The Notorious Nephilim

Many like to spread the sordid tale of demonic spirits in the days of Noah that allegedly had sex with women and produced powerful demi-gods that caused God to bring the Flood on the earth.

Like Greek Mythology, the references to Nephilim cited in Scripture, are interpreted by sensationalists as evidence of an entirely new species of being.

The belief is that evil angels decided to have sex with women and produced super-babies that made God angry, so he caused the earth to flood and only saved Noah, his family and pairs of all animals. Men don’t have babies, so this entire myth is about women being taken over by invisible spirits and somehow impregnated. This was a common type of belief throughout history that women in pagan temples were capable of having intimate relations with the god of that religion and could produce extraordinary offspring. Such a pagan story was likely very popular as a cover-up for these women being temple prostitutes and the inevitable children that come from such immorality–tell everyone that their babies are god-babies, and now it is acceptable, because no one wants to anger that god from doing whatever they want.

The excuse that this was Satan’s attempt at dirtying the line of humanity leading up to Christ is absurd, since there is nothing more dirty than sin which was already deeply embedded in humanity and for which Jesus was already crucified from the foundation of the earth to resolve this known dirt. Demonic offspring is not something worse than sin. And, sin was allowed in the line of Jesus, so dirtying the line is nonsense, because dirt can’t contaminate Jesus; rather, whatever he touches, becomes clean before God.

In reality, this idea is a replacement theology that undermines the uniqueness of the Virgin Birth. It is a lie taught by demons to deceive Christians away from the miracle of Jesus. The amazing event we celebrate at Christmas of the virgin birth of Jesus through Mary by the “overshadowing” of the Holy Spirit, is rejected as a unique miracle by those who promote this distorted idea of Nephilim as offspring of demons and women. In other words, Jesus was nothing special, because Satan already caused lots of spirit caused human births through women back in the days of Noah.

As Scripture declares about deceived teachers in the Church, “and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will”.

Those who are interested in what Scripture is likely referring to when addressing the Nephilim, stay tuned.

Nephilim are mentioned twice in scripture, the first as a declaration of existence (pre-flood) and the second time as a claim of comparison (post-flood).

“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.” (Gen 6:4)

“We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” (Nu 13:33)

The latter was principally a statement of fear from the Israelites, that physically tall people existed in the land that compared to stories that had been passed down from pre-flood days. If you have ever played the “telephone” game with kids, you know that fear stories take on a life of their own when passed from person to person, and seldom can be relied upon as accurate records of original truth.

If this belief–not about Spirit-babies, but about descendants from Nephilim living during the time of Israel–is true (and both verses indicate that they exist on both sides of the Flood), then there is only one way for that to have passed through the flood–someone was on that boat with Noah. With regard to the devotion of Noah, it is not likely that this could apply to him, his wife, or their children. However, it is easily possible for it to apply to one of the wives of his sons. That woman could have been the offspring of an illicit marriage between a descendant of Seth and someone not devoted to God. That would put such a woman in that in-between zone and would convey the lineage of those known as Nephilim beyond the flood and into the people known as Anakites. However it occurred, the reference is a strong indication that these people were not all wiped out with the great flood, and still influence the lineage of humanity. This would mean that the idea of preventing the “dirtying of the line” is irrelevant, because it remained in the human line, just like sin remains throughout humanity.

With that said, the first biblical reference is the most reliable for forming a belief regarding what the Nephilim really were. Note, there is absolutely no hint of spirits, sex, or some new race of half-humans (someone to replace the idea of the “new man in Christ”).

One method of review is to consider the immediate context. The second approach is to consider how it fits (or doesn’t) with the rest of scripture. In other words, what is it really saying in this passage, and then what are the implications—because if the proposed theory conflicts with scripture, then it is wrong. Although this approach may get us closer to the truth, I acknowledge that God may not yet provide us with sufficient clues to grasp the exact meaning (although, in this case, I think the evidence strongly leans in one direction).

The immediate context in effect states that mankind had expanded in several ways that over the generations had demonstrated the wickedness of mankind to such a degree that God found in necessary to destroy all but Noah’s family. This is how I understand the intent of this passage. Most Christians accept this overall understanding. The difference comes in what exactly was God saying by recording the features regarding what were called Nephilim.

Perhaps we can take a look at several key phrases:

“Men began to increase in number” – The passage emphasizes that physical numbers had increased, and that this was somehow impacting the circumstances of God’s conclusion, which begins in verse 5. God told man not to gather together in cities, but to spread out, and in several later references He talks about the increasing “fullness of sin” over groups of people. This truth is easily seen throughout history like when some infectious disease spreads through large groups as compared to those more spread out.

“Sons of God”- Some modern teachers will try to overemphasis their ideas by misrepresenting the truth. Some will claim that in the OT every time this phrase is used it applies to angels (like in Job 1:6), but that is not exactly correct. First of all this passage with regard to the Nephilim talks about men several times and nowhere says angels or spirits. God even laments that he is done with his Spirit striving with “men” not angels or angel-men and not with Nephilim (as if they were something other than descendants of Adam and Eve).

In the first two of three references in Job, when the Sons of God come before God and Satan shows up, Satan is not included in this group (which he would be if it involved fallen angels). This may involve angels, but it may instead involve believers “giving account” through the Spirit of God – like Job – during which the “accuser of the brethren” shows up. Also, in Daniel, “one like the Son of God” is observed in the fiery furnace. This clearly refers to one in right relationship with God and prophetically represents Jesus (the Son of God) who saves us from certain destruction from our sins in a fiery Hell. It does not emphasize angelic spirit, but representation of God. Even the demons repeatedly give Jesus the title of Son of God rather than applying it to themselves. Heb 1:5 clearly quotes the OT on this topic that God himself never called an angel “son”. This title is reserved specifically for Jesus and for those who are supposed to reflect the will of God as a child of God. Those familiar with the Christmas story will recall that when the physical lineage of Jesus is cited, it ends with “Adam, the son of God”, a human, and not an angel.

Some suggest that this phrase only refers to those who are direct created beings from the hand of God, unlike descendants of Adam who are born in a natural way; but, if that is the case then God would not declare believers to be adopted as “sons.” This is what God declares regarding humans and not angels, “he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Eph 1:5). The truth is that if God causes “fallen” men to be declared “sons” today, then it is no surprise that the same would have been possible for his “chosen” leading up to the days of Noah.

“Men…and daughters were born to them”; “Saw that the daughters of men were beautiful and they married any of them they chose” –

This reference to men is in contrast to Sons of God, but not by introducing a new being, but rather as a reference to the differences in relation to God. Some had an open door to God through the blessing of Seth (God extends both blessings and curses to descendants), but even with that blessing, they began making choices based on physical attributes and not based on relationship connection with God (this is the same truth as recorded in 2 Cor 6:14 about not being unequally yoked with an unbeliever, including in marriage).

“Not contend with man forever” – This whole issue is addressing Gods displeasure with mankind and specifically with those who should know better because of their heritage and training. Nowhere does it even hint that God is upset with man because angels tried to “dirty” the lineage of the Savior.

“Nephilim” – Although it is common to interpret this word as physical giants, that is not necessarily the context or the original usage (although some modern teachers will tend to skip this part). It almost seems silly to say this, but big people don’t cause more sin. However, influential people do!

The root word is “nephal” which means “he fell”. The idea is about turning away from God. The Septuagint translates the original with “gigantes,” which literally means “earth-born”. We get our word giant from this, but that was not the original usage. In other words the nephilim were “fallen earth-born men with the animal and devilish mind,” according to Adam Clark. Those who think “fallen” ones only refer to angels, don’t understand the desperate predicament of mankind, let alone the context which has absolutely no mention of spirits at all—only mankind and God.

“Mighty men which were of old, men of renown” – As earlier stated, influential people like powerful, skilled and charismatic leaders can sway mass crowds to follow their bidding. Every culture in history has demonstrated the intoxicating influence of religious leaders—individuals who have a form of religion, but use it for evil. In the book of Revelation, it is the False Prophet that so deceives the masses that Jesus says that if he didn’t intervene, that even the elect would be led astray.

In spite of Satan’s influence, mans problems are his own and can’t be blamed on “bad genes”. God holds mankind responsible for his own choices. Nephilim might be more comparable to the concept of “nominal Christian”, “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, “apostate”, “anti-Christ”, “false believer”, and “backslider”.

The implications of this angel-man union hearken more to the pagan religions of the ancient world where mighty men like Hercules and Achilles supposedly came from, or where people were encourage to let their daughters serve as temple prostitutes so the gods would be kind to their crops. To imply that this is supported in scripture as something that actually happens when there is absolutely no evidence of angels procreating is simply a propagation of paganistic beliefs. Shockingly, I heard one preacher state that because there are so many mythological stories that promote such an idea, that the legends of the Ancient Greeks embody the truth about spirit/human procreation. Clearly he has bought into the lie propagated by Satan over the millennia in order to deceive and mislead; Scripture, not mythology or popularity, embodies truth!

As an expansion on the earlier comments regarding Seth, I believe the Nephilim probably are descendants of his line through Enosh, from whom it is said, “At that time men began to call on the name of the Lord” (Gen 4:26). It is an observation at this point, but I think it is reasonable to view a comparison to the pattern of descendants of Abraham. God called Abraham, who had two sons, God passed his blessing down through only one, Isaac. Isaac had two sons, and the blessing was passed down through Jacob and not through Esau. Jacob had twelve sons and God chose to pass the blessing of his choice regarding who would be identified as his own people through all twelve. Over time, it became evident that in spite of them being considered the select children of God, most chose to go their own way rather than follow God. Jesus, who came through this lineage, again establishes a clear line of blessing.

It is likely that this pattern was similar back in the time of Enosh. God established a lineage of people who maintained a relationship with him beginning first with one man, in the heart-likeness of Abel, and eventually through multiple descendants until an entire group of people would have developed.  His Spirit dwelled in them in such a way that it manifested divine power in a way that produced “heroes” much like it did through later prophets like Sampson. In a very similar way as Sampson, they knew they represented God as “sons of God,” but instead of remaining pure in their lineage of faith, they chose to “marry any of them they chose.” They chose the “Delilah’s” of their day who descended from those men who did not have the Spirit of God. God then selected a type of the Savior Jesus, in the person Noah, to continue a clear line of blessing.

This is why God would say that his “Spirit will not contend with man forever”—speaking of his own representatives, rather than just those living in the spirit of Cain. In other words, this reason for the flood is because those who should have known better, and who belonged to God as his people, and who had the Holy Spirit, were turning away from their devoted obedience to remaining sanctified and pure before God by keeping their sensual desires limited within the boundaries of those women who also believed and were of the holy line. God was not willing to allow his Spirit to contend within those with whom they should have done what God wanted and not what they naturally desired. (Sounds familiar for Christians too, doesn’t it: “marry whomever they choose, so long as they belong to the Lord”).

Just as God began to remove his Spirit’s presence from Israelite descendants, as they adulterated themselves with foreign women, so God began to restrict the Spirit in his representatives from the line of Seth, starting first by limiting their life span to 120 years on average. The fact that scripture says that the evidence of the qualities common to the Nephilim were repeated in some manner “and also afterward,” indicates that the dramatic power of the Spirit was passed down for a time through the line of Noah beyond the flood. This residual effect, of the impact of the Spirit causing dramatic things through a person well after the specific event, is recorded in the glowing face of Moses, and in the speaking-in-tongues and miraculous public healings witnessed in the early church.

With regard to procreation, it is amazing how often the ideas surrounding Nephilim involve angels. The bible repeatedly makes it clear that beings only reproduce “after their kind” (Gen 1:12, 24). Dogs only produce dogs, fish produce fish, Oak trees produce Oaks, and humans can only reproduce humans. There has never been any evidence that denies the truth of this created boundary—angels cannot have intercourse with humans and produce anything! Scripture all tells us that angels were not designed for marital relationships (Mt 22:30). For those who believe that “not marry” is somehow different from “intercourse;” I suggest they review how God designed for a marriage covenant to be formed as repeatedly recorded in the OT. To reinforce this point, we read that when the Nephilim “went to the daughters of men” they “had children by them.” To imply, as many do, that these were fallen angels that were attempting to “dirty” the eventual lineage of Christ is absurd because it denies scripture. All beings only reproduce after their own kind.

This applies to God as well.

An important distinction should be made here, in spite of being created in the image of God, humans are not God, nor can they reproduce God. God, on the other hand, can procreate “sons of God” through intimacy of the Holy Spirit. As part of the Christmas story, we are told that God the Holy Spirit “over-shadowed” the human woman named Mary, who remained a virgin because this was not actual intercourse, and her subsequent child was God the Son as well as human. As a result of a created potential to be of a similar “kind,” believers have their spirit filled with the Holy Spirit and are born-again as sons of God while also still remaining human, after the likeness of Jesus.

When believers are “born-again”, it is as a result of the Spirit of God transforming the “spirit of man” which was in some way made in the “image of God”, by which, unlike any animal which also breathes air, God “breathed” life into him—something unique in all of creation and not in the likeness of angels. It is not a function of creation or will by which spirit can cause human birth into something new; rather, it is purely by divine “right”.

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (Jn 1:12-13)

Satan does not have that right or ability to cause life to develop through a human. Those who teach such garbage are promoting things taught by demons and that appeal to the sensual lusts of human fascination, not something real or true.

As Job says, “what is man that you make so much of him? (Job 7:17). Believers are called sons of God their Father (Mt 5:45), but this is not ever spoken in regards to angels, because only believers can fulfill what was intended by having made man in the image of God (Heb 1).

Notice that the Nephilim and “daughters of men” were said to have reproduced children of men, not children of the more notable label Nephilim. The identity was that of humanity. In quite the opposite manner with God, the Spirit joins with our spirits and reproduces the dominate likeness of God, not the likeness of other human spirits. The identity for believers is that of Jesus, the Son of God. The identity for those who are sons of God, but live more like Nephilim, will be just as it was for the original ones in the time of Noah’s flood, absolute destruction.

This is not to suggest that “fallen” angels don’t have any culpability from the days of Noah. We are instructed today that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 6:12). So it likely was back then, that demons will be held responsible for their influence on the events and choices of men like alluded to in 2 Pet 2:4-5 and Jud 6-8. God will hold all of creation responsible for their contributions. As a result, mankind cannot claim to be the victim of angelic causation in their sin, let alone in their “procreation” outside of the guidelines of God. Men only procreate men after their kind; and, deceitful angels will be held accountable for their part in influencing men to turn away from the will of God.

God alone creates life. He gives that ability only to those he chooses who submit to his authority and who restrain that power within the boundaries he has established. Demons can’t create life, either on their own, or through sex with women. This limitation is what Eve referred to when she prophesied about the very first human birth:

“With the help of the Lord, I have brought forth a man”. (Gen 4:1)

The language used in Gen 6 is directed specifically at those men who should have known better and practiced what was right before God as a result of the “contending” Spirit of God in them and not to the rest of humanity and not to demons.

“First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this coming he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2Pet 3:3-7).

Either you will believe what you want, or you will submit to accepting what honors God. You have a choice, and you will be given the chance to explain why you believed what you did, and why you taught others what you did.

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About grahamAlive

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5 Responses to The Notorious Nephilim

  1. Ken Ammi says:

    I know not to whom you refer by “sensationalists” but it is a simple historically verifiable fact that the Angel view of Genesis 6’s sons of God was the original, traditional and majority view amongst both Jews and Christians. Thus, by definition, the Nephilim had to be hybrids. The last of them died at the flood, never to be heard from again–unless one appeals to Numbers 13:3 for post-flood Nephilim in which case one would be taking the word for it of disloyal, unfaithful spies who were said to present an evil/bad report and were rebuked for it.

    • grahamAlive says:

      God allows each person to express their own opinions, but that does not mean we are wise or correct in our reasonings. It would be a mistake to base one’s belief on majority-rule-opinions, especially when making no effort to submit such views to what Scripture states.

  2. LT says:

    Fantastic article! One thing I’ll point out, is that the 120 years “lifespan” is incorrect. For Abraham lives to be 175. And a few other Patriarchs lived longer than 120. The 120 “decree” is referring to the amount of time God was giving the Ante-Diluvian civilization to repent while Noah was building the Ark. reference 1 Peter 3:20 “when once the long suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing…”.

    • grahamAlive says:

      Thanks. Perhaps I wasn’t as clear as I could have been on that 120 years reference.
      God’s decree on lifespan, as I referenced as “120 years on average”, was not a specific, drop-dead date. The biblical record that gives us lifespans prior to the Flood shows a common span of around 900 years. The idea that God was giving time to repent to those people at the time of Noah, by stating their lifespan would be reduced, although possible, appears to be an interpretation that doesn’t have any scriptural support. There is no biblical call for repentance at that time when God announces his judgment and not one person saved because of repentance.
      As you point out, some patriarchs lived longer than 120 years, but your reference to Abraham is for someone well after the flood, not during it, and he would certainly be an exception when compared to those around him, whose years, per the record we have in Scripture was rapidly declining from the time of the Flood through the time of the patriarchs and the time of ancient Israel. The 120 is probably meant to reflect a general average, so there would be some beyond and many below those years, but no one anywhere close to the 900 or so years for many prior to that Flood.
      My attempt was to compare how God was limiting people back then, just as he was limiting the access to his Spirit to the Israelites who were drifting further and further from God through adulterous behavior. This idea seems to be consistent with the warnings in the New Testament to believers not to quench the Spirit, and is reflected in the praise of the 144,000 in Revelation who have not spiritually adulterated themselves with women.
      For sure, God is calling all people to repentance now, so in that I firmly agree with you.
      I think that 120 years reference is still correct, unless you’re seeing something that I am still missing. Thx for your response.

  3. LT says:

    Well dang, it appears that my response got lost I’ll type another. Isaac lived 180 years, and Jacob 130. So yes the lifespan changed drastically. My answer isn’t in the 120 years decree. It mainly is the fact that after the flood everything changed. The water canopy “shield” wasn’t protecting the earth anymore. That’s another topic for sure. But it took Noah 100 plus years to build that ark. I’m under the idea that the 120 year decree was primarily based on that.

    Also, Noah was a preacher of righteousness. In 1 Peter 3:18-19, Jesus via the Holy Spirit preached to that world during the long suffering of God.

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