Genesis 6 and the Nephilim

By Samuel M. Frost, Th. D.

And so it was that the man began to increase on the surface of the ground.  Daughters were brought forth to the men.  And the sons of God saw that the daughters of the man were good, and took the daughters out from all of them whoever they chose.  And YHWH said, “My Spirit will not abide in Adam for an indefinite length of time, because he is mortal flesh.  And so his days will be 120 years.” The mighty men were on the land in those days (and also after those days) when the sons of God were going into the daughters of the man, and the daughters bore children to the men; these mighty men who spanned a long age; men of the name.

              The next toledoth begins in 6.9, which means that from 5.1-6.8 we have a book of the toledoth of man in the day God created man…he called their name, Man (Adam)…and Adam brought forth sons and daughters (5.1-4).  Thus, standing as a heading of the toledoth from 5.1-6.8, “sons of Adam” and “daughters of Adam” are mentioned.  Also, the singular nomenclature, Adam, is for the plural, “and he called them (Eve and Adam), Adam.”  This hearkens to 1.27, with the plural/singular play between “them” and “him”.  Eve is Adam (a human being), and Adam is Adam (a human being), and together they are Adam (human beings).  Thus, when “the adam began to increase on the surface of the ground” what is meant is that Adam, with Eve, began to procreate, or “be fruitful.”  The term, “began” must be coupled with 5.2, “when” God made Adam and Eve.  6.1, then, does not follow the events of chapters 4-5, but starts with the procreation of sons and daughters of Adam. It only follows when we get to Noah. 

Adam was a son of God.  Seth (a son of many sons) is “in the image” of Adam (5.3; to be compared with 1.27).  If Adam is a “son of God”, then his sons are also, “sons of God” since they are “in his image and likeness” (see Luke 3.38).

                 Staying, then, within the context, there is no suggestion whatsoever of an alien, or supernatural host of beings (demons, angels, whatever).  There is every linguistic reason, and contextual reason, for noting that the “sons of God” are the sons of “the Man” (ha-adam).  Being “sons of the man” simply means they were sons begotten from Adam’s sexual relations with his wife, Eve, “the mother of all the living” (3.20).  There is, also, an interesting way the Hebrew text deals with the birth of Cain, the firstborn son, and all other sons respectively in 4.1.  ‘And she brought forth Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a man…the LORD (YHWH).”  The direct object marker comes before YHWH, but there is no verb.  ‘I have gotten a man with the LORD” – “I have gotten a man by, though, of, with the LORD”.  A son of God, one made in the image of “them”, in the image of God.  A son of God’s help, or power.  God’s Spirit will not abide “in Adam” (Adam and all his offspring, collectively) forever.  Thus, with the birth of Cain, God’s Spirit has given to Eve “a man” who breathes the breath of life, too.  If this is correct, then we have the fall of Adam, of course, but now we see the image of God in Adam’s lineage, sons of God, who breath God’s breath, who have God’s Spirit abiding in their mortal flesh, who are called, “sons of God”, and yet in powerful contrast, they think “evil in their hearts” (6.7).  The very knowledge of evil which stems from their father’s transgression, and thus infusion of evil knowledge, instead of good knowledge.  By projecting the title “sons of God” to some quasi, supernatural brood of “fallen angels” and “daughters of Eve” continually places the “blame” on women.  Whereas, the text forces us to see that these are but men, who “see the good” in their own minds to take these daughters (in the beginning, their sisters), and procreate.  The daughters are “good” (tov), whereas the sons are “evil” and on “evil thoughts”, corrupting the daughters in sin.  Remember, the “man shall rule over” the woman, and this is exactly what we see here.  We cannot ever divorce this toledoth from the transgression of Adam and all that follows.

                We are not at all prepared in the text to understand that “fallen angels” (who are not even mentioned at this point) are somehow “procreating” with women.  This, also, would violate “after their kind” in terms of God’s order.  Deer and humans cannot procreate.  Dogs cannot procreate with cats.  Apple seed do not make cucumbers.  Angels, “who are neither married, nor given in marriage” (they don’t procreate), if they could procreate, would only procreate with other angels, and beget more angels!

From a structural analysis, our point can be seen as well:

                                               And so it was that the man began to increase on the surface of the ground.

                      Daughters were brought forth to the men.

                                And the sons of God saw that the daughters of the man were good.

Here we have a chiasm:  The Man – A
                                                     Began to increase – B
                                                                            Daughters – C
                                                                                                  Men – D
                                                                                   Sons of God – D’
                                                                            Daughters – C’
    “saw that they were good (to mate with)” – B’
                                     “of the Man” – A’

                This shows us the literary structure, and thereby the interpretative meaning of the terms involved.  In this overall context, there is no alarm to the term “sons of God” introduced here, and there would not have been any alarm to the original readers in Moses’ day.  Adam and Eve, children of God, “got” children of (by) God, made in his image.  Children wherein his Spirit dwelled, his breath breathed, and his life “kept alive” many of them for quite long periods of time (age, olam).  It is one thing to have to contend with sinning and live for 80 years, and quite another to live 700 years of sin!  I have committed a great deal of sin in my 55 years of life.  I could not imagine living for 600 years of sin.  The grief of God is further highlighted in the fact that he “made Adam” (6.6), not that fallen angels were procreating with them.  God made Adam a son of God, who was commissioned to make more sons of God, who saw and thought “good” thoughts, rooted in “good” knowledge.  These were meant to “live forever” on the surface of the ground (3.22, olam).  Here, by contrast, God has to withdraw his breath so that they perish in the dust of the earth because of what their father, Adam, did.  God was not grieved that he made Adam, but grieved that Adam, and his children, were all slaves of the sin that “crouched at the door” of their hearts (4.7).  Noah’s deluge is an indictment of sinful man, not an indictment of God’s purpose of creating man – which finds an outlet in saving Noah.  The message is clear, however: no one is righteous, no, not one.  All are deserving of catastrophic death, as Adam was deserving the very day he ate.  Yet, “where sin abounded, grace superabounded” (Romans 5.20).  Noah “found grace” in the eyes of YHWH (6.8).  Salvation – God’s purpose for Man – is by YHWH’s grace.  “By faith, Noah…” (Hebrews 11.7); “God’s patience waited in the days of Noah…with his family…who were saved through the water” (1 Peter 3.20).  Peter is reading the overall story here.

                Continuing with the structural analysis, the term, Nephilim has caused some to infer that “special” kind of human is meant here, an “offspring” of the copulation of fallen angels with women.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  First, these Nephilim were on the earth then, and “after” the events of the flood.  The flood did not “wipe them out”.  To account for this, then, would mean that as Noah and his family survived, and began to procreate themselves into what we see in Genesis 10, the “Table of Nations”, Nephilim would continue to be “begotten.”  These Nephilim are also, “great men”, and we find one mentioned in 10.8-9: Nimrod.  In fact, “great men” is a common term used for those who did “mighty things.”  It is clear that Nephilim is in parallel with “mighty men”.  Who were some of these “mighty men”?  One needs only to look at the list of names of men “who had sons and daughters” in Genesis 5.  Men of “long age”, men of “name”, like Seth, Enoch, and Methuselah.  Enoch “walked with YHWH and was no more”!  That’s a mighty man, with a mighty name, who lived 375 years!  Enoch was a Nephilim, a “son of God” who walked with YHWH.  Noah lived 950 years.  He was a Nephilim.  Shem (which means, “name”) lived 500 years.  A mighty son of God, with a mighty name, who lived a long time.  A Nephilim.  Genesis 11.11-ff., continues to tell us of mighty men, lengths of age and such.  This is the parenthetical phrase, “and afterwards” in Genesis 6.4.  It is of note that the length of years of the line of Japheth and Ham are not recorded, but are recorded for the line of the Name, Shem.  There is no coincidence here.  The Nephilim are natural children born to sons of God and daughters of Adam, a son of God, who made Man “male and female” in his image, he made “them.”  It is entirely appropriate, then, to title “daughters of the man” as “daughters of God.”  However, because of two theological points, the masculine is highlighted: 1. Adam was made first.  2.  From the transgression, Man stands over the woman in terms of importance.  Thus, Moses recognized the fact that daughters are also “made in the image of God” and are “daughters of God” (by inference in the text), yet, because of sin, the dominance of man.  However, in spite of sin and transgression, the “seed of the woman” must bring forth a deliverer (3.15).  It must be noted that “seed” is usually something “belonging to” the man, but in 3.15, it is the woman’s seed.  Both the man, and the woman, have “seed”.

                Finally, we may note the two expressions in 6.1, and in 6.4.  “And were born to them”, where “to them” is masculine.  The daughters were “born to the men”, the sons of God.  In 6.1 the verb is passive, whereas in 6.4 it is active.  In both instances, “to men” is in reference to “the man” – Adam, collectively.  Again, this highlights that there is absolutely no interjection of thought of angelic procreation.  This may be due to the fact that Moses’ surrounding culture did have such wild and fantastic stories, detailed in great lengths of narration.  We find, here, two verses!  Hardly a detailed account of such tales.  Because of such severe brevity, against such wide anti-Mosaic mythology, it can be argued that Moses unhinges any thought of such fantasy to his readers.  Men are men, and men are flesh who think evil thoughts in terms of evil knowledge that came from their (and ours) father, Adam.  Sin crouches at the door of each person, and “desires them” so that it may “rule them” (Genesis 4.6-7).  Sin causes the face to “fall” (naphal, the verb associated with nephil – fallen) because of “anger” and “resentment” to one’s own brother and neighbor.  It is evil knowledge through sin that seeks to master the thoughts of man, causing his “fall”.  If Cain “did good” (tov), if he did according to good knowledge, and good instruction (torah), he will rise.  Many “fallen ones” (Nephilim) were mighty sons of God, like Enoch, who “lived long in the land”, and God “took him.”  It is possible to master sin through good knowledge in torah with the Spirit of God abiding in a person, having his breath.  The problem is: no one, completely, does.  All die.  All sin.  Even Abel, Seth, and Enoch, and finally, Noah himself.  Noah was a “seed” of Eve.  Perhaps he is the one “who will give us rest from works and labor of our hands on earth, which Adonai has cursed” (Genesis 5.29).  Maybe he will “bruise the head” of the serpent.  Perhaps Noah’s son, Shem.  The Name!  Maybe Abraham, or his son, Isaac, is the chosen “seed”.  These are all “sons” and “daughters” (Sarah, Ruth, Hannah) of God, filled with his Spirit, breathing his air, and walking in his knowledge and instruction.  This is “the way” of Life, to eternal life, the life forfeited in the Beginning, but promised to come in the End, when “all the nations” shall worship the One True God on earth and in heaven.

                Thus, with the overall narrative of the Scriptures, we can safely reject such fanciful mythologies that attempt to associate themselves with Genesis 6.  They are long winded discussions about “angels”, and “supernatural things” that are nothing more than distractions used to deflect the gravity of sin and death. Rather than maintaining the focus on redemption, and the redemptive history of God’s purpose for man, Israel, and the nations, these interpretive approaches rather elaborate on fanciful speculations, hierarchies of levels and beings, wasting precious time.

By the method of forward reading, that is, reading from the beginning forward (start at chapter 1), we can remain within the context-narrative. Although “Nephilim”, and “sons of God” occur in much later books, we should be informed first of the immediate context, and not to later usages, or designations. Phrases and words do change over time (as time progresses forward), but this should not be a rule when considering first usage of a term or phrase.

Author: Samuel M. Frost, Th.D.

Samuel M. Frost has gained the recognition of his family, peers, colleagues, church members, and local community as a teacher and leader.  Samuel was raised in the Foursquare Gospel tradition and continued in the rising Charismatic Movement of the early 1980’s.  While serving in local congregations he was admitted to Liberty Christian College in Pensacola, Florida where he lived on campus for four years earning his Bachelor’s of Theology degree.  It was there under the tutelage of Dr. Dow Robinson (Summer Institutes of Linguistics), and Dr. Frank Longino (Dallas Theological Seminary) that he was motivated to pursue a career in Theology.  Dr. Robinson wrote two books on Linguistics, Workbook on Phonological Analysis (SIL, 1970) and Manuel for Bilingual Dictionaries: Textbook (SIL, 1969).  It was under these teachers’ guidance that Frost entered into his Master’s studies, being granted a scholarship for Greek I and II at Pentecostal Theological Seminary, accredited, in Cleveland, Tennessee (adjunct of Lee University).  Frost completed his study under Dr. French Arrington (The Ministry of Reconciliation, Baker Books, 1980), who used the text of J. Gresham Machen, New Testament Greek for Beginners. Frost studied Hebrew for two years under Dr. Mark Futato (author, Beginning Biblical Hebrew, Eisenbrauns, 2003) and Dr. Bruce K. Waltke (author, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, Eisenbrauns, 1990) at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida. With combined credits from PTS and RTS, Samuel completed his Master of Arts in Christian Studies and Master of Arts in Religion from Whitefield Theological Seminary in Lakeland, Florida under the direct tutelage of Dr. Kenneth G. Talbot, co-author of the well reviewed work, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism (Whitefield Media, 2005) with Dr. Gary Crampton (and Foreword by the late, Dr. D. James Kennedy).  Dr. Talbot also oversaw Samuel’s Dissertation, From the First Adam to the Second and Last Adam (2012) earning him the Magister Theologiae (Th.M.) degree.  He also helped put together A Student’s Hebrew Primer for WTS, designed and graded exams for their Hebrew Languages course. Samuel’s studies lead him into an issue in the field of Eschatology where his scholarship and unique approach in Hermeneutics garnered him recognition.  Because of the controversial nature of some of his conclusions, scholars were sharp in their disagreement with him.  Frost’s initial work, Misplaced Hope: The Origins of First and Second Century Eschatology (2002, Second Edition, 2006 Bi-Millennial Publishing), sold over four thousand units.  While arguing for the Reformation understanding of sola Scriptura as defined by the Westminster Confession of Faith, Frost’s book launched a heavily footnoted argument for a total reassessment of the doctrine known as the Second Coming of Christ.  The conclusion was that the events of the war of the Jewish nation against their Roman overlords in 66-70 C.E. formed the New Testament authors’ eschatological outlook, and went no further than their own first century generation; a view otherwise known as “full” or "hyper" Preterism.  Internationally recognized Evangelical author and speaker, Steve Wohlberg remarked, ‘On the “preterist” side today…we have such influential leaders as Gary DeMar, Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., David Chilton, R.C. Sproul, Max King, James Stuart Russell, Samuel M. Frost, and John Noe.  To these scholars…the beast is not on the horizon, he’s dead” (Italics, his)” (End Time Delusions, Destiny Image Publishers, 2004, page 133).  It should be noted that only Noe, King and Frost supported the “full” Preterist position. Thomas Ice and co-author of the best selling Left Behind series, Tim LaHaye, quote Frost’s work, Misplaced Hope, as well in their book, The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming under Attack (Harvest House Publishers, 2003, page 40).  Dr. Jay E. Adams, who single handedly launched “a revolution” in Christian Counseling with his work, Competent to Counsel: An Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling, (1970, Zondervan), also wrote an analysis of Frost’s work in Preterism: Orthodox or Unorthodox? (Ministry Monographs for Modern Times, INS Publishing, 2004).  Adams wrote of Misplaced Hope as a "useful, scholarly work" (p.6 - though he disagreed with the overall thesis).  Dr. Charles E. Hill, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, wrote of Misplaced Hope that Frost, “attacks the problem of the early church in a much more thoroughgoing way than I have seen” (When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyper Preterism, Ed. Keith Mathison, Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 2003, ‘Eschatology in the Wake of Jerusalem’s Fall’ p. 110-ff.).  There were several other works as well that took the scholarship of Frost seriously, like Ergun Caner in The Return of Christ: A Premillennial Perspective, Eds., Steve W. Lemke and David L. Allen (B&H Publishing, 2011). Because of the controversial nature of Frost’s conclusions on these matters, it was difficult to find a denomination within the Church-at-Large to work in terms of pastoral ministry.  That situation changed when Samuel was called by a Bible study group in Saint Petersburg, Florida to found a congregation.  Christ Covenant Church was established in 2002 operating under the principles outlined by Presbyterian historian James Bannerman’s work, The Church of Christ: A Treatise on the Nature, Powers, Ordinances, Discipline, and Government of the Christian Church (Banner of Truth Trust, 1974, original, 1869).  By-Laws and a Constitution were drawn up in the strictest manner for what was considered an “Independent” establishment of a Presbyterian Church, granted that a “call” was received and recognized by Presiding Elders duly ordained from existing and recognized denominations.  Two Elders, one ordained in the Reformed Presbyterian Church (Mike Delores), and another ordained in the Presbyterian Church of America (Dr. Kelly N. Birks, now deceased) tested and reviewed the call, ordaining Samuel on October 20th, 2002, the Twenty Second Sunday after Trinity.  Proper forms were submitted to Tallahassee, Florida with the stamp of a Notary Public Witness.  Christ Covenant Church (CCC) functioned as a local church for five years with a congregation as large as 30 members.  Frost was gaining recognition after Misplaced Hope had been published in January of that year, and conferences were hosted that included debates with another prominent "full" Preterist educator, Don K. Preston.  CCC hosted best-selling authors, Thomas Ice, and Mark Hitchcock from Dallas Theological Seminary; and Dr. James B. Jordan (Westminster Theological Seminary), well-known author/pastor in Reformed theological circles.  Frost was invited for the next several years to speak at over 25 conferences nation-wide, was featured in articles and an appearance on local news in Tampa for one of CCC’s conferences.  The Evangelical Theological Society also invited Samuel to speak at the Philadelphia conference (Frost is currently a Member of ETS as well as Society of Biblical Literature). During this time Samuel had submitted one more book, Exegetical Essays on the Resurrection of the Dead (TruthVoice, 2008; repr. JaDon Publishing, 2010); and co-wrote, House Divided: A Reformed Response to When Shall These Things Be? (Vision International, 2010).  Frost also wrote several Forewords for up and coming authors who were influenced by his teaching materials, as well as cited many times in books, lectures and academic papers.  However, because of certain aspects of Hermeneutics and Frost’s undaunted commitment to scholarship (with always a strong emphasis on the personal nature of devotional living to Christ), several challenges to the "hyper" Preterist view he espoused finally gave way, largely due to the unwavering commitment to Samuel by the Dean of Whitefield Theological Seminary, Dr. Kenneth G. Talbot, who continually challenged him.  In what shocked the "hyper" Preterist world, Samuel announced after the Summer of 2010 that he was in serious error, and departed the movement as a whole, along with Jason Bradfield, now Assistant Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church, Lakeland, Florida .  Christ Covenant Church had dissolved after 2007 while Samuel continued as a public speaker and writer, largely due to reasons that would unravel Frost’s commitment to "hyper" Preterism as a whole. The documentation of Frost’s departure was published by American Vision’s Founder, Gary DeMar, with a Foreword by Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry.  Why I Left Full Preterism (AV Publishing, 2012) quickly ran through its first run.  The book was later republished under the arm of Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry and is sold today (GoodBirth Ministries Publishing, 2019; though still available in Kindle form from American Vision).  Dr. Gentry also gave mention to Frost in his book, Have We Missed the Second Coming: A Critique of Hyper Preterism (Victorious Hope Publishing, 2016), noting him as "one of the most prominent" teachers within Full Preterism (135).  Dr. Keith Mathison, Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida, endorsed the book as well.  Samuel has gone on to write, Daniel: Unplugged (McGahan Publishing House, 2021); The Parousia of the Son of Man (Lulu Publishing, 2019); God: As Bill Wilson Understood Him, A Theological Analysis of Alcoholics Anonymous (Lulu Publishing, 2017).  He is also active as a certified Chaplain with the Henry County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana, and enrolled with ICAADA (Indiana Counselor’s Association on Alcohol and Drug Abuse), and worked directly under Dr. Dennis Greene, Founder of Christian Counseling and Addictions Services, Inc., for a year.  Frost’s passion is in the education of the local church on various issues and occasionally works with Pastor Alan McCraine with the First Presbyterian Church in Lewisville, Indiana, and Bethel Presbyterian Church, Knightstown, Indiana, where he periodically is called upon to give the sermon. Samuel, with his wife, Kimberly, helped to establish Heaven’s Bread Basket food pantry that donates food items to local families in need once a month – a ministry of the Session of First Presbyterian Church, Lewisville, Indiana. Samuel also works part time at Ace Hardware in New Castle, Indiana for several years.  He has a solid, family reputation in the community, and has performed local marriages and funerals.  He also sits on the Board of the Historical Preservation Committee in New Castle. Recently, he has completed his two year quest for a Th.D from Christian Life School of Theology Global, Georgia.

4 thoughts on “Genesis 6 and the Nephilim”

  1. Hey Sam, love ya Bro but we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one! Hope that’s OK? Have you read chapter 12 of The Unseen Realm, by Michael Heiser? If so, then there’s nothing I could possibly say to convince you otherwise on this topic. If you haven’t, I just wanted to pass it along. It’s hands down one of the best books ever written.

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    1. I am surprised as the dogmatic insistence of many on a mere two verses in Genesis 6. Heiser, of course, is not the only “scholar” on this issue. As for contemporary representatives, John Walton comes to mind. He is not “convinced”, either. For me, “sons” (human beings) of God echoes Gn 4.1, follows the narrative of a coming redeemer “seed” (a child of the woman), which Noah is seen as possibly the “comforter” from the “curse of the land”. Gn 6, then, is simply following this narrative, noting that the sons of Adam, sons of the God-Image Man, are also Images of God (Gn 9.6). Thus, since the story is couched between the Adamic children to Noah, the “mighty men” (Gn 5), of “long age”, who were before (Gn 5) and afterward (after the Flood), the narrative of the flood ends with this: Whosoever shall shed man’s blood, his blood shall be shed: for man was made to the image of God. The Hebrew has “ha adam was made in the image of God” – the same “ha adam” we find in Gen 6. The same “ha adam” we find in Gn 4., and 2-3. The sons of the ha adam, then, are the same sons of Elohim. Hence, to shed the blood of the Image of God Man demands their blood be shed. So, what do we have here? God “sheds” the blood of the Image-God-Man through flood; wipes them out because of their sins. He saves Noah, and earth’s population of God-Image-Man begins again. However, rather than one single execution of God, God now gives to Ha-Adam a “law”: “thou shalt not murder. The one who does, shall be killed.” Why introduce mutant babies here? Half demonic, half human mutants? What’s the point? How is this relevant to anything at all?

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  2. Dear Dr. Frost,
    I just heard your Youtube Interview “Why I Left Preterism” interview today. As you know Calvin was a Preterist (though that term had not yet been coined). So ironically, you have fled Preterism yet cling to Calvin. So I wanted to send you some quotes by John Calvin and was wondering if you knew about them and if so have shared them with your readers and church? So if you could email me I will send them to you. Also, you might be interested in viewing a documentary on Dispensationalism that you address in your interview, that just aired by Dr. Andy Woods:
    https://slbc.org/sermon/2022-cdh-session-4-apocalyptic-genre-and-hermeneutics/
    And this one that here just aired yesterday:
    https://rumble.com/v16hhlk-2022-memorial-day-conference-session-1-pastor-andy-woods.html

    I look forward to your response!

    Thank you!

    Sincerely in Christ,

    James Sundquist

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