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The following is a mind boggling quotation if you have never been exposed to this teaching. I include this particular quote because it is given by one of the most respected and learned Christians of all time– Francis Schaeffer. Why is this important to the believer? Because “….as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man.” Blessings, Pastor Steve
Christian and ancient Jewish scholarship are in agreement with this quote by Francis Schaeffer. The article following is a synopsis of a book by Douglas Van Dorn: Giants: Sons of the Gods. This is cutting edge teaching and becoming more replete throughout Christianity in recent years:
Reformed Baptist Church of Northern Colorado and Pastor Doug Van Dorn
All Rights Reserved
Giants on the Earth
“More and more we are finding that mythology in general, though greatly contorted, very often
has some historic base. And the interesting thing is that one myth that one finds over and over
again in many parts of the world is that somewhere a long time ago supernatural beings had
sexual intercourse with natural women and produced a special breed of people.”
(Francis Schaeffer, “Genesis in Space and Time”)
1 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them,
2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any
3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be
4 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. These were the mighty men who were of
old, the men of renown.
History of a Controversy
A Great Battle
“So it begins.” Thus says King Théoden as the orcs stand ready for war at
the walls of Helm’s Deep. Sometimes I feel like the passage before us today is the
Helm’s Deep of the Bible–the first great exegetical battle over Scripture. To the
victor belong the spoils and the right to govern the worldview of Christians
regarding the interpretation of many supernatural things in the Bible.
Here is a sampling of the language used to discuss this passage. “Genesis
6:1-4 is one of the most controversial passages in the Bible.”1 “The four verses
of our pericope have generated controversy and many different interpretations.”2 “There is great controversy over the identification of the
phrase ‘the sons of God.’”3 “Textual Controversy: Mischievous Angels or
Sethites?”4 “There is no question that the identity of the ‘sons of God” in Gen
6:2 has been a point of controversy for many years … the context is perhaps just
as controversial as the [phrase] … The controversy over the identity of the ‘sons
of God’ and the ‘daughters of men’ has implications.”5
What is a controversy? A controversy is a “disagreement, typically
prolonged, public, and heated.” What is the controversy? It is over the
interpretation of several words or phrases in Genesis 6:1-4: “the sons of God,”
“the daughters of men,” “and also afterward,” “Nephilim,” and “men of
renown.” That is a lot of storm over four little verses.
In my mind, there are two basic interpretations of this passage, each
having their own sub-interpretations. There is a supernatural interpretation: the
sons of God are heavenly beings, the daughters of men are human women, the
Nephilim and men of renown are the same group—gigantic hybrids who were
on the earth both prior to and after the flood. How these giants came to be is the
subject of the sub-interpretations: angels and women mated, angels somehow
manipulated human DNA, and so on.
Then there is the natural interpretation: the sons of God are godly male
Sethites from the lineage of Seth, the daughters of men are ungodly women from
the line of Cain. Together they produced a line of very wicked but perfectly
human tyrants, not physically gigantic, but spiritually gigantic in their own
eyes—tall with pride. They were only on the earth prior to the flood.
There is a third view, which some see as distinctly different from the other
two, but which I see as being compatible with either a supernatural or natural
interpretation. This is the so-called dynastic ruler view. It holds that the
Nephilim were great rulers and kings of old. Most who hold this view, like the
Rabbis of the 2nd century A.D. and later, believe that they were perfectly human.
But some who hold it believe that they were the giants and demigods like
2 Willem van Gemeren, “The Sons of God in Genesis 6:1–4 (An Example of Evangelical Demythologization?).”
Westminster Theological Journal 43 (1981): 322 [320-348].
3 Free Bible Commentary, “Special Topic: ‘The Sons of God’ in Genesis 6,” Bible Lessons International.
4 Chuck Missler, “Textual Controversy: Mischievous Angels or Sethites?”, Personal Update News Journal
[Aug 1997]. http://www.khouse.org/articles/1997/110/
5 Thomas A. Howe, Ph.D. “Who are the Sons of God in Genesis 6? Part 2: The Tyrants View,” Professor of
Bible and Biblical Languages as Southern Evangelical Seminary, 2004: 1.
Hercules or Gilgamesh (supernatural fathers/human mothers). There seems to
me nothing about a king per se that would limit him to one category or the other.
A Brief History
The very brief history of interpretation of this text is that from
somewhere in the mid second century as far back as you want to go in Jewish
circles and for the first two and a half centuries of church history (or longer than
the United States has been a nation), the only view even known was the
supernatural view. Not only is it found dozens of times in different Jewish
works, and it was held by the likes of Justin Martyr; Irenaeus; Athenagoras;
Pseudo Clement; Clement of Alexandria; Tertullian; Lactantius; Eusebius;
Commodian; Ambrose; Jerome; and Sulpicius Severus.6
Sometime near the middle of the 3rd century A.D., a historian named
Julius Africanus wrote about an idea that he had heard, probably from the Jews,
which said Sethite men were marrying Cainite women. He said this seemed
probable to him, but he admitted that it could also be angels. This natural
interpretation mentioned by Julius seems to have been invented by Rabbis
sometime well after their temple was destroyed, quite possibly because they
began losing so many of their people to this sect called Christianity, a religion
that taught that a God-man had come claiming to be the Messiah. It was not
until Augustine and Chrysostom came along at the turn of the 5th century A.D.
that the natural interpretation really gained any traction in the church.7
A Sharp Tongue: The Weapon of a War
If you don’t know anything about this controversy, you can probably see
from these differences why it has been such a heated debate. I mean, heavenly
beings and human women? It just seems absurd, perhaps even blasphemous. So
how heated has this controversy been? Let me use the language that has been
used by some of my own personal church heroes of centuries past. Calvin said,
“That ancient figment, concerning the intercourse of angels with women, is
abundantly refuted by its own absurdity; and it is surprising that learned men
should formerly have been fascinated by ravings so gross and prodigious” (John
6 A good summary is Robert C. Newman “The Ancient Exegesis of Genesis 6:2, 4.” Grace Theological Journal
5.1 (1984): 13-36.
7 I deal with all of this in the Introduction of my book Giants: Sons of the Gods (Erie, CO: Waters of Creation
(Calvin, Genesis 6:1).8 Martin Luther called the supernatural view, “The silly
ideas of the Jews” (Martin Luther, Genesis 6:2).9 Theodoret, a contemporary of
Augustine, calls anyone who holds the angelic view “mad fools” (Theodoret,
Questions on Genesis: XLVII). Chrysostom seems to border on turning it into an
all out war, throwing the whole tradition not only under the bus, but sending
those poor run-over souls right into the pit of hell when he says, “[We need to]
confute the fanciful interpretations of those people whose every remark is made
rashly … by demonstrating the absurdity of what is said by them … so that you
will not lend your ears idly to people uttering those blasphemies and presuming
to speak in a way that brings their own persons into jeopardy” (Chrysostom,
Homilies on Genesis 22.6).
Every one of these objections to the older view is rooted in the logical
fallacy called an ad hominem, basically, name calling. This is what children do on
the playground during recess when they say, “Your momma wears combat
boots.” Unfortunately, it isn’t an argument, but a cut down, an attempt to win
by making the other side look like idiots or even non-Christians.
Augustine is a little different. His basic argument is, “I could by no means
believe that God’s holy angels could at that time have so fallen” (Augustine, City
of God 15:23).10 Likewise, Luther similarly says, “That anything could be born
from [the union of a devil and a human being],11 this I do not believe.” In other
words, it is just too incredible. I wonder though, if the supernatural view is to be
rejected simply because it is incredible, what would happen to the virgin birth,
the deity of Jesus Christ, the Trinity, miracles and the resurrection if all theology
was accepted or rejected because it is difficult to accept?
A Moral Imperative
Before we start looking at this passage, I want to begin with a moral
imperative, something that I believe may in fact be much more important than
the interpretation of our passage today. How are we as Christians to deal with
8 John Calvin and John King, Commentary on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis (Bellingham, WA: Logos
Research Systems, Inc., 2010), Gen 6:1.
9 Martin Luther, vol. 2, Luther’s Works, Vol. 2 : Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 6-14, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan,
Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, Luther’s Works (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House,
1999), Gen 6:2. In reality, the Sethite interpretation would also be a “silly idea of the Jews” except it would be
a newer idea.
10 Philip Schaff, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Vol. II (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, 1997), 303.
11 Luther is most likely technically incorrect. The supernatural view is not that devils mated with women, but
that the heavenly sons of God did. The early church saw a big difference between these two kinds of creatures.
See below. such controversies? I’m not talking about a controversy that strikes at the heart
of the Christian faith, destroying something essential to the gospel. I’m talking
about something that, while important and having far reaching implications for
one’s worldview, nevertheless is not a gospel essential (it isn’t even a confessional
issue). Both views actually get to the gospel, but neither saves nor damns anyone.
Let me suggest a couple of things. First, using logical fallacies such as name
calling and arguments like “I couldn’t believe it” are not befitting the people of
God. The later are not helpful, and the former border on being out and out
sinful. I have seen much passion on both sides of this interpretive battle. That can
be fine. But not always. I’ve seen an over-zeal that comes when people (myself
included) come to a different interpretation than the one they grew up holding.
I’ve also seen visceral anger from some that are quite fine where they are and do
not want to be bothered with another opinion. Neither of these reactions are the
best for God’s people to engage in either. And does not the way we conduct
ourselves mean as much, if not more, to the Lord God than what we believe
about a thing like this? Yes, doctrine matters, but so too does our behavior, both
internally and externally. Our internal behavior keeps us from being fair and
objective, our outward behavior can cause us to sin against our brother.
Let me suggest that we reason together, that we each look within and
think about our own presuppositions, why we hold them so tightly, that we each
be willing to fairly examine the evidence (all of which I cannot possibly give in a
sermon like this), and that when we come to our own conclusions on a matter,
that we hold one other in the highest esteem in the bonds of love, as those for
whom Christ has also died and shed his blood. This, it seems to me, may be the
most important thing we can take away practically speaking from a controversy
such as the one we will now explore together. Otherwise, we may find ourselves
behind the wall of Helm’s Deep.
A Defense of the Supernatural View
My basic view of preaching on a topic of controversy is that if I have an
opinion on the matter, I’m going to preach it. I’m not going to preach as, “Here
are the views, go and decide for yourself.” I will only do that if I don’t have an
opinion. If I believe something, it is because I believe I have reasons for it. I
believe those reasons are sound, otherwise I wouldn’t believe it (do you believe
something you think is wrong?). Since I believe they are sound, I believe others
ought to believe what I believe (do you believe things that you don’t think
others should also believe?). So, I’m going to try and persuade you of my
position. Nevertheless, at the same time, because it is not a matter of gospel salvation,
I also want to make sure you know that if you disagree with me at the
end of the day, I respect your position, especially if you can give reasons for it. I
want you to know that if you disagree with me on a matter like this, that I still
love and respect you. My hope is that you will offer me that same charity and
kindness. As its pastor, this is what I desire our congregation to be known for.
Not necessarily how much we believe. Nor how passionately we believe it. But
that we believe things passionately and are still willing to talk about them with
one another, loving one another in Christ-like love with the fruit of the Spirit.
My view has changed on this matter over the past half-dozen years or so. I
used to hold Augustine’s natural-Sethite interpretation of the two-cities. I now
believe this is an error, and hold instead that the older church view was correct.
The sons of God are heavenly beings. Let me tell you some reasons why.
The Language of the Text
The first reason is linguistic. There are four main phrases up for grabs in
this passage. The first is the “sons of God.” This phrase occurs 10 times in the
OT, if you count the LXX.
“SONS OF GOD” PASSAGE HEBREW PHRASE
Psalm 82:6 beney ’elyon
Deut 32:8 aggelōn theou*
Deut 32:43 uioi theou*
* signifies only found in LXX12
In each case, the phrase means a heavenly being.13 You can see this best in Job
38:7, a creation story that says the sons of God were shouting for joy prior to
God creating mankind.
Those who take the Sethite interpretation will say that Israel is sometimes
called God’s son (Ex 4:22; Hos 11:1). This is true enough, but I want to say two
things here. First, our phrase is actually a technical phrase used outside of Israel,
12 The LXX reading is almost certainly the original. See Michael S. Heiser, “Deuteronomy 32:8 and the Sons
of God,” Bibliotheca Sacra: 158:629 (Jan-Mar, 2001): 52-74.
13 I realize people dispute this. So I deal with it at length in my Introduction in the Giants book.
© Reformed Baptist Church of Northern Colorado and Pastor Doug Van Dorn
All Rights Reserved
and it always refers to the heavenly divine council, the 70 sons of El who
administer the affairs of the cosmos. There is no technical phrase involved in
calling Israel his son. Second, this phrase is always translated as angels by the
LXX, showing that this was the view of those in the early days.14 Moreover,
there is absolutely no evidence anywhere in the Bible that “sons of God” means
“sons of Seth.” It is never used like this anywhere else. In fact, when you think
about it, what sense does it even make to substitute “Seth” for “God?” It says
sons of “God,” not “godly sons.” It is a noun, not an adverb.
In a similar fashion, there is absolutely no biblical evidence that “daughters
of men” are Cainites. Cain was a man, yes. But there were many more lines of
men than just Cain’s. These are the daughters of “men.” Is not Seth a man? Why
couldn’t they be Sethites? According to Jewish tradition, Adam had thirty other
sons, besides Cain, Abel, and Seth.15 Given how long he lived and how long they
were fertile, that seems reasonable to me. Why couldn’t the daughters of men be
those descendents? Aren’t they men too? With all things being equal, each child
of Adam having the same number of babies, simply put, the Sethite view only
even deals with 6% of all human beings on earth.16 Yet the next verse says that all
human beings had become utterly corrupt (Gen 6:5), and our passage is here
partly to demonstrate this and provide justification for exterminating mankind,
save Noah and his family.
The final two words are important. The word “Nephilim” is surrounded
by controversy. What does it mean? Most of your Bibles won’t give an opinion,
so they just transliterate the word. Many say it comes from the word naphal,
meaning “to fall.” So Nephilim are “fallen ones.” The better ground to stand on
here is that Nephilim means “giant.”17 This is how the LXX, Vulgate, and
Aramaic Targums all translate the word, and it is the only way to account for the
alternate spelling of the word in the Hebrew of Numbers 13:33. In that passage,
it is very clear that the Nephilim are giants.
14 I do not have time to deal in the sermon with how “angels” and the “sons of God” relate. Basically, the “sons
of God” was an early term used in early books of the Bible. “Angel” in those days was a technical term for a
messenger, almost always heavenly in origin. By the time the LXX was translated, the term “angel” had
become a broad word that could encompass almost any kind of heavenly being. We still use “angel” in this
broad sense today.
15 Life of Adam and Eve 24:3.
16 30 other sons divided by 32 sons (not counting Abel) is 6.25%.
17 This view is proposed by H. Gunkel, Genesis (Göttingen, 1910), 58-59, and elaborated on by Michael
Heiser, The Myth That Is True (unpublished), 79-83. Heiser interacts with a recent objection to his view here:
© Reformed Baptist Church of Northern Colorado and Pastor Doug Van Dorn
All Rights Reserved
The “mighty heroes of old” are the Nephilim. The LXX translates both
words as gigantes. This is introduced here because in a few chapters, the first of
these mighty heroes, a fellow named Nimrod, will be discussed. At any rate, the
linguistic evidence for the Sethite view is scant to completely absent in my
The second reason I hold my view is historical. To me, this is even more
powerful, in fact was the final nail in the coffin for me personally holding the
natural interpretation. This history is both outside and inside of the Bible.
Outside the Bible, this view of the sons of God is exactly what Israel’s neighbors
believed, using in fact the exact same phrase to talk about the heavenly beings of
the divine council. They did not believe that the sons of God were humans.
Neither does the OT.
The biblical history is much more important. It circles around the books
of 2 Peter and Jude. Again, the supernatural view is the only known view of our
text at the time of the NT. If the NT differs, it goes against all known
interpretation for 250 years in both directions, with the exception of those
Rabbis in the second century A.D. that I mentioned earlier.
The NT speaks directly to these verses. 2 Peter 2:4 says, “For if God did
not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell (tartarus) and
committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment…”
Some commentators will say that Peter is referring to the initial fall of the angels
when Satan fell. This is problematic for three reasons. First, we don’t know that
a host of angels fell with Satan. Second, Peter uses the unique word tartarus for
“hell.” Tartarus has only one use in the ancient world. It is the place where God
bound the angels who fell in the Gigantomachy (the Greek equivalent of the
supernatural interpretation of our passage). Here is Hesiod on the matter:
Among the foremost Cottus and Briareos and Gyes18 insatiate for war raised
fierce fighting: three hundred rocks, one upon another, they launched from
their strong hands and overshadowed the Titans with their missiles, and buried
them beneath the wise-pathed earth, and bound them in bitter chains when
they had conquered them by their strength for all their great spirit, as far
beneath the earth to Tartarus.
(Hesiod, Theogony 313-320)
Third, and most importantly, Peter has in mind the book of Jude. Jude and
2 Peter parallel one another in remarkable ways. Jude says, “And the angels who
18 Giants of incredible strength and ferocity, even superior to that of the Titans.
did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper
dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the
judgment of the great day– (Jude 1:6).
Here is where I want to return to Genesis 5 for a moment, and the person
of Enoch. It says that Enoch did not die, but was translated (Gen 5:24).
Presumably, he was taken to heaven. Later in his epistle, Jude quotes Enoch,
saying that Enoch prophesied before the flood (Jude 14-15). These words of
Enoch were remembered for generations by Jews, until they were finally put
into writing in the book we know as 1 Enoch.
Now, 1 Enoch is not in our Bible, and most Christians do not consider it
to be inspired.19 The reason Augustine gave for why is that it was too old to trust
(City of God 15:23). That is, we couldn’t be sure that words not from Enoch were
added, and in fact, in certain parts later in the book, this seems to be the case.
Nevertheless, Jude says the words of Enoch are recorded here.
What is important is that throughout his tiny letter, Jesus’ half-brother
quotes or alludes to the book of 1 Enoch almost a dozen times. These are always
favorable. Considering that the letter is only 25 verses long, one could almost
call Jude the “Little Enoch.” He clearly holds this book in very high esteem. I
believe, based on this, that we should treat 1 Enoch much like Reformed
Christians treat Calvin: In very high esteem, certainly capable of telling us truth
and giving us actual history like any other book, but not holy Scripture.
SOME OF JUDE’S ALLUSIONS TO 1 ENOCH
JUDE 1 ENOCH
Jude 6 “The angels that did not keep
their own position but left
their proper dwelling.”
“[The angels] have
abandoned the high
heaven, the holy eternal
1 En 12:4
“until the judgment of the
“preserved for the day of
1 En 45:2
(1 En 10:6)
“angels … kept in eternal
chains under gloomy
“this is the prison of the
angels, and here they will
be imprisoned forever”
1 En 21:10
(1 En 10:4)
Jude 12 “waterless clouds” “every cloud … rain shall
1 En 100:11
“raging waves” “ships tossed to and fro by
1 En 101:2
“fruitless trees” “fruit of the trees shall be
1 En 80:3
Jude 13 “wandering stars” “stars that transgress the
1 En 80:6
“the gloom of utter darkness
has been reserved forever”
“darkness shall be their
1 En 46:6
Jude 14 “Enoch the seventh from
“my grandfather [Enoch] …
seventh from Adam”
1 En 60:8
… saying, “Behold, the
Lord comes with ten
He comes with ten
1 En 1:9
19 The Coptic Ethiopian church is the one exception in our day. A few church Fathers such as Tertullian also
believed it was inspired.
thousands of his holy ones,
15 to execute judgment
on all and to
convict all the ungodly
of all their deeds of
ungodliness that they have
committed in such an
and of all the harsh things
that ungodly sinners
have spoken against him.”
thousands of His holy ones
To execute judgment
upon all, and he will
destroy all the ungodly,
and convict all flesh about
all works of their
ungodliness which they
And of all the hard things
which ungodly sinners
have spoken against Him.
Why is Jude’s treatment of 1 Enoch important? It is because when Jude
makes this comment about angels, he does so in the context of a book that spends
chapter after chapter explaining our very passage, explicitly telling us that the
sons of God are heavenly beings and that the Nephilim are demi-gods and giants.
To me, it is absurd to think that Jude would favorably cite or allude to 1 Enoch
almost a dozen times in 25 verses,20 and yet at this one point, the most basic point
of 1 Enoch, he would give a view that goes directly against it without even
telling us that he is doing so. As I said, when I realized these things about 2 Peter
and Jude, that was the nail in the coffin for me, because I can’t find an honest
way to get around that fact that these two NT books are talking about Genesis
6:1-4, and I believe as Holy Scripture that they are inspired by God. Thus, I am
compelled to believe the supernatural view, even though it seems bizarre.
Why is this Passage Here?
So that is the controversy, and that is my position. For the last section of
this sermon, I want to ask the question of why this passage is here, and then how
it contributes to our understanding of the gospel, even though it, in fact, is not
good news but bad news. So why is it here?
When we consider what comes before it and after it, in some ways, it
seems out of place. However, it does serve both the immediate context and the
larger context of the whole OT going right on into the NT. As for the
immediate context, we should look at the last verse of Genesis 5. It says, “After
Noah was 500 years old, Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (Gen 5:32).
This introduces us to the hero of the flood story, if we can call Noah a hero. In
contrast, this story shows how everyone but Noah became polluted. If the
daughters of men really could include any and every lineage from Adam, as I
20 In fact, the book of 1 Enoch seems to be alluded to throughout the NT. I have three books that each give
various cross references between certain NT verses and corresponding verses in 1 Enoch. These are Steve
Delamarter, A Scripture Index to Charlesworth’s The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (New York: Sheffield
Acedemic Press Ltd, 2002); Craig Evans, Noncanonical Writings and New Testament Interpretation (Peabody,
MA: Hendrickson Pub, 1992), 190-219; Ronald K. Brown, The Book of Enoch: Second Edition (San Antonio,
TX: Guadalupe Baptist Theological Seminary Press, 2000).
believe, then we see that the corruption that spread to mankind, both of their
own prerogative and angelic initiative, was indeed universal. Rather than a mere
6% of the population from the lines of Seth and Cain, everyone is involved.
Furthermore, the kind of pollution involved here is almost unthinkable. It
is a pollution of the very meaning of what constitutes a human being. The idea
of a Nephilim is that it is not fully human. Using Genesis 1 language (which is
part of the larger context), it is a pollution of the kinds. To put it bluntly, human
beings were ceasing to be human beings.
There is a frightening parallel to this going on in the minds of mad
scientists today in the form of something known as Transhumanism. According
to the Wiki, Transhumanism is “an international cultural and intellectual
movement with an eventual goal of fundamentally transforming the human
condition by developing and making widely available technologies to
greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.” It
sounds wonderful, until you consider the dark side portrayed by movies like The
Island of Dr. Moreau or Splice. It sounds like science fiction, until you realize
that we have fully mapped the human genome. Basically, these guys are now
tinkering with DNA. We already have state laws on the books outlawing animal
hybridization, because we actually have the scientific know-how to make animal hybrids.
These guys want to do the same thing to human beings. Consider this the idea
behind the supernatural view of Genesis 6:1-4, only it occurred at the hands of
heavenly beings that have been a around a lot longer and have an intellect that
far outstrips that of the human being. As we will see next week, on the
supernatural reading, this seems to be the idea behind telling us that Noah was
“perfect” in his “generations” (Gen 6:9). This would refer not to moral
perfection (have you read the story of Noah and the vineyard immediately after
the fall?), but to biological purity.
How This Helps our View of the Gospel
So how does this passage fit into our view of the gospel? First, let me say
something about the natural interpretation of Augustine. I will say up front that
I think Augustine had the best of intentions in giving his proposal that the sons
of God are Sethites and that the problem was basically Christians marrying non-
Christians. His idea that there is a godly line that was being mixed through these
marriages does point us to election and God’s choice to preserve a line through
which Christ would come. He was very concerned with two-cities, and making
sure that we understand how these interact and how they are to remain distinct
for Christians. That was his context, but he seems to have read his context into the text. As we saw last week (in Genesis 5), I believe the essential theology of a
godly line and a wicked line is basically correct. I’m not fully convinced about all
of the particulars, but the basic idea is biblical follows from Genesis 4-5.
It was out of this context and a zeal for the two cities that Augustine read
Genesis 6:1-4. His concern is pastoral. God wiped out the whole world because
Christians were not keeping themselves separate from the world. Who can blame
Augustine for that? The problem is, I’m personally convinced that Genesis 6:1-4
is just not talking about this. Rather, its context comes from something earlier.
I heard a defense of the Sethite view which said there is nothing
supernatural in the entire Bible up to Genesis 6:1-4. So all of the sudden, out of
the blue, with no warning or prior foreshadowing, I’m just supposed to accept
that angels are meant in this passage? When I heard this, I was struck by Genesis
3, because I know this pastor believes in Satan. Isn’t he a supernatural being? And
then, aren’t there two cherubim that are guarding the gates of Eden? Don’t
forget the LORD himself walking around. The whole of Genesis 3 teaches that
many supernatural beings were walking around on earth in the paradise of God.
Then there is that promise that God gave to Eve: She would have a Seed
who would crush the head of the serpent. But the serpent would also have a seed.
As we saw, spiritually speaking Satan had a seed. His name was Cain, and this is
part of the purpose of Genesis 4, to show what happens when people spiritually
belong to the devil.
But to be consistent, if Eve’s seed is physical and biological, it would make
sense that Satan would also have a physical and biological seed. I believe this is
exactly what the story of the Nephilim is. It introduces us to a lineage that not
only was partially responsible for the Flood, but which will also play a major role
in the rest of the story of Genesis, and beyond.
And I believe this strikes at the heart of Satan’s anger and futile plan to
overthrow the prophecy. “If God is going to have a seed from the woman, then I
will ensure that there are no women left that can have a seed.” And so he
corrupts the human line through the daughters of men. That way, Messiah
cannot come. Satan cannot be defeated. This idea fits the context of the
supernatural of Genesis 3 and the “kinds” that play such a prominent role in
Genesis 1 and again in Genesis 7 when God brings the kinds into the ark. It
makes sense of the NT’s interpretation, and of the great story of the Bible—the
coming seed of Christ. It makes sense of why God would elect Noah and
preserve his line all the way to the NT.
In fact, this allows us to see a golden thread of the Bible, a supernatural
war that God is waging through his chosen people that almost all commentaries
© Reformed Baptist Church of Northern Colorado and Pastor Doug Van Dorn
All Rights Reserved
miss. It will begin with Abraham and the giant wars of Genesis 14. It will
continue on with Esau and Jacob and Judah and Moses and especially Joshua and
David. You find it also with Saul and Balaam and even Esther. You find it in the
prophets: Isaiah, Amos, Ezekiel, and Daniel. This war will finally culminate in
none other than a war that Jesus Christ himself will wage in both his life and his
death on the cross.
This war involves both the demons of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the
heavenly beings that he conquers in his death, resurrection, and ascension. Do
you remember last week that I told you about Hesiod who believed that the
Heroes before the flood became the demons? Well, this was the same view of the
early Jews and Christians. In fact, this view was taught throughout the ancient
world in one form or another. Somehow, this became a stock belief of ancient
peoples. Justin Martyr and Eusebius are good examples of how the early church
thought. Justin says, “But the angels transgressed this appointment, and were
captivated by love of women, and begat children who are those that are called
demons” (Justin Martyr, 2 Apology 5). “For one might say that these daemons are
those giants [Gen 6:4], and that their spirits have been deified by the subsequent
generations of men, and that their battles, and their quarrels among themselves,
and their wars are the subjects of these legends that are told as of gods” (Eusebius,
Preparation for the Gospel 5.4).
As for the heavenly beings, the Scripture tells us that because of his great
work, Christ is now “above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and
above every name that is named” (Eph 1:21). This was God’s plan all along, a
secret unveiled only after the fact. For it says, “None of the rulers of this age
understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of
glory” (1 Cor 2:8). 1 Peter even uses the story of the flood to teach us about
Christ’s great work and concludes that Christ, “Has gone into heaven and is at
the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been
subjected to him” (1 Pet 3:22; cf. vv. 18-21 for context).
But there is one final thing to say. The NT uses our passage very
specifically, as a warning to us today. Both Jude and Peter use this passage along
with Sodom and Gomorrah as a warning against sexual immorality, for they
understand that supernatural beings can be involved in the sexual sins of
mankind, tempting us and even being lured by us in a kind of evil erotic dance
from hell. This is why it says, in my opinion, that a “wife ought to have a
symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels” (1 Cor 11:10). We have
no idea what kinds of things we are messing around with in sexual sin. As bad as it is for us, it also brings the very heavens and pits of hell into the mix. Do you
think you have the power to fight both them and yourself?
Then our passage is used as a warning by Jude to keep us under the
authority of Christ, not forsaking authority which is the cause of so much
disruption in the churches. As it also says, there are angels over the seven
churches, and some have become the very synagogues of Satan. This is
supernatural language involving these beings, is it not? We must watch
ourselves, lest we pervert or disregard God’s authority structure in the churches,
as angels did, as Korah did, as Satan did with the body of Moses.
Each of the sins listed in Jude and 2 Peter contribute to this supernatural
uprising, as well as to the uprising of wickedness in our own hearts. Beloved,
there is a supernatural world, and it is tied to this world in ways that we cannot
possible imagine. The Scripture is clear about it. Beware and open your eyes. But
most of all, trust in Christ who has overcome the devil. He is able to keep you
from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory
with great joy. To the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be
glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.
Amen. with this quotation: © Reformed Baptist Church of Northern Colorado and Pastor Doug Van Dorn
All Rights Reserved