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The Nephilim—Who Are Those Guys ? 

The Nephilim—Who Are Those Guys ? 

When I first became a Christian and was participating in Bible studies, I was really  excited about the Word of God, but a good friend and co-worker who considered himself  an expert on “religion” told me, “I took a couple of religion classes in college and found  out the Bible is full of contradictions and crazy stuff”. I asked for an example and he  challenged me to read Genesis 6:1-7. That night I went home eager to read it and  confident that it would present no problems for me. I was shocked to read verse 4, “The  Nephilim were on the earth in those days…when the sons of God came in to the  daughters of men, and they bore children to them.” I looked at a different translation and  it translated sons of God as angels, and the footnote said that fallen angels had procreated  with human women and produced a race of evil giants. Now I was really confused, even  shocked and desperate for answers. Maybe my friend was right, there is some really crazy  stuff in here. My problem was compounded when I asked the question at Bible study and  the guy basically had no idea and said, “that’s just one of those problem passages that we  have no answer for”. 

I am not one to leave things hanging out there like that so I continued to pursue it, even  going to a book store (that was radical action in those days). The commentary I found  explained it something like—“sons of God” is used in the Old Test. to refer to angels  who had sex with women and produced the Nephilim. It further referred me to 2 Peter 2:4  and Jude 6 which seem to say that a group of evil angels left heaven, committed some  particularly evil sin for which they were incarcerated by God in the abyss, inference  being the act of Genesis 6 producing these “mighty men” of old—the Nephilim. This just  seemed too wild for me so I continued to dig. This finally led me to the explanation I am  satisfied with today—the only one who could perfectly explain this passage is the author,  but there are several explanations to choose from that work. The key is not worrying so  much about who the Nephilim are, but honing in on the context of the passage and what  the overall meaning is. Let’s offer several possibilities of who the sons of God were and  who the Nephilim were, and then focus on the meaning. Possibilities include: 

  1. The sons of God were the godly line of Seth mentioned in Gen.4:25 who replaced Abel  as Adam’s godly son. The human race which descended from Seth were faithful believers  until they cohabited with “the daughters of men” who were the descendants of Cain. The  result was children viewed as “mighty men” who ruled wickedly 
  2. The “sons of God” were fallen angels who cohabited with women on earth. 
  3. The “sons of God” are proud and powerful humans who were influenced, enticed, or  even controlled by fallen angels. They cohabited with many women to satisfy their lusts  and to perpetuate their rebellious line through many children. Their children ruled so they were called mighty. This view would also incorporate Jude 6 and 2 Peter2:4. The demons  that influenced them were locked up.

In many ways, #2 works because in the O.T. “sons of God” is only used to refer to angels  or godly men. #2 also explains Jude 6, and the Greek Septuagint’s translation of  Nephilim as giants. The problem is that angels are spiritual beings who don’t procreate  (Matt.22:30). Most ministers prefer the politically correct interpretation of the godly line  of Seth intermarried with the evil line of Cain, and #3 is a comfortable compromise as  well. 

Who Are Those Guys—the Nephilim ? 

The Hebrew word for Nephilim comes from naphal which means to fall. The most likely  meaning of this is “those who have fallen”. This is in regard to their fallen evil nature.  Much later those who translated the O.T. into Greek, translated it as giants because of  Numbers 13:33 reference to the very large sons of Anak who were also called Nephilim.  Whoever they were, it is clear they were violent men of strength and power that God was  very unhappy with. To rebellious men of later times, they were regarded as great heroes,  but in God’s sight they were merely ungodly men of violence and evil (just read  Gen.6:5). Whether giants or not, whether men or angels, the context of the passage and  the meaning of the passage is the same. The conditions of the world at that time were so  evil that they were finally intolerable even to a God of compassion and long-suffering. Result being that all the godless inhabitants of the pre-flood world would soon perish in  the flood. 

Therefore, no matter how you interpret Genesis 6:4 you must come away with the  meaning that the world conditions in the days before the Flood demanded God’s action in  the judgment of the coming catastrophe. 

What does this mean for us? When God judges the world as He was about to in Genesis  6, no giant, no angel, and no human being has any power to resist Him. In the same way,  God has allotted our days and when they are up, that’s it. God has also appointed a day in  the coming future of judgment for the whole earth. Are you ready? Could you honestly  say as John said in Revelation 22:20, “Come, Lord Jesus” I am ready. 

Charlie Taylor

About the Author: Charlie Taylor
About the Author: Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor grew up in Dallas, Texas, graduated from the University of Texas Business School and went into the commercial real estate business for about twenty years before enrolling in and graduating from Dallas Theological Seminary with honors.

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