October 30, 1938. It was Halloween night, and much of America had tuned their radios to the Columbia Broadcasting System, which had just finished reporting on the weather and began playing music. Within moments, the broadcast was interrupted by a news flash about strange explosions on Mars. The announcer reassured the audience that as more information became available, more announcements would be made. Then the music continued.
As the night progressed, the music was interrupted frequently, now with terrifying reports of an invasion. Aliens from Mars had landed in New Jersey and in cities around the world. The Earth was under attack. Panic filled the streets as many people fled their homes.
But it was all fiction.
A young Orson Wells had adapted the H.G. Wells’ book War of the Worlds for broadcast and modified the script to present the story as though it was happening in real time. Many listeners took the fictional radio play to be real.
Those who panicked were operating with incomplete information. They had failed to hear the station announce at the beginning and the end of the broadcast that it was all mere drama. Coming in at the middle, hearing only part of the story, they had no context and ran off thinking the sky was falling.
Similarly, a passage in Genesis when read out of context has caused many to believe that Earth has been invaded by aliens from outer space. Let’s take a look at that challenging verse:
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 (Genesis 6:1, 2).
Some believe that the term “sons of God” refers to extraterrestrial invaders. They believe that these beings are fallen angels or aliens from space who took human females as wives and produced offspring. They rationalize this belief by saying that the progeny produced by these unions were “giants” (v. 4). They believe these unholy unions were ultimately responsible for the increased wickedness of man.
On the surface, this seems to be a reasonable explanation of Scripture. But as we shall see, without understanding the context that surrounds this passage, you can actually be confused into believing that certain fictions are real. Fortunately, we can clear up any confusion on the sons of God quite easily by gathering more information from the Bible.
Angels Are Spirits
The King James Bible uses the term “sons of God” 11 times in two primary ways. However, it never uses the term to refer to an angelic being.
“He who makes his angels spirits …” (Psalm 104:4). Angels are spirits; they are not flesh. They are all around us now, but we cannot see them. They generally remain in their spiritual form and have no physical integration in our world—they don’t go to school, get jobs, or raise families. They are here to “minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).
Even if they wanted to marry and have babies, they couldn’t; they don’t have human DNA. It would be easier for a jellyfish to marry a mountain goat than for angels to marry people. Thus, it doesn’t make practical sense to believe that our passage in Genesis refers to the marriage of angels, fallen or holy, to humans.
Angels are not born; they are created. If God wanted more angels, He wouldn’t need to marry them off to humans or other angels to reproduce. He could create them from scratch. Speaking of Lucifer, God said, “The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created (Ezekiel 28:13 NKJV, emphasis added).
Moreover, Jesus tells us plainly that angels do not marry. Marriage is a uniquely human institution, reserved for mankind. “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). Mark and Luke suggest the same thing: “Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God” (Luke 20:36; some translations render it “sons of God”). Notice here that Jesus makes a distinction between angels and sons of God. They are classified separately, which means they are not the same thing.
So if the sons of God are not angels, what are they?
While the sons of God were not space invaders, the Bible does appear to teach that there is other life in the cosmos. It is clear in Scripture that Jesus made other planets: God “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:2 NKJV).
In the parable of the lost sheep, the Earth represents the one lost sheep, a wandering world that went astray, the one Christ came to save. It’s easy to imagine that God, in His infinite existence, created other worlds with other physical beings. Of course, we know He had seraphim and cherubim and other angels prior to our world, so at a minimum we know there are at least those extraterrestrial creatures. “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth” (Colossians 1:16 NKJV). “And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth ... I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!’ ” (Revelation 5:13 NKJV).
However, most of these other created beings do not visit this world. The Earth is infected with a deadly contagious disease called sin, and we are likely quarantined. The only ones allowed to go into a quarantined hospital ward are the hospital staff; in this case, God’s angels. They are ministering spirits.
Princes of Planets
Thousands of years ago, an intriguing meeting took place in heaven. “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them” (Job 1:6).
In attendance at this meeting are sons of God, as well as Satan himself. Satan says that he has come from the Earth. The sons of God were there representing their un-fallen worlds in God’s universe. Satan was there to represent the Earth.
Why would Satan be representing our world? Originally, Adam had dominion over the Earth. He was created by God to subdue and manage it. God said to Adam and Eve, “Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
While Adam was in obedience to God, he enjoyed dominion over the world. But once Adam sinned and obeyed Satan, that dominion was forfeited to the enemy. “To whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness” (Romans 6:16 NKJV).
Even Jesus referred to Satan as “the prince of this world” (John 12:31).
In the Gospel of Luke, the genealogy of Jesus is traced all the way back to Adam. Notice what Luke says about this lineage: “the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God” (Luke 3:38, emphasis added).
The difference between Seth and Adam is the bellybutton. Adam was created by the hand of God; Seth was born of Eve. Adam was the son of God, created to have dominion over the Earth. Thus one definition for sons of God is those beings God Himself created to have dominion over the worlds He made. These beings were not born but were created directly by God.
Job 38:7 tells us that when our world was created, “the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy.” The “morning stars” are angels, whereas “the sons of God” are the leaders of other worlds. (See Revelation 1:20.)
With that cleared up, let’s talk about the second way the term “sons of God” is used.
Heirs of Righteousness
The other meaning of sons of God refers to human beings who have been recreated by God’s Spirit. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14). Matthew 5:9 adds, “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God” (NKJV).
Here Jesus is obviously referring to human beings, but not just any human beings; these are peacemakers, the righteous children of God. In no way should this be construed to refer to angels or aliens.
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). Notice that there were those who were not sons of God, but that through receiving Him became sons of God.
It should be mentioned that “sons of God” doesn’t mean just males. Many Bible translations render the phrase “children of God.” Galatians 3:26 says, “For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” It is by faith that a man or woman becomes a “child of God.” (See also Isaiah 56:5; Philippians 2:15.)
The inescapable conclusion from these verses and others is that the sons of God in Genesis 6 refers to the righteous children of God.
Daughters of Men
The term “daughters of men,” therefore, refers to the unrighteous children of men, those human beings who do not call on the name of the Lord. In the context of our Bible passage, “daughters of men” refers to the offspring of Cain and his wife.
Originally, Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain murdered Abel, so God gave Adam and Eve another son, Seth. He began to have children of his own, and they “began to call on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:25, 26). And from what we’ve seen in the Bible, those who call on the name of the Lord are called the sons of God.
Now Cain had been banished from God’s presence. He settled “in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch” (Genesis 4:16-18).
Here, before the Flood, we have the descendants of Cain living in cities and the descendants of Seth living in the country. As long as they remained separate, the sons of God remained pure in their religious beliefs and practices.
However, eventually they began to intermingle. Maybe the sons of God needed supplies that could be easily obtained in the cities where the daughters of men resided. The sons of God and daughters of men became familiar with each other, even friendly. Whatever the case, soon the descendants of Seth, or sons of God, began to marry the daughters of men, or the descendants of Cain.
It’s even quite possible the sons of God went into this situation with good intentions. Maybe they believed they could convert these daughters of Cain, introducing them to the Lord their God. However, the counsel of God is clear:
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
God does not want His children marrying the unconverted or the unbelieving, even if they have a pretty face, the nicest disposition, or a passionate belief in another religion. It makes no difference; God says that relationship will have problems.
So the result of these intermarriages was not only giants, but sorrow. Instead of the sons of God influencing the daughters of men, the daughters of men influenced the sons of God.
Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly (Deuteronomy 7:3, 4; emphasis added).
The Bible is filled with stories about the sons of God mingling with the daughters of men and the disasters that follow as a result. Samson, chosen by God, was derailed by the Philistine women. His parents pled with him to avoid marrying a pagan bride, but he insisted on having what he wanted (Judges 14:3).
Solomon no doubt believed that he could marry the daughters from pagan nations and convert them. However, those pagan daughters drew away Solomon’s heart. This is why God is so adamant about His children not marrying unbelievers. It is almost always the case that the believer is gradually transformed by the unbeliever, not the other way around.
Jesus likewise has a warning for us in these end-times:
But as the days of [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that [Noah] entered into the ark (Matthew 24:37, 38).
Jesus here is likely referring to the mixed marriages of Genesis 6 that brought on the universal wickedness leading to the Flood.
As in Noah’s day, before the Flood, things that led to the destruction of the world with a deluge by water are going to happen again. They are a preview of what’s going to happen before the destruction of the world by a flood of fire when Jesus returns. History is going to repeat itself, but we don’t have to be among the repeat offenders.
Not everyone who thinks they are a son or daughter of God really is. The Pharisees boasted to Jesus that they were the children of Abraham. Jesus corrected them. “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham” (John 8:39). This is a simple principle to test our heritage. Which “father” do we follow in our actions? Jesus told the religious leaders, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44).
When we are born again and adopted into the family of God, we will want to imitate our heavenly Father. “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6 NKJV).
If you are not a son or daughter of God now, the wonderful news is that you can choose a new family.
By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward (Hebrews 11:24-26 NKJV).
When called by God, Moses traded in his Egyptian adoption for a heavenly one. Through Jesus, you can, too.
When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ (Galatians 4:4-7 NKJV).
Right now you can choose to be a child of the King, an heir of eternal life, and become a son or daughter of God in whom He is well pleased! Just ask Him.
Pastor's Doug's winsome and educational series will revive your faith and strengthen your walk with the Lord as you explore the lives of Bible heroes who point you to the ultimate hero–Jesus Christ. Ten timely and faith-transforming presentations! Comes with Heroes of Faith: Inspirational Stories of Salvation companion book! (3 DVDs)