PMW 2018-036 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In my last article, I presented part 1 of a study on the sons of God in Genesis 6. This is an intriguing and much debated portion of Scripture. In the previous article I briefly presented and critiqued the angel view regarding the “sons of God” thee. In this article I will present the view that I believe to be the proper one.

The backdrop for Genesis 6

The proper interpretation sees in this episode the inter-marrying of the godly line of Seth with unbelievers, particularly represented by the depraved line of Cain. This fits perfectly with the contextual flow of Genesis to this point. Genesis is structured by toledoths (“genealogies”) showing its interest in genealogical progress (see note at Gen. 2:4). In fact, the two genealogies surrounding Gen. 6 are found in Gen. 5 and Gen. 10–11. They are specifically designed to link Adam to Noah, then Noah to Abram whose genealogical offspring will dominate Genesis from ch. 12 to 50.

The Cainite line begins with Cain whom God rejects due to his sinful attitude (Gen. 4:5). He murders his brother (Gen. 4:8), lies to God (Gen. 4:9), then is “cursed from the ground” (Gen. 4:11), and finally “went out from the presence of the LORD” (Gen. 4:16). This line is traced to and concludes with Lamech who boasts of murdering a man (Gen. 4:23–24).

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After introducing Cain’s evil line the context quickly shifts to Seth’s line, which is when “men begin to call upon the name of the LORD” (Gen. 4:25–26). Seth’s godly line (Gen. 5:3ff) not only flows from worshipful men (Gen. 4:25) but includes long-lived men (cp. Gen. 5:5, 8, 11), whereas the ages of Cain’s descendants are not mentioned. Among these godly men we find not only Seth and Enosh who publically worship God (Gen. 5:6–9), but also Enoch who “walked with God” and was taken into heaven (Gen. 5:22, 24) and Noah (Gen. 5:29) who “found favor in the eyes of the LORD” (Gen. 6:8).

Genesis is tracing the redemptive line that leads to Abram (Gen. 11:2) from whom will come the Savior of the world Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:1; Acts 3:20–26; Gal. 3:16; Heb. 2:14–16; cp. John 8:56). The Genesis narrative shows the difficulties facing the seed-line, with Abraham (Gen. 17:17–19; 21:5), Isaac (Gen. 24:1–4; 25:12), and Jacob (Gen. 28:1–2; 29:21–25; 30:1) having trouble continuing it.

The interpretation of Genesis 6

Now in Gen. 6 the godly line of Seth (“the sons of God”) begins intermarrying with the godless Cainites. Those women are simply deemed “daughters of men” without any spiritual or ethical traits mentioned. The “sons of God” here speaks of God’s people, as does the concept in Deut. 14:1; 32:5; Psa. 73:15; and Hos. 1:10 (the word “sons” [ben] occur in the Hebrew of these verses).

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Previously in Seth’s line we see “sons and daughters” appearing (Gen. 5:4, 17, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 26). But just as Eve was tempted to take the forbidden fruit in Eden partly because it “was a delight to the eyes” (Gen. 3:6), so here the Sethites begin choosing women simply because they were “beautiful.” They took “whomever they chose” on this external basis (Gen. 6:2). The redemptive line is being corrupted; its final issue hangs in the balance. Ultimately only Noah and his family will remain in the godly seed line, leading God to destroy the world (Gen. 6:5–8, 13–18; 9:1; cp. Heb. 11:7; 1 Pet. 3:20; 2 Pet. 2:5).

In Scripture God wants his people to avoid marrying outside the faith community (Gen. 27:46; 28:1ff; Exo. 34:16; Deut. 7:3–6; Josh. 23:12; 2 Cor. 6:14). This is so serious an obligation that it leads Ezra to command the men of Israel to divorce their non-Jewish wives when they return from exile to the land (Ezra 9:2; 10:3, 10–19).


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9 thoughts on “THE SONS OF GOD IN GENESIS 6 (2)

  1. Ed Thomson May 4, 2018 at 10:16 am

    Dr. Gentry – Your books and your articles are both a huge blessing in my life. I have spent the last 6 months revisiting my beliefs on end times/millennialism. By default, like many evangelical Christians, I had fallen into the futurist/dispensational camp. After 6 months study of scripture, supplemented by the works of Hank Hanegraaff, Steve Gregg, Jay Adams, and you, my belief (now somewhat educated) in postmillenialism is now securely rooted. I no longer have to exercise all the workarounds necessary to support a dispensational view. I cannot thank you enough for your contribution to this process. God bless you.

  2. Joseph Pollard May 4, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    Would you consider responding to Kline’s alternate view that “the sons of God” is claimed as a blasphemous name by the line of Cain, boasting like Lamech, who took “daughters of man” as many as they chose (polygamy, like Lamech), which thus leaves Noah’s family as the sole remnant of the line of Seth, not given to polygamy/violent kingship? He details this in the middle section of Kingdom Prologue.

  3. Kenneth Gentry May 4, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks much!

  4. Kenneth Gentry May 4, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    I will see if I can get to it. I have two big projects going on simultaneously. But if Kline said it, it is probably unique to him in all of world history.

  5. Ken Baits May 5, 2018 at 12:28 am

    Interesting argument. However, how does godly (Seth) men marrying ungodly (Cain) men result in Nephlim? What makes the children of godly men and ungodly women anything special (ie “men of renown” more than other children?).

  6. Robert J. Macauley May 5, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    For me, this is a no-brainer, based on context of previous chapters, plus the silliness of the popular alternative.

  7. Robert J. Macauley May 5, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    I concur with the words of Ed Thompson, written above. Blessings.

  8. Kenneth Gentry May 5, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    The Hebrew for “nephilim” means “fallen ones.” It is translated as “To fall, cast down, dash down, fail, lay down” elsewhere. The children are not giants, but they have become famed rulers and politically powerful men.

  9. Don Thome. May 6, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    Could not agree more with Macauley and Thomson. Thanks Dr. Gentry! ct

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