Difficult and simple passages

It’s self-evident that some Bible passages are easier to understand than others. John 14:6 is clear: Jesus is the only way to the Father. The reader is left with the question of whether they will believe it.

But other passages require more work before we can understand. Some verses in today’s sermon (1 Peter 3:19-21) are an example, and so is a passage some think is related, Gen 6:1-4. Numerous questions could be asked, but we’ll restrain ourselves to, ‘who?’ Who are the sons of God, the daughters of man, and the Nephilim?

Genuine Christians disagree here. Let’s think it through:

First, some think the sons of God are fallen angels, the daughters of man are human women, and the Nephilim are hybrids from their sexual union. But nowhere in the Bible are angels sexual beings (not even fallen ones). It’s humanity who is condemned for sinfulness, and the flood punishes humanity, not the fallen angels.

Second, some think the sons of God are great kings who take multiple wives, the offspring continuing the cycle of violence and harems. But ‘sons’ isn’t used for a group of kings elsewhere and polygamy isn’t explicit.

I prefer the third option: the sons of God are the seed of the woman, the daughters of man are the seed of the serpent, and the Nephilim aren’t offspring, but are there at the same time. Until now the two lines have been distinct, but now they intermarry. This has a devastating impact on their godly influence. This is the best view given Gen 3:15 and the subsequent narrative.

Why does this matter? It reminds us that the Bible can be hard to understand, and we should study it in community. But it also makes us grateful for the simple passages that proclaim our salvation. Praise God for them!