Within Genesis 6 there is controversy over whether the term “sons of God” refers to fallen angels or not. Many are taught (sadly, usually in Bible schools or Seminary schools) that this passage refers to a failure to keep the “faithful” lines of Seth separate from the “worldly” line of Cain. Supposedly, after Cain murdered his brother Abel, Seth and his descendants remained godly while Cain and his descendants turned rebellious and ungodly. Those who follow this theory believe the term “sons of God” is referencing the line of Seth, and the term “daughters of men” is referencing the ungodly and rebellious line of Cain.
This theory can be de-bunked for several reasons:
- No explanation is given to why the resulting children of these marriages would be nephilim, or giants.
- It presumes and adds to what is written in the bible without warrant. If the Lord had meant daughters of Cain, surely he would have written “daughters of Cain”.
- “Sons of God” is translated from B’nai Elohim, which is consistently used in the bible to refer to angelic beings. It is never used of believers in the Old Testament.
- There is no scriptural foundation for this belief
- The events of Genesis 6 are also echoed in the legends and myths of every ancient culture upon the earth: the ancient Greeks, the Egyptians, the Hindus, the South Sea Islanders, the American Indians, and virtually all the others.
Origin of the Sethite View
Before the Middle Ages, there were centuries of understanding of the “Angel View” by the ancient rabbinical sources, as well as the Septuagint translators, and early church fathers. But this view of Genesis 6 became embarrassing to the church in 5th century A.D. They wanted to eliminate it for the following reasons:
- Angel worship had begun in the church
- “Celibacy” had just been institutionalized by the church, and the “Angel” view was feared to impact these views
- Celsus and Julian the Apostate had begun to use the Angel View to attack Christianity
Because of this, Julius Africanus sought more comfortable ground and resorted to the Sethite view. Cyril of Alexandria, and Augustine followed, and the theory prevailed during the Middle Ages. Still today many churches find the Angel view too disturbing to admit.