Most churches handle the beginning of Genesis 6 in one of two ways. They either ignore it completely or wave off the phrase “sons of God” as pertaining to the sons of Seth. Both attitudes are grossly incorrect and betray the real meaning, which is the “sons of God” were angels, just as they are described throughout the Old Testament. In that regard, it’s refreshing to see a video coming out of Southern Seminary that calls it as it should be.
I do have a non-dogmatic challenge with Dr. Peter Gentry’s assessment of Nephilim in the book. He makes an honest commentary that the Nephilim referred to in Genesis 6:4 were not the offspring of angels and human women. It’s the first time I’ve seen someone deny the connection after acknowledging that the sons of God were angels. Usually, denying the Nephilim were the offspring of angles comes as a result of denying the sons of God were angels in the first place.
My challenge to his assessment isn’t firm. He’s a better-read Biblical scholar than I am, but the text seems to indicate the connection is there. Whether it is or not isn’t of major importance as the subject of Nephilim isn’t widely covered in the Bible at all. There may be a deeper understanding that I’m not recognizing, but it seems less pertinent than the bigger component, acknowledging the reality that sons of God refers to angels and not sons of Seth.
So little is known about them. The root of the term in Hebrew is nephal, “to fall,” which is why nephilim is translated as “the fallen ones.” But even with this context, it’s not absolutely clear what their pertinence is if not to say that they’re the offspring of the unholy sexual acts. Here are the passages. I’m using the NASB for this particular set of verses as the KJV doesn’t properly translate it, using the term “giants” instead of Nephilim.
Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were [a]beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not [b]strive with man forever, [c]because he also is flesh; [d]nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.
Dr. Gentry’s interpretation offers no reason for the context of mentioning the Nephilim in verse 4. But again, I’m not ready to counter it because it could really go either way. The plain reading of the text makes it relatively clear to me that the Nephilim were the result of the sons of God having sex with human women, but Dr. Gentry has his reasons for believing otherwise, which I respect.
Whatever the connection between the Nephilim and the sons of God is can be debated, but the belief that the sons of God were not angels seems to be clearly debunked. Unfortunately, it’s still prevalent in many church teachings today.
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