Q: #433. In question #140, you said the "sons of God" in (Gen 6:1-4) were descendants of Seth. Do you believe (Jude 6) is tied to these verses in Genesis? If so, this makes it sound like the "sons of God" would be angels. Can you explain?
A: I must admit, up until now, I have always tied (Jude 6) and (Gen 6:1-4) together. However, once you asked me this, I restudied these verses. Honestly, I hadn’t spent a lot of time on this, but now I have. As a result, I have changed my mind on this issue, and have come to the conclusion that (Jude 6), as well as a parallel verse in (2 Pet 2:4) are NOT referring to what occurred in (Gen 6:1-4). Let me explain why I have come to this conclusion.
First, let me post the verses in (Jude 6) and (2 Pet 2:4).
(Jude 6) And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
(2 Pet 2:4) 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;
So, looking at these closely, is there anything within them which tells us that they are specifically referring to what occurred in (Gen 6:1-4)? I don’t see it, nor do I see it in the verses surrounding them. (Some believe that since verse 7 speaks of the sexual sin of Sodom and Gomorrah as “in like manner” that this is evidence that verse 6 is also speaking of sexual sin, but this is far from provable.)
The primary reason why these verses cannot be referring to (Gen 6:1-4) is because of what I spoke of in Q: #140. Since I explain in detail there why the “sons of God” cannot be angels, I will not do so here. However, in short, there are 3 primary reasons:
1. Angels are spirit by nature and invisible, meaning they do not have bodies. They do not have the power of creation, therefore they cannot go from the non-physical to the physical (meaning they cannot create bodies, meaning they cannot mate).
2. (Gen 6:2) says the “sons of God” married human wives, and Jesus said angels do not marry (Mt 22:30).
3. God created angels, and created them primarily for one purpose: to carry out His will. There is no logical reason why God would give angels the ability to mate or reproduce.
These being the case, I believe the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 are referring to the Godly line of Seth (intermarrying with the ungodly [female] line of Cain).
So, if (Jude 6) and (2 Pet 2:4) are not referring to the verses in Genesis, what ARE they referring to? I am in the camp that they are referring to the fall of the angels (and Satan) which occurred at the beginning of creation.
First, it is important to understand “when” this fall occurred. While we don’t know exactly, nearly all scholars agree that it was before, or very shortly after the 7th day mentioned in the beginning of Genesis at the creation of all things. (I will address this more fully in a future study.) Why is this important? Because of the first part of (Jude 6), which says, “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation.” What is their “first estate” (NASB = “own domain”)? Strong’s uses the Greek word “arche, which it defines as “a commencement, or (concr.) chief (in various applications of order, time, place, or rank) (6x) = first estate, magistrate, power, principle, rule.” In other words, it sounds like the angels of (Jude 6) gave up their “place” or “rank” in their “habitation.” Where was this “habitation?” Nearly all scholars agree this was Heaven, where the fallen angels originally were: See (Isa 14:12-14)(Ezek 28:12-18)(Lk 10:18)(Job 38:4-7)(Rev 12:4)(1 Tim 3:6).
The sinful angels were forcibly removed by God from their “habitation” (Heaven) due to their voluntary sinful rebellion, and ended up in another place. That place is referred to as “everlasting chains under darkness.” (2 Pet 2:4) uses “chains of darkness,” and links this to “hell.” Where they ended up is not the key though. They key is WHEN they got there. If the fall of the angels occurred at the beginning of creation, and this was the moment when they got kicked out of Heaven by God, then the angels who “kept not their first estate” (Heaven) in (Jude 6) cannot be referring to Genesis 6 because they would already have been removed from Heaven well before the events Genesis 6.
The question might then be asked, if (Jude 6) and (2 Pet 2:4) ARE referring to the fall, how is it that these fallen angels are roaming about when these verses say they are “in chains?” Let me post what John Gill says about this in “Gill’s Exposition of The Entire Bible:”
“by these “everlasting chains” may be meant the power and providence of God over them, which always abide upon them; or their sins, and the guilt of them upon their consciences, under which they are continually held; or the decrees and purposes of God concerning their final punishment and destruction, which are immutable and irreversible, and from which there is no freeing themselves:,”
We also have this from the historic “Benson’s Commentary:”
“Everlasting chains is a metaphorical expression, which denotes a perpetual confinement, from which it is no more in their power to escape, than a man, who is strongly bound with iron chains, can break them.”
And finally, we have the classic commentary from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown:
“Probably what is meant is, He hath kept them in His purpose; that is their sure doom; moreover, as yet, Satan and his demons roam at large on the earth. An earnest of their doom is their having been cast out of heaven, being already restricted to “the darkness of this present world,” the “air” that surrounds the earth, their peculiar element now. They lurk in places of gloom and death, looking forward with agonizing fear to their final torment in the bottomless pit. He means not literal chains and darkness, but figurative in this present world where, with restricted powers and liberties, shut out from heaven, they, like condemned prisoners, await their doom.”
In other words, “in chains” may not mean “literal” chains which are chaining them down. Perhaps “chains” could refer to God’s power over them. Perhaps “chains” is God keeping them in a place from which they cannot escape (which is apart from Heaven). Perhaps “chains” is referring to being unable to “free themselves” from their final “punishment and destruction” (the “lake of fire – Rev 19:20, Rev 20:10, Mt 25:41).
In addition, when the Greek word for “bond” (“desmos“) (translated as “chains” in Jude 6) is used in the New Testament, some versions like the NASB use the word “imprisonment” in place of “bond” at times (i.e. Acts 26:31, Phil 1:7,13-14).
So, in summing up, there are several very clear reasons why (Gen 6:1-4) cannot be speaking about “angels” mating with humans. As a result, the verses in (Jude 6) and (2 Pet 2:4) cannot be referring to what happened in Genesis 6. (Jude 6) and (2 Pet 2:4) have nothing within them that tell us they are referring to Genesis 6, and to the contrary, the beginning of (Jude 6) shows us it is not referring to Genesis 6. (Jude 6) and (2 Pet 2:4) are almost certainly pointing to the fall of the angels (and Satan) which occurred at the beginning of creation.