*Scripture verses covered in this section's commentary are noted in italics

Genesis 6:1-4 meaning

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Genesis 6:1
  • Genesis 6:2
  • Genesis 6:3
  • Genesis 6:4

The world’s population continued to grow. The “sons of God” took wives from the daughters of men. God says He will not strive with mankind forever because man is sinful. The “Nephilim” were old mighty men of renown.

The population of the earth kept increasing and so did the wickedness of men. In this chapter, God begins to judge mankind’s wickedness on a global scale. We are not told how large the earth’s population is. With the long ages of people prior to the flood, it could have grown quite significantly. However it does not seem that people had children as often. We are simply not told.

In Genesis 6:2, the term sons of God is used. It is uncertain who the “sons of God” are. It could be that the sons of God, are fallen angels (angels in rebellion against God). It is possible for these fallen angels to have taken wives for themselves from mankind.

The New Testament book of Jude could support this position, stating that angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day (Jude 1:6). This verse could indicate that fallen angels broke some rules, crossed some lines and defied God, and were jailed as a result. This could include violating a prohibition from marrying human women.

The Apostle Peter makes a similar statement in the New Testament: For if God did not spare angels when they sinned but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly (2 Peter 2:4-5). Because of their rebellion against God, these angels are bound in prison waiting for judgment. We know that many demons are still at large on the earth, Jesus cast out demons. We also know that the demon called “Legion” begged not to be thrown into the abyss (Luke 8:31) indicating that some demons are at large and others in the abyss. It could be that some of the fallen angels or demons who acted improperly are the same demons in the abyss.

Luke uses the term “sons of God” to refer to resurrected believers: “because they are like angels, and are sons of God” refers to those who are resurrected. They are like angels in that there is no marriage (Luke 20:36). Perhaps this verse also supports the idea that the sons of god would have left their proper domain if they intermarried.

Whoever we think the sons of God are, one thing is for sure, these abnormal and unholy marriages filled the earth with more corruption and violence.

In verse three, God says, My spirit shall not always strive with man. God was growing tired of man’s ungodliness, they had become wholly carnal or sinful. God truly is gracious, but there comes a time when He simply says, no more. In Noah’s day, men were giving in to their sinful natures and the earth was filled with violence as a result. God appointed a window of repentance for 120 years. If those on the earth did not repent in that period of time, God would bring a flood to destroy the earth and man.

In verse four, it is implied the offspring of these relationships produced the Nephilim. Their name in Hebrew means “the fallen ones” from a Hebrew verb Naphal which means, “to fall away” or “to cast down.” Many speculate that the Nephilim were a race of giants with great strength who were known for their tyranny and cruelty. In the Old Testament book of Numbers (chapter 13) we see the only other specific reference of the word Nephilim: 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 (Numbers 13:33). Some scholars speculate that Goliath was offspring of the Nephilim (1 Samuel 17).

Biblical Text

1 Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless, his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

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