Can you explain Genesis 6:1-4?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Genesis 6:1-4 is the most mysterious passage in the Bible’s first book. Friend, we will get right to it and hopefully shed some light on it.

“[1] And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, [2] That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. [3] And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. [4] There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”

What makes this passage a great point of contention is trying to identify “the sons of God.” Just for the record, Dr. C. I. Scofield has the following note at Genesis 6:4 in his study Bible:

“Some hold that these ‘sons of God’ were the ‘angels which kept not their first estate’ (Jude 6). It is asserted that the title is in the O. T. exclusively used of angels. But this is an error (Isa. 43. 6). Angels are spoken of in a sexless way. No female angels are mentioned in Scripture, and we are expressly told that marriage is unknown among angels (Mt. 22. 30). The uniform Hebrew and Christian interpretation has been that verse 2 marks the breaking down of the separation between the godly line of Seth and the godless line of Cain, and so the failure of the testimony to Jehovah committed to the line of Seth (Gen. 4. 26).”

With that said, which of the following two scenarios do the Scriptures support?

  1. Seth’s descendants (“the sons of God”) intermarried with Cain’s descendants (“the daughters of men”) and had children with them. OR
  2. Angels (“the sons of God”) intermarried with Adam’s descendants (“the daughters of men”) and had children with them.

If you study the verses carefully, you see that number 1 can be ruled out. Verse 1 says “daughters were born unto men.” This would not be a reference to just Seth’s descendants, but all female descendants of Adam. The phrases “sons of God” and “daughters of men” contrast two different sets of creatures—non-humans and humans, respectively. In the book of Job, “sons of God” refers to angelic beings (Job 1:6; Job 2:1; Job 38:7). Angels is the only acceptable sense of the term “sons of God” in Genesis 6:1-4.

Now will be presented some tangential explanations people have developed. “That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose” (verse 2). Some have suggested the word “took” implies alien abductions and human-alien hybrids. If they want to believe that then that is their prerogative. However, I personally think that they are using Hollywood and science fiction to interpret the Bible. There exists a much simpler and more plausible explanation.

“Alien abductions” does not seem to me to be a valid interpretation of that term “took them wives” (Genesis 6:2). The Hebrew word translated “take” in Genesis 6:2 is rendered elsewhere as “take” in marriage (Leviticus 18:17,18; Leviticus 20:14,17,21; Leviticus 21:7,13,14). These instances had absolutely nothing to do with kidnapping/abducting. They describe selecting a spouse from a population of people. In the book of Leviticus, God instructed the Levites to “take” wives only from their tribe. Did that mean the Levites were to abduct (kidnap) women and make wives out of them? We would have to conclude this if we said that “taking” a wife meant abduction, forcing a woman against her will. The word “took” in Genesis 6:2 simply means they “chose” wives and as men “choose” wives today.


Exactly which women would want to get involved in such strange unions with devilish creatures? My explanation is that the women did not know the true identity of the men they married and had sexual relations with. We know that angels assume the form of men when they enter our dimension. From all outward appearance, a devil-possessed person looks normal. These devil-possessed men appeared ordinary, and the women were oblivious to what they really were. We want to also answer Dr. Scofield on his point about angels not marrying (Matthew 22:30). While it is true that angels do not marry one another (the meaning of Matthew 22:30), Genesis chapter 6 was fallen angels marrying human women. Fallen angels indwelt men, and through these men, they were able to marry and have children with human women.

Second Peter chapter 2, verses 4-5, seem to be the best commentary on the events of the first verses of Genesis chapter 6: “[4] 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; [5] 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….” These “angels” are connected to Noah’s preaching and the Great Flood—the most likely explanation of Genesis chapter 6:1-4 is found here (with Jude 6 supplementing).


Why did Satan want to create a perverted race of people? The Devil knew God’s promise in Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” God told Satan that He (God) would one day send a man who would defeat him (Satan). The “seed of the woman” turned out to be Jesus Christ many, many centuries later (Galatians 3:16). Before Jesus was born, Satan attempted to pervert the entire bloodline of the human race. With the genome of the human race polluted by sin and Satan, no pure bloodline would be available for God’s “seed of the woman” to be born. This evidently was Satan’s goal in Genesis 6:1-4.

Nevertheless, Genesis 6:9 says: “These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” Noah was separated from that perverted bloodline that Satan had begun to form in the opening verses of the chapter. That is, Noah had not descended from these satanic unions and generation of giants. He was not an emissary of Satan. Thus, God had Noah and his (pure) descendants enter the ark, and begin the human race anew and untainted by Satan. The giants, not on the ark, lost their lives in the Great Flood. God took the evil angels that indwelt them and put them in everlasting chains of darkness in hell (refer back to 2 Peter 2:4-5 and Jude 6).


Having provided you with the verses that govern my thinking on this subject, I will offer the best explanation I can provide.

The greatest challenge to interpreting Genesis 6:1-4 is that, as far as Scripture is concerned, such events never occurred again in human history. Since it is unparalleled, Scriptural explanation is greatly limited. However, we do know in other places in Scripture that devil possession is possible.

In Genesis 6:1-4, Satan’s fallen angels indwelt men sometime between Adam’s creation and the Great Flood of Noah’s Day. These men, because of their devil possession, had their DNA drastically altered. When they married unsuspecting women, and the women bore children, those children turned out to be “super-humans.” They were “giants,” “mighty men which were of old, men of renown” (Genesis 6:4). Whether physically and/or mentally “gigantic” the Bible does not provide detail. The point is that these offspring were not ordinary humans. They were very useful to Satan in corrupting society and preventing God’s will from coming to pass on Earth. God brought about the Great Flood to exterminate these evil creatures, and confine the angels to hell.

One final remark. Perhaps you have seen emails circulating online, or posts circulating via social media, containing pictures of giant human skeletons being excavated. People use this as proof that Genesis 6:1-4 really happened. I am very skeptical about such pictures. If the Bible says it happened, then it happened, but it is quite easy today in this technologically advanced world to manipulate photographs and video footage. Such pictures of giant human skeletons may in fact be doctored or exaggerated. I do not concern myself with these images.

Also see:
» Can you explain 1 Peter 3:18-21?
» What are Satan’s current operations?
» Did God give angels free will as He gave to mankind?