Today I wanted to write a short appendix to my first entry in to the series on demonology. After some personal review and some discussion with other folks, I realized in the original article I kind of brushed aside a few things that are more critical than I realized. So let’s take another look at Genesis 6:1-4 to rebut a very common criticism of how I (and many others) interpreter this passage. And then we are going to take another look at Revelation 12 and the war in heave to talk about something I should have considered in that original entry.
The Sons of Seth and Daughters of Cain
In my original article I presented the supernatural view of Genesis 6:1-4 as if it were an accept fact but I just barley mentioned the so-called Sethite view. My view is that these verses talk about an event where angels left their realm to come to earth and take human women as their brides, the result of these unions was a new race of very tall people referred to as Nephilim. Then after their defeat and death, the Nephilim and their descendants (the Anakim, the Rephaim) became the demons.
But as I stated before there is one other very popular and traditional way of reading this passage and it goes as follows: the ‘sons of God’ don’t refer to angels but instead it refers to the line of Seth (the godly family) and daughters of men were the line of Cain (the sinful family). According to this view, Seth’s descendants abandoned their worship of God in order to go after carnal interests, including marrying women from Cain’s family and becoming sinners with them. According to the Sethite theorists, the Nephilim weren’t giants; the word just means “fallen ones” because the offspring of these sinful marriages were bad hombres.
After interacting with a lot of sincere believers, I realize now that I shouldn’t have brushed off this view so easily because it is really popular. And so now I’ll do what I should have done in the first place and show, without question, that there is no way the Sethite reading of Genesis 6 has any possibility of being true.
Sons of God are Angels, not “sons of Seth”
The first massive and most obvious problem with the Sethite view is the fact that everywhere else in the Old Testament that “sons of God” is used, it is talking about angels. The phrase is used three times in the Book of Job (Job 1:6, Job 2:1, Job 38:7). The fist two verses describes a meeting in heaven where the “sons of God” come to meet with God and the third one says the “sons of God” shouted for joy when God made the earth. It is obvious that these all reference angels and not human sons of Seth. The other few times the phrase is used include Duet 32 and Psalm 82, both of which were discussed in the original post, but without question refer to angels.
Seth was Late to the Party
I was kind of surprised to see one comment from someone who skimmed the article who claimed that the Sethite view was really popular with Jewish people around the time of Jesus and is probably what the New Testament writers believed. I’m sorry to have to have to shoot this commentor down but that whole statement is flat out wrong. Every Jew and Christian alike for almost 2,000 years believed in the angels marrying humans version of the story. The first person to take a non-supernatural stance on Gensis 6 was the Christian writer Julius Africanus around 240AD. After Africanus, St. Augustine was the first to suggest the Sethite view and it became popular after his time. So what we have here is an interpretation of the story that almost no one believed until the late third century AD. In fact, the amazing part is that the Bible isn’t the only ancient source that talks about angels (or gods as the pagans would say) coming to earth and mating with women to make a race of demi-god like beings. The Babylonians for example taught about the Annanuki, a race of spirits that came to earth, taught Babylon how to be great and mated with humans to create great, (giant) heros, like Gilgamesh. So, all the Jews, Christians and Pagans alike believed in the supernatural side of the story until very late in the game.
The nail in the coffin
There are numerous other problems with the Sethite view, but what should be the shot that kills the tiger is the fact that both Peter and Jude say it was angels who mated with human women in Genesis 6. That is inspired, Scriptural proof and should be enough to settle this matter for anyone who believes the Bible contains no errors.
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; (2 Peter 2)
Here Peter is talking about angels who sinned and were lock in a place called Tartarus (the Greek doesn’t say hell) which is like a special prison cell in hell where God puts the worst of the worst. And from the phrase “but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon,” it’s plain and obvious we are talking about a time angels sinned BEFORE Noah and the flood. If this is not referring to Genesis 6, then what could it be? We are left with either two options, either it is the Genesis 6 event, or the sin of the angels isn’t recorded in the Bible. I leave you to ask yourself which is more likely.
The War in Heaven Revisited
The second aspect that I failed to touch on in the original post is something not so much that I was criticized for but rather something I intended to address but then in the final article it fell through the cracks. My contention is that the great war described in Revelation 12 is not what most of us assume it to be. The traditional view is that before creation, Satan rebelled and convinced one-third of Heavens angels to fight against God with him. God cast them out and then Satan became the devil and the other angels became his demons. I contended that this scene didn’t even take place before creation, rather it’s obvious in the context of Rev 12 that this battle takes place around the time Jesus was born (look it up and see).
But wait, does it actually matter when the battle happened? Isn’t the point that the battle happened at all and one-third of the angels fell and became demons. The mistake I made was assuming that just because the battle happened at a different time in history means that everything about the traditional view is flawed. If in fact one-third of the angels fell with Satan and became demons, then in my article on the origin of demons I was failing to address this particular group of angels that became demons.
Here’s the thing, my point was and is that the traditional view of Revelation 12 assumes too much. Let’s take a look at the one-thirds verse for example.
4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. (Revelation 12:4)
Now let me pose to you a question; What are you assuming about this group of angels when you read it? The traditional view seems to assume the angels that are swept down to earth here are bad guys but I don’t think we necessarily need to assume that. Of course verses 7-9 give us more context for interpreting 12:4.
7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Rev 12:7-9)
So another question here; what if this verse is describing an attack and not a rebellion? Well then that would mean that Satan and “his angels” are coming to heaven and attacking God’s angels. That would mean that the angels in verse 4 aren’t bad guys at all but these are good angels who work for God suffering a defeat. I see nothing in the context of the chapter that would lead us to assume that the “one third who fell” and “Satan’s angels” are the same group.
Now some of you more cleaver readers might have noticed the fact that Satan’s soldiers in this passage are in fact referred to as “angels.” And this is true. But does this necessarily mean that these beings are spirits who used to work for God but now work for Satan or his demons, or is this referring to the beings who are called the “Sons of God” who were the gods of the other nations? Or is it possible that these “angels” are the devil’s flunkies since “angels” just means “messengers.” If that last option is true then these angels who work for Satan might be God’s former angels, spirits of the Nephilim, the sons of God or all of the above. I argue that we just don’t have enough information on these guys to say for sure what their origin is.
So in conclusion yes, it is possible that Revelation 12 mentions yet another angelic rebellion that caused angels to become demons, but I don’t think we have to necessarily read the text in this way. At most I think it was worth at least exploring this topic when thinking about the origin of demons.