Sons of God
(Who are the sons of God?)

QUESTION: Job 1:6, says then the sons of man came before God and Satan came. Who are the sons of men? Is this another reference to angels?

ANSWER: Well, my first question is where did you get the translation "sons of man [or men]"? That's not what the Bible says. The Hebrew is ben elohim, meaning "sons of God." (Elohim is the Hebrew word for God, used that way about two thousand times in the Old Testament.)

And yes, in Job, the sons of God are angelic beings. What is described in Job 1:6 (and in Job 2:1) seems to be some kind of heavenly counsel, or court, in which the angels report on their doings before the throne of God. The fact that even the devil must give a report to God should encourage us. Nothing Satan does goes unnoticed by the Lord. And nothing he does is beyond God's sovereign control.

In Job chapter 38, the Lord Himself questions Job, and asks him, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth [where were you at the beginning of creation, in other words]?" (vs. 4). At that time, "the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy" (vs. 7).

In Hebrew poetry (which most of Job is) the two clauses in that last verse are parallel, they are referring to the same thing. The sons of God are "morning stars," perhaps in the sense that they shine with a God-given glory light. (That seems to be what terrified the shepherds on the night of Jesus' birth, Lk. 2:9.) It's interesting to me that angels not only shouted for joy to see God's creative power displayed, they also sang about it!

This scene helps us with the identity of the sons of God. The creation of the earth itself came before the creation of man. Only God and the angels were there. The term is also used in Psalm 29:1, but it doesn't show up in many English translations. The NKJV says, "Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones, give unto the Lord glory and strength." And in that verse "mighty ones" translates the Hebrew ben el or sons of God (el being short for elohim).

The term "son of God" appears to have been used in Scripture to identify a direct creation of God--which the angels are. In other words, the angels didn't marry and have angel babies (Matt. 22:30). Each one was a direct creation of God. Only Adam, of all human beings, is called a son of God in that sense (Lk. 3:38), because he was a direct creation of God (Gen. 2:7).

When Christians are referred to as "sons of God, through faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:26), that tells us that when we are born again we are a spiritual creation of God (II Cor. 5:17). We are not Christians because our parents were when we were born. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" (Jn. 3:6-7). Each one is individually a new (spiritual) creation of God, through faith in Christ (Jn. 1:12-13).

A Difficult Case
Genesis 6:1-7, speaks of "the sons of God" intermarrying with human women. Though I wouldn't be dogmatic about it, my opinion is that these were angels. If it be objected that angels don't intermarry, according to Matthew 22:30, it should be pointed out that the latter text refers to "angels of God in heaven." It may not include fallen angels (demons).

The sons of God in Job are clearly angelic beings. And the apocryphal Book of Enoch repeatedly describes the sons of God in Genesis as wicked angels  (7:1-2; 15:7; 66:6, 15; 68:39; and compare 21:2-3 with 87:2-3). Yes, this is an apocryphal book, and not part of God's inspired Word. However, it does represent an ancient belief as to the identity of these beings.

If the "sons of God" in Genesis 6 are angels, it reveals the reason why certain wicked angels were so corrupt and dangerous to human beings that they were imprisoned early, before the final judgment (II Pet. 2:4-5; Jude 1:6-7).

A couple of final thoughts. If the sons of God in Genesis are demons who'd found a way to cohabit with human women and produce offspring, it may explain the extreme judgment of the flood that follows. God knew the beings thus produced could not be allowed to live. Further, some believe the strange tales of the demigods of ancient mythology may have a basis in fact, and refer to these half-human monsters.