Part 7 In The Beginning And End Nephilim Series
In our 7-article series, Beginning and End made the Biblical case for the account of the Nephilim – namely that Genesis 6 details an era in which fallen angels entered the human realm, took human wives and conceived offspring with them who were giants. While the many books, articles and sermons on the Nephilim have seen a massive resurgence in the past decade – this interpretation of the antediluvian era of the Bible is not a new one. On the contrary, from the very first generation of the church, missionaries, teachers and bishops – some of whom were discipled by the Apostles of Christ themselves, believed that the sons of God in Genesis 6 did indeed have illicit sexual relations with human women who gave birth to the hybrid Nephilim giants. This article will go through the writings of Church fathers and Jewish historians from the first centuries after the birth of The Lord Jesus Christ that agree in the account of the Nephilim.
Justin Martyr was a Christian philosopher and apologist in the 2nd century AD. He was an ardent defender of the Christian faith who was ultimately beheaded for his refusal to offer sacrifices to pagan gods. When asked why he famously stated: “No one who is rightly minded turns from true belief to false.” (source). Several of his writings are extant and he had a great deal to say about the angelic incursion of Genesis 6 that gave birth to the Nephilim:
“God, when He had made the whole world, and subjected things earthly to man, and arranged the heavenly elements for the increase of fruits and rotation of the seasons, and appointed this divine law – for these things also He evidently made for man – committed the care of men and of all things under heaven to angels whom He appointed over them. But the angels transgressed this appointment. and were captivated by love of women.” – Second Apology; Chapter V.
Irenaeus (c. early 2nd century – c. 202 AD) was the bishop or pastor of the church in what is now Lyons, France. He was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John. His treatise Against Heresies was a landmark work that challenged the heretical Gnostic Christianity that threatened the true faith at that time. On Genesis 6:2 he wrote:
“And for a very long while wickedness extended and spread, and reached and laid hold upon the whole race of mankind, until a very small seed of righteousness remained among them and illicit unions took place upon the earth, since angels were united with the daughters of the race of mankind; and they bore to them sons who for their exceeding greatness were called giants.” – A Discourse in the Demonstration of Apostolic Preaching; 18.
St. Ambrose was one of the most influential Christians of the 4th century. He was appointed Bishop of Milan and made passionate defense of the deity of Christ against those who were proponents of the Arian heresy. On the Nephilim he wrote:
“The giants (Nephilim) were on the Earth in those days.” The author of the divine Scripture does not mean that those giants must be considered, according to the tradition of poets, as sons of the earth but asserts that those whom he defines with such a name because of the extraordinary size of their body were generated by angels and women.” – Ambrose, On Noah, 4.8. Genesis 1-11, Volume 1 edited by Andrew Louth, Thomas C. Oden, Marco Conti
Clement of Rome
Clement of Rome was a Christian bishop in Rome in the first century and was a contemporary of the Apostle John. His epistle to the Corinthian church is one of the oldest extant Christian writings outside of the New Testament. The Clementine Homilies are a series of writings from the 2nd and 3rd century purporting to record dialogue between Clement and the Apostle Peter. While its authorship may have not been from Clement, its details on the Nephilim again demonstrate that this concept was well established in the early church:
“But when, having assumed these forms, they convicted as covetous those who stole them, and changed themselves into the nature of men, in order that, living holily, and showing the possibility of so living, they might subject the ungrateful to punishment, yet having become in all respects men, they also partook of human lust, and being brought under its subjection they fell into cohabitation with women; and being involved with them, and sunk in defilement and altogether emptied of their first power, were unable to turn back to the first purity of their proper nature, their members turned away from their fiery substance: for the fire itself, being extinguished by the weight of lust, and changed into flesh, they trode the impious path downward. For they themselves, being fettered with the bonds of flesh, were constrained and strongly bound; wherefore they have no more been able to ascend into the heavens.” – Clementine Homilies, Homily VIII, Chapter XIII.
Lucius Lactantius (c. 250 -325 AD) was a Christian author in the early 4th century. Formerly a pagan public official, he resigned from political life after converting to Christianity and served as an advisor to Emperor Constantine. He wrote many apologetics, defending the Christian faith. In His chapter “On the Corruption of Angels..” he wrote:
“When, therefore, the number of men had begun to increase, God in His forethought, lest the devil, to whom from the beginning He had given power over the earth, should by his subtlety either corrupt or destroy men, as he had done at first, sent angels for the protection and improvement of the human race; and inasmuch as He had given these a free will, He enjoined them above all things not to defile themselves with contamination from the earth, and thus lose the dignity of their heavenly nature. He plainly prohibited them from doing that which He knew that they would do, that they might entertain no hope of pardon. Therefore, while they abode among men, that most deceitful ruler of the earth, by his very association, gradually enticed them to vices, and polluted them by intercourse with women.” – Lactantius, Divine Institutes, Book II, Ch. XV.
Tertullian (155 – 240 AD) was an African Christian theologian from the Roman province of Carthage. He was a prolific writer and his works are the foundation of Christian thought in the language of Latin. Outside of the Bible itself, he is the earliest believer on record to write about the concept of the trinity. On the Genesis 6 incursion he wrote:
“We are instructed, moreover, by our sacred books how from certain angels, who fell of their own free-will, there sprang a more wicked demon-brood, condemned of God along with the authors of their race, and that chief we have referred to. It will for the present be enough, however, that some account is given of their work. Their great business is the ruin of mankind. So, from the very first, spiritual wickedness sought our destruction. They inflict, accordingly, upon our bodies diseases and other grievous calamities, while by violent assaults they hurry the soul into sudden and extraordinary excesses.” – Apology, Ch. XXII.
First Century Jewish Thought On The Nephilim
Flavius Josephus, one of the most renowned historians of all time, was a Jew living in Roman occupied Judea in the decades after the death and resurrection of The Lord Jesus Christ. His writings, which are extant, very clearly demonstrate his exceptional knowledge of the Old testament and the history of the Jewish people going back to Creation. In his most landmark work, Antiquities Of The Jews, he wrote of Genesis 6:
“For many angels of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength; for the tradition is, that these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants.” – Antiquities of the Jews, Book I, 3:1, Flavius Josephus, as recorded in The Works of Flavius Josephus, William Whiston, Vol. 1, 1843, p. 16.
Testimony of the Apostles
Of course the Apostles of Jesus Christ, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit provide the ultimate confirmation of the angelic incursion of Genesis 6:
“And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” – Jude 1:6–7
“For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked…” – 2 Peter 2:4–7
The Early Church Believed In the Account of the Nephilim
While the account of angelic-human marriage giving rise to the birth of the Nephilim of Genesis 6 remains a hotly debated topic, there is no question that this concept was understood by the church from the first century after the birth of The Lord Jesus Christ. While not all Christians believed it to be the case, there is certainly nothing new about the concept of the Nephilim. As stated from the onset, the writings of the Church Fathers are not on par with the Holy Bible – but they do provide remarkable insight into the beliefs of the early church. And in this instance there is no question that a great number of church leaders believed that the history of the Nephlim on Earth was quite real.
*This concludes the Nephilim Series but the study is far from over. Beginning And End is very pleased to announce the release of the first comprehensive Biblical study on the giants and the Genesis 6 account – Judgment Of The Nephilim. We have contributed a great deal of our own research to this book and it is filled with startling revelations on the giants that you will not find in any other book on this topic. Judgment Of The Nephilim surveys every passage in the Holy Bible on the giants – many which are rarely connected to the Nephilim. Among the many questions it addresses are:
- The Biblical location of the heavenly portal used by angels to enter the earthly realm.
- Who was the first mother of a Nephilim?
- The specific timing and description of God’s punishment of the rebel Sons of God and the Nephilim
- How did the Nephilim return after the flood?
- The Biblical connection between demons and the Nephilim
- The connection to Atlantis and the gods and demigods of mythology.
All these answers and many, many more from the Bible. Once our ministry started researching the Nephilim in-depth we realized there was a great deal of untapped, rarely quoted Christian and Jewish writings on the giants that answer many, many of the questions we all have on this topic. Now we have the answers. This is a must-own book if you are reader on the subject of the Nephilim giants. The trailer is below: