Did Jesus Teach That Angels Cannot Marry?

Nephilim

My Th.M. thesis provides an in-depth look at this intriguing topic. It is available in print from my online store or on Amazon Kindle.

I have previously written a great deal on the sons of God and the nephilim. This was the focus of my ThM thesis, and people have asked me many questions about them. The Bible first mentions these two groups in Genesis 6:1–4 and this passage has been the subject of controversy, misinformation, and just flat out poor teaching.

The earliest view, based on documents we still have from ancient Jews and Christians, is that the sons of God were heavenly beings who married women and sired children by them. The giant offspring were called nephilim, a term that means “giants.” Other views have arisen which see the sons of God as being humans, while attempting to define nephilim to mean “fallen ones” or something similar.

I will not rehash all of the strengths and weaknesses of the various positions here. If you are interested in these details, I recommend that you go back and read my seven-part series on the subject, which was essentially a brief summary of my thesis.

In this post, I merely want to dig a bit deeper into addressing what is potentially the strongest argument against the fallen angel view.1 So this post is not meant to be a direct argument for the traditional position, rather it is primarily a critique of an argument used against the fallen angel interpretation. Those who oppose this heavenly being view often cite Matthew 22:30 or Luke 20:35–36, believing that in these passages Jesus clearly taught that angels cannot marry. If that is what He claimed in these verses, then it would certainly put an end to the notion that the sons of God (Hebrew bene ha ‘elohim) were heavenly beings, and I would abandon this view in a heartbeat. But what did Jesus really say?

Can Angels Marry?

Perhaps the most common verse used against the idea that sons of God were angelic beings is Matthew 22:30: “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” At first glance, this would seem like a good argument against the fallen angel view.

A parallel passage in Mark makes the same point, but uses slightly different terminology that helps to establish the meaning. “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Mark 12:25). Matthew’s “in the resurrection” is obviously identical to Mark’s “when they rise from the dead.” So in response to the Sadducees’ challenge, Jesus told them that they were in error because when believers are raised in glorified bodies at the resurrection they will no longer marry or be given in marriage and will be like the angels in heaven.

Those opposed to the fallen angel view often cite these verses thinking they have proved their point that angels cannot marry and sire children. But is that really stated here? Jesus clearly stated that the angels “in heaven” do not do this, but He did not say whether they were capable of doing such a deed. Also, He specifically pointed out that the ones “in heaven” don’t do this. But what about the angels who left their proper abode and are currently being held in chains of darkness because of the sinful activity they engaged in during Noah’s day (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6)?

Clearly, the two verses from Matthew and Mark do not settle the matter, but in the parallel passage found in Luke, Jesus has more to say about this issue. At first glance, it may seem as if He spoke against the angelic view, but a closer look reveals that He may have actually acknowledged its accuracy.

Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. (Luke 20:34–36, NASB)

In this passage, Jesus corrected the Sadducees, a group within ancient Israel who denied the future resurrection of the dead. They had asked Him a theoretical question about which husband a woman would be married to “in the resurrection” if she’d had seven husbands during her lifetime. Much could be said about their attempt to deny the future resurrection and the Lord’s masterful response (He quoted one of their favorite verses to show them that they were wrong), but it is His teaching about the “sons of God” that is particularly relevant to our study here.

Jesus contrasted the “sons of this age” and “those who are considered worthy to attain to that age.” Obviously, the “sons of this age” refers to normal human beings—people who can marry and be given in marriage, just like the woman in the Sadducees’ example who had married seven times.

Those who are “considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead” are the ones who do not marry and are not given in marriage. They are the ones who “cannot die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” So in the future, when believers are resurrected (i.e., when we receive our glorified bodies), we will be sons of God and equal to angels (at least in the sense of not marrying).

Aren’t We Already Sons of God?

So what does this have to do with the sons of God and the nephilim? Perhaps nothing at all. There is not necessarily a connection between the Hebrew terms translated “sons of God” and the Greek words translated the same way. And if this is the case, then the oft-repeated assertion against the fallen angel view that all believers are sons of God would be irrelevant. And if there is a connection, then it’s very possible that the Lord’s words here support the view that the sons of God were heavenly beings who left heaven and married women.

The Greek phrase for “sons of God” is uioi tou theou, and it is used in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) to translate the Hebrew bene ha ’elohim in Genesis 6:2 and 6:4, but not when that same term appears in Deuteronomy 32:8, Job 1:6, 2:1, or 38:7. In those cases, the Septuagint uses “angels of God” (aggeloi theou). “Angels of God” is also used to translate the Aramaic equivalent of bene ha ’elohim found in Daniel 3:25 (bar elahin). It is obvious that Jewish translators of the Septuagint believed that the bene ha ’elohim were angelic beings.

Jesus masterfully corrected the Sadducees' rejection of the future resurrection of the dead. However, contrary to a popular claim, He did not rule out the fallen angel view of Genesis 6—He may have actually endorsed it. Image from christianity-live.audiencemedia.com

Jesus masterfully corrected the Sadducees’ rejection of the future resurrection of the dead. However, contrary to a popular claim, He did not rule out the fallen angel view of Genesis 6. In fact, He may have actually endorsed it.
Image from christianity-live.audiencemedia.com

The contrast Jesus made is the key to understanding how this passage may be relevant to the discussion. Currently, we are “people of this age” (NET) or “sons of this age” (NKJV), but upon being resurrected in glorified bodies, believers will be “equal to the angels” and will be “sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36). At the resurrection our corruptible bodies put on incorruption and our mortal bodies put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53), and it is at this time that we will be like the angels. This “revealing of the sons of God” is what the whole creation longs for (Romans 8:19).

Believers are occasionally called “sons of God” or “children of God” in the New Testament. This has been one of the key arguments used by those who seek to identify the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 as simply human. Not only does this claim badly misrepresent the Hebrew phrase and the context of the passage,2 but I believe it misses how the term is nuanced in the New Testament. That is, when we are identified as “sons of God” it is essentially a claim about our future state of being, just as Jesus used the phrase in our passage. In the Sermon on the Mount, He said that the peacemakers “shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). And, as cited above, Paul wrote of “the revealing of the sons of God” as a future event (Romans 8:19).

On two occasions Paul identified Christians as “sons of God” and may have used the term to describe our present state (Romans 8:14 and Galatians 3:26). However, based on the surrounding contexts, particularly in Romans 8, it is likely that Paul used the term to describe our positional state—since our resurrection is guaranteed, one can speak of Christians as sons of God because that is our future. Even when similar terms are used for people, they seem to point to the future.3

Christians are sons of God in that we have been adopted by the Father, although the fullness of this position has not yet been entirely realized or attained. Indeed, we are co-heirs with Christ, and while that inheritance was earned by Christ’s entirely sufficient sacrifice and is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22), we are still “eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:24). Perhaps we could summarize it this way: positionally, we are sons of God by adoption, but our status as sons of God will not be finalized until our revealing as the sons of God (Romans 8:19) when we put on our heavenly dwelling (2 Corinthians 5:2–4).

With this in mind, let’s revisit what Jesus told the Sadducees. He said that “those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20:35–36, NKJV).

Since we actually become “sons of God” in the fullest sense when we receive glorified bodies, then this term does not refer to normal humanity. It refers to individuals whose mode of existence is fit for the heavenly realm, such as angelic beings and glorified humans. Paul contrasted the believer’s current body with his future body: “it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:44). The use of this term is quite similar to the way ’elohim is used to refer to beings from the spiritual realm.

One of the reasons we will be equal to angels and be identified as sons of God is because we will possess a spiritual body, which is still a physical body, but one that is incorruptible and immortal—it is one dominated by the spirit rather than the flesh. As sons of the resurrection, we will be like the angels.

Conclusion

Many have argued that Jesus ruled out the fallen angel view by claiming that angels cannot marry. But this is not what He said. He stated that the angels in heaven do not marry. Furthermore, the very statement of Jesus used by many to dismiss the fallen angel view may actually support the position they seek to discredit.

The Hebrew term in the Old Testament translated as “sons of God” in English clearly refers to heavenly beings. And while there may not necessarily be a direct connection with the Greek term translated as “sons of God” in the New Testament, it is indeed interesting that it makes more sense to understand the Greek phrase as referring to those who have been resurrected in glorified bodies.


  1. In my thesis and in previous blog posts, I have referred to the traditional view of the sons of God as the fallen angel view. It would be more accurate to call it the “divine beings” view since they are called “gods” in Scripture. However, since we usually classify all heavenly beings other than God as angels, it is not necessarily inaccurate to use “Fallen Angel” as a designation. 

  2. The Hebrew phrase bene ha ’elohim is misrepresented when people take the English translation of the term (“sons of God”) and equate it with terms that seem similar when translated into English, such as “sons of the living God” in Hosea 1:10 or “sons of God” in the New Testament, which is translated from Greek. 

  3. Hosea 1:10 speaks of a time when the children of Israel will be called “sons of the living God” (Hebrew bene chay ’el) and Paul cited this passage when he wrote of God’s future plans for the Jewish people (Romans 9:26). This term is clearly not the same as bene ha ’elohim, and even if it were the same, it does not support the non-fallen angel views. In Luke 3:38, we are told that Adam was the “son of God.” The word for “son” is not in the Greek text but is added for readability. Scholars have differed on the reason for Adam being identified as such. Gavin Ortlund’s article in the most recent edition of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (December 2014) makes a compelling case that Luke’s wording should be read in light of Genesis 5:1–3 and sheds light on what it is for man to be made in the image of God. 

About Tim Chaffey

I am the founder of Midwest Apologetics and work as the Content Manager with the Attractions Division of Answers in Genesis. I have written (or co-authored) several books, including In Defense of Easter, God and Cancer, The Sons of God and the Nephilim, and The Truth Chronicles Series (see the publications page for more details). Please note: the opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of Answers in Genesis.

Comments

Did Jesus Teach That Angels Cannot Marry? — 16 Comments

  1. Tim,

    Here are 2 more points on the Hermeneutic Failures of the Hybrid theory.

    B-Grammar failure. When read carefully, the 1st 4 verses is not structured in such a way that tells us the Nephilim were offspring of the 2 lines, but rather they were there as the intermarriages were happening. It is more likely that that they were a result of offspring of ungodly men & women because Nephal as the Hebrew root word means fallen, bully, to fall. Nephilim actually is a term to describe a Character of a Person, not a specific race. But I won’t quibble too much on that. The traits of Cain and his lineage are described in many ungodly terms.
    C- Historical Background Hermeneutic failure. The reason this hybrid view was around by the time it was rejected by Augustine was a group of Jewish writers influenced by Kabbahlists who were influenced by Pagan Mythology. With research this is easily traced and how the book of Enoch was part of this propagation of the hybrid theory, but some Jews before Augustine also rejected this.
    Some of this can be also attributed to the Midrash. There was a book that goes into great detail where all this comes from, Ginzberg’s ‘Legends of the Jews’. I have not read it, but a great bible teacher discovered this book as a compendium of where these pagan ideas came from in history.
    The reliability of the Septuagint translation in this matter has been questioned by Gesenius and Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg. In the case of Gesenius, he lists the meaning without agreeing with it.[18] Hengstenberg stated that the Hebrew Bible text never uses elohim to refer to “angels”, but that the Septuagint translators refused the references to “gods” in the verses they amended to “angels.”[19]

    • Jay,
      Regarding your claim of grammar failure, you are simply wrong about this. I already explained how the Hebrew word “asher” should be translated as “whenever” and I cited one of the most well respected Hebrew grammars for support. This clarifies that the Nephilim were the result of these unions. Also, Nephilim does not mean “fallen ones” or anything like that and it does not come from the Hebrew verb naphal. While this is a popular argument on the Internet, it is not the view of the Hebrew lexicons. Every lexicon I’ve checked lists “giants” as the primary meaning of Nephilim. It comes from the Aramaic noun naphil, which means “giant.” The Aramaic plural is nephilin, and when brought into Hebrew it becomes nephilim. If it were a participle derived from the verb n-p-l (naphal), then the word would become either nephulim (passive) or nophelim (active). It does not become Nephilim. So no, Nephilim is not a term that describes the character of the person. It is a term that tells us about a physical characteristic of a person — that person was a giant. This is how it is used elsewhere in Scripture too (Numbers 13:33).
      As I explained in my earlier response, it is the Sethite view that plays fast and loose with the grammar, changing the meaning of “man” throughout the passage.
      Your claim about the “historical background hermeneutic failure” is simply wrong. The Jews largely rejected the fallen angel view near the start of the second century, but they didn’t and still do not hold the Sethite view. It has nothing to do with Kabbalism. They held to the royalty view (that the “sons of God” were tyrants or judges who abused their power). The fallen angel view is not traced to the book of Enoch. I have done the research on this. In my thesis I traced the historical development of the views, and your understanding of the history is just flat out wrong. The reason the fallen angel view was around until Augustine and is still around today is because it is the best interpretation of the text. The two other prominent views fail miserably in their attempts to make sense of the passage.
      You can keep attacking the Septuagint, but in this case you are contradicting the clear words of Scripture. Hebrews 2:6–7, “What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You take care of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels…” Of course this is a quote of Psalm 8:4–5 and what does Psalm 8:5 say? “For you have made him a little lower than the angels…” What Hebrew word is translated as “angels” here? It is elohim. So even if it is a bit ambiguous in the OT whether Psalm 8:5 was referring to God or angels, Hebrews 2:7 decides the case for Christians by telling us that it is referring to angels.
      Jay, I think we need to bring this to a close. You obviously don’t like the fallen angel view. I get it, but most of your points on this topic are just not supported by Scripture or history. I have far too much to do right now than repeating the same points that I’ve already written about and thoroughly examined in my book. If you decide to read it when it becomes available and would like to continue the discussion after that, then I would be open to that. But for now, I’m not going to continue reinventing the wheel by writing long posts in response to arguments that I’ve already refuted at length.
      Have a wonderful day and keep on serving the Lord.

    • Jay,

      I would like to challenge you to find proof of your viewpoint before the 3rd century AD. It was the universal held view from both the Christian / Jewish leaders that the sons of god in Gen. 6 were in fact celestial beings. It needs to be pointed out that many of these individuals were contemporaries of the disciples and apostles themselves.

      A small sample of what they wrote can be found here:

      http://beginningandend.com/what-did-church-fathers-believe-about-the-nephilim/

      The aforementioned article is but a small sample of their writings. My challenge to you is simple: find one church father or Jewish leader, prior to the 3 century ad, that believed that the sons of god were of the linage of Cain. if you are not able then your position lacks any credibility.

    • Jay

      Why was it that Jesus was silent about the true nature of the sons of god if everyone around HIM believed that they were angels? Would not Yahweh have had a perfect time to set the record straight if this was indeed an erroneous teaching?

  2. Hello Tim, The sons of God being called Sethites is just an appellation, to identify the subject. In a sense we could just call them Men of Faith as that describes sons of God all throughout the Bible, and no one argues this in the New Testament. In reply to the ‘defying the use of language’ the same argument is easily made by many scholars/preachers that if the sons of God were fallen angels or demons they would be called just that. If we observe all the texts on angels we can conclude that only Holy Angels appear as men and only Wicked Angels possess men, but neither type of Angel can procreate. That’s why I posted the verse in Acts about 1 Blood.
    There is nothing in the lineage of Cain that even hints that any of those men ever called on the name of the Lord. They were considered all unrepentant just as all the nations but Israel were unrepentant save the exceptions such as when Jonah was sent to preach to the Ninevites.
    There is nothing in the text to conclude other than the line of Cain produced a line of people that were only focused on Secular achievements, works of metal, music, building cities and the characteristics of those in his line proved that out. As I posted before the Bible is Full of Contrasts and Chapters 4 & 5 are the 1st Major Contrast literary feature in scripture.
    Mehujael means ‘smitten of God’ in many Bible dictionaries. In some dictionaries Methushael means ‘death of God’. Could there have been exceptions in the line of Cain such as we see a very few exceptions of foreigners having faith in the OT. I will yield to that possibility, but the line of Cain is not marked by that.
    The separation of the 2 lines does not fill in all the blanks but gives us a general overview of the hearts of the 2 lines, 1 wicked, 1 righteous.
    The contrast is used to teach us that though there were righteous men at some point they ‘took for themselves wives who were beautiful’ based on their outer beauty, not a spiritual inner beauty.

    Verse 2-3 tells us that the righteous began to intermarry the unrighteous and v.3 sets up what God is going to tell us why later on he is going to bring the judgement of flood. The keys are after v. 4 in 5-7. v.5 is talking about all men because of a period of several generations the whole world had become polluted and only Noah was found Righteous. This is the 1st of many repeated patterns of God working with a Remnant to preserve the Righteous line so that Jesus the Messiah would come.
    If you ignore the Contrast, ignore the intermarrying, ignore the judgement is only on man, ignore the Remnant and claim the pagan-influenced Mythology of demons & women you are forcing the Text. This is Eisegesis.
    Why did the line of Seth marry pagan women? The same reason as others did later such as Solomon and they all become their downfall. The NT warns Christians of not committing the same tragedy.
    At this point in History God had not yet made a Covenant yet to have a people He would set aside to call His people.
    The Sethites had been corrupted by the intermarrying. There are No recorded boundaries of this until the Mosaic Covenant.
    Genesis 11:5 uses ‘sons of men’ in the NASB and the Masoretic text does reveal bene elohim. I would not use the Septuagint because of the various MSS the Alexandrian mss influenced many translators to accept its ‘Interpretive translation’ in several areas rather than word for word.

    Just because we have no records of Jewish teachings that we have discovered supporting the Sethite view does not prove anything. Many people use that same logic to support a certain view on the timing of the Great Tribulation. We must first appeal to scripture because so much of what was written down was lost. Many of the Jewish Rabbis rejected the Fallen Angel view but I would rather appeal to scripture.

    There are many more impositions to support the Fallen Angel and women view than the Sethite view and I will post the next one shortly. Mainly, the Hermeneutic failures are Gigantic with the Hybrid theory. If we ignore Hermeneutics and force a view that is really an imposing on scripture.

    And yes I do read your words in a Kind Light.

    • Hi Jay,
      You continue to mention hermeneutic failures, but you haven’t pointed out any. I listed seven assumptions and problems with the Sethite view that deal specifically with the text, but you barely interact with that. You cite your preferences (“I would not use the Septuagint because…”), but my views aren’t contingent on the wording of the Septuagint. They are in line with the oldest known Hebrew text. I pointed out an area where the Masoretic is clearly wrong (the Holy Spirit inspired book of Hebrews quotes from Deuteronomy 32:43, but that line doesn’t appear in the Masoretic) but you ignored that point. The same thing happens in Luke 4:18 citing Isaiah 61.
      You dismiss the historical interpretation of the passage because “so much of what was written down was lost” but this is an argument from silence. What we do have of what remains from early Jewish and Christian writers is that every Jewish writer who commented on the passage until the close of the first century AD held to the fallen angel view, and every Christian writer who wrote on it until the third century held to the fallen angel view. More significantly, so did Jude and Peter when they wrote about the angels who did not keep their proper abode and are now held in chains of darkness until the day of judgment.
      You have claimed multiple times now that the fallen angel view is based on pagan-influenced mythology. You need to back that up with evidence rather than just making the claim. I would argue that the Sethite view is based on pagan influences — the allegorical hermeneutic developed by the Greek philosophers in the 6th century BC as a way of reinterpreting Greek mythology in a more palatable way. I have an entire chapter on that too where I trace this development of allegory from Athens to Alexandria and then into Jewish writing and then Christian writing. I would argue that the proliferation of mythologies including stories of their gods mating with women are much like the many flood legends found around the world. Both have a basis in reality, but are distortions of what really happened while the Bible records the history accurately.
      Regarding Cain’s line. You stated, “There is nothing in the lineage of Cain that even hints that any of those men ever called on the name of the Lord” and yet I gave you a couple of lines that argue against that. When Enosh was born, “men began to call on the name of the LORD.” This statement is not restricted to one family line, because it is speaking of men in general, and it may well have included some of the early names in Cain’s line. But I also mentioned Mehujael and Methushael. Yes, Bible dictionaries often claim that Mehujael means “smitten by God.” What’s your point? My point was that a couple people in this line seem to be acknowledging God in the way they named their sons. It seems rather convenient to ignore the more common definition of Methushael’s name (“who is of God” in Strong’s or “man of God” in HALOT). Why didn’t you mention that? I’m not arguing that these guys were believers, but that there is at least some evidence that some might have been. But it isn’t my view that is contingent upon whether there were or were not godly Cainites. The whole world was corrupt in the years before the Flood.
      You are applying an entire framework over the top of the text. You are assuming that the Bible is trying to make a strong contrast between the two lines—that one was godly and the other was not. But that is not stated in the text. So you are not doing hermeneutics here, you are doing eisegesis.
      You are also doing eisegesis when it comes to what angels can or cannot do. You say that fallen angels cannot materialize. How do you know this? You claim that there are no instances of them doing this, but that begs the question since the very passage in question may tell us this. You say they can’t procreate, but you don’t know that either. Using the “one blood” argument does not rule it out. By your argument, then we would have to conclude that Jesus wouldn’t have been part of the human race either, since He had just an earthly mother and no biological earthly father. But He was/is fully man (and fully God). You are of the mindset that these fallen angels somehow have angel blood that gets mixed with human blood. Yet, the fallen angel position generally views it as heavenly beings (“angel” is not the best term to use since the passage is referring only to a certain class of heavenly being) taking on human form to marry women and have children with them. Thus, the offspring are still fully human, just as they are called in Genesis 6:4 (“mighty men of old, men of renown”).
      Much of what you wrote is inaccurate and not based on sound hermeneutics. You keep citing hermeneutics and yet you are not allowing the text to speak for itself. The truth is, whenever bene elohim is used outside of Genesis 6, it refers to heavenly beings. You get tripped up over the idea that disobedient creatures could be called “sons of God” but elohim does not always refer to God, it simply identifies one whose primary realm of existence is the heavenly or spiritual realm. That is why it is also used of angels (Psalm 8:5), demons (Deuteronomy 32:17), and the spirit of a deceased human (Samuel in 1 Samuel 28). But the near identical term, bene elim, is also used of heavenly beings (Psalm 29:1 and 89:6). The equivalent Aramaic term, bar elahin, is also used in Daniel 3 and refers to a heavenly being who is also called an angel in that same passage.

  3. Tim,

    I appreciate the work you have done with AIG and think I may have seen you at 1 of their Seminars.

    With this very difficult passage a couple things are typically overlooked:

    A- The Septuagint has many errors in it and 1 of them in the Alexandrian mss is the Hebrew Bene ha elohim. The Masoretic text shows in the OT Bene elohim. The Alexandrian mss tended to have certain ‘interpretive translations’ rather than literal.
    B- The reason Jesus said that angels in heaven do not marry in the Matthew, Mark & Luke passages is two-fold:
    1)-was to correct the Sadducees thought of who would marry the spouse in heaven if she had multiple husbands of several brothers that there is no marrying in heaven’
    2)-was to show that where there will be Eternal Life there will not be any marrying because it stands to reason that there would not possibly be marrying where there is Eternal Death in the Lake of Fire
    Now there are many other Hermeneutic Failures in the Fallen Angel/Human hybrid theory, including Syntax because the text does not read Giants were a result of sons of God marrying daughters of women, they were just there at the time of the complete Human Apostasy save Noah. I believe it is more likely the Nephilim were all from a bloodline of fallen men in the line of Cain. All other Giant races in the Bible also arise from Pagan peoples such as the Rephaim, the Anakites, Goliath & his brothers of the Philistines.
    This is just the tip of the iceberg of the Hermeneutic failures.

    Anyhow, God bless.

    • Hi Jay,
      Thanks for the kind words about my work. As I mentioned in the opening of this article, I have written extensively on this topic in my Th.M. thesis and in other blog posts (and I am nearly finished with a very detailed book on the topic). I have one post about the Sethite view, explaining the reasons why it does not adequately explain the text (http://midwestapologetics.org/blog/?p=343). Let me briefly respond to your points above:
      A) The LXX does have errors, but that doesn’t mean it is in error regarding the bene ha elohim. In fact, the LXX translates the phrase correctly as either uioi theou (literally, “sons of God” or aggelos (“angels”). If they were angelic beings, then there is nothing wrong with this translation. It would be comparable to translating iesou christou as Jesus Christ or Jesus the Messiah because they mean the same thing. One is more of a transliteration and the other is a translation, but both are entirely accurate. In Job 1, 2, and 38, the bene elohim are obviously angels. They cannot be humans in Job 38 because humans hadn’t even been created at the point this verse is referring to. Furthermore, the Masoretic has errors that are easy to spot, and some of them are precisely related to this very issue in Deuteronomy 32:8 and 32:43. In fact, the book of Hebrews quotes from Deuteronomy 32:43 (“let all the angels of God worship Him”) but that wording doesn’t exist in the Masoretic. But it does exist in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the LXX (http://midwestapologetics.org/blog/?p=1686). There is so much more to this issue that I’ve already written about elsewhere so I won’t rehash it here.
      B) I don’t disagree with your points here. This post isn’t about the main point Jesus was making. I was pointing out an overreach made by many people who have sought to discredit the fallen angel view by claiming that Jesus said they couldn’t do this. As I’ve explained, that isn’t at all what he was saying.
      As for the alleged “hermeneutic failures,” you didn’t really cite any other than stating that the text doesn’t claim that the Nephilim were the offspring of the sons of God and daughters of men. It’s true that most English translations are rather ambiguous about this idea, but the Hebrew text is not. According to Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, 2nd edition, the Hebrew word asher in this construction should be translated as “whenever” instead of “when,” because it refers to an event that occurred in the past and was repeated at times up until the point that one is writing about it. So the text is saying that the Nephilim were on the earth in those days (i.e. before the flood) and also afterward (i.e. after the flood), “whenever” the sons of God came into the daughters of men and they bore children to them. These (the children born to them) were the mighty men of old, men of renown. I have an entire chapter about this issue in my upcoming book in which I go into much more detail.
      Regarding the Nephilim being in the line of Cain…there is nothing in the text that makes this connection. The truth is that this passage isn’t very difficult, and as far as we know, the ancient Jews until after the time of Christ, and the ancient Christians until the 3rd century, unanimously held to the fallen angel view. Please understand that I have heard the objections, and I have written four chapters just about the objections to the fallen angel view. The fallen angel view is not a result of hermeneutic failures; it is a result of sound hermeneutics because it holds to the plain meaning of the text. The opposing views do not have textual support. If you are interested in this issue and learning why the fallen angel is the only view that makes sense of the text and the only one that can answer all the objections, I’d encourage you to pick up my book when it becomes available (hopefully later this year).
      Thanks for being willing to discuss this issue in a civil manner. I hope my words were understood in the same irenic spirit. It’s an interesting subject and should never be a cause for division among believers.
      God bless!

      • Tim,

        It’s probably the 1st time I’ve encountered anyone who has written on this passage for their Thesis. Many seminary students get confused or don’t know what to make of the passage so they skip over it like most Pastors too.
        I will try to use succinct points to address your blog if that is possible and yes, I am glad we can be civil about this and it was sad to see how that lady on this site was not gracious.
        I’ve taught in Bible studies, youtube videos and in my 1st book (unfinished) on Hermeneutics this passage is covered in detail as you have done.
        A-the reason the view is called the Sethite view is not because all of the lineage of Seth were faithful, the genealogy of Adam to Seth and beyond listed to Noah were worshippers of the Lord. The intermarriage of ungodly women is not told in detail how many years it took and how many in each of the line before Noah rebelled, but what we can glean is that there is a Major Contrast between the ungodly line of Cain and the godly line of Seth. Scripture is full of Contrasts and this is the first usage of the Literary technique.

        • Hi Jay,
          I understand why the Sethite view is called what it is. Those who hold it believe that the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:1–4 are descendants of Seth who married unbelieving women from the line of Cain. There are several problems with this reasoning. As I have written many times elsewhere on my blog and in an entire chapter in my upcoming book, the Sethite view just does not make sense of the text of the passage. To quote Derek Kidner’s commentary on Genesis:

          The sons of God are identified by some interpreters as the sons of Seth, over against those of Cain. By others, including early Jewish writers, they are taken to mean angels. If the second view defies the normalities of experience, the first defies those of language (and our task is to find the author’s meaning).

          Why would he say that the Sethite view defies the use of language? There are several reasons. I’m sorry that this post will be a bit long. I’ll try to keep any other ones shorter.
          First, it assumes (as you do) that the line from Seth to Noah was godly. How do you know this? It’s safe to assume that Enoch and Noah were godly since the Bible clearly tells us this. You might be able to infer from Lamech’s words at Noah’s birth that he trusted in God. And you may be able to infer from Genesis 4:26 (at the birth of Seth’s son Enosh) that those two men were godly. However, men beginning to call on the name of the LORD at that point cannot be limited to just the line of Seth. It doesn’t say that only those in the line of Seth called on the name of the LORD. Second, you assume that those in the line of Cain were ungodly. How do you know that? Yes, Cain was ungodly and so was his descendant, the polygamist murderer named Lamech. But how do you know the others were ungodly? Two of them have a title for God in their names (Mehujael and Methushael). This doesn’t make them godly, but it may be a clue that they had reverence for God. The truth is, we can’t know the spiritual state of those people when Scripture does not tell us. You have assumed that one line is godly and the other ungodly. But what about the other lines from Adam? Where do they fit into your picture of Genesis 6:1–4? Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters (Genesis 5:4). For the record, I’m not completely opposed to the men in Noah’s lineage being godly and those mentioned in Cain’s line being ungodly, but I would not build a doctrine on this argument from silence.
          Second, the Sethite view must change the meaning of “men” throughout the passage. Verse 1 – When men began to multiply on the earth and daughters were born to them. This clearly refers to all men in the pre-Flood world—not just to Cain’s line which hasn’t even been mentioned for more than an entire chapter. Then in verse 2, you must assume that the “daughters of men” (who were clearly those mentioned in verse 1) actually refers only to those in the line of Cain. So now man must mean only those in Cain’s line. In verse 3, you are back to talking about all men when God says that His Spirit would not strive with man forever and then announces the 120 year judgment (no need to debate the proper interpretation of that verse here). But then in verse 4, you are back to narrowing man down to just the line of Cain again. Then in verse 5, it’s back to talking about all men. There is no hermeneutical warrant for jumping back and forth like this over who is being referenced by the term “men” or the “daughters of men” in this passage. You must impose that on the text to fit your view. It does not come from the text.
          Third, why would God judge the entire world with a Flood if the big sin here was just one line of men marrying ungodly women from another line? Why are all the other lines from Adam being judged?
          Fourth, if the Sethite men were truly godly (and I know you said that not all of them were, but surely you must think many of them were if you are using that as a basis for calling them “sons of God”), then why did they continually marry ungodly women? Sure, that can happen occasionally, but would so many men from the same presumably godly lineage continue to make the exact same mistake?
          Fifth, how can you even claim that the Sethites were godly when the Bible tells us that all flesh had corrupted its way on the earth, that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of men’s hearts was only evil continually? Again, it doesn’t sound like there are a bunch of godly men out there marrying ungodly women.
          Sixth, the Bible tells us nothing about the women in Cain’s line other than the names of two women who married Lamech (Adah and Zillah but they may not have been from that line by birth) and Lamech’s daughter, Naamah. Can you really make the case from Scripture that the Cainite women were all ungodly?
          Finally, Genesis 1–11 uses a different term for men instead of “sons of God.” Genesis 11 calls them the “sons of man” (bene ha ‘adam). The bene ha ‘elohim were not men, as many other passages in the OT shows, but that point can wait for another time.
          There are other issues that can be raised here, but I will save them for later. The point here is that the Sethite view is not derived from the text itself, it must be read into it. This explains why there is no record of anyone, either Jew or Christian, holding to it until the third century. Meanwhile, the early Jews (until the early second century) and the early Christians (until the mid-third century) were unanimously in favor of the fallen angel view (at least among those whose writings we still have and wrote about this issue).
          Again, I’m sorry that I got a little “long-winded” here. It’s just that there are so many assumptions being imposed on the text to support this position, and I think it’s important for those who hold it to be aware of those assumptions. Some of them may be correct. For example, the women in Cain’s line may have been ungodly, but the text doesn’t tell us that they were, at least not until the time when Noah needed to start building the Ark and we are told that practically everyone was wicked.
          Thanks again for the kind spirit in which your words were written. I hope you will read mine in the same light.

  4. I read your work and it seems thorough enough. That said, Adam is said to be a Son of God (Luke 3:38) and Christ said we are all Sons of God. The said adoption into this status is misleading- we are sons of God but reject it if we do not believe in the salvation afforded us by the Christ.
    One major gap in your reasoning is that you fail to recognize that at the time of the creation of Adam, there were other beings science calls neanderthal (perhaps) and biblically called nephilim (cave dwellers or outlanders). We know this from scientific findings. Hence Cain’s wife. Unless we are to believe that Adam and Eve allowed their eventual daughter to leave and marry their murderous son Cain. Wouldn’t that have been a mention worthy event in the geneology? We are all descendants of Adam since Noah was a descendant of Adam and since we are all descendants of Noah. At the time of Noah’s flood, all nephilim were gone.
    [Poster’s personal info removed for privacy reasons]
    I am an avid Christian by the way.

    • Hi Michael,
      Thanks for the civil discussion even while disagreeing with me. If you would’ve read my latest blog post, you would’ve seen that there was no gap in my reasoning on this, since it was all about who Cain was afraid of. Here’s the link: http://midwestapologetics.org/blog/?p=1747. God did not create other people, and the text doesn’t say that Cain married his wife once he went to the land of Nod. It says that they were in the land of Nod when they had a son. If you consider his probable age by the time he murdered Abel (likely close to 130), then all of this makes sense.
      Yes, the Nephilim were wiped out in the Flood, but they were around again after the Flood (Numbers 13:33), just as Genesis 6:4 explains (“in those days and also afterward”). The Nephilim were not neanderthals—they were giants, the descendants of the sons of God and the daughters of men. This is how they could be on the earth both before and after the Flood even though all alive at the time of the Flood were killed in it. Neanderthals are/were fully human, and they have even been reclassified as part of homo sapiens.

    • The peace of God be with you… Personally, I don’t welcome the idea of theologians making any assumptions about the scriptures… the Bible clearly says “those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are given the opportunity to be the children of God”

      Now, without making any assumptions, nowhere in the Bible one can find a scripture indicating that the Angeles are the children of God… I’m afraid that humanity has been misled or misinformed through the ages… I’m asking for common sense, after all the Bible teaches us to search the scriptures lest we be led astray as the current false teachers have been lying to humans

      • Gumaro,
        Thanks for weighing in. You say that you “don’t welcome the idea of theologians making any assumptions about the scriptures” and yet you seem willing to make assumptions. Why would you automatically be opposed to people who spend their entire lives studying and teaching the Scriptures? God had given the church pastors and teachers to the church, and He has gifted certain people with the ability and opportunity to study and teach. Certainly, theologians are fallible, so their ideas must always be compared to the Bible.
        With that being said, your response shows that you don’t really understand the issue. It isn’t about who can become “children of God” (Greek – teknon theos). It is about those beings that are identified as “sons of God” (Hebrew – bene [ha] elohim). And there are very clear verses in the Bible that identify these “sons of God” as angelic beings. The clearest of all of them is Job 38:7 where God is asking Job about things that happened before man was created. He asked where Job was “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” These “sons of God” cannot be people since people didn’t exist yet in the period God spoke of. The same term is used in Job 1:6 and Job 2:1 in which the “sons of God” came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. So in two more places, we have very obvious uses of this Hebrew phrase “sons of God” (bene [ha] elohim) referring to angelic beings.
        I have written extensively on this topic elsewhere, so I’m not going to rehash all of it here, but I plan to publish a book later this year that will go into great detail about this issue and other related topics.
        Sincerely,
        Tim

  5. You people are stupid as satan is stupid,if JESUS said these angels are bound waiting for judgement,how the hell a spirit can marry? That time people ungodly didnt know exist,people like you twisting the word of GOD

    • Hi Becky,
      Rather than responding with the same rudeness you displayed in your comment, I’ll simply point out a few things so that you can understand the point being made (it’s evident you do not understand the view). First, Jesus did not say these angels were bound. Peter and Jude said they were. Second, the reason they were bound by the time that Peter and Jude wrote (the first few decades after Christ’s Resurrection), is because they had sinned in Noah’s day (1 Peter 3:20). And what was their sin? Among other things, they left their proper abode and married women (Jude 6, 2 Peter 2:4, Genesis 6:1–4).
      Honestly, other than your accusation that I’m twisting the word of God, I’m not sure what the second half of your comment is supposed to mean, so I won’t address it at this time. Your accusation rings hollow since you gave no biblical support for why you think I’m wrong.
      Finally, Christians need to understand that Satan is not stupid. He is evil, and what he’s trying to accomplish is futile, but in terms of intelligence, he’s far smarter than any of us will ever be this side of eternity. Underestimate him at your own peril.

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