Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (Angels: Questions and Answers)

What about Guardian Angels (Matt. 18:10)?

Should Angels Be Worshiped (Col. 2:18)?

Who Entertained Angels (Heb. 13:2)?

Into What Do Angels Long to Look (1 Pet. 1:12)?

Do Churches Have Angels (Rev. 1:16, 20)?

How Will Christians Judge Angels (1 Cor. 6:3)?

Do Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 Refer to Satan?

Does Satan Read Minds?

How Are Christ and Satan Related?

Can Satan or Demons Perform Miracles?

Are Demons in the World Today?

Can Christians Bind Satan?

Who Are the “Sons of God” in Genesis 6:1–4?

Some frequently asked questions were not answered in the previous discussions. The remaining significant inquiries are therefore included here.

What about Guardian Angels (Matt. 18:10)?

Humanistic and superstitious reasoning combined with sentimentalism have much to do with the idea of individual guardian angels. While the idea is said to be biblically based, a closer look at the supporting texts proves otherwise.

Jacob (Gen. 48:16) and the psalmist (Ps. 34:7) have been used to support the guardian angel idea. However, these passages speak about the “angel of the Lord” either indirectly (Jacob referring in Gen. 48:16 back to his encounter in Gen. 32:24–30) or directly (the psalmist commenting generally on multiple appearances in Israel’s history from Genesis to Judges). Neither of these texts speak of personal guardian angels.

After Peter escaped incarceration by the aid of an angel (Acts 12:6–11), he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark (12:12). The servant girl Rhoda reported to the prayer group that Peter was at the door, but they insisted, “It is his angel!” (12:13–15). There are two possible explanations for this response, neither of which involves a “guardian angel.” First, they probably assumed that Peter had been beheaded like James (12:1–2) and that this was Peter’s afterlife appearance form (in accord with Jewish superstition). Second, it is also possible that the use of the Greek word angelos here (12:15) refers to a human messenger reporting the death of Peter in spite of their prayers that the outcome would be otherwise.

The most likely biblical text to teach guardian angels is Matthew 18:10: “For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” However, this suggests not that each believer has an individual guardian angel but rather that believers are collectively served by angels in general, often multiple angels aiding one person at the same time, as in the band of angels that carried Lazarus to heaven (Luke 16:22), the army of angels that fought for Israel (2 Kings 6:17), and the angels commanded by God to protect those who seek shelter in the shadow of the Almighty (Ps. 91:11).

How this works, for whom it works, and when it works, the Bible does not indicate specifically. However, while Scripture clearly says that angels are ministering spirits (Heb. 1:14), it does not say that there are individual guardian angels for each person alive in the world at one time.

Should Angels Be Worshiped (Col. 2:18)?

Angels are not to be worshiped (Col. 2:18); angels are to worship God (Heb. 1:6). One form of created being (humans) is not to worship other forms of God’s creation (angels, animals, nature, the stars above). In Scripture, angels are always seen worshiping God, never approvingly being worshiped themselves (Isa. 6:1–4; Rev. 5:8–14).

Early in the history of Israel, the people were not only exhorted to worship God alone but were also prohibited from worshiping any object (Ex. 20:1–5; 34:14; Deut. 11:16; 30:17; Pss. 31:6; 97:7). The penalty for disobedience always proved severe (Ex. 32:1–10).

Christ was tempted by Satan (a created being) in the wilderness. Satan offered him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory if only the Savior would fall down and worship him. Christ immediately rejected the offer, quoting Deuteronomy 6:13. For good measure, Jesus replied to him, “Be gone, Satan!” (Matt. 4:10; Luke 4:8).

Later in the New Testament, people attempted to worship first Peter (Acts 10:25–26) and then Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:9–15). In both cases, the ill-directed worship was summarily rejected. Near the end of John’s life, he was so overwhelmed by angelic presence that he attempted to worship them on two separate occasions. In both cases, the angels rejected John’s worship and redirected him to worship God (Rev. 19:9–10; 22:8–9).

Whether one looks to biblical precepts or biblical practices, angelic worship is forbidden as idolatry. God alone is to be worshiped.

Who Entertained Angels (Heb. 13:2)?

The teaching in Hebrews 13:2 that “some have entertained angels unawares” is given not as the ultimate motivation for hospitality but rather to reveal that one never knows how far-reaching an act of kindness might be (cf. Matt. 25:40, 45). This is exactly what happened to Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 18:1–3), Lot (Gen. 19:1–2), Gideon (Judg. 6:11–24), and Manoah (Judg. 13:6–20). The writer of Hebrews is not suggesting that believers should expect angelic visitations. Rather, he is vividly implying that when one practices biblical hospitality (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8), one may at times experience unexpected blessing, as illustrated in the early portions of the Old Testament.

Into What Do Angels Long to Look (1 Pet. 1:12)?

It is not that the angels have been uninvolved in God’s plan of salvation. They announced Christ’s birth (Luke 1:26–35; 2:10–14), ministered to him during his times of testing (Matt. 4:11; Luke 22:43), stood by the grave when he arose from the dead (Matt. 28:5–7; Mark 16:4–7; Luke 24:4–7), and attended his ascension into heaven (Acts 1:10–11).

Since then, angels have rejoiced over sinners who repent (Luke 15:7, 10). The apostles became a spectacle to angels (1 Cor. 4:9). Angels are concerned over pastors who habitually sin (1 Tim. 5:21). They are ministering spirits sent out to serve on behalf of those who are to inherit salvation (Heb. 1:14). After death, believers will join the angels for heavenly worship (Rev. 5:11–14).

Angels are nearby enough to watch apostles, serve saints, worship with believers in heaven, and rejoice at an individual’s salvation, but there is something additional on which they are intensely focused. Like Peter, John, and Mary, who stooped over to peer into the empty tomb (Luke 24:12; John 20:5, 11), or like a man looking intently into Scripture (James 1:25), angels strain to see the salvation fruit that is resulting from Christ’s suffering on the cross, resurrection from the dead, and ascension into heaven.

Angels have a holy curiosity to understand the kind of mercy and grace they will never experience. The holy angels do not need to be saved, and the fallen angels cannot be saved. But the holy ones seek to understand salvation so that they might glorify God more fully, which is their primary reason for existence (Job 38:7; Ps. 148:2; Isa. 6:3; Luke 2:13–14; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:11–12; 7:11–12).

Do Churches Have Angels (Rev. 1:16, 20)?

The seven “stars” (Rev. 1:16) are the “messengers” of the seven churches (Rev. 1:20). Most English translations use “angel” instead of “messenger” to translate the Greek word angelos. However, here it is better to use the most general sense of this word, namely, “messenger,” and let the context interpret its meaning.

Angelos can refer to good angels (Rev. 5:11) or evil angels (Matt. 25:41). Frequently in the New Testament, it is also used of human messengers (Matt. 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:24; James 2:25). “Star” in the Bible can refer to many things, such as an actual star (Rev. 6:13), demons (Rev. 9:1), humans (Rev. 12:1), Christ (Rev. 22:16), or angels (Job 38:7). It was common in ancient literature for “star” to represent an important person (Dan. 12:3). Society even has its own “stars” and “superstars” today.

With this in mind, there are three reasonable interpretations of “star.” Some say that it refers to the “attitude” of the church. Others say that it refers to real angels. However, in this context the idea of a human being seems most satisfying.

First, “star” and “messenger” are used in both the Old Testament and the New Testament to refer to humans. Second, nowhere in the Bible are angels placed in a leadership position over the church. Third, well-established ecclesiology has concluded that Christ is not writing here to angels but to humans (Rev. 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14). Finally, humans, not angels, are responsible to God for the conduct of the church (Heb. 13:17); angels are on the outside curiously looking in (1 Pet. 1:12).

The seven “messengers” actually represent the human leadership of the church, which comprises the elders and overseers. That they are in Christ’s right hand represents Christ’s power over his churches. It reminds leaders that they lead by Christ’s authority, not their own.

How Will Christians Judge Angels (1 Cor. 6:3)?

The Greek verb krinō in 1 Corinthians 5:12, 13; 6:1, 2, and 3 primarily means to “judge,” “decide,” or “determine.” So in what sense and for what angels will Christians bring judgment in the future?

Some have suggested that a Hebrew verb (shaphat) is translated krinō in the Septuagint with the alternative meaning of “rule over” (1 Sam. 8:20). Thus, it could possibly be used the same way in the New Testament, meaning that Christians are to rule over holy angels, since angels are servants of believers (Heb. 1:14). However, the context of 1 Corinthians 5:9–6:11 clearly conveys the idea of adjudication and cannot be used in the secondary sense of ruling.

Since krinō is employed here in a judicial sense, that raises some intermediate questions. First, in what way do holy angels need to be judged? Holy angels by their very nature do not need to be judged. Nor does Scripture give even the slightest indication by statement or example that they ever received or will receive judgment.

Second, how will Christians judge evil angels? They currently await the judgment of the great day (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6), which must coincide with the judgment of Satan when he will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10) and joined by his angels (Matt. 25:41). Since believers are promised that they will sit with Christ on his throne (Rev. 3:21) and have authority to judge (Rev. 20:4), then believers may judge evil angels with Christ in the judgment of the great day. It is to this event that Paul alludes in 1 Corinthians 6:3.

Do Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 Refer to Satan?

Just as Scripture indirectly relates idols to demons (Deut. 32:17; Ps. 106:37–38) and an impetuous Peter to Satan (Matt. 16:23), so the king of Babylon (Isa. 14:4–21) and the king of Tyre (Ezek. 28:1–19) are indirectly related to Satan. Pagan kings who promoted false worship, even insisting that by nature they were actually deity, served as human surrogates for Satan. Such were these two kings.

Isaiah 14:12–14 provides a glimpse of Satan through the life of Babylon’s king. It pictures one who would elevate himself to the level of God (Isa. 14:13–14) but who failed (Isa. 14:12) in his attempted self-exaltation. This was true of the Babylonian monarch in much the same manner as it replicated the earlier fall of the Evil One.

Ezekiel 28:2, 6, 12–17 also shows how the king of Tyre behaved in his reign similarly to Satan in the past. This ruler modeled Satan’s previous attitudes and actions.

Therefore, one must be balanced when interpreting these two passages—careful not to ignore Satan, cautious not to treat the passages as though Satan were the exclusive subject, and prudent to understand that the primary or direct intent of the writers was to pronounce God’s judgment on the actual kings while using Satan’s background to illustrate the evilness of their rule. This approach would seem to be confirmed by the New Testament, which abundantly reveals truth about the Devil without directly quoting Isaiah 14 or Ezekiel 28.

Table 8.10 Man’s Fallen Intellectual Capacity

“debased”  Rom. 1:28  
“hardened”  2 Cor. 3:14  
“blinded”  2 Cor. 4:4  
“futility”  Eph. 4:17  
“darkened”  Eph. 4:18  
“hostile”  Col. 1:21  
“deluded”  Col. 2:4  
“deceived”  Col. 2:8  
“sensuous”  Col. 2:18  
“depraved”  1 Tim. 6:5  
“corrupted”  2 Tim. 3:8  
“defiled”  Titus 1:15  

Does Satan Read Minds?

Does the Devil have the power to know what individual people are thinking? The answer is no for the following reasons.

First, Satan is a created being (John 1:3; Col. 1:16). Therefore, he does not share with God the divine attribute of omniscience. Second, nowhere in Scripture is there even the slightest hint that the Evil One is all-knowing at all times, past, present, and future.

Third, Satan is the mediate, not immediate, cause of man’s corrupted thinking. At the completion of creation, “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). Adam and Eve were in righteous fellowship with God and had been given dominion over all of God’s creation (Gen. 1:26–30). A life of earthly bliss described their potential future and that of their offspring before sin entered the picture.

Genesis 3:1–7 describes the far-reaching and devastating blow to the human mind that would affect every human being who lived thereafter. Without question, Satan waged war against God and the human race in this monumental passage, where the battlefield turns out to be Eve’s mind. In the end, Eve exchanged the truth of God (Gen. 2:17) for the lie of Satan (Gen. 3:4–5), and the human mind has never been the same since.

Fourth, the extent of this mental corruption is illustrated by the many different negative New Testament words that describe the ruin of man’s intellectual capacity as a result of original sin (see table 8.10).

As a result, God’s two original created human beings, and every one of their offspring, experienced a brutal reversal in their relationship with God and his world:

       1.    They would concern themselves no longer with thoughts of God but with the thinking of men (Ps. 53:1; Rom. 1:25).

       2.    They would no longer have spiritual sight but would be blinded by Satan to the glory of God (2 Cor. 4:4).

       3.    They would no longer be wise but foolish (Ps. 14:1; Titus 3:3).

       4.    They would no longer be alive to God but would be dead in their sins (Rom. 8:5–11).

       5.    They would set their affections no longer on the things above but on the things of earth (Col. 3:2).

       6.    They would walk no longer in light but rather in darkness (John 12:35–36, 46).

       7.    They would live no longer in the realm of the Spirit but rather in the flesh (Rom. 8:1–5).

       8.    They would no longer possess eternal life but would face spiritual death—that is, eternal separation from God (2 Thess. 1:9).

So Satan can know the generally degenerate quality of a person’s thinking as a result of his deceitful scheming in his garden confrontation with Eve, but he cannot know the specifics as a result of reading minds. Satan’s two conversations with God and the encounter with Job (Job 1–2) illustrate this point. Satan pretended that he knew the details of Job’s thinking, but subsequent events proved the Devil to be inept and unable to correctly know the particulars of Job’s mind because he cannot read minds.

How Are Christ and Satan Related?

Christ created all things, and apart from him, nothing else has come into being (John 1:3, 10; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2). Satan is a created being and thus neither a peer nor a superior of Christ. Satan created nothing and is always an inferior being to the divine lordship and will of Jesus (1 John 3:8).

In Job 1:12 and 2:6, Satan had to submit to the will of God. In Matthew 4:10, Christ demanded that Satan depart from him. In the end, Christ will defeat Satan, judge him guilty of high crimes and treason, and sentence him to an eternity in the lake of fire (John 16:11; Rev. 20:9–10).

Christ is the Creator from whom Satan received life. Christ is the sovereign to whom Satan must submit. Christ is the Judge from whom the guilty-as-charged Satan will receive his final judgment and eternal sentence to hell.

Can Satan or Demons Perform Miracles?

Created beings such as Satan and demons do not have the miraculous power of omnipotent God. God has undeniably worked miracles through Christ (John 11:47–48) and the apostles (Acts 4:16) but never in like manner on behalf of Satan or demons.

One of Satan’s chief strategies is to deceive (Rev. 12:9; 13:3, 12, 14; 19:20; 20:3, 8, 10), that is, to make a nonmiraculous act appear to be as powerful as an act by God. However, it is only an appearance, not a reality.

While Satan has powers beyond humans (Job 1:12; 2:6), they are limited by God. The magicians in Pharaoh’s court matched in appearance the first three plagues from God (Ex. 7:11–12, 22; 8:7), but they could not continue from the fourth one on (Ex. 8:18–19); they admitted that their powers were far exceeded by God’s omnipotence. Satan will empower false signs and wonders in the latter half of Daniel’s seventieth week for the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:9–10), the False Prophet (Rev. 13:13–14), and demons (Rev. 16:13–14).

Can Satan or demons heal like Jesus or the apostles? Neither Satan nor demons possess creative power and thus cannot heal miraculously as God heals. However, when demons depart from unbelievers (of their own volition), the illness could depart as well. This would give the appearance of the miraculous.

It seems that a negative answer to the question, can demons heal? was a self-evident truth to first-century Palestinians. Jesus had been accused of having a demon on at least six occasions: (1) Matthew 9:32–34; (2) Matthew 12:22–29; Mark 3:30; (3) Luke 11:14–26; (4) John 7:20; (5) John 8:48–49, 52; and (6) John 10:20–21. Those who best knew the fruit of Christ’s ministry responded to this charge by saying, “A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?” (John 10:21 NASB). Thus, demons can possibly give the convincing appearance of healing, but they cannot heal miraculously in reality. They are deceiving spirits (1 Tim. 4:1) whose signs are not of God (Rev. 16:14).

Are Demons in the World Today?

Why do demons sometimes receive so much attention from the media? Are the reports biblically correct, or are they just the musings of uninformed people who see a demon behind every bush and under every rock? Has demon activity accelerated in the world? How can one know which concepts are biblically accurate and which are not?

This subject deserves a full-length book, but it will only be summarized here. Consider several preliminary, general observations:

       1.    We affirm the historical reality of Satan and demons, both in the past and in the present, as verified by the Bible.

       2.    We affirm that the Bible admonishes Christians to expect Satan and demons to operate now much as they did in both Old Testament and New Testament times (1 Pet. 5:6–11).

       3.    We affirm that the Bible teaches that, in living out the Christian life, one will experience real spiritual battle with Satan and his army of demons.

       4.    We affirm that Scripture alone, independent of personal experience or clinical data, will truthfully determine the reality of demonic experiences and provide an understanding of encounters with Satan and demons.

       5.    We affirm that instructions in the New Testament Epistles on how to conduct spiritual warfare were not limited to the first century (Eph. 6:10–20).

In Scripture, Satan and demons prominently involved themselves with spiritual darkness (Eph. 6:12), deception (2 Cor. 11:13–15), and death (John 8:44). They thrive in these kinds of environments. The United States has rapidly accelerated toward these conditions over the last decades, as witnessed by increases in false religion and idolatry, sexual immorality and perversions, drug use, occultic activity, interest in Satanism, godlessness, shamelessness over sin, lawlessness, devaluation of human life, and societal attempts to suppress biblical truth.

Not only is the world a setting where Satan and demons thrive, but also the Christian community has unwittingly set itself up for great deception. In the church, this normally finds two extremes—overemphasis or underemphasis on the spirit world.

Much of the Christian community today pays too little attention to scriptural teachings and warnings about Satan and demons. Because much demonic activity in the world occurs invisibly, people assume it doesn’t exist. For some Christians, an ignorance of Scripture combined with an attitude of materialism produces an unhealthy indifference to the invisible war with darkness. For others, an unrealistic attitude of spiritual invincibility dominates. This leaves many Christians unwittingly ignorant, vulnerable, and unprepared for the current increase of spiritual warfare.

Can Christians Bind Satan?

Only a very few New Testament passages might help to answer this inquiry. Matthew 12:22–29; Mark 3:27; and Luke 11:14–23 spiritually match the strong man (Satan, Matt. 22:29) against the stronger man (Christ, Luke 11:22). This text has nothing to do with believers binding Satan, just Christ binding—that is, having the greater power over—Satan.

Matthew 16:16–19 (esp. 16:19) speaks metaphorically about the apostles forgiving or not forgiving sin using the terms “bind” for “prohibited”/“unforgiven” and “loose” for “permitted”/“forgiven.” The ancient rabbis used these terms in exactly this manner in this context. The passage has everything to do with authority to deal with sin and nothing to do with Satan. John 20:23 makes the same point using the straightforward terms “forgive” and “withhold forgiveness.” Matthew 18:15–18 should be understood similarly in the context of disciplining a sinning brother.

Revelation 20:1–3 speaks of Christ’s millennial kingdom where at the outset Satan is bound physically and incarcerated by an angel from heaven for the entire one thousand years. This text is time specific and refers only to the angel of Revelation 20:1, Satan, and the one thousand years of Christ’s future reign on earth.

This review of the very few Bible passages that might possibly relate to the question should cause one to conclude that none of them remotely deal with the question at hand. So the simple answer is no, Christians cannot bind Satan, because there is no biblical teaching that would lead to an affirmative response.

Who Are the “Sons of God” in Genesis 6:1–4?

Genesis 6:1–4 proves to be one of the most mysterious, elusive texts in the Bible and one of the most difficult to interpret. As such, one ought not to be overly dogmatic since it remains one of a handful of texts that has a wide range of divergent views, even among interpreters who generally agree on almost all other issues. Therefore, it is best not to make too much of any possible doctrinal or practical implications.

There are several reasons why such a difficult text is found so early in Scripture:

       1.    The only immediate biblical context is Genesis 1–5.

       2.    The details in the text are meager and obscure.

       3.    There are no explicit, clear texts relating to Genesis 6:1–4 in subsequent Old Testament and New Testament passages except Matthew 24:37–39 and Luke 17:26–27.

       4.    The setting is postfall and preflood, about which biblical facts are few and far between.

Yet the very tantalizing obscurity of this passage makes it fascinatingly attractive to inquiring students of Scripture.

A number of very important questions arise: Who are the “sons of God” (Gen. 6:2)? Who are the “Nephilim” (Gen. 6:4)? Are demons involved here?

Several assumptions will be made to accommodate this summary discussion:

       1.    Genesis 6:1–4 is not ancient mythology but rather true and accurate divinely revealed history.

       2.    This passage needs to be interpreted in the context of Genesis 1–5.

       3.    The Nephilim in Genesis 6:4 are not necessarily offspring from the sons of God and daughters of men. In fact, Nephilim also appear centuries later in a postflood exodus setting (Num. 13:33).

       4.    Demons cannot mate with humans directly, since reproduction is after one’s own kind (Gen. 1:20–25). Additionally, spirit beings cannot reproduce, even among themselves (see Matt. 22:30; Mark 12:25).

       5.    While direct angelic-human reproduction is not realistic, one must consider the possibility of an indirect angelic-human relationship taking place between demon-possessed men and women.

       6.    Some have found supposed New Testament links to Genesis 6:1–4 in 1 Peter 3:19–20; 2 Peter 2:4; and Jude 6. While this is a possibility, there are other equally satisfactory interpretations of these New Testament texts that do not require a connection back to Genesis 6. Thus, whatever view one takes, it should not rely on these New Testament passages as primary proof of the relationship.

With these introductory thoughts as background, a brief explanation and evaluation of the three most common views follows. The reader can then decide which view seems to have the most support and fewest problems.

“SINFUL SETHITES” VIEW

John Murray and Gleason Archer have espoused this view. They contend that the godly line of Seth sinfully deviated from God’s plan and married the ungodly female offspring of Cain. Thus, the line of Seth was polluted by this unholy intermarriage, and this explains why Noah and his family (Sethites) were spared in the flood, while all others fell to God’s universal judgment on the human race.

Here are the more attractive features of this view:

       1.    The equivalent of “sons of God” elsewhere in Scripture refers to godly men (Deut. 14:1; Ps. 73:15; Isa. 43:6; Hos. 1:10).

       2.    The basis of the flood judgment was human sin, not demonic sin (Gen. 6:5–7), which explains why God’s Spirit would not abide in or contend with men forever (Gen. 6:3).

       3.    The context of Genesis 1–5 correlates well with this view.

       4.    Marrying outside the faith would result in mixed marriages and contamination of the godly Sethite line, which explains the severity of the flood on the whole human race except for Noah’s family.

       5.    “Sons of God” seems to refer to a godly line, and “daughters of men” seems to refer to a sinful line.

       6.    This view correlates well with the conditions existing in Noah’s day as described in the Gospels (Matt. 24:37–39; Luke 17:26–27), which portray life as generally ignoring the holy things of God in order to pursue the mundane things of men like eating, drinking, and marrying.

Here are the more problematic features of this view:

       1.    “Men” does not correspond exactly with “sons of God.”

       2.    There is no explicit indication that “daughters of men” is limited to the line of Cain.

       3.    There is no explicit indication that “sons of God” refers to the line of Seth.

“DEMON-POSSESSED MEN” VIEW

Duane Garrett and Willem VanGemeren have espoused this view. They contend that demons (evil angels) took up bodily residence in men, who were then prompted to live ungodly, licentious lives with the women of the world. The moral pollution proved so great and so universal that God destroyed the entire human race except Noah and his family.

Here are the more attractive features of this view:

       1.    The exact phrase “sons of God” refers elsewhere in the Old Testament to angels (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7).

       2.    The view explains the alleged contrast between “sons of God” and “daughters of men.”

       3.    This view is one of the most ancient of known Genesis 6:1–4 explanations.

Here are the more problematic features of this view:

       1.    This view seems to artificially introduce demons not otherwise found in the context of Genesis 1–5.

       2.    God’s judgment was against not evil angels but humans, which explains why God’s Spirit focused on humans, not demons.

       3.    The phrase “sons of God” never refers to demons.

       4.    Ancient tradition is not the equivalent of Scripture in historical accuracy.

       5.    “Angel” was a part of Moses’s vocabulary (Gen. 19:1, 15; 28:12; 32:1), so it seems inexplicable that he would use “sons of God,” especially when referring to evil angels.

       6.    This view does not correspond to the biblically explicit descriptions of conditions in Noah’s day (Matt. 24:37–39; Luke 17:26–27), which do not mention demons.

“ROGUE RULERS” VIEW

Walter Kaiser and Meredith Kline have espoused this view. They contend that “sons of God” was an ancient phrase used to describe rulers and their male offspring who were represented as having a direct connection with deity and who ravaged and abused the women of the day, which severely distorted God’s holy design for marriage, even resulting in rampant polygamy.

Here are the more attractive features of this view:

       1.    “Sons of God” was used biblically of human rulers (Ps. 82:6; John 10:33–36).

       2.    This view fits the context of God’s judgment on men, not on evil angels.

       3.    This view correlates with the general description of Noah’s day as described in the Gospels (Matt. 24:37–39; Luke 17:26–27), where men seem to easily and sinfully ignore the more important demands of God.

Here are the more problematic features of this view:

       1.    This view assumes more detail than Genesis 6:1–4 offers.

       2.    Scripture does not describe kings as being associated with deity at this period of world history.

Prayer

Dear Father, this is the great glory of the gospel:

that through Your beloved Son’s work on the cross

You rescue us from the domain of darkness

and translate us into His kingdom of heavenly light,

making us fit to share in the inheritance of the saints.

One of the most striking examples of that in Your Word

is the testimony of the apostle Paul,

who became a powerful advocate of the faith

he once tried to destroy.

All who believe can likewise testify

that You have ransomed us from the bondage of sin,

given us new life,

and fully equipped us for Your service—

even though like Saul of Tarsus,

we were once blasphemers and disobedient.

We honor Your name because of Your transforming power in our lives.

You have put a new song in our mouths,

a song of perpetual praise to You.

We thank You for the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit,

who transforms lives from the inside out.

We rejoice in the assurance that our sins are forgiven.

We are profoundly aware of our eternal indebtedness to Christ,

who paid an incomprehensible price to set us free.

And we know that we are now free indeed—

free from enslavement to the law,

and blessedly liberated from bondage to sin.

Enable us, we pray, to stand firm in that freedom.

Safeguard our hearts and seal our deliverance,

so that we shall never again be subject to any yoke

other than the easy yoke and light burden of Christ.

We know that apart from Your gracious empowerment,

all our attempts at godly love and faithful service

are utterly futile.

Apart from the Holy Spirit’s enablement,

we neither could nor would honor Jesus as Lord.

Apart from the intercessory work of Christ,

we know that we would falter.

Apart from the grace You give us to persevere,

we would surely fall away.

And apart from the purifying power of Your Word,

we could never be fit for heaven.

We confess to our deep shame

that our hearts are prone to coldness.

Our love for You is too shallow and too fickle

to honor You in a worthy manner.

Our submission to Christ too often proves fragile and erratic.

Our walk is faltering and inconsistent.

We are too susceptible

to the lure of the world,

the lusts of our own flesh,

and the wiles of the devil.

Grant us more grace

to be diligent in our duties,

faithful in our devotion to Christ,

industrious in the work of the gospel,

clear in our testimony to the world,

steadfast in our defense of the truth,

and untiring in our service to You.

May all our conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ.

May every aspect of our lives bring honor to our Savior,

our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”

A mighty fortress is our God,

A bulwark never failing;

Our helper He amid the flood

Of mortal ills prevailing.

For still our ancient foe

Doth seek to work us woe—

His craft and pow’r are great,

And armed with cruel hate,

On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,

Our striving would be losing,

Were not the right man on our side

The man of God’s own choosing.

Dost ask who that may be?

Christ Jesus, it is He—

Lord Sabaoth His Name,

From age to age the same,

And He must win the battle.

And tho’ this world, with devils filled,

Should threaten to undo us,

We will not fear, for God hath willed

His truth to triumph thro’ us.

The prince of darkness grim,

We tremble not for him—

His rage we can endure,

For lo, his doom is sure:

One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly pow’rs,

No thanks to them, abideth;

The Spirit and the gifts are ours

Thro’ Him who with us sideth.

Let goods and kindred go,

This mortal life also—

The body they may kill;

God’s truth abideth still:

His kingdom is forever.

~Martin Luther (1483–1546)[1]


[1] MacArthur, J., & Mayhue, R., eds. (2017). Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (pp. 722–735). Crossway.