In my last post, I began a series seeking to unearth the identity of the sons of God in Genesis 6. This is my first post by way of argumentation toward that end. In it, I seek to argue in the negative against the most commonly held view of our day: the view that angels created bodies for themselves and procreated with women. As stated in the previous post, there are four main texts from which the proponents of this view derive their argumentation. Today, I will examine these verses and attempt to demonstrate how they fall short of supporting such a view.
Let us start with the assertion many have made that “sons of God” must mean angels in this text precisely because that is what it means elsewhere, like in Job 1:6. This assertion assumes the idea that biblical words and phrases cannot have multiple meanings and usages. This is not true for any language; words and phrases have multiple usages and meanings, regardless of the language you are examining.
Especially when we are dealing with different authors writing in different eras, we need to take these things into account. Job is largely believed to have been written around the same time Abraham lived. We know nothing whatsoever about its author or common usages of phrases during his time. We do know that Moses, who wrote Genesis, lived hundreds of years after Abraham.
In this span of time, the common vernacular was highly likely to change. Consider the fact that the King James Version of the Bible was codified in the 1600s in Elizabethan English, and its language was considered archaic by many as early as the mid-1800s. Moses might have had angels in mind when he used the designation ‘sons of God.’ The only way to know for sure is to look at his usage of it in the immediate context. We will do so in Part Three of our study.
Next, we have 2Peter 2:4 in which Peter tells us that God did not spare angels when they sinned but cast them into hell. How does this even come close to relating to Genesis 6? Well, in the next verse, Peter alludes to Noah’s generation and the judgment they faced. What we have in 2Peter is the apostle’s warning against false teachers. He draws three illustrations of how God deals with false teachers. He judged the angels, he judged the generation of Noah, he judged Sodom and Gomorrah, and He will judge the false teachers in these last days as well. When understood in context, 2Peter 2 provides no support to the “angels sleeping with humans” view of Genesis 6.
But what about Jude 6? Isn’t that a parallel passage to 2Peter, and doesn’t that talk about angels abandoning spiritual form to take bodies for themselves? Proponents of this view draw from the word τὸ οἰκητήριον, claiming that angels left their bodily dwellings in order to assume new bodies. They attempt to justify this usage by pointing out that the only other usage of the Greek word in question is in 2Corinthians 5:2 is in reference to the Christian’s future, glorified (physical) body.
Actually, BDAG tells us that the term used both in Scripture and in extra-biblical texts to refer to heavenly dwelling places. Thus, it is apparently being used figuratively to refer to the bodies we will receive in heaven in 2Corinthians whereas, in Jude, it is used to refer to the angels’ actual heavenly abode. Jude, then, is not arguing that angels took on flesh; rather, he is warning against false teachers who, like those angels, would be punished by God in the end.
Finally, in 1Peter 3:19-20, we see that Christ went and made proclamation to spirits who are now in prison. Who were these spirits? In order to determine their identity, we must back up and look at the context. Peter is writing to his audience about their sufferings and claims that Christ too also suffered and died and was made alive in the Spirit. In this same Spirit, he writes, Christ went and made proclamation to the spirits “who were once disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah” (vs. 20a).
If Peter is talking about angels here, we have a big problem. Why would the patience of God be waiting for angels to respond to a Messianic proclamation? “For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham” (Hebrews 2:16; NASB). Christ did not come to die for angels, but for men, so what proclamation could he have possibly been making to angels? If it is a message of judgment and not salvation, how is it that this proclamation now correlates to baptism (1Peter 3:21)? No. Christ did not preach to the spirits of enfleshed angels; he preached to the spirits of men.
How then did the Spirit of Christ preach to the men of Noah’s day? Simple. He preached to them through Noah! Noah was a “preacher of righteousness” (2Peter 2:5); he was God’s messenger in his day. When God’s messenger speaks, God speaks. Had Noah’s generation heeded his voice and entered the ark, they would have been saved. In like manner, when we heed the voice of God’s divinely appointed messengers and are immersed into union with Christ, we are saved from the judgment to come.
In my next post, I will finally begin my positive argument for the position I hold on Genesis 6. It will be another long post, because my argument begins in Genesis 3 and moves forward through chapters 4 and 5. I will attempt to demonstrate how, when we interpret Genesis 6 in its proper context, we will come to a drastically different conclusion than have those who hold to the “angels sleeping with humans” view.