In surveying the options to answer our question, “Who are the Nephilim?,” in my last post we looked at the interpretation which believes that the “sons of God” were divinized human rulers. In The Unseen Realm Heiser gives us a third option:
- The Sethite view
- Divinized Human Rulers
- The Nephilim are the offspring of rebellious divine beings.
Peter and Jude
“Peter and Jude did not fear the alternative” (97).
2 Peter 2.4, 9-10 says,
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment… then the Lord knows how… to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.
Likewise, Jude 6-7 says,
And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
Both Peter and Jude describe the time of Noah before the flood when “angels” sinned. This sin caused the flood and “is placed in the same category as the sin which prompted the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah.” These angels/sons of God “left their proper dwelling.” “There is… no other sin in the [OT] that might be the referent” (98).
Though 1 Enoch was not canonical (and any early church leaders who gave it that status later abandoned the idea), it informed the worldview of Peter and Jude (more on this in the next post).
Peter says that the angels were held in Tartarus (“hell,” 2 Pet. 2.4). “Tartarus” was used in “Greek literature for the destination of the divine Titans, a term that is also used of their semi-divine offspring” (fn. 13, pg 98). “All Jewish traditions before the [NT] era took a supernatural view of Genesis 6:1-4.” This interpretation was not a problem until the 4th century AD when it fell out of favor with certain church leaders (i.e., Augustine).
Rather than taking our biblical theology from the church fathers, we’re to take it from the Old and the New Testaments. To do that we must analyze Genesis 6.1-4 in light of its Mesopotamian background as well as 2 Peter and Jude.
Genesis 6, One More Time
Genesis 6.1-4 says,
When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the [divine] sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they [left their proper dwelling and] took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” [As a result] the Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the [divine] sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore [giant] children to them. These [giant children] were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
Were the Nephilim offspring of divine beings who rebelled against Yahweh by having sex with human women? Heiser seems to think so. But isn’t this idea a bit farfetched? A bit “out there”? It sounds like something Giorgio Tsoukalos from the history channel would say:
What does Heiser think about all this? What should Christians think? I’ll look at an argument for and against this view, and some final remarks. Then we’ll start to look at how Genesis 6.1-4 plays out in Scripture.
Why did the biblical authors think it necessary for their readers to have this information?
- Who Were the Nephilim?
- Why This Topic?
- Three Interpretations on the Nephilim
- Why is Genesis 6.1-4 in the Bible?
- Weird Texts of the Bible
Dividing the Nations
The OT Trinity
- The Trinity in the Old Testament
- And He Struggled With the Angel
- He Rides the Clouds
- The Holy Spirit
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And also Heiser’s more condensed version,