Who are the Sons of God?

Question: Who are the Sons of God and the Daughters of Men?

(The questioner said they had heard that the sons of God were the angels)

The initial section where the phrase occurs is from Genesis chapter 6:

Gen 6:1  And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,

Gen 6:2  That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

Gen 6:3  And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

Gen 6:4  There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

Gen 6:5  And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Gen 6:6  And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

Initially, at a first glance it seems to suggest that there were some ‘Son’s of God’ perhaps angels that had children with mortal women and their children were some kind of Giants.

We need to read it really carefully and ask a few questions…

Initially, there would have been very few people on the earth, merely the family of Adam and Eve and then gradually this multiplied to a much larger population. We note from verse 1 that chapter 6 here in Genesis takes place when this sudden rise in population occurred.

We note from verse 2 that these 'Sons of God' were physically attracted to the 'daughters of men'. So if we are looking for a definition of the ‘Sons of God’ they must be ‘people’ who can be physically attracted to the opposite sex. We know from Matthew 22:30 that angels do not marry (and we can take from this that they do not have a physical need to be with the opposite sex).

Mat 22:30  For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

This would suggest that ‘the sons of God’ are not angels.

In verses 3 and 4 we see that God explains that his Spirit (His power) will not ‘strive’ with man any longer. This means that God won’t always directly intervene with mankind at this point. Up to this point in time, the length of life of mankind had been upwards of 500 years! We see that the length of life was reduced to less than 120 years. This is another indicator that God was limiting the influence of men on the earth. God’s power was not to be with them in the same way sustaining their lives. In verse 4 we read that there were ‘Giants’ (Nethanim) in the earth. The word giant just means: ‘bully or tyrant’ so whether this meant that there were very tall or just had very high opinions of themselves and treated other people badly is open to debate! I would suggest that what’s happening here is that men are gradually getting further away from God in their thoughts and actions. They were just doing what they thought best without thought for God’s ways.

This is further supported by verses 5 and 6 where God saw the wickedness of mankind and that all his thoughts were about himself and there was no glory being given to God. There was no recognition of God as the creator of heaven and earth and it ‘grieved’ God – it made him sad at what was going on.

So that is the context. What we need to do now is to look at other areas of scripture where the same or similar words are used and see what the basic context is there. Then we can start to piece the jigsaw back together again!

Gen 4:26  And to Seth, to him  also  there was born   a son;  and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.

Quite early on in the Bible, those that  ‘called upon the name of the LORD' are mentioned. From references like: Gen 13:4 - Abram, Gen 26:25 - Isaac, 2 Sam 22:7 - David) we can see that this means that these men made respecte the LORD God of Israel and both prayed to Him and made requests to Him. These were in effect, Sons of God. There were a few people who were ‘Sons of God at the time of Noah and the flood’ they were saved from being drowned (Gen 7:1) and the rest died because they were ‘sons of men’ who had no regard for God.

There are two references to ‘Sons of God’ in Job but it doesn’t add much help here as it is a bit hard to see from the context what it’s talking about. We see also ‘Satan’ mentioned which we can look at another time! The only point I’d make is that you could read this as angels BUT from the text this is only an inference. It does not explicitly say that these were angels of God from heaven.

Job 2:1  Again there was a day when the sons   of God  came  to present themselves  before  the LORD,  and Satan  came  also  among  them to present himself  before  the LORD.

Job 38:7  When the morning   stars  sang  together,   and all  the sons  of God  shouted for joy?

In Ecclesiastes we find more references to 'The Sons of men':

Ecc 1:13  And I gave  my heart  to seek  and search out  by wisdom  concerning  all  things that  are done  under  heaven:  this  sore  travail  hath God  given  to the sons  of man  to be exercised  therewith.

Ecc 3:10  I have seen the travail (work),  which  God  hath given  to the sons  of men  to be exercised  in it.

Ecc 3:18  I  said  in mine heart  concerning  the estate  of the sons  of men,  that God  might manifest  them, and that they  might see  that they  themselves are beasts.

Here we see a mention of the Sons of men having to ‘work’ for a living and the whole idea of this from God was that men might see that they are like ‘beasts’ like animals! This is to teach a lesson that God is so much higher than us and we are nothing in comparison.

Another reference comes in Hosea:

Hos 1:10  Yet the number  of the children  of Israel  shall be  as the sand  of the sea, which  cannot   be measured  nor    numbered;  and it shall come to pass,    that in the place  where  it was said  unto them, Ye  are not  my people,  there it shall be said  unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.

He we have God speaking to the children of Israel (the sons and daughters of Israel who make up the nation of Israel and calling them: ‘Sons of the living God’ surely here we begin to see that to assume ‘Sons of God’ earlier in Genesis is talking about angels isn’t consistent with places like this.

We also need to get a picture of the use of the phrases in the New Testament too:

The first reference is:

Joh 1:12  But as many as  received  him,  to them  gave  he power  to become  the sons  of God,  even to them that believe  on  his  name:

In the New Testament we get the picture that it’s not just Israel that can be Sons of God but we see that it can also be anyone who believes on God’s name.

The second reference is in Romans:

Rom 8:14  For  as many as  are led  by the Spirit  of God,  they  are  the sons  of God.

Here we can see that those who are ‘led by the Spirit of God’ can be called Sons of God. Being led by the spirit can take place when we read the word of God. It was God’s Spirit (his power) that caused the Bible to be written and so we are being led by His Spirit if we read it often. People who do this can be called Sons (and daughters) of God.

The third reference is from the first letter of John:

1Jn 3:1  Behold,   what manner  of love  the  Father  hath bestowed  upon us,  that  we should be called  the sons  of God:  therefore  the  world  knoweth  us  not,  because  it knew  him not.

1Jn 3:2  Beloved,  now  are  we the sons  of God,  and  it doth not yet  appear  what we shall be:  but  we know  that,   when he shall appear,  we shall be like him;  for we shall see him as he is.

So we see again that God has loved us so much that he is prepared to call us his children (Sons and daughters of God).

Conclusions

  • Nowhere does it actually tell us that the Sons of God in Genesis are Angels! This is an assumption that people have made by not looking at the rest of the Bible. 
  • From the later part of the Old Testament and the New Testament we can see that Sons of God refers to people. Initially the Israelites but later on it can refer to people like us if we read the Bible carefully and often.
  • So we must apply this to the earlier parts of the Old Testament where it doesn’t explicitly tell us this.
  • What happened was that the people who were serving God saw women who they liked the look of who were not servants of God, and they were drawn towards these women and ended up becoming servants not of God but of themselves.
  • There were also ‘giants’ or tyrants evil people around at this time who were like bullies. They were just part of this forgetting of the ways of God.

Hope this makes some sense. Sorry it’s so long! I wanted to show you the whole picture taking into account all of the Bible references!