Who were the Sons of God in Genesis Chapter 6?

March 3, 2021
George T. Ferrier

This passage describes conditions on earth prior to the flood when the Lord determined that He was going to judge its inhabitants for their wickedness (Gen. 6:1-8). Verses 1-3 says, “Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. And the Lord said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’” (NKJV)
There are two principal interpretations. First, that the sons of God were the godly male descendants of Seth, who intermarried with the female descendants of Cain. However, this is problematic for several reasons. First, it seems unlikely that all Seth’s descendants were godly and all Cain’s were wicked. Second, since chapters 4 and 5 detailed Cain and Seth’s genealogies why wouldn’t chapter 6 mention them by name as well? Third, verse 4 indicates that the Nephilim or giants were the offspring of these marriages. Why would the marriage of the wicked and the godly produce giants known for their mighty strength?
The more plausible explanation is the second view that they were angels who left their proper domain, coming down to earth and marrying the daughters of men, in direct opposition to God’s creative order. Though it can also be used to refer to men, the term “sons of God” is sometimes used in scripture to refer to angels (Job 1:6; 38:4-7).
Jude’s epistle is most likely referring to this incident when he says, “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” (vv. 6-7, NKJV) He draws a similarity between God’s judgment of these angels and His later judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah for their pride and sexual immorality. The word “strange” means of a different kind or nature. It is something that goes against God’s creative design. Both the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah and these sinning angels serve as examples, being judged by God for not keeping their proper domain and thus violating God’s creative order.
The angels who participated in this sin were most likely a segment of the fallen angels (demons) that had earlier participated in Lucifer’s rebellion in heaven against God. After being cast out of heaven these demons were free to roam around as well as visit earth. Some of them chose to add to their offense by participating in this wicked act. They are now kept in chains awaiting future judgment to the lake of fire (2 Pet. 2:4; Rev. 20). The rest of the demons who did not participate in this sin are still presently free to oppose God and His people until their future judgment.
Angels are spirits created by God (Psa. 104:4), to be uniquely different from humans. They can appear in human form but are not actually human. Therefore, it is likely that these fallen angels possessed willing human males, and it was through these human surrogates that they married women and produced children that were likely demon possessed themselves. Demons have always sought to inhabit bodies and we see them very active during Christ’s time on earth.
God held these demons as well as humanity guilty for this sin. To prevent the total corruption of humanity, He judged these fallen angels by chaining them to the lowest part of hell while judging humanity with a world-wide flood and beginning over with Noah.