An examination of the early chapters of Genesis most surely justifies the
primeval prophecy concerning the enmity that should exist between the seed of
the serpent and the seed of the woman. In this article we hope to exhibit as far
as possible the teaching and meaning of Genesis 6.
‘And it came to pass, when men began to multiply
on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, 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. 6:1,2).
The fifth chapter of Genesis is ‘The book of the generations of Adam’ and his
sons together with their ages are given down to Noah and his three sons ‘And
Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham and Japheth’ (verse
32). At verse 9 of chapter 6 the book of the ‘generations of Noah’ is introduced
which extends to Genesis 9:29 where it ends with the words: ‘And all the days of
Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died’. The first eight verses of
Genesis 6 belong to the previous section, ‘The book of the generations of Adam’
as the following structure given in The Companion Bible will show:
A 5:1,2. Unfallen
Adam: a ‘son of God’ (Luke 3:38).
B 5:3-5. Fallen Adam, and his
The total 930, and the first 130.
C 5:6-27. The progeny of Adam,
and their deaths.
D 5:28-32. Noah, and his
promise of ‘comfort’.
A 6:1,2. The fallen angels: ‘sons
B 6:3. Fallen Adam, and his
The total 930 and the last 120.
C 6:4-7. The progeny of the
fallen angels, and their
D 6:8. Noah and his
possession of ‘grace’.
It will be seen that this book of the generations of Adam falls into two parts.
Genesis 5:1-32 recording the genealogy of the natural descendants of Adam, while
Genesis 6:1-8 introduces the abnormal and the unnatural. In the structure given
above it is already assumed that ‘the sons of God’ are ‘fallen angels’ and that
the progeny of their illicit marriage were the
Nephilim - a word left unexplained in the structure. These subjects we
must now consider, and the following sequence seems to be the most helpful.
Has there been a ‘fall’ among the angels?
If so, could these angels be called ‘the sons of God’?
In view of Luke 20:35,36 how can we speak of ‘the progeny’ of the fallen
Who and what are ‘The giants’ and ‘The nephilim’?
What is the significance of the words ‘and also after that’? (Gen. 6:4).
Our first question is, ‘has there been a fall among the angels?’ While the
word ‘angel’ is often used without qualification, there are a number of
occasions where the writer says ‘the holy angels’, ‘the angels of God’, ‘the
angel of the Lord’, ‘His angel’, etc., that at least make it possible that there
are angels, that could not be thus indicated. We read in Matthew 25:41 of a
place of punishment ‘prepared for the Devil and his angels’ and in Revelation
12:7 we read of war in heaven, Michael and his angels, fighting with the Devil
and his angels, and by reason of their defeat Satan and his angels are cast out
of heaven into the earth (Rev. 12:7-13). Unless, therefore we are to believe the
monstrous doctrine that God actually created the Devil and his angels in their
present state, there must have been a ‘fall’ among angelic beings.
Further, when the Devil and his angels were expelled from heaven, it does not
say in Revelation 12 that they dispersed themselves throughout the limitless
spaces of the universe, it tells us that Satan at least ‘came down’ to the
inhabiters of the earth, ‘having great wrath’. It is not only a fact that angels
fell, but it seems fairly certain that fallen angels find an abode in the earth
among the sons of men. The book of the Revelation deals with the Day of the Lord
and the time of the end, and like the passage in Ephesians 2:1-3, it shows that
Satan, though fallen, was not bound. With this knowledge we approach two other
passages of Scripture which speak of a fall among the angels, which, by reason
of the context, compel us to fix upon Genesis 6 as the date and occasion of
their fall. The two passages are here set out side by side that they may be the
2 Peter 2:4-6
‘For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell,
and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher
of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; and
turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an
overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live
‘And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own
habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the
judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities
about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and
going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the
vengeance of eternal fire’.
Let us note in some measure of detail the extraordinary features of these two
passages. These angels ‘sinned’, they also ‘kept not their first estate but left
their own habitation’. The reader is aware that the basic meaning of ‘sin’ is
‘to miss the mark’ (Judges 20:16), and it is evident by the expansion given by
Jude, that some of the angels appear to have ‘kept not’ and ‘left’ the position
allotted to them by God and to have transgressed bounds which He, the Creator,
had set. The word translated ‘to keep’ in Jude 6 is
tereo. It is employed by Paul when he
speaks of keeping one’s virginity (1 Cor. 7:37), keeping one’s self pure (1 Tim.
5:22), being preserved blameless (1 Thess. 5:23). Jude uses the word five times,
as follows, ‘preserved in Jesus Christ’,
‘the angels which kept not’, ‘He hath
reserved in everlasting chains’, ‘to whom
is reserved the blackness of darkness’
and ‘keep yourselves in the love of God’.
The angels therefore failed to keep themselves pure, they failed to preserve
their integrity, they failed to keep the trust committed to them. Jude specifies
the particular failure that was their sin, thus: ‘they kept not their first
estate’. Alford translates this, ‘those which kept not their own dignity’.
Weymouth reads: ‘Those who did not keep the position originally assigned to
them’, and Moffatt renders the passage ‘the angels who abandoned their own
domain’. The word translated in these various ways is the Greek
arche ‘beginning’ (John 1:1) and in the
plural ‘principalities’ (Eph. 1:21).
These angels ‘left their own habitation’. There are two words that are
translated ‘to leave’ in the New Testament. One
aphiemi, which means ‘to send away or dismiss’, the other, various
compounds of leipo, which mean lack,
forsake, abandon, leave behind. The word used by Jude is
apoleipo ‘to leave away from one’s self,
to leave behind’. Paul uses the word of ‘the cloak’ that he had left at Troas (2
Tim. 4:13), and of Trophimus, who had been left at Miletum, sick (2 Tim. 4:20).
The word translated ‘habitation’ is oiketerion,
a derivative of oikos ‘a house’ or ‘a
home’, and occurs in 2 Corinthians 5:2 where it refers to the resurrection body:
‘For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be
clothed upon with our house (oiketerion)
which is from heaven’.
The apostle contrasts ‘the earthly house of this tabernacle’ with ‘the house
which is in heaven’, and earnestly desired the exchange. The angels that sinned
left their ‘own body’, and the apostle speaking of the resurrection says ‘to
every seed its own body’ (1 Cor. 15:38). Before the seed is sown it is likened
to ‘bare’ grain, gymnos ‘naked’ (1 Cor.
15:37); before the oiketerion is entered,
the believer is looked upon as unclothed or ‘naked’ (2 Cor. 5:3) and these,
apart from Hebrews 4:13, are the only occurrences of
gymnos in Paul’s epistles. The angels,
therefore, when they left their ‘own’ (idios)
body, the one that was ‘proper’ (1 Cor. 7:7), ‘private’ (2 Pet. 1:20), they
descended to an ‘unclothed’ condition, or were ‘naked’.
The reader will now appreciate something of what is intended in Genesis 3:1
where we read, ‘Now the serpent was more subtil’ remembering that the word
translated ‘subtil’ is the Hebrew arum,
and the word translated ‘naked’ of our unclothed parents is the Hebrew word
arom, both words being derived from the
same root. It would appear from the use made of such words as ‘naked grain’,
‘not being found naked’ and the conception of the resurrection as a condition
that can be described as ‘clothed upon’, that man at his creation must be
thought of likewise as ‘naked grain’, and that he would have continued as such
without shame, until the transformation took place, equivalent to resurrection,
when being glorified and given his destined place above the angels, he would
then be clothed upon.
The coming in of sin and death however exposed man to the attack of the
enemy, and so the Lord ‘clothed’ our first parents with coats of skin, symbols
of the redemptive covering made by Christ until resurrection is attained. All
mankind from Adam to the end of the race are conceived of as being ‘naked’, all
need the covering provided by redeeming love, and all who attain unto the
resurrection of life and righteousness will at last find themselves fully
The fact that oiketerion is used to
speak of the resurrection body of the believer and of that which the angels
sinfully left, raises a question. In what way can we speak of the ‘body’ of an
angel? We must remember that the apostle declares that ‘flesh and blood’ cannot
inherit the kingdom of God, and that consequently at the resurrection we shall
all be changed. We shall not, however, exchange a body to become pure spirit, we
shall exchange the body of our humiliation, for a body like unto the Lord’s body
‘It is sown a natural body; it is raised a
spiritual body’ (1 Cor. 15:44).
At this, the apostle paused, realizing apparently the need for explanation,
so he adds ‘there is (such a thing as) a
natural body, and there is (such a thing
as) a spiritual body’. ‘A creature without any bodily form
is wholly inconceivable, since that which is created, can only work and subsist
within the limits of time and space, and since it is corporeality alone that
confines the creature to time and space. God alone is infinite, an absolute
Spirit. He alone exists above and beyond time and space’ (Kurtz). ‘Only
combining itself with matter, can mind bring itself into alliance with the
various properties of the external world: only thus can it find and be found, be
known or employed, be detained or set at large ... an unembodied spirit, or
sheer mind is NOWHERE’
(Fleming). ‘We might as well say of a pure spirit, that it is hard, heavy, or
red, or that it is a cubic foot in dimensions, as say that it is
there, and that it has come and it is gone’ (Taylor).
Amongst the ‘Fathers’ who ascribed corporeality to angels, are Origen,
Clement of Alexandria, Caesarius and Tertullian. Now if it is possible for those
whose bodies are at present flesh and
blood to be translated to a plane ‘like unto the angels’, then it seems equally
possible for angels to descend into the lower plane and possess bodies like unto
men. When we read of the visit of the angels in Genesis 18, they are described
as ‘men’, whose ‘feet’ could be washed, and who could partake of a meal composed
of ‘butter, milk, cakes made on the hearth and a young calf’ (Gen. 18:1-8). Two
of these ‘men’ turned their faces towards Sodom, and are called ‘two angels’ in
Genesis 19. Abraham, according to Hebrews 13:2, entertained angels unawares.
There is no indication of make-believe about the record, and this and other
appearances of angels in both the Old and the New Testament confirm the fact
that they have bodies, but bodies which in their ordinary sphere are invisible
to the eye of man, but which can become visible when occasion so demands.
We have therefore arrived at the following conclusion. Angels have sinned.
The sin of the angels associated with Noah and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha
is partly to do with the forsaking of their own proper sphere, and of leaving
the body natural to their state, and of descending to the human plane, with
bodies to all appearance at least like those of mankind. The fact that Peter
connects the sin of these angels with the flood, God ‘spared not’ the angels, He
‘spared not’ the old world, establishes one link with Genesis 6. The sons of God
who saw the daughters of men could have been angels. The items numbered 3 to 5
on page 74 are treated under the headings GIANTS and
NEPHILIM which should be consulted. For another
aspect of this teaching, seeIN ADAM.