This is one of the more difficult Scriptures to understand in the
Bible. Thankfully, it is not necessary to understand Genesis 6:4
to be saved or serve God. So while contemplating the identity of
the Nephilim and sons of God in Genesis 6:4 is interesting, a great
deal of time and energy should not be spent on this topic when more
pressing matters need our attention.
The two most popular opinions interpreting the phrase "sons of
God" (Gen. 6:2, 4) are:
- wicked angels (Jude 1:6) who did not keep their proper domain.
- Seth's descendants.
The phrase "sons of God" is used of faithful followers of God (Deut.
14:1; 32:5; Lk. 3:38; Rom. 8:14; Gal. 3:26). It is used of faithful
angels, but not wicked angels (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Dan. 3:25). Therefore,
the expression would not be applicable to rebellious angels as some
have suggested in connection with Jude 1:6. And note the context
of Genesis Chapter 6, man was wicked - not angels (Gen. 6:5).
From Seth originated the spiritual seed of God (Gen. 4:25-26);
thus, his descendants would have been called the sons of God. Note
that Abraham is a descendant of Seth through whom Christians are
called sons of God (Gal. 3:26-29). The sons of God, therefore, in
Genesis 6:4 were the descendants of Seth.
With the aforementioned information, we are left to rely
upon implications in the historical narratives to speculate
as to the identity of the Nephilim (giants) in Genesis 6:4.
We cannot be absolutely certain as to their identity since
the implications are too speculative upon which to base
absolute conclusions. But the evidence is conclusive enough
to discredit such wild assertions that the "sons of God"
were aliens or demons (wicked angels) who came to earth
and fathered offspring (i.e., the Nephilim).
Although there is not a record in Scripture, at some point, God
had apparently commanded that the spiritual seed (descendants of
Seth) be kept pure (cf. Gen. 6:2, 4, 9). This would have been similar
to the practice of the patriarchs (Gen. 34) and God's command to
Israel (Ex. 23:32-33; 34:16). The Nephilim is the resulting offspring
of the sons of God's (Seth's descendants) sinful intermarriages
with the sons of men (Gen. 6:4).
Knowledge of this widely practiced sin during Noah's lifetime is
helpful in understanding the story of Noah and the flood. God saved
Noah by grace (Gen. 6:8) because he had obeyed God being perfect
in his generations (Gen. 6:9). He was righteous, blameless, and
walked with God (Gen. 6:9).