It seems the biblical evidence is stronger for “sons of God” being angels in Genesis 6:1 for the following reasons:
- Job 1:6 and 2:1 is the same phrase (in the Hebrew, contra the NIV translation) and it, no doubt, refers to angels.
- Jude 6 and 2 Peter 2:4 speak of fallen angels and both references are in the context of God’s judgment. The question to ask is “How would the readers understand these references?”
- The pseudepigraphical Book of Enoch (written in the intertestamental period) takes Genesis 6:4 to be fallen angels (cf. 7; 9.8; 10.11; 12.4).
- Some early church fathers understood the above references, as well as Gen. 6:4, to be fallen angels (Justin Martyr’s Apology 2.5).
- Genesis 19 is a clear reference to angels taking on a bodily form (they even ate, cf. v. 3) and were sexually attractive to the homosexual men of Sodom and Gomorrah. This strongly suggests there is potential for sexual activity to occur between angels and humans.
However, this conclusion is not without problems. For instance, if created beings are only capable of procreating after their own kind (according to Gen 1) then how do we explain the offspring of angelic beings and human beings? Are they not different kinds? While it may be possible for sexual activity to occur between two different species (as in the case of beastiality; sex between animals and humans), Genesis 19 does not say that offspring would result in the event that sex between angels and humans could occur. This is also the case in beastiality. Sex may occur between a man and a horse but it is impossible for there to be offspring (remember, Gen. 1 after their kind).
Second, although it is common to relate 2 Pet 2:4 to Gen 6:4, it is noteworthy that Jesus said he saw Satan “fall like lightening from heaven” (Lk 10:18). Also, John describes a war in heaven in which Satan and his angels were cast down to earth (Rev 12:7-9). If both the Luke and Revelation references are referring to the same event, then it is possible that it occurred long before Genesis 6. It could have occurred prior to creation. Where the Scriptures are silent it is best for us to remain silent as well. In other words, Peter does not tell us explicitly when these angels sinned – his point is that if God condemned the fallen angels, then he’ll surely do the same to unbelievers in the end. Making 2 Peter fit into Gen 6 goes beyond the primary intent of the original author and carries little merit.
Third, all people were corrupt and wicked (see Gen 6:5). However, there were those who worshipped God (cf. 4:25-26), walked with God, (cf. Gen 5:22) and were conscious of God (cf. 5:29; 6:9). Such were worthy to be called sons of God (“the generation of thy children” in Ps 73:15 is the same phrase as Gen 6:4 and could be translated sons of God [Deut 32:5; Hosea 1:10 calls Israel God’s children/sons – Hebrew is sons] Also, Christians are certainly referred to as God’s children cf. 1 John 3:1ff). The preceding context of Gen 4:25-5:32 clearly refers to the godly line of Seth. It seems very abrupt, therefore, that angels are introduced at this point.
And so, I must constantly be reminded not to try and prove my own ideas using Scripture. Rather, I must allow Scripture to shape my ideas. After all, the Bible means what it says and says what it means; nothing more, and certainly nothing less. It is my responsibility to discover what it says but cautiously and prayerfully determine the meaning and significance of any passage.