of the passages in question.
The first question we need to tackle is, who are the sons of God? Not who does many prominent theologians say that the sons of God were, or who we might suppose that they were, but what do we find out about the phrase when we search and compare scripture with scripture. The only way to authoritatively find the answer to the question of "Who are the sons of God," is to let the word of God itself tell us. And God tell us very clearly who they are, and why they are called His sons.
- "And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the Sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose."
This gives us scriptural warrant to say the sons of God represent those who take on the name of God, as children or sons of God through Christ. And indeed, the overwhelming majority of the use of this phrase unquestionably refer to God's Covenanted people. And those few passages in which it can be said to be questionable, when studied carefully, it certainly may be argued that they may be referring to the people of God also.
- "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believeth on His name."
By contrast, comparing scripture with scripture, there is no authoritative use of the phrase "sons of God" that are defined as Angels anywhere in the Bible. The only way we could even suppose this to refer to anything but children of God, is if we listen to the suppositions and theories of men. All God's covenant people are spoken of as the sons, meaning the progeny or children of God. This is the phrase that God has divinely inspired to identify those that call Him Father. They are all part of His family.
Again, the sons of God are defined as those who have His Spirit to believe. It is these people who have become children who serve their Father, and who are led by His Spirit to be called sons of God.
- "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are Sons of God."
1st John 3:1
All God's people are sons of God. And looking throughout the scriptures, we see this truth over and over again. Those who are designated God's people, God assigns the title "sons of God." So there really should be no mystery in Genesis chapter 6 either, except that some Christians seek to create one for their own purposes. These sons of God in Genesis were the children of God of that day just as they are today. They were those who looked upon God as their heavenly Father. This is why later on God called the nation Israel His Son, because the whole nation of Israel was an outward representation (a type) of the true Son of God, the perfect Israel of God, Christ our Lord.
- Behold, what manner of Love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God:..."
- "And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:"
- "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my Son out of Egypt."
Christ was the true Son, that the sons of Israel looked forward to. These are the spiritual truths of the Lord that many in the Church do not understand. All scripture is consistent with itself and flows together like a gigantic spiritual picture puzzle, having every piece perfectly in place. The elect are sons of God, the children of Israel, and it is only because of the sacrifice of Christ. Because He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth, His atoning efficacy reaches from Abel, to those who are saved today. Without Him, there are no sons, no true belief, no eternal Israel, there is only unrighteous flesh.
- "And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my Son."
The fact is, at any time on this earth, there have been those who call God their Father (sons of God) and the pagan or heathen who had no regard for God. And these two groups were inherently at enmity, and were not to mix or come together in unions such as marriage. God has made that perfectly clear. Those who are His people were called the "set apart" for the service of God. That didn't change when the nation Israel came along, it was written in the law. Corporately, they were the sons of God, who were not to mingle with the daughters of men who inhabited the surrounding nations. Because they were of two separate kingdoms--one of heaven, and one of this earth. One of God, and one of men.
The Hebrew words translated "children of the Lord your God" or Children of Jehovah God [ben Yehovah elohiym] are the very same words sons of God [ben elohiym]. It is illustrating that God's people have a covenant family relationship with him. In other words, they are sons of God, commanded to be a nation that remained special, apart from the heathen nations. This "set apart" principle for God's people has not changed, and is demonstrated for us on the New Testament side of the cross through the Apostle Paul:
- "Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.
- For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth."
2nd Corinthians 6:17
There are two families in this world. There is the family of God, and then there is the family of the Devil, which we come out from when we are saved. And the two are to be separate, so that the sons of God are not polluted by the ideas, vain imaginations and idolatries of the Heathen/Godless peoples. Even from the beginning with Cain and Able, God has always separated his children from the unbelieving seed. Able was a child of God, while Cain lived in unbelief, at enmity with Abel. Thus Cain ultimately killed Able, and he was in turn "separated" from the family of God. He was cast out from among them. God cursed him, not wanting him to remain among His People. And the same portrait is painted down through the ages as God told the nation of Israel not to mix with the nations around them. Unfortunately, there still remains some misguided souls even in our day who believe this a command of physical or ethnic purity of the nation. But actually, it was for the cause of spiritual purity. It was because Israel was the Old Testament representation of the family or congregation of God, thus they were to remain spiritually separated from the world. They were representatives of the children or sons of God. And as such, they were not to be unequally yoked or joined together with those of unbelief. And it was the heathen or Gentile nations around them were those in blindness, idolatry and unbelief. It was not that God was any respecter of persons, it was that these were the sons of God who were not to mix with the daughters of men. It was a continuation of the principles recorded in Genesis, that they be not tempted by their idolatry and wickedness.
- "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing: and I will receive you,
- And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My Sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
Note the error of what the sons of Israel (the Sons of God) had done here? They had done the exact same thing that we read about in Genesis chapter 6. They had desired and gone after the infidel daughters of men who lived around them. And this was the abomination to God. Look at the language there. God says they mingled the Holy seed. Simply put, these Sons of God were not to be yoked together with unbelievers, and that is exactly what they did. They were not be seduced by their beauty to take of their daughters for wives, nor let their sons go after these girls who didn't know God, and yet that is exactly what they did. This is exact same principle that the sons of God have today. Although it seems our Churches have chosen to abandon God's laws concerning this precept and do whatever seems right in their own eyes.
- "..The priests and the Levites, have not Separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the canaanites, the hittites, the perizites, the Jebusites, the Amonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, the Amorites. For they have taken of their Daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the HOLY SEED have mingled themselves with the people of those lands.."
2nd Corinthians 6:14
God's law has not changed throughout time because God is immutable, and neither has man in his wilful disregard for God's decree. This law of corinthians is the same principle that the covenanted nation of Israel was under, the same principle that had Cain cast out and the same principle that God's children of Genesis chapter 6 were under. Because the sons of God were of the light and were not to have this type communion with darkness. When we take on the Lord's name as sons Of God, we are to be a light shinning in darkness. And you cannot mix light with darkness, because they have no communion together. Either the light will overcome the darkness, or the light will go away and the darkness will rules. But you can't have them both working together. They are two separate entities.
- "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness."
That is the principle for all who are sons of God, and it was the same principle in Genesis chapter 6. The sons of God were to shine as the light of the world, not mix with the darkness of those who were outside of God's family. They were not to marry the daughters of men, because they were two totally different people with very different ideals, values and fathers. Yet we read that these sons of God saw the beauty of these women, and did this anyway. And as we know, the result of such adulteration of the holy seed were devastating. By letting their flesh rule over them in seeing how fair or beautiful the daughters of men were, the sons of God disregarded these principles and took them to wife. And is this not exactly like the Church is doing today? The result in Genesis was that the world changed because of their unfaithfulness. For that is what happens when you mix believers with unbelievers. The continual or daily candle goes out and eventually you have darkness ruling in the family. Wickedness abounds because you can't have two rulers in one family. This is what the Sons of God did.
- "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world."
And they took wives of the un-saved daughters of the giants [nephil] or big people of that time, and they gave birth to children who were divided and became mighty champions, men of renown (famous). Probably much like what we think of as famous gladiators. An analogy today would probably be man's heroes, like basketball players, or great leaders, or movie stars. In other words, someone who is a hero, famous, a protagonist, renown, or a champion. People were looking up to them and all the laws of God were left behind (sound familiar). That's what happens when you have the children of God yoked with unbelievers. The seed is mingled with unbelief and there is a falling away from God because the spouse (being ungodly) doesn't want to follow God's laws.
- "that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose."
So of course (not coincidentally) God says that after this the world became evil continually (again, sound familiar), and because the wickedness of man was great, God destroyed the world with the flood. He saved none alive but Noah and his family. Note "carefully" that the sons of God, by this unrighteous adulteration over the years, had become virtually wiped out. There were no true sons of God left except the 8 souls that God saved in the Ark. Is it any wonder God uses both Noah and Lot as pictures or examples of the end of the world, and demonstrates the apostasy or falling away of man that precedes it? It is a sign of how it will be in the world when Christ shall make His second appearing.
But for studious Christians to think that these sons of God in Genesis, who lusted after the beautiful women of men, were angels; or that the giants [nephil] were super beings, is such a twisted form of eisegesis in reading into the scriptures what is not there, that it is nothing short of ridiculous.
There are many other things to be considered here as well. Number one, didn't Christ Himself tell us that when we get to heaven, we will be like the angels, who neither marry nor are given in marriage?
So how can Christians then simply ignore this, and say these were angels marrying women of this earth in Genesis chapter six? One popular way is to rationalize this away and claim that they're no longer angels. But how then are they called by God, sons of God (which they claim means angels), which means His children? It makes no sense at all. They cannot be angels and take women to wife, and yet be cast out angels, who are also sons of God. And if they are not angels, what else can they be? If we say they are anything else, where is the Biblical justification for saying that? We certainly can't just guess, assume or blindly speculate. That's not how we interpret scripture. We must use scripture to interpret scripture. And that means saying these are exactly what God says that sons of God are. His children, those who call Him their Father. That may not be the most intriguing, fascinating, captivating, titillating or sensationally interesting interpretation, but it will be the most faithful and biblical interpretation.
- "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven."
Another point is that Genesis Chapter 4:26, that leads up to this chapter says, "..then began men to call themselves by the name of the Lord." In the literal, "..then a beginning to call after the name of Jehovah." In other words, this is the time when they were called children of the Lord. By calling themselves of Jehovah, they signified that in taking His name, even as a child has their earthly Father's name, they were his children. Perfectly explaining why they were then called, Sons of God.
Also note exactly "who" God is angry with in Genesis chapter 6, and who God brings this judgment upon. He is angry with/and brings judgment against "men," not angels. Let us use simple logic here. If these were angels, God would be angry with angels for coming down and taking daughters of men to wife, not angry at men for what the Angels had done. Once we understand what is happening here, we see that these can only be believers (in the broad sense of the word) or sons of God, who saw the beauty of the daughters of men (unbelievers) and took then as wives. And their seed or offspring became unrighteous because of it, until ultimately this once faithful family became corrupted and wicked because of this violation of the law of separation of the family of God from men. This happened because of the error of the sons of God, which by the time of Noah, had dwindled down to just those of his family. And so God brought judgment for their unrighteousness.
Again, note another most telling statement. When we read in verse 2 that the sons of God took the daughters of men to wife, what is God's response in the very next verse?
Again, Sons of God take daughters of men, and God is angry with man, not with angels and not with angel's children. He is speaking of flesh and blood human beings. His spirit will not always strive with man. Man is but flesh, and his error was carnal, in the flesh. God is bringing judgment upon man for his weakness of the flesh. The sons of God were sinning according to the flesh, by taking wives of the unsaved simply because they were fair to look upon (beautiful in our vernacular). It has always been reason for God's judgment upon the earth. Not because super angels copulated with humans, but because God's people went after the ungodly and it caused them to be wicked continually.
- "And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he is also flesh: yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years."
There are a few other verses that we should briefly touch on that are sometimes used to try and prove these were angels.
- "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them."
Any Bible that you have that will translate these words as angels is a mis-translation. The words sons of God in these verses are the exact same Hebrew as found throughout scripture for sons, and for God. It is the
same as found in Genesis chapter 6. The words are [ben 'elohiym] or [bane el-o-heem] which is literally children or Sons/God. The exact same words in all the verses. It is not the Hebrew word translated "angels," which is [mal'ak] meaning Messenger. Any Bible that translates this angel is making a "commentary" and is not really a translation of the Hebrew. And believe me, there is a difference. I don't mind people making commentaries, but when they find themselves on the pages of scripture masquerading "as Scripture," that is when I draw the line. It is an unrighteous act for anyone to translate [ben 'elohiym] as angels when God inspired the Hebrew "Sons of God." If God had wanted to say angels, He very well could have had the Holy men of old use that Hebrew word He has prescribed and uses for angel throughout scripture. He did not. Case Closed!
- "Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord."
But some people have legitimately been confused by the language "they came to present [yatsab] (meaning, to "station" or position) themselves before the Lord." Some think that this must mean that they went into heaven. That is not the case. We have to keep in mind the times that we are reading about. These were the early years of the world. The language of "presenting themselves before God", is common in Biblical History, and doesn't denote literally appearing in Heaven. It is simply common language denoting coming to a place designated for the presence of God to inquire of Him. Today, we'd go to a Church and pray. That would be our coming
to inquire of God. In those days, they would have their own designated Holy place, and often God would speak to them directly. We see this clearly for example in Deuteronomy:
God told Moses to present [yatsab] (same word) himself and Joshua before Him in the tabernacle, and "God" appeared there and spoke to them. And note, they did not appear in Heaven. Comparing scripture with scripture we see this language of presenting oneself before the Lord doesn't denote an appearance in heaven. Here they presented themselves before God, but it was in the tabernacle. It's the exact same thing as the sons of God presenting themselves. In these early days, God spoke to His servants the Prophets in a special way. And often times that meant an appearance or His presence in a special way. Again, don't take my word for it. Compare scripture with scripture.
- "...call Joshua, and Present Yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge. And Moses and Joshua went, and Presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation.
- and the Lord appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud:...."
1st Samuel 10:19
Present (same Hebrew word) themselves before the Lord, and they'd inquire of God. Did that mean the tribes of Israel went into Heaven to present themselves before the Lord? Certainly not, but this is the language God uses to describe the official, recognized gathering together to inquire of God. Another verse is, Numbers 11:16 where the Lord tells Moses to gather 70 into the tabernacle to STAND (same Hebrew word PRESENT) themselves with Moses, and "GOD" would come down and talk with Him there. You see, this was simply the language in the old days of when the believers (the sons of God) would come to inquire of the Lord. They would present themselves before the Lord to inquire and for instruction. So it's really no different from saying, "the sons of God came to present themselves before the lord," and of saying "the believers came to present themselves before the Lord." It's human beings in view here, not angels, and not in heaven.
- ..Now therefore Present Yourselves before the Lord by your tribes, and by your thousands."
Literally, Job 1:6 says "..and there doth come Satan in their midst." So the sons of God came to present themselves before God, and Satan came in the midst of them. It's no real mystery--not at unlike the 12 Disciples with Christ in Jerusalem, and Satan indwelling Judas in the midst of them. There we have an example of Judas having a Devil, which means Satan coming in the midst of the sons of God. Where is the mystery? There is none. Satan makes his appearance on earth through men. Another passage that people sometimes bring up is Job chapter 38:
The passage in Job 38:7 may be a little more difficult to understand, but the chapter becomes clear in a studious work of comparing scripture with scripture. The entire chapter is speaking in symbolical terms. God talks about where the foundations of the earth are fastened together (or sockets been sunk). The Earth isn't sunk by sockets. It says who laid the corner stone. The earth wasn't laid on corner stones. It says the sea is shut with doors. The sea doesn't have any doors on it. It says the sea bursts forth as a womb. The sea is not a womb. It talks of the clouds as a swaddling bands, and bars being set, God talking and commanding the morning, taking hold of the wings or ends of the earth, it being as clothes or a garment, a broken arm, etc., etc., etc. The point I'm making is, all these things symbolize something. It's not a literal broken arm in view here, or literal bars and doors or literal stars bursting forth singing. So why should we take this alone to be literally angels, when it doesn't say angels. Again, it's the same words [ben elohiym], sons of God. This all has a a very spiritual significance no doubt, which is beyond the scope of this study. But God is talking about His Creation process and using spiritual language of creation, stars and sons to signify Christ and His kingdom. For stars don't literally sing, nor the world literally sat on stones. God says these things to paint a spiritual picture puzzle which we must discern by rightly dividing the word. God has always used the stars as tokens for believers, just as He uses the Sun to signify Christ. These significations or symbolic terms started from the very beginning in Genesis. The stars are part of the lights of the world created from the Beginning, and all are symbolic of the light of the lord. Likewise, those in Christ are called by these things. Lamps, candles, stars, etc., because we are reflections or vessels of Christ. The House or Temple of the lord. It's these "Spiritual Things" that so many Theologians don't really comprehend. But this is the House of God, the sons of God, whose foundation was laid in Christ. Consider Chapters like Ezra and compare scripture with scripture knowing that the Lord does nothing by accident.
- "When the morning star sang together, and all the Sons of God shouted for Joy."
The same portrait/picture of the stars singing and shouting for Joy and the foundation laid, which God's original creation mirrors. Because it's "meant" to show a spiritual truth which has nothing to do with literal stars or angels, but Christ and His House. But as I said, that's beyond the scope of this FAQ, a whole other study in itself.
- "And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.
- And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
- But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:
Mark 12:25 should make it perfectly clear that angels could not have been marrying daughters of men in Genesis chapter 6. That should settle the whole issue right there, but it won't. Because when some people make up their minds, they just won't be confused with triviality like the Biblical facts. But this article is for those who have spiritual ears and keep God's word, and know the righteousness of comparing scripture with scripture, Spiritual things with spiritual things (1st Cor. 2:13), to come to the real truth of it.
One other thing that some people seem to get hung up on is the word translated Giants (KJV) in verse 4 of Genesis chapter 6. I touched on it briefly before. This is the Hebrew word [nephel]. Often they will throw the word Nefeel, Nephel or Nephelims around like it's a name for a alien race or celestial beings. The fact is, it's not a name for an extraterrestrial or some being foreign to this world. It is a description of a type of people. Nephel in the original means "FELL'er" or to make fall. By extension, someone "BIG" or a "GIANT" person. Thus, it is correctly translated Giants here. But there is no mystery. And we can prove that very easily by faithfully comparing scripture with scripture. Because The Giants [nephel] are spoken of in Genesis before the Flood, and also again after the flood. Now since we (Bible Believers) know that everyone on earth was destroyed by the flood of Noah's day, and only Noah and His own family survived, and they weren't NEPHEL (if nephel means this alien race) then we know by simple common sense and logic that this "so called" race of Nephel could not have survived. It makes absolutely no sense unless we are unreasonable and refuse to listen to the facts.
A reasonable man adapts himself to the -WiseManSay
facts of scripture, which He reads.
An unreasonable man seeks to have the facts
of scripture adapt to his reasoning"
Nephel is simply a old word used descriptive of "Big" People. It could be literally giant in stature, or a giant in position (as in famous) or a giant as in a champion. In other words, [nephel] is a word meaning big, not a name of a tribe or a race. We have a tribe of people in Africa today who are very small or shot. There is also a tribe that is very big or tall. When talking about them, we can say they're giants, or they're little. If we were of the old language in naming them, we would say they were [nephel] (Giants). But we don't ascribe them to being "angels" just because their size is unusual. And we shouldn't do it with the the Giants of scripture either. They're big, they're fellers, they're Giants. But they are not the product of angels mating. The whole idea is preposterous. The word by extension means Giants, nothing more. And that's how the word Nephel is used in the scriptures and translated. As there are today, there were some tribes or families of people that were giants in those days. Goliath was one of these, and the sons of Anak also. The word translated Giants just means they were big, or of great stature. It didn't identify a alien race or angels. In fact, we can see that clearly as we read the word as it is seen in Numbers 13:
You see, here we have that word again. Nephel, the sons of Anak. That is again proof that the word nephel is not describing a new race, but an attribute. Because they were the sons of the Anakims, who Joshua destroyed in Canaan. These could hardly be the same race of nephilims that were "before" the flood so the whole idea concerning this word is ludicrous. Or are we to believe that angels dropped by again after the flood to mate with Human women once again? Notice that second word translated Giants is the Hebrew word [gibbowr]. It means warriors or strong Champions. And note the fear of these men because they were--BIG! That is why they were called nephel (Giants). Verse 32 declares plainly that they were "of great stature". So clearly they were afraid of them because they were unusually large people. But it has nothing to do with angels mating with the daiughters of men, anymore than the tall people in Africa today have anything to do with that. They were simply a tribe or family of big people who would frighten you if you had to battle them. Would you rather to go to battle against an army of people the size of Wilt Chamberlain, or an army of men standing only about 5 feet 9 inches. The answer is obvious. The natural man delights in creating a mystery where none exists because the truth doesn't seem exotic or sensational enough for him. They want something more. But the truth is that these were the Giants in the land of that day, and nothing more.
- "And there we saw the giants [nephel] the sons of Anak, which come of the giants [gibbowr], and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight."
In closing, the synopsis of Genesis chapter 6 is that the sons of God took the daughters of men to wife. These were the believers who disobeyed God and went after the unsaved daughters because they women of great beauty. In turn these unholy unions brought forth unsaved seed who corrupted the Lord's people so that there was nothing but evil in the earth continually. And God saw what they had done and sent the flood to wipe out the wickedness of man. And all perished except Noah and His own family, saved in the Ark.
The moral is to let that be a lesson to all of us. It is a great truism that beauty is often only skin deep. We must not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever in marriage, for that will cause terrible repercussions down the line. Unfortunately, this is "Exactly" what is happening today. Not only with believers going after, and marrying unbelievers literally, but also spiritually as the church is unequally yoking themselves with unbelief and adulterating God's word. They are making all kinds of excuses for these actions, and they just don't realize what this error will bring upon the world. Just as it did when Israel went after the women and men of the heathen nations around her. These turned them to false Gods and abominations. Slowly but surely (like a creeping vine or spreading cancer) it became their destruction. Somehow, this adulteration of the sons and daughters of God just doesn't seem important to the Church today. I say in sadness, "we learn from history--that we do not learn from History."
My earnest Prayer is that some (though few that must be), will by Grace of God begin to learn from History. ..Bible History.
Copyright ©1992 Tony Warren
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