“The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them.” Genesis 6:4
According to the bible, “daughters of man” bore children to “sons of God.” This incredibly strange declaration, as mentioned in Genesis 6:4, has been the subject of much thought and debate over the years. However, a common consensus is that the teaching from this verse is that there were mating unions between supernatural beings – the “sons of God” (ben elohiym) – and human women. Among other questions arising from this bible verse and such an understanding are: who, why, and how. Who (or what) were/are the “sons of God?” Why would these ben elohiym want to have relations with human women? And how could they?
Regarding the “who” (or what) – the understanding of many bible scholars is that the “sons of God” who engaged in unions with human women were part of the heavenly host that joined with Satan in rebelling against God. For whatever reasons (likely pride, envy and amazing foolishness), Satan (believed to be an anointed cherubim originally known as Lucifer) thought he could usurp God’s authority and chose to try to elevate himself above the omnipotent Creator of all things.
Originally, all of God’s creation, including Lucifer, was deemed “very good.” Other verses in the bible indicate that the heavenly host were among the first of all components of God’s creation, and that they observed God’s action in creating the physical universe. The book of Job states, “Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?'” Job 38:1-7 Perhaps, after shouting for joy at the Lord’s initial works of Creation, Lucifer became envious and proud upon realizing that he, in all his supernatural glory, was of a lesser order of creation than mankind, which – though weak and small compared to Lucifer – was actually a greater creation because humans are made in the image of God. Though called “sons of God,” the heavenly host are not declared to have been made in the actual image of God. Lucifer’s envy and pride may have led to his rebellion, in which he persuaded others of the heavenly host to join him. It is believed by many, due to Revelation 12:4, that as much as a third of the heavenly host joined with Lucifer/Satan.
Following the failed coup by Satan and a number of the “sons of God,” Satan began an assault on humanity. He attacked Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, tempting them and leading them into sin and death. An outcome of this horrid tragedy was a first indication of God’s glorious salvation plan. Genesis 3:15 presents God’s declaration to the tempting serpent (Satan) in which the Lord states, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” The ultimate victory of this promise was seen in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, but, because that future was veiled at the time, it seems Satan may have tried to undermine that promise. If Satan could somehow cause a contamination of the human race, and prevent there being a true offspring of the woman, then God’s promise would be nullified. Accordingly, in keeping with his persuasion of the rebellious heavenly host to join him, Satan may have persuaded some of his followers to pursue sexual relations with human women – to contaminate the human bloodline in opposition to God. It didn’t hurt for Satan’s cause that, per Genesis 6:2 “…the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive.” The bible gives no indication that any of the “heavenly host” were female in form or appearance, whereas such mention as is given regarding angels is that they are masculine in form and appearance. So – the fact that the daughters of man were attractive, and the seeming likelihood that there were no supernatural feminine counterparts to the ben elohiym, may have been a contributory motivation for their attraction to human women, and possibly even a contributory motivation (though unjustified and sinful) for their rebellion against God.
As to how the ben elohiym were able to not only engage in sexual relations with human women but also conceive hybrid offspring (the Nephilim), the bible does not explicitly say. Simply knowing that such acts and outcomes were possible should be enough to cause us to more carefully consider the nature of the world in which we live. And it should cause us to reflect more carefully on the nature and significance of the Nephilim, and what they might mean for today. Genesis Chapter 6, in which the Nephilim are first mentioned, is the chapter of the bible that describes the worldwide flood of Noah’s time. That flood was an act of judgment against the wickedness of man and the corruption that was in the world. The book of Matthew in the New Testament of the bible tells us that Jesus declared, “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Matthew 24:27 Expounding on this, the apostle Peter tells us:
“… scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” 2Peter 3:3-13
As we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells, we need to be sure that we ourselves will be able to dwell in that new kingdom. Such citizenship will only be for those who have been granted forgiveness of sins and have obtained the righteousness of Jesus Christ by faith in the atoning sacrifice of the eternal and only-begotten Son of God, that is – the Lord Jesus Christ. He is eternal God, one with the Heavenly Father and Holy Spirit. By Him all things were made.
Also as we wait, we may want to yet better understand what the world was like in the days of Noah, and to consider further the nature and possible present-day implications regarding the Nephilim. For some further discussion regarding the Nephilim, the following external links are suggested: