Apologetics Bible Study

A Few Thoughts about the Nephilim

Some questions
B1 Who are the Sons of God in Genesis 6:2?
B2 Who are the giants (also named nephilim and) mentioned in Genesis 6:4?
B3 Why did God bring the flood (Noah’s flood)?
B4 What is the wickedness spoken of?
B5 Can spirit beings have sex?
B6 Can spirit beings have sperm?
B7 Can the offspring of these be saved? Could they have entered the ark?
B8 How does Peter relate to Noah’s flood and the “spirits?” See 2 Peter 2 and Jude 1:6.
B9 What principles can we learn from this history?
Some study
B1 Who are the Sons of God in Genesis 6:2?
C1 Basic context
D1 Population of humans increase in Genesis 6:1.
E1 The people are following God’s command.
E2 When you live as long as these people did, the population expands rapidly. Because of the generations given in the preceding chapters on father begetting son, the age of the father, and the use of the word generations used in Jude 1:14, it seems most reasonable that people did really live for hundreds of years.
E3 Genesis 1:28 NRSV God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.
D2 Daughters are mentioned because of verse 2.
D3 Sons of god. They might be
E1 Angels specially fallen angels (as here).
E2 Righteous people in Seth’s lineage.
F1 Compare Nehemiah 13:23-27 and Joshua 23:12-13.
F2 This is the principle of separation. 2 Corinthians 6:17 GNB And so the Lord says, “You must leave them and separate yourselves from them. Have nothing to do with what is unclean, and I will accept you.
E3 Compare the term “sons of god.”
F1 The following verses having the phrase “sons of god” are most likely spirit beings. Compare Job 1:6, Job 2:1, and Job 38:7.
F2 The following passages having the phrase “sons of god” are most likely human beings. Compare John 1:12, Romans 8:14, Romans 8:19, Philippians 2:15, and 1 John 3:1-2. See also Hosea 1:10.
D4 Genesis 6:3, 5 reveals God’s anger against people (humans), not spirit beings.
B2 Who are the giants (also named Nephilim and) mentioned in Genesis 6:4?
C1 Genesis 6:4 mentions “giants.”
D1 The Hebrew word is נְפִיל nᵉphîyl. It means giants, tyrants, wonderful, strong, etc. TWOT (1393a) has this sentence, “The word may be of unknown origin and mean “heroes” or “fierce warriors” etc.” It is used in 2 verses Genesis 6:4 and Numbers 13:33.
D2 Various translations have giants, Nephilim, fallen ones (YLT), etc.
D3 Some comments
E1 Clarke (see link to read more): There were giants in the earth – נפלים nephilim, from נפל naphal, “he fell.” Those who had apostatized or fallen from the true religion. The Septuagint translate the original word by γιγαντες, which literally signifies earth-born, and which we, following them, term giants, without having any reference to the meaning of the word, which we generally conceive to signify persons of enormous stature. But the word when properly understood makes a very just distinction between the sons of men and the sons of God; those were the nephilim, the fallen earth-born men, with the animal and devilish mind.
E2 Utley:
This NOUN may be from the root, “fall” (BDB 656, i.e., “the fallen ones”). It seems to me that they are analogous to the giants.
However, other interpreters such as Martin Luther and H. C. Leupold assert that this term should be interpreted “tyrants,” which implies the powerful kings of Cain’s line who had large harems. See notes on “Mighty Men” and “Men of Renown” below.
J. Wash Watts in Old Testament Teaching, pp. 28-30, says “Nephilim refers to Noah and his family as those who separated themselves from those of Cain’s line and Seth’s line who were intermarrying. In this interpretation Nephilim are the sons of the “One true God” (cf. “the God” Gen. 5:22,24; 6:9).
E3 There are tens maybe hundreds of interpretations, so study the Bible and take the most reasonable understanding. This is not an issue of arguing among fellow Christians.
D4 That these “sons of god” are human suits the other use of the word in Numbers 13:33, which is to be understood as great warriors and large people. Compare Goliath, etc.
B3 Why did God bring the flood (Noah’s flood)?
C1 Various theories exist as evil, corruption of human DNA, etc.
C2 It is human evil, human actions, human thoughts, desires, words, and deeds. God mentions humans not half spirit, half human beings.
D1 Genesis 6:5–7 NIV The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them. [Emphasis is mine].
D2 Humanity was corrupt and full of violence. Genesis 6:11-13 GW The world was corrupt in God’s sight and full of violence. 12 God saw the world and how corrupt it was because all people on earth lived evil lives. 13 God said to Noah, “I have decided to put an end to all people because the earth is full of their violence. Now I’m going to destroy them along with the earth. [Emphasis is mine].
C3 Evil. The Hebrew word is רַע raʻ. It means evil and bad in many senses as trouble, sadness, etc., but one of the main uses is doing the opposite of what God has commanded. Some evils in the Old Testament: false prophets (Deuteronomy 13:5, adultery (Deuteronomy 22:22-24), kidnapping is called evil (Deuteronomy 24:7), etc. Some love evil, see Psalm 52:3. We are to hate evil, see Psalm 97:10. Fearing the Lord is to hate evil, see Proverbs 8:13. See Romans 1:18-32 for the downhill course of evil. A standard is needed. This standard is God’s law, which is summarized in the 10 Commandments. Even before they were written, these laws were known and in force; see Romans 2:14-15.
C4 Every action and every thought were evil.
D1 Genesis 6:5 NRSV The LORD saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.
D2 Matthew 15:19 NRSV For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.
B4 What is the wickedness spoken of?
C1 The specific sins are not mentioned.
C2 It is reasonable that every area of sin and rebellion against God’s standard (the 10 commandments) were desired, were planned, and were carried out. See Romans 1:18-32.
C3 It doesn’t appear that spirit beings having sex with human women is the sin.
C4 Evil spirits can seduce, etc. humans to sin. See Ananias in Acts 5:3 GW Peter asked, “Ananias, why did you let Satan fill you with the idea that you could deceive the Holy Spirit? You’ve held back some of the money you received for the land. In 2 Samuel 24:1 NIV, there is another example of satan leading a person to sin Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah. The he in 2 Samuel 24:1 most likely refers to satan, see 1 Chronicles 21:1 NIV Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.
C5 God judges and punishes people and nations with death because of great wickedness. Some examples include
D1 Er in Genesis 38:7 NIV But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death.
D2 Pharaoh in Exodus 14:24-28
D3 Ahab in 1 Kings 22:20 and following verses
D4 God’s enemies as in Isaiah 66:16 GW The LORD will judge with fire, and he will judge all people with his sword. Many people will be struck dead by the LORD.
B5 Can spirit beings have sex?
C1 In mythology, we read that they can, but this is mythology, not Scripture.
C2 Spirits can appear as humans, specifically male. See Genesis 18, Genesis 19:5, Mark 16:5, etc.
C3 There are no verses in the Bible that teach spirits can have flesh. They can inhabit, that is, possess humans, but not being flesh. Luke 24:39 EMTV Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.
B6 Can spirit beings have sperm?
C1 Scriptures don’t say, but it seems unlikely. I suppose spirit beings could take human sperm and manipulate it in some way.
C2 Don’t marry as in Matthew 22:30.
C3 It is not mentioned anywhere in Scriptures that I know of where a spirit being impregnates a woman.
C4 God created everything to reproduce after its kind, that is, species (and possibly genera).
C5 Producing after one’s kind seems the principle of Scripture. This idea is found in 1 Corinthians 15:47-49 NRSV The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.
B7 Can the offspring of these be saved? Could they have entered the ark?
C1 Jesus became a man, completely man, as well as completely God. Jesus is 100% God and 100% man.
C2 Jesus died for humans, not angels or half human-half spirit beings (so called demigods). Compare Romans 8:3, Philippians 2:8, etc.
C3 Noah preached the Gospel for 120 years (so most understand it). 2 Peter 2:5 EMTV and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, the eighth, a preacher of righteousness, when He brought a flood upon the ungodly world.
B8 How does Peter’s passage relate to Noah’s flood and the “spirits?” See 2 Peter 2.
C1 2 Peter 2:4-5 EMTV For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but rather confined them to Tartarus, and delivered them into chains of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, the eighth, a preacher of righteousness, when He brought a flood upon the ungodly world.
C2 There are unclean spirits (demons) who are more evil than others.
D1 Matthew 17:21 EMTV However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.
D2 Ephesians 6:12 EMTV For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenlies.
D3 Daniel 10:13, 20–21 NIV But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. … 20 So he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; 21 but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince.
C3 In 2 Peter 2, Peter is teaching the people that God punishes sin. Peter gives some examples
D1 False prophets and teachers in 2 Peter 2:1-3
D2 Angels in 2 Peter 2:4
E1 satan sinned because of his pride and covetousness in Isaiah 14:12-15.
E2 satan recruited other angels to rebel against God, which they did willingly. Revelation 12:4 (as most understand the passage).
E3 The specific sin is not mentioned. Some think this refers to Genesis 6:1-6 but that is speculation. Based on Matthew 17:21, it would seem that some have an attitude of such hate and disrespect for God that they go overboard to rage against God, humans, and creation. Compare Matthew 12:45 NIV Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation. [Emphasis is mine].
E4 These eviler angels express increased wickedness as seen in Revelation 9:5 NIV They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes.
F1 See Revelation 9:1-11.
F2 The torment was so great that humans wanted to die but could not. Revelation 9:6.
D3 Another example is the world of humanity before the flood.
D4 Finally, Sodom and Gomorrah
C4 In Jude 1:6, Jude mentions those who did not remain in their proper dwelling. Jude 1:6 NRSV And the angels who did not keep their own position, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains in deepest darkness for the judgment of the great day.
D1 Here Jude warns people about sin, its consequences, and sin’s punishment by giving some examples.
E1 The first example, Jude 1:5, is when God destroyed those Jews who did not believe. See Numbers 26:64-65.
E2 The second are the angels who sinned as we spoke of above.
E3 Sodom and Gomorrah
D2 Estate
E1 The Greek word for estate is ἀρχή archḗ.
E2 It means beginning, place (rank and dignity), rule, magistracy, etc.
E3 It is used in Romans 8:38 NASB For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers.
E4 Ephesians 1:21 MKJV far above all principality and authority and power and dominion, and every name being named, not only in this world, but also in the coming age. (Principality is ruler, here understood by most to refer to evil angelic orders). See also Ephesians 3:10 and Ephesians 6:12.
E5 Colossians 2:11, 15 NKJV In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, … 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
D3 Habitation, proper dwelling, proper limits, etc.
E1 The Greek word is οἰκητήριον oikētḗrion. It means dwelling place. It can be a house, the body (as house for the soul), etc.
E2 Their own habitation can mean heaven (their home at origin), the first heaven (the atmosphere as in Ephesians 2:2), some type of original covering they had, or position in God’s organization.
E3 Benson mentions the idea that satan wasn’t happy with his position and desired a higher and greater place. Isaiah 14:13 NIV You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
B9 What principles can we learn from this history?
C1 Choices have consequences.
C2 Sin has consequences.
C3 Sin will be punished. Beings of the past, present, and future will have judgment. We are warned.
B10 Summary
C1 Spirits may appear in human form, but it doesn’t necessarily imply flesh and bones.
C2 Spirits do not have DNA or fleshly material as humans do.
C3 satan and his angels were not content with their position in heaven but wanted a greater authority and position above God’s. We read about this attitude in his temptation of Jesus. Matthew 4:9 NRSV and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.
C4 Sin has consequences.
C5 It seems most reasonable that the phrase “sons of God” refers to humans as in John 1:12, Romans 8:14, Romans 8:19, Philippians 2:15, and 1 John 3:1-2. See also Hosea 1:10.
C6 The godly line of Seth left their position and sought the evil line of Cain, as in Nehemiah’s day (Nehemiah 13:23-27). Solomon was led astray as well (1 Kings 11:1-8). The consequence of doing so resulted in God’s anger and then His punishing them.
There are tens maybe hundreds of interpretations, so study the Bible and take the most reasonable understanding. This is not an issue of arguing among fellow Christians.


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