6 Reasons I don’t believe the Nephilim were Angels

There are a lot of Christians who believe that the Nephilim mentioned in Genesis 6 (pre-flood) and again in Numbers 13:33 are angels who cross-bred with men to become legends of old. There are still a lot of contrary views out there as well. Recently, a friend asked what I thought about the Nephilim being angels.

In order to understand, we must read and evaluate the text of scripture first.

Genesis 6:1-8

1When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

5The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

Here are the reasons I have for believing they are not angels, but men.

  1. The most straightforward reading of these scriptures indicates that the Nephilim, and their descendants, are men. Verse 4, after introducing the Nephelim says “these were the mighty men…men of renown”. Some may argue that it is referring to the descendants of Nephilim and the daughters of man. (see the reason #4). The context from verse 1 forward, God is talking about man, who “began to multiply,” and “they took as their wives”.
  2. The idea of Nephilim as angels come from the apocryphal books and Greek mythology, not from the canon of scripture. Thus, we do not hold it with the same authority as scripture. Some other writings may be useful, but we need to evaluate the usefulness and truthfulness of any non-canonical text against scripture, which are the very words of God (Romans 3:2).
  3. Let’s step back to God’s creation. Claiming that the “sons of God” means angels runs contrary to the fact that man, not angels, are created in the image of God.
  4. Angels are created beings and of a different created kind than man. Through the whole of the creation account, God said let them reproduce after their own kind (Genesis 1:11,12,21, 24, 25). This is reinforced in 1 Corinthians 15:38-40 as well, even indicating a difference between earthly bodies and heavenly bodies. Just as crossing man with beast is forbidden, any form of cross of man with non-man would be rejected. Their offspring would be some sort of hybrid, not a man.
  5. Angels do not have relationships with men. Any proposed offspring would run contrary to the fact that only God can create ex-nilho. Jesus, responding to a question regarding marriage in heaven, taught that angels do not marry, and thus do not engage in sexual relations (Luke 20:34-35). If we ignore that, and allow for angels to copulate with mankind and have offspring, they would need to create new DNA out of nothing, thereby creating a new, unique human. Because angels are spirit (Hebrews 1:14); not material, they do not have DNA because DNA is made up of matter. A similar event may have happened with the virgin birth of Jesus, but the Holy Spirit is God and may have created new DNA ex-nilho, not through copulation or meiosis (sexual cell division).

    Note: the next verse (Luke 20:36) refers to man as “sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” Angels cannot be sons of the resurrection since they do not die.

  6. The Nephilim were likely giants, but that is not unusual. Giantism seems to be found throughout much of the fossil record, both among men, and most forms of life. If you attribute the giantism of man, through the Nephilim, to angels then is that also the reason for giantism among other animals and plants?

Why is this important?

Let’s go back to the passage in Genesis 6. The overall context shows first that God was angry with mankind because of their wickedness. Verse 3, the Lord said, “My Spirit will not abide in man forever”. It is referring to what was said immediately before, in verse 2, “the sons of God…married any of them they chose.” and repeated in verse 4. The context indicates man’s wickedness in that he “regretted that he had made human beings on the earth” in verse 6 and again in 7. He also says they will be “wiped from the face of the earth.”

There were likely many forms of wickedness among the men of that time, but the one mentioned was that the “sons of God came in to the daughters of man.” If these “sons of God” were angels, they would be fallen angels (demons), and they would be condemned forever for their sin. This would mean that the “sons of God” are actually sons of the devil.

The good news of the gospel says, that while we (mankind) were still sinners, Christ died for us. The angels who rebelled do not have the opportunity to repent but are being held in punishment until the final judgement (2 Peter 2:4). Fallen angels cannot be called sons of God, since their rebellion is permanent. Man, in the weakness of his flesh, has the right to become sons of God (John 1:12-13).

Instead, we may see a parallel here with the Israelites who were taught not to marry the women of those they conquered in Cannan. This was not because of racism, but because the woman of the pagans in Caanan would lead their men astray to idols. This would be consistent with the other reference to the Nephilim in Numbers 13:33 as the spies came back from Caanan and gave their report:

33And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”

Who were the Nephilim? There is still some mystery to this question, but I do not believe they were angels.

Author: Jon Neifert
Posted on November 14 2023