When interpreting this particular enigmatic passage of Genesis, at least three popular theories have been suggested regarding exactly who the “sons of God” are. First, there are those who hold that the “sons of God” are angels who procreated with human women, producing a race of giants. Second, there are those who believe that the “sons of God” are those who descended from the line of Seth, while the “daughters of men” are of the line of Cain. Third, a few have proposed that the “sons of God” were powerful rulers who engaged in polygamy, “taking wives of whomever they chose”, and building up vast harems in the process.
To be completely honest, each point of view has its own problems; and yet each is compelling in its own right – being supported by its own Scriptural evidence. This is one of those rare Bible verses that has aroused controversy among believers and has also piqued the interest of many non-believers as well. Not long ago, I read an account of a well-meaning preacher who felt so strongly about sharing his own conclusions about this mysterious topic that he devoted an entire sermon, addressed to a huge Bible conference, to systematically presenting his case concerning it.* Additionally, the subject of forbidden love between angels and humans (and the intriguing sounding, “Nephilim” or giants, mentioned in Genesis 6:4) has given rise to romance novels and Hollywood feature films.
As servants of God and students of His Word, the question we must ask is, Is such attention to such controversial passages really merited? We can carefully present the case for the interpretation that we feel is right, and devote a great deal of time in doing so, but what is the end result? Will persuading another believer to subscribe to our particular viewpoint bring them any closer to the Lord? Will educating a non-believer about our own particular ideas in relation to it bring them any closer to accepting Jesus Christ? So, what purpose is served in doing so?
There are controversial areas of Biblical interpretation that are very important to address – entire doctrines hinge on their correct analysis. But there are many, such as this question over who exactly the “sons of God” were, that are really relatively trivial. We should give pause before we engage in lengthy, passionate discourses on such verses and ask ourselves if our purpose is to bring glory to God or to satisfy someone’s intellectual curiosity. Our study and sharing of God’s Word should be for the purpose of changing hearts, not entertaining minds.
*Taken From, “Preach It!” – Briscoe, Stuart – (c) 2004, Group Publishing, Inc.
To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,
[This post was originally published October 6, 2009]
**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.
[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]