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What are the basic positions on Gen. 6:2-4?
• “Sons of God” are fallen angels
Phrase “sons of God” is used in Job of “all the angels” (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). LXX translates the verse “angels of God” following intertestamental literature. “An early Jewish tradition preserved in 1 En. 6-7 elaborates on this angelic revolt and even names the ringleaders” (NET Bible, in loc.)
This interpretation seems to be supported by the judgment passages of the angels (Jude 6: 2 Pet. 2:4).
“Nephilim” signifies “giants” who resulted from the union of angels and women
“This utterly unnatural union, violating God’s created order of being, was such a shocking abnormality as to necessitate the worldwide judgment of the Flood” (Unger, New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Nephilim”).
“‘Sons of God’” are powerful tyrants, perhaps demon-possessed
They viewed themselves as divine
Following the example of Lamech (see Gen 4:19), [they] practiced polygamy” (NET Bible, in loc.)
Like Nimrod after the flood, they lived hundreds of years and developed empires through cruelty (Gen. 6:11-12)
• “Sons of God” are the godly line of Seth (Gen. 4:25-5:32) who intermarried with the ungodly line of Cain (4:1-24). Major objection to this understanding is that the sons of Seth are never called “sons of God” (unless one considers Genesis 5:1 and Luke 3:38). Major reasons to support this interpretation:
God has established boundaries (“kinds”) that cannot be crossed (Gen. 1:24-25). Just as different “kinds” of animals cannot mate and reproduce, so humankind cannot reproduce with angels.
Jesus established that angels are asexual (Matthew 22:30).
Even if “sons of God” is used in Job for angels, they are still contrasted with “Satan” (1:6). He (and thus his followers) are differentiated from the “sons of God” in Job 1 & 2.
Jesus taught that people (not angels) were marrying “up until the day that Noah entered the ark” (Mt. 24:38).
Genesis says that they were “marrying” them, not just having physical relations with them.
There were Nephilim after the flood, even though all those in Noah’s time would have perished in the flood (Numbers 13:33). Nephilim may have been men who pushed for power to rule and even led men away from the Lord (like Lamech in Gen. 4).
If these angels did cohabit with certain women, that would not explain the ubiquity of sin (Gen. 6:5), nor would it explain the reason that God would send His judgment on humanity that had to be innocent—if angelic beings could force themselves on innocent human women.
The Genesis 6 story doesn’t appear in a vacuum; Cain lived hundreds of years, his descendants had time to build great empires, and Nephilim could refer not to great stature but to great violence (from naphal, “to fall”—as in falling on men violently). Unger addresses this possibility also (Unger, New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, s.v., “Nephilim”). Cainites were already into polygamy, and their immorality eventually enticed the godly line.
The best explanation of the Flood judgment is the co-mingling of the two lines—the godly line of Seth with the ungodly line of Cain—and the resulting downward spiral into wickedness that always characterizes being “unequally yoked” (2 Cor. 6:14