“And it came to pass when mankind began to multiply on the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men that they were fair, and took themselves wives of all that they chose. And Jehovah said, My spirit shall not always plead with Man; for he indeed is flesh; but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years. In those days were the giants [Nephilim] on the earth, and also afterwards, when the sons of God had come in to the daughters of men, and they had borne [children] to them; these were the heroes, who of old were men of renown. And Jehovah saw that the wickedness of Man was great on the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart only evil continually. And Jehovah repented that he had made Man on the earth, and it grieved him in his heart:” Genesis 6: 1-6.
D. M. PANTON, B.A.
There are certain great outstanding mysteries in the Word of God which we hesitate to handle: absorbingly interested ourselves, and finding in them buttresses to our own faith, we yet fear to shock, or stumble, or divide, or provoke profitless discussion. Nevertheless in the long run we shall find it a mistake to attempt to be wiser than God. Difficulties are deliberately planted in Scripture as tests of faith, and our characters reveal themselves in their reaction to the Divine revelations; nor can we save others from their reactions. The foolishness of God is wiser than man. Moreover, a supreme reason for grappling with these tremendous mysteries is that, where the truth is suppressed, error fastens luxuriously on the boycotted passage, in which it entrenches itself as in an un-assailed stronghold; and so in the mystery of the Noachic spirits to whom Christ preached (disembodied) the Roman doctrine of Purgatory, as also the doctrine of a Second Chance, lodge themselves (as they imagine) on solid Scripture foundations. The whole Word of God is needed for the whole elucidation of God.
THE SONS OF GOD
That the ‘sons of God’ in Genesis 6. are angels was all but the exclusive belief both of the Synagogue and of the Apostolic Church, nearly all, the pre-Pentecostal Rabbis, and practically the whole of the Church of the first three centuries, so understood the Scripture.* The Septuagint, the Bible in our Lord’s hands which was read every Sabbath in His hearing, actually has, instead of ‘sons of God,’ ‘angels of God.’** Now it is so acutely difficult as to be impossible to conceive how, in the ages of inspiration - the epoch of Israel’s Prophets, and the later age of the Church’s miraculous gifts - an error so gigantic - if an error - could pass uncorrected and un-contradicted by the Holy Ghost; nor is there a single instance (so far as we know) of a doctrine or exposition held in common by the Synagogue and the Church (in their inspired ages) which is not the truth of God. If carefully thought out, this consideration is extraordinarily impressive, and most difficult to refute.
The modern Jewish interpretation appears for the first time in the Targum of
Onkelos in the first Christian century: and the Sethite view appeared first in
the Church in Julius Africanus in the third century. Among modern theologians who hold the
view of the
[** Augustine admits that even in his day the majority of copies read ‘angels of God.’]
Now we look a little closer. The phrase used - Bene ha Elohim - occurs four times only in the Old Testament, and every time it is used of angels; and it is set, in this passage, in studied contrast to the human - "When MEN began to multiply on the face of the ground, the sons of God saw the daughters of MEN" (Gen. 6: 1). There were at that time no human sons of God, in the spiritual sense, for “ALL FLESH had corrupted its way upon the earth” (Gen. 6: 12); and even Noah, who alone is declared righteous by God, is never called a son of God. Of all the Patriarchs Adam (already dead) and Adam only, is, in the New Testament genealogy of the race (Luke 3: 38), named a ‘son of God’ - manifestly because, as in the case of every angel, he came fresh from the Hand of God in creation. The gloss making the sons of God ‘Sethites’ and the daughters of men ‘Cainites’ is a pure invention of the expositor, a guess not only with no justification whatever in the text, but manifestly in conflict with the entire context. No one would ever have dreamed the phrase meant anything but angels had it not been for the extremely startling nature of the event.
THE NEW TESTAMENT
an event so enormous, and so closely connected with human corruption, must, if
true, find confirmation in God’s later revelations, and the Apostle Jude - in an epistle significantly a preface to
the Apocalypse - sets on it the imprimatur of God. “And angels"
- no article: certain angels – “which kept not
their own principality, but left their proper habitation” - a statement
never made of the Satanic hosts – “he hath kept in
bonds” - the Satanic legions, on the contrary, range heaven and earth in
perfect liberty – “even as Sodom and Gomorrah, having in
like manner WITH THESE given themselves over to
fornication, and gone after strange flesh” (Jude 6).* Jude’s
revelation is like a flash of lightning. So
abominable in God’s sight, says the Apostle, is the horrible misuse of sex in
all adultery of species that it drew down the lightnings of
[* “In like manner with these angels just referred to” (Professor S. D. F. Salmond. D.D.). “The manner was similar, because the angels committed fornication with another race than themselves” (Dean Alford). “If we bear in mind that there is something mysterious about the love and connection of the sexes, and that in all who are not wholly sunken, the animal aspect of it - which sin isolates - is pervaded by a more elevated and noble principle; when we further think of its importance in the history of the world, and of salvation, we may perhaps regard it as not quite impossible that angels should have desired to share it” (J. H. Kurtz, D.D.). For a shrewd comment on the verse in Jude see the one excellent and exhaustive work on the whole subject, The Fallen Angels, by J. Flemming (Dublin, 1879), pp. 169-177.]
[** Woman’s shorn head to-day, accompanied as it begins to be by the uncovered head in worship, is a peculiarly sinister symptom of the age, in the tacit invitation it offers to the unseen world in direct disobedience to the Holy Ghost. Depicting the destiny of the Rephaim, another name for the obnoxious strain, Prov 9: 18 casts a tragic light on some at least of ‘the daughters of men.’ For the Rephaim, see Deut. 2: 20, 21.]
The products of the monstrous marriage, as definitely stated by the Holy Ghost, lift the union out of all possible natural explanations. “The Nephilim” - the giants or ‘fallen’ ones - "were in the earth in those days” - that is, as a signal exception in human history – “and also after that when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them” - that is, the offspring were the Nephilim, or giants. That physical frames were produced by the marriage huge, portentous, is proof positive that the Sons of God were superhumans * incarnated; and therefore immediately after they are named Jehovah says:- “My Spirit shall not strive with man for ever, for that he ALSO is flesh.” “The gigantic dimensions are not human: it is not the Adamic image, created after the Divine which shows itself in such colossal corporeal development” (Nagelstach).
[* Since no one has any control of the circumstances of their birth, the ‘Nephilim’ may well have been those to whom Christ preached in Hades before His resurrection.]
A very powerful subsidiary proof lies in the close relationship stated by the Spirit of God between this abhorrent irruption and the Deluge. No sooner is the fact stated than the doom falls (verses 2-3); and as soon as the Nephilim, the giant descendants,* are named, so soon is it stated that “the Lord saw that the wickedness of man” - the Nephilim are included in the human: man also is flesh – “was great in the earth.” Apart from general corruption, and the implied refusal of the Word of God through Noah, the sole fact named in the context of the Flood, the solitary outstanding vocation of God drawing down the extermination of the world, is a marriage as abhorrent to heaven as it was portentous to earth.
“The Nephilim were in the earth in those [pre-diluvian]
days, and also after that"
(Gen. 6:4), in a post-diluvian epoch. And so in Numbers
13, we read:- “There we saw the Nephilim,
the sons of Anak, which come of the
Nephilim; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in
their sight.” Their gigantic
proportions are given in Deut. 3:11, and
because of this obnoxious strain
further confirmation lies in the complete exposure the facts afford, an
elucidation of astonishing completeness, of all heathen mythology. “We stand here,” Delitzsch
says, “at the fountain of heathen mythology with its legends, but this
primitive golden age is divested of all its apotheosizing glory.” Greek mythology weaved itself around a race
half-human, half divine, actually named ‘giants,’
‘Titans,’ ‘heroes,' gods; "terrible and strong," says Hesiod, “the
race of heroes called demigods”; and it is exceedingly impressive that
the very word Peter uses to describe the present prison of these fallen angels,
Tartarus, is also named in mythology as the prison of Cronos and the rebel
same,” says the Scripture, “were mighty men”
- Gibborim: the fabulous giants of
They appear to have introduced astrology, sorcery, armour, and medicine; the
Book of Enoch attributes to them the introduction of a flesh diet, sanctioned
by Jehovah only after the Flood (Gen.9:3),
beauty culture (‘the beautifying of the eyebrows,’ etc.,), and cannibalism. The
narrative itself hints polygamy. The age is heading for abominations that
peculiarly rouse the wrath of the Creator (Lev. 18:
23). The scientific lectures of Professor Voronoff have been forbidden
It is obvious that if the thing is a fact, not only ought the Scriptures to have recorded it, but it ought now to be made known for such warning as may be possible in an utterly incredulous age. For our Lord’s words are inexpressibly solemn:- “AS IT WAS IN THE DAYS OF NOAH, so shall be the Presence" - the Lord’s sojourn in the heavens – “of the Son of man” (Matt. 24:37). Since the solitary outstanding Noachic event recorded by inspiration, the sole world-filling fact, is the hybrid race, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the later world-judgment will have an identical cause. No Spiritualist would find any insuperable difficulty either in the narrative or in the prophecy, nor needs to be told that Incubi and Succubi have a basis in fact. It was a Corsican tradition that Madame Mere asserted a like birth of her son, Napoleon; and the latest life of Mrs. Eddy (E. F. Dakin's Mrs. Eddy) openly states of her rival Mrs. Stetson that she “produced a child by immaculate conception,” a rumour among Christian Scientists by no means confined to Mrs. Stetson. ‘Gibbor’ is a term which Scripture applies both to Nimrod (Gen. 10: 8) and to the Antichrist (Hab. 2: 5). Sooner than we know, the world may awake to find itself in pre-Diluvian horrors, and among pseudo-Christs, demi-gods, working miracles so great (Matt. 24: 24) as to imperil even the faith of the elect. *
[* Our Lord’s statement (Matt. 22: 30) no more makes it impossible for angels to marry than impossible for the risen: all He says is that in heaven marriage is as unpractised among the risen as among the angels. The capability of neither is touched upon. The denial of the possibility assumes a knowledge that we do not possess. There are bodies CELESTIAL as well as bodies terrestrial (1 Cor. 15:40). “Credible or incredible to man’s wisdom - whether congenial or foreign to his conceptions of things in which a pretence to knowledge is mere folly - whether apparently possible or impossible - the fact is stated in the Bible, and that so plainly that the wisest commentators have been reduced to childish absurdities in attempting to evade it” (S. R. Maitland, D.D.).]
THE NEPHILIM AND THE FLOOD
JOHN FLEMING, B.A.
No one who reads the first twelve or thirteen verses of Genesis 6. can avoid coming to the conclusion that Moses designed to represent the age immediately preceding the Deluge as surpassing in point of moral corruption, social wrong, and outrageous crimes any that had gone before it and also, that, between this unprecedented evil and the alliances of the Sons of God with daughters of men, recorded in verse 2, a close connection subsisted-indeed, that the former was, in a great degree, the consequence of the latter. All interpreters recognize this connection, and are agreed that the necessity for a judgment such as that of the Deluge arose out of these alliances.
Allusions to the spirit-world, or its events, are made sparingly in the Bible, and only when the occasion imperatively demands it. Such an occasion presented itself in connection with the history of the Deluge, the Holy Spirit designing to show the causes which led to the infliction of that tremendous judgment, and thus to vindicate the ways of God. If the angelic intercourse and its result, the production of a new race, together with the violence and corruption with which the world was filled by their means, constituted the chief and special causes which rendered such a visitation indispensable - then it was not only within the scope of the sacred narrative, but on many grounds expedient that these causes should be revealed; and if Moses has not expressly told us that the Bne-ha-Elohim were angels, it is only because the meaning of the term was, when he wrote, established and well known.
We look upon it, indeed, as an argument of no small weight, in favour of the angel-interpretation, that on such a ground does there appear a necessity for the almost total destruction of the human race. If the great men of the time - the rulers, judges, chiefs - chose to form alliances with women of inferior rank - if the elder descendants of Adam formed unions the women of a later generation - or if Sethite men, conspicuous for piety, united themselves with godless Cainite women - these unions might be incongruous and productive of unhappiness enough to the parties themselves: but they could not be the means of producing the great and general corruption of manners and forgetfulness of God which characterized the age preceding the Deluge, nor do they afford any sufficient explanation of the cause which drew down upon the world a judgment so terrific. But if the Sons of God were not men, but angels, who about the period indicated left their “proper habitation,” and came to earth for the purpose of gratifying unlawful and unnatural desires, we have, in this, a cause at once adequate and likely to produce the unparalleled evil, which led to the ruin of the old world.
Were not fallen spirits, dwelling amongst mankind, and intimately associated with them, very capable of producing the gross and widely spread depravity of conduct and morals which prevailed in those times? And was not this depravity a natural result of the abode on earth, not only of these fallen but powerful beings, but also of another mighty and lawless race, who owed their origin to them? When we reflect on the evil which fallen spirits have wrought in this world - of the untold miseries which one successful act of an evil angel has caused to our race - of the power exercised by such spirits, and the ills which they inflicted on individuals, at the time of the sojourn on earth of Him who will eventually bruise the serpent's head - we discern in the character and degree of the evil prevalent in the antediluvian age the strongest reason for believing that fallen angels, and their offspring, were the prime cause and authors of it.
It would have been, as we have already described it, a race of monstrous beings, outside the limits of creation prescribed by the Creator: and, therefore, to put a period to the existence of such a race, and to preserve in its purity, that which had been originally created in Adam, the greater portion of which had probably become contaminated by means of connection with the mongrel brood, no way, perhaps, remained except the extermination of the whole race then in the world, one family only being preserved in the ark.
An “improvement” was naturally “to be looked for” after the terrible visitation of the Flood: and, accordingly, an improvement appears in the fact, that those who had not alone disturbed the limits of creation, but who also had been instrumental in producing a state of lawless behaviour and moral depravity to which no other age presents a parallel, were now no longer in the world. “The Nephilim were in the earth” in the antediluvian period, and also the fallen “Sons of God” - and only in that period - and the condition of the world, socially and morally, was in consequence, as we infer from the language of the historian, worse then than in the times succeeding the Deluge. No “such unnatural angel-tragedy” has since been enacted in this world, and, probably, never again will be: and this fact, evident to the Divine foreknowledge, was the ground and reason of the Divine resolve that the judgment of the Flood should never be repeated.*
[* But a worse judgment, by fire, may have, among its causes, an identical transgression. Evil angels can deliberately repeat that into which good angels, under temptation, once fell; and it is probable that Nietzsche’s nightmare philosophy of the ‘superman’ is a demonic preparation for the fact. - D.M.Panton.]
“I do not comprehend,” Kurtz writes, “how the espousal of some pious Sethites with fair women for the sake of their beauty, could have caused a disturbance in the development of human history, so terrible and so irreparable that the evil could be remedied in no way but by the extirpation of the human race. Espousals of that kind have often, and to a large extent, taken place; and if, on every such occasion, a deluge must have followed, the world would have numbered as many deluges as years. That the fair daughters of men, spoken of in Genesis 6., were also godless is only assumed: but, admitting that they were, however blameworthy we may believe such marriages to be, that they should, of necessity, draw after them the judgment of the Deluge is inconceivable.”
The real cause of that judgment he explains in a way which, to us at least, appears to be completely satisfactory. We may easily conceive that the commingling of two classes of creatures, so widely separated from each other, and so different in their nature and destination, as are angels and human beings, must be an act by which the limits of creation, ordained by God, would be displaced - a displacement which must, of course, be the more hurtful in its consequences, the higher and more important, in the scale of being, the transgressors on either side. We will see that if such commingling were universal - that is, if the unnatural influence had then pervaded the entire human race - the Divine plan would thereby be thrown into disorder, and, in fact, destroyed: and that, in such case, no resource would remain, but either to allow things to take their course, to the absolute and irretrievable ruin of the parties, or else, in order to save the earth and the germ of the race for a new development of human history, to exterminate the whole infected generation, with the exception of eight souls. The evil to be met, in the striking remark of Hofmann, was “not an excess of ordinary sinning - not simply a depraved condition of things within the established limits of creation - but it was, that humanity was no longer propagated from itself, as God had ordained, and that the power of the beings who were brought into existence in a preternatural way, surpassed the limits allowed to human kind: hence, the essential conditions of the existence of mankind as a distinct race being thus unsettled and endangered, there was no way open for the counteraction of the evil, but that of terminating abruptly the history, in the course of which the race was being divested of its humanity.”
In the practice of Angel Worship, which had been making progress in the Church from, at least, the second century, we can discern a cause amply sufficient to account for the substitution of a new interpretation. “The development of angel-worship,” says Dr. Kurtz, “progressing imperceptibly, but, for that reason, all the more irresistibly, could not continue without exerting a transforming influence on the historic-dogmatic opinions respecting angels. It could not continue without gradually, but surely, removing everything that might tend to shake the confidence in the holiness of angels, or mar the gratification which their worship afforded: all those angels (it was therefore assumed, in opposition to the views of the earlier Fathers), who had not suffered themselves to be involved in Satan’s sin, had become confirmed in their state of holiness, so that apostasy from it became, from that time, impossible.”
THE SONS OF GOD IN GENESIS SIX
Who were these “sons of God?” Commentators in general reply, the children of the race of Seth, who were eminently holy. And who were the “daughters of men?” They answer again, the apostate race of Cain. But who told them that the race of Cain was apostate, and the race of Seth holy? It is mere hypothesis, to get rid of a difficulty. Have we any ground from Scripture for believing that children of a pious father must be pious, much more that a whole race should be so? Or have we any warrant from the sacred oracles for believing that the children of an ungodly parent must needs be all wicked, much more an entire race?
how is it discovered, that the race of Cain and that of Seth kept themselves
entirely distinct? A hypothetic basis
again! And why were the children of Seth
called the “sons of God?” Commentators return for answer, that it is the
general term for professors of the true religion; and that it is used in
opposition to those who are men of a fallen and depraved nature. But was not Seth also of a corrupt and fallen
nature? The Scripture affirms it
directly of him. “And
Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son, in his own
likeness, after his own image; and called name Seth”
(Gen. 5: 3). How, then, is it said to be here used as a
term of contradistinction, if both the “sons of God”
and sons of men were partakers alike of the fallen and corrupt nature? Was not Seth a son of man or of Adam, as well
as Cain? But the term “sons of God” signifies the professors of a true faith
in opposition to those who do not. This
requires proof. Shall we say that at so
early an age, ere yet even the promise to Abraham was granted, and his seed
were taken into covenant with God, the glorious title of “sons of God” was bestowed on the professors of true
religion? This is the last term of
blessedness that the Gospel has bestowed on the Christian. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us,
that we should be called the ‘sons of God'!” are the
But further, how does the assumption, that “sons of God” signifies the whole race of Seth, agree with the declaration of the Most High? He assures us positively that Noah was the only holy man. Where, then, is the holy race? Where the sons of God?
Again, how can it be said that the term “sons of God” is used in opposition to the phrase “daughters of men,” for the sake of contradistinction, when the Lord declares, that there was positively no difference at all? The children of Cain, you say, were born with an evil nature. True; so were the sons of Seth. But the sons of Cain were positively wicked, violent, ungodly, reprobate. So were all the sons of Seth, except Noah alone, as God himself bears witness.
Again, how self-contradictory, as well as gratuitous, the hypothesis! It represents the race of Seth as so pre-eminently holy, as to be worthy to be called “sons of God,” and the daughters of the race of Cain to be so eminently wicked, as justly to be called “daughters of men,” because of their extreme opposition of character; and yet that these supremely holy men, all, without exception, drew near the vortex of their, notoriously ungodly beauty, were all capable of being charmed by it, and all perished thereby! Must we suppose also, that they all married in one month or one year? If not would not the unmarried “son of God” pause when he saw the fatal effect of their fatal smiles on his once holy brethren, and not pause alone, but turn away with terror and disgust?
Or must we suppose that there were no females of the family of Seth? So far from it, that we read of the “daughters” of Seth, while it is hypothesis to assert that Cain had any daughters at all, for it is not mentioned that he had any! The supposition before us, pushed truly to its fair conclusions, is that Cain’s family were only daughters! for we read only of the “sons of God,” and only of the “daughters of men”; and if the one term be coextensive with the race of Seth, the other must be also coextensive with that of Cain!
Or, granting for probability’s sake, that Cain and his posterity had both sons and daughters; then all that is affirmed respecting the two races on this hypothesis is, that all the men of Seth’s race were good, and all the women of Cain’s race evil. Whoever will assert, then, that the men of Cain’s race were evil, does it without any shadow of proof even on his own assumption. It is only the females of Cain’s race who were so notoriously wicked as to receive a contradistinguishing name. And he who affirms that the men of Cain’s family were also equally wicked, has not even his own assumed principle to support him!
But in proof of the position that the men of Seth's race were holy, is it not said immediately after the birth of Enos, Seth’s son, that “then began men to call upon the name of the Lord?” True; but until it can be shown that the word “men” in this place excludes those of the family of Cain, whom alone, it is supposed to include a little farther on, the argument is not worth anything.
Further, is it probable that a whole race were holy in those days, with but one faint promise to support and cheer them; while in these times of meridian light, the “sons of God” are scattered and few? Shall we think that the stream of the faithful was wider at its commencement than at its close? Analogy, again, forbids the untenable hypothesis. Or shall we hold the idea, that none were to be holy on the part of Cain’s race, while all of the family of Seth were to be saved?
This were contrary to the ordinary tenor of the “election of grace,” and would have given currency to the notion, that Seth was not born in Adam’s image, nor his children partakers of the fall; while to be born of Cain’s posterity, would be to be evidently given up to reprobation and despair; and men would have begun to believe that the good works of their father Seth had won them eternal life. But be it observed, all this is ex abundanti. It has been shown before, on the authority of God, that this race of “sons of God” of the family of Seth is a visionary creation of the commentator’s brains; for “all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.” To Noah alone, said God, “Thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation” (chap. 7: 1), while it was granted to him to save his wife, his sons, and their wives, because of his righteousness, as unto Paul were granted those who sailed with him.
If we once fearlessly apply the conclusion that the phrase “sons of God” signifies angels, how do all inconsistencies vanish! A chaos of contradictory suppositions is reduced to clearness and order, and a clue supplied to unravel some of the most difficult passages of Holy Writ.
THE SONS OF GOD IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Lieut.-Col. G. F. POYNDER
In the Old Testament “Sons of God” are only referred to in the Book of Genesis (6: 2), and in the Book of Job; the reference to “the Sons of the living God” in Hosea 1: 10, is evidently to Israel. The question then for us to decide is “Who are the Sons of God?”
First note the distinction between “Sons of God” - males - and “daughters of men” - females - with result of union, Giants; or rather, as it ought to be, Nephilim,* i.e., fallen ones, yet “Men of renown”; these were “in the earth in those days and also after that” (see Num. 13: 33). Sequel, “the wickedness of man was great in the earth"; and this brought about the destruction of created men, animals, birds, and creeping things, by means of the flood; but Noah, and those with him in the ark, were preserved through it.
[* From ‘Naphal’ to fall.]
Turning to the Book of Job (chaps. 1: 6 and 2: 1), there can be no doubt that “the Sons of God” referred to are Angelic beings; like those referred to in Psalm 103: 20, as “Angels that excel in strength, that do His commandments, hearkening unto the Voice of His Word.”
Again in Job 38: 7 we read “the morning stars sang together, and all the Sons of God shouted for joy,” when the foundations, of the earth, and the corner-stone thereof were laid.
And lastly; the same expression is found in the Book of Daniel (3: 25), but in the singular number, and with the necessary difference that ‘bar’ is the word used for son, instead of ‘ben,’ the singular of the latter being unknown in the Chaldee. Nebuchadnezzar exclaims that he sees four men walking in the midst of the fire, and that the form of the fourth is like ‘a son of God,’ by which he evidently means a supernatural or angelic being, distinct as such from the others.** Evidently then the term “Sons of God” and “Son of God” in Job and Daniel refer to Angelic beings, and there is no valid reason for supposing that the words in Genesis refers to some different order of beings, but are angelic beings who fell from their high estate. It has been urged however that in Matthew 22: 30, we are told by our Lord that “Angels of God in heaven" neither “marry nor are given in marriage;” i.e. of course, in their normal state; but Jude, doubtless referring to angelic beings, tells us they kept not their principality but left their own habitation and, being on the earth, attracted by the daughters of men, they intermarried with them, and in consequence are “reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Jude verse 6). Peter also tells us of “angels that sinned,” and connects the statement by the word “and” with the destruction of the “old world,” and salvation of Noah through the flood (2 Peter 2:4) proving most assuredly that “the Sons of God” were not “the Church of the Old Testament,” but were angelic beings. And surely the lesson we need to learn is that it is a great sin in God’s sight to be “unequally yoked together with believers”; to permit the gendering of cattle with a diverse kind; the sowing of a field with mingled seed; or the wearing of a garment mingled of linen and wool: taking to heart also the solemn words addressed to the Church of the Laodiceans, (Rev. 3: 15, 16). Rather may we strive to be whole-hearted on our Lord’s side, and like Him go about doing good.
[** Earth’s Earliest Ages, p. 206, by G.H. Pember.]
NOTE. THE SCHOOLS - The revolt of modern youth, alarms the Orthodox, makes easier the formation of the anti-religious groups in high schools and colleges. With the elimination of religious instruction and the introduction of the teaching of modern science, particularly Evolution, one may with truth say that the Schools in their courses fight for Atheism. - (Report of the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism.)
THE NOACHIC THEORY
The theory that the Apostle means (1 Pet. 3:19) that Christ spoke through Noah opposes the Apostle’s statements on all the prominent points. It refuses or diverts his assertions with regard to - (1) the time of preaching; (2) the person of the preacher; (3) the hearers; (4) their external state; (5) their condition previous to the preaching; (6) the connection with Jesus’ death; (7) the present spiritual condition of the hearers.
Noah, it is held, was the preacher; and not Christ, in any other sense than that in which the Father or the Holy Spirit might be said to have preached. The parties addressed were not spirits, nor spirits in prison when Christ preached; but men living in freedom on earth. A fancied omission of the Apostle is supplied; though it is manifest that Peter had in his eye their previous condition; and contrasted them as once free and disobedient while on earth in Noah’s day, with their present obedience and confinement. It refuses the manifest implication that the preaching was after Christ’s death. If we would trust them, the Apostle strangely omits what is true, inserts what is not. He should have said spirits “now, and NOT THEN in prison.” He inserts the words “went” before preached, and “formerly” before “disobedient,” when there was neither local motion at that time, nor present obedience now. Is not this to school the Scripture, not to listen to it? Is it not, though with the intention of maintaining a seemingly endangered truth - to WREST the Scripture? Does it not spring from that unbelief of the heart that is afraid to trust all God’s words? Sure we may be that God’s Word does not teach purgatory, as the last hope for life-long sinners; but I had rather believe in purgatory, than wrest one passage of Holy Scripture that taught that doctrine.
Is it credible that an apostle could omit the emphatic word in a sentence? If that view be correct, the apostle’s sentence as it now stands has all the misleading effect of a falsehood. Jesus did not preach at the time seemingly implied. He did preach at a time not implied. Such an idea is the very essence of equivocation.
- R. GOVETT.