Gen. 6:4,

"The fallen ones were in the earth in those days, and even afterwards when sons of God come in unto daughters of men, and they have borne to them -- they [are] the heroes, who, from of old, [are] the men of name." (YLT)

This question concerns context and subject / verse construction. If, as so many claim, the "giants" (KJV), or "fallen ones" (YLT) are the same as the Sons of God in the very same verse, then why doesn't the record call them Sons of God in both places?

And, follow-on, why would a time marker of "even afterwards" be used if the "giants" were a result of the marriage / union with women? The verse indicates that the giants or fallen ones existed before the union with women. So how can the "giants" be only a result of union / marriage with women?

  • There are many historic answers, but they seem to all be speculation.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Jul 3, 2018 at 23:02
  • Nigel, R u missing the point of the question? The transliterated "nephilim," (the NIV did not translate it) already existed before the sons of God went into be with the fair daughters of men.
    – Gina
    Commented Jul 4, 2018 at 9:13
  • People equate the fallen ones with the sons of God? The fallen ones are the offspring of the sons of God, not the same. The 1st century church believed the account given in the book of Enoch which clears everything up.
    – diego b
    Commented Jul 6, 2018 at 15:37
  • Diego, missing the point. You r providing stock answer that most people come up with. But the scripture says that the "fallen ones" existed before the sons of God went in unto the women..."even afterwards". They r not a result of the mating with the women. Read it carefully again, pls.
    – Gina
    Commented Jul 6, 2018 at 21:46
  • @Gina: Your interpretation of the English translation is erroneous (perhaps because the rendering itself is a bit ambiguous). The word afterwards is meant to indicate the fact that the Nephilim appeared after the sons of men entered to the daughters of men. (The verse is rendered less ambiguously in other languages, where no confusion exists). Basically, the word when modifies in those days, rather than afterwards, as you seem to parse it.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jul 8, 2018 at 23:14

3 Answers 3


God is very specific in His use of words, and every word is very important in the specific contextual application. The context of Gen. 6:4 is set in the background of Noah's flood, and presents to the reader God's reason and justification for the judgment He brought upon the wicked sometime around 1500 - 1600 AA.

The point of the first 7 verses of Gen. chap. 6 is the description of the wickedness of ALL mankind, and God's decision to destroy them. But, we should note some key words.

" And it cometh to pass that mankind have begun to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters have been born to them,

2 and sons of God see the daughters of men that they [are] fair, and they take to themselves women of all whom they have chosen.

3 And Jehovah saith, `My Spirit doth not strive in man -- to the age; in their erring they [are] flesh:' and his days have been an hundred and twenty years.

4 The fallen ones were in the earth in those days, and even afterwards when sons of God come in unto daughters of men, and they have borne to them -- they [are] the heroes, who, from of old, [are] the men of name.

5 And Jehovah seeth that abundant [is] the wickedness of man in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart only evil all the day;

6 and Jehovah repenteth that He hath made man in the earth, and He grieveth Himself -- unto His heart.

7 And Jehovah saith, `I wipe away man whom I have prepared from off the face of the ground, from man unto beast, unto creeping thing, and unto fowl of the heavens, for I have repented that I have made them.'" (YLT)

The word translated in the above verses as "man" and "mankind" is Strong's Heb. 120 "haadam" or "adam." The race of man stemming from the seed of Adam! Source: Biblehub

In vs. 1 the BDB assigns definition 2, "collective man, mankind."

The background is speaking of wicked men, wicked mankind. It includes three types of mankind: the fallen ones, the daughters, and the sons of God.

The word in vs. 4 translated in Young's as "fallen ones" and in the KJV as "giants" is assigned Strong's Heb. 5303 "ha nepilim", short defintion "Nephilim" which further defined as "'giants', name of two peoples, one before the flood, and one after the flood." Source: Biblehub

This is a transliteration, not a translation. Strong "named" a people in Gen. 6:4, which the KJV translated as "giants". The reason the KJV translated it as "giant" is because the only other time this word is used it also means a name.

Num. 13:33,

"33 and there we saw the Nephilim, sons of Anak, of the Nephilim; and we are in our own eyes as grasshoppers; and so we were in their eyes.'" (YLT)

In their report to Moses, the spies that were sent into the land of Canaan described the giants that were living in the land (about 400 years after the flood), and they had two names: Nephilim, sons of Anak, or the Anakim.

Num. 13:28,

"28 only, surely the people which is dwelling in the land [is] strong; and the cities are fenced, very great; and also children of Anak we have seen there." (YLT)

There were many names for the giants living in Canaan and they include the Rephaim (also called the Zamzummim and the Emim), the Amorite, the Anakim, and the Zuzim. All of these are described in various parts of the OT which I have detailed in a post at my site "Giants: Rephaim, Zamzummim..." at ShreddingTheVeil.

The name "Nephilim" was clearly used for the giants in Num. 33. So, the KJV translated it that way when it occurred in Gen. 6:4. But, there is a further consideration as the context of the scriptures must be taken into consideration.

Gen. chap. 6 was speaking of the wickedness of ALL mankind, not just some of them. Strong's concordance provides a clue with the root word of "naphal" which means a "feller, ie. A bully, or tyrant - giant."

Today, the word "feller" is used sometimes to refer to those who cut down trees (from the ancient noun "fell"), or various idioms for a rough or bearish man. In the Middle English, when the KJV was translated it was used as an adjective for a fierce, cruel, savage or destructive person, and is the Old French nominative for "felon" or wicked. (See here)

If we think about it for a minute, the scriptures are logically describing the "felons" or wicked men whose great height most probably made them arrogant enough to believe they could do anything they wanted and get away with it. If you were standing 6 ft or more taller than some other people, what are they going to do against you?

And, that is exactly what God told the Israelite before they went into Canaan in Deu. 9:1-2.

"`Hear, Israel, thou art passing over to-day the Jordan, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself; cities great and fenced in the heavens;

2 a people great and tall, sons of Anakim, whom thou -- thou hast known, (and thou -- thou hast heard: Who doth station himself before sons of Anak?)" (YLT)

Gen. 6:4 included the "giants" or very tall PEOPLE in the category of the wicked, but all mankind was under judgment in God's plan for the flood. And, that is why Young's translated "ha nepilim" has "fallen ones" because it was not just the giants that were wicked.

The verse also clearly states that they existed before the sons of God mated with the daughters of men. The words "even afterwards" are the indication of the prior existence. So the wicked fallen ones were not a result of the sons of God choosing to marry the daughters of men.

The entire Bible, both OT and NT work together. All of it is from one source, the Holy Spirit of God. He will not contradict Himself. So, if our understanding or use of one scripture contradicts another of His scriptures then we are misunderstanding it.

Rom. 8:12-14,

"12 So, then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh;

13 for if according to the flesh ye do live, ye are about to die; and if, by the Spirit, the deeds of the body ye put to death, ye shall live;

14 for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God;" (YLT)

The NT defines the sons of God as those who follow after the spirit of God.

The context of the scriptures has to govern the meaning of the use of sons of God. In Gen. 6 God was displeased with everyone of the species of MAN except for the one who walked with Him, namely Noah. Noah was perfect, not because of his blood line, but because he walked with God (Gen. 6:8-9).

A very strong case where the sons of God are used for the heavenly angels is found in Job 1:6, 2:1, and 38:7 where it appears that God held a staff meeting in heaven.

A further consideration is that the angels in heaven listen to God and do His will (Psa. 103:20).

Moreover, we are told in Matt. 22:30 and Mark 12:25 that the angels in heaven do not marry. As marriage is the only lawful method for procreation, the meaning is that angels DO NOT PROCREATE!

Gen. 6:4 used the phrase "sons of God" because the Holy Spirit had just listed those men who followed after the Spirit of God in Gen. chap. 5! The men of the genealogy provided in chap. 5 were those men who looked upon the fair daughters of the wicked and began inter-marrying. That was the cause for all mankind to slip into a "fallen" nature.

Never ever does the Bible speak about a hybrid species of angels fornicating with women. That is false teaching from pseudepigraphal writings which have been thoroughly discarded by scholars as unscriptural. Yet, men have overlaid the mystical teachings that have evolved from Babylonian Kabalistic writings to try to "add" meaning to the word of God.

This has implications for many other "mystical" teachings that have been applied to God's word. I won't go into them here.

The fallen ones, or "giants" of Gen. chap. 6 were not heavenly angels. They were all of the wicked evil people.

As God is not writing a science-fiction novel, then we should be more logical in our reasoning. The giants were part of the race of Adam, very tall people. Their height was a factor of the DNA, just like eye color, hair color, and skin color. Just as today we have some people who are 7 or 8 ft tall. It is still in the DNA for mankind.

  • I just upvoted this because it is extremely useful. However, the assumption that the sons of God are angels that presented themselves before the LORD "IN HEAVEN' is also quite speculative, in fact, dubious. Satan came with those "sons of God" from where?--to where? Remember, at this time Satan was consigned to this earth. He had no access to heaven, as he admittedly responded in each of these examples you gave, "And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. The sons of God were those believers of the day such as Job. Read on ... Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 1:58
  • WELL, Well, well, I never thought that I would be one to come out and be in agreement with you on a biblical meme, but I have to hand it to you on this matter and meaning of "Sons of God", as portrayed in Gen, 6:2-4. The phrase, here at least, does refer to men and not to angels, as I had thought for the longest time. You can thank Vincent for his recent addition to the narrative, which caused me to have pause and subsequent change of mind. As pointed out to you recently, I am quite prepared to change my mind, on a matter of scriptural belief, if truly warranted. Your Q is upvoted too. Commented Feb 2 at 23:31
  • The scriptures will do that for you. Appreciate the comment!
    – Gina
    Commented Feb 3 at 0:46

My answer is speculative. I wonder if there was a contextual misplacement in the first place.

Origin context of Genesis 6:2-4 NIV

2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

Rearrangement of Genesis 6:2-4

the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose, when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

The rearrangement of the context eliminates the apparent connection between 'the sons of God' and 'the Nephilim'. One interpretation of 'the sons of God' is that they were angels, but this is apparently false. According to Jesus' statement in Matthew 22:30; "At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven." Two interpretation can be derived from Jesus' statement;

  1. Those angels who married the daughters of humans were fallen angels
  2. The resurrected people and angels in heaven do not have gender

I prefer interpretation #2 as I don't see why God would create gender if there is no use for it in heaven. Therefore if angels do not have gender, the sons of God in Genesis 6:4 will not be angels.

If we avoid fixing our mind in Job's, that 'sons of God' are angels (Job 1:6) and accept that 'sons of God' also means 'believers who have been adopted into God's family through faith in Jesus Christ' in New Testament (Romans 8:14; 9:26; Gal 3:26), then it can also means 'believers who have been adopted into God's family through faith in God' in Old Testament. In Genesis 4:26, it reads: "Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord." This implies Seth and his son Enosh are sons of God.

In Genesis chapter 5, it contains a genealogy from Adam to Noah, only one son was named for each patriarch, although each had many sons. Therefore the sons named were "the sons of God". The Nephilim could be descendants from other sons.

  • 1
    Further research indicates that the phrase "sons of God" in Job is faulty translation. The better translations are "divine beings" (CEV & ERV), or "angels" (CEV, NIRV, NIV), or the "heavenly court" (NLT), and "heavenly beings" (GNT). The Cambridge Bible comments on Job 1:6 divide this clearly stating that never were the "angels" called "sons of God". See comments here: biblehub.com/commentaries/job/1-6.htm
    – Gina
    Commented Feb 2 at 17:26
  • Nicely done here, Vincent, + 1. You and Gina have caused me to totally rethink Gen, 6:2-4. I had, for the longest time, thought of these "Sons of God" as being a ref to angels, but on rereading Gina's Q and A, after being drawn to your A, I now, albeit reluctantly, but in the interests and furtherance of truth, am of changed thought. "Sons of God" can and does mean ordinary men here in Genesis, as per the generations of Adam, listed in the previous chapter. This does not mean that "Sons of God" cannot apply to angels elsewhere, for the phrase clearly does in Job 1:6, 2:1, and 38:7. Commented Feb 2 at 23:07
  • @Gina - good to know. Thank you! Commented Feb 3 at 1:25
  • @OldeEnglish - Thank you! I am still looking for the truth. Meanwhile, this is my thought. Commented Feb 3 at 1:33

In answer to the question, Why are 'fallen ones' taken as being the same as 'the sons of God' in Genesis 6:4, the literal translation by Green is helpful, coupled with both Young's and the KJV.

The giants were on the earth in days those. And even afterwards when came in the sons of God to the daughters of men and they bore to them they were heroes who (existed) from ancient time the of men name.

My present understanding of what the KJV, Young and Green are conveying is :

  • Nephilim were on the earth in those days.

  • So afterwards, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore to them,

  • they were 'gibbor' who - from ancient time - were so named of men

The three translations, KJV Green and Young, seem to agree on the first two statements bulleted above. The third is what I glean, mostly from Green's.

The term 'gibbor' - 'mighty' usually - is the name applied by men of ancient time to the progeny of the sons of God and the daughters of men.

The name given by men in ancient time, the narrative of Genesis is saying, is related to the fact that the sons of God who produced that progeny are, themselves, 'nephilim'.

  • 2
    That is the way that most the world is "interpreting" this passage today, However, that does not appear to be true to the structure and context of the scripture. God is not equating the "giants" or "nephilim" or "fallen ones" to "sons of God." They are different because He has used different terms for those people. The "nephilim" cannot be the same as the "sons of God" in this verse.
    – Gina
    Commented Jul 6, 2018 at 13:22
  • @Gina Could you please explain in detail, according to the grammar of the text ? It certainly seems to have given translators problems. A really clear account would be very helpful, I think.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 6, 2018 at 13:30
  • I have an answer but was waiting hopefully to see if anyone else sees what jumps out so clearly to me. I will post it shortly.
    – Gina
    Commented Jul 6, 2018 at 21:47

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