Thanks David for that excellent commentary on Jude.
David M wrote,
Following a discussion and my challenge to RAM to post a study of Jude verse 6 to find out who are the "angels" referred to, here is my study. I shall not be entering discussion, but if you want to add to the study, and present your own understanding, that will be appreciated.
Here are a few more notes that may further help us in this study for people have different views of what we read in Jude and 2 Peter 2, so we need to ask, what does the Bible say?
Jude links the sin of the 'angels' with the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah in v. 7. Both Jude in this passage, and Peter in both of his epistles refer to imprisoned 'angels' (2 Pt.2:4-10; 1 Pt 3:18-20). Both 2 Peter 2:4-10 and 1 Peter 3:18-20 link these imprisoned 'angels' with the judgment of the ancient world during the time of Noah (the Flood).
From the immediate context of Jude 6 along with the parallel texts of 1 and 2 Peter we see Jude is referring to the account recorded in Genesis 6. Would this then mean that Genesis 6 is an account of fallen angels engaged in immorality with human women? Or that a close look at Genesis 6 will reveal that these were not angels but rather men who rebelled against God.
( I took these notes from the study of 'The meaning of 'sons of God' in Gen. 6:1-4' by Trevor J. Major M. Sc., M.A.).
The main interpretive issue in Genesis 6:1-4 is the meaning of the phrase 'sons of God' and 'daughters of men/' Those who support the view of the 'angelic being' explanation quote Jude 6-7 and 2 Peter 4,5, both of which discuss those rebellious angels and their consignment to a dark prison until the day of judgment. It is apparent however, that if Jude and Peter are referring to Genesis 6, it is only on the prior assumption (mythological story in Enoch) that the latter passage is in fact about fallen angels. In fact, these New Testament passages nowhere refer to angels partaking in earthly marriages and having children. Even if one suggests that the word 'these' in Jude 7 has its precedent in verse six (which may not be a correct interpretation), the passage clearly refers to fornication and homosexuality, whereas Genesis 6:2 refers to proper marriage. In addition, other parts of Enoch do not include the marriage element in the stories surrounding the fall of angels, and so it is inconsistent to say that Jude is attempting to teach doctrine from one part of Enoch while ignoring contradictory statements in other parts. Keil argues in detail to the effect that Peter and Jude are not condoning the stories in Enoch, and 'give no credence to these fables of a Jewish gnosticizing tradition.'
Attempts to substantiate a second fall of angels (i.e., in addition to that which can be inferred from the appearance of Satan in Genesis 3:1-6) violate Scripture in every way, apart from the violence done to Jude and Peter. An explanation can be acceptable only if it is logically consistent with biblical teaching on angels. Thus, an answer must be found in theology, not philology. Note the following:
(a) Prior to Genesis 6:1-4, no mention is made of angelsónot even their creation (although this does not mean to say they were not included in the acts of creation in Genesis 1);
(b) Jesus taught (Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25, Luke 20:34) that angels neither marry nor are given in marriage. While they often take on a male form while acting as messengers of God on Earth, they do not function as physical or sexual beings. Angels have been observed to eat (Genesis 18:8; 19:3), but this is a far cry from breeding, and besides, who is to say that their eating was not simply for purposes of courtesy, rather than for sustenance?
It is impossible to imagine how angels could have acquired totally new characteristics merely by virtue of their fall. Interpretations of Genesis 6 aside, there is no instance of angel/human interbreeding in the Bible;
(c) The judgment in Gen. 6:3 specifically refers to men and not 'sons of God' or angels. It is inconsistent to argue that God would punish the tempted and not the tempters. If Genesis 6:1-4 is paralleled to chapter three, as Willis suggests, one can see that Satan (the tempter) is judged or cursed first, and then Adam and Eve (the tempted). For the sentence to be universal, those who are judged must refer to all humanity (Ďadham), thus incorporating both 'sons of God' and 'daughters of men';
(d) Angels never are called 'sons of God' in Genesis, or anywhere else in the Pentateuch;
(e) The reference to angels as 'sons of God' in Job 1:6 is contrasted with Satan; good spiritual beings are thus contrasted with evil spiritual beings, not with earthly beings. Further, it is incongruent to suggest that Satanís minions, the demons of hell, should be described as sons of God in the same manner as angels are described in Job. Therefore, the 'sons of Ďelohim' comparison between Job and Genesis should not be viewed as a direct analogy.
Thus, after the generations of Cain and Seth have been outlined in chapters four and five, and 6:2 then speaks of two groups of people, is it not reasonable to conclude that the earlier familial division is being carried on into the later discussion? If this is the case, the 'sons of God' expression is used in a spiritual or covenantal sense, that is, referring to those who possessed characteristics of faithful service to God. The 'daughters of men' would then be those of a worldly disposition. Given the contrasting nature of the two lines of descendants described previously, I suggest that the 'sons of God' were the godly Sethites, while the 'daughters of men' were the worldly, ungodly Cainites. Such a distinction also parallels the Israelites of the Old Covenant and the Christians in the New. If this explanation is applied, the events of those times fall logically into place.
For example, and most important, the reason for the Flood becomes evident. One could conclude that the judgment was delivered purely on the basis of mixed and/or indiscriminate marriage on the part of the Sethites. Indeed, morally mixed marriages are reprobated repeatedly throughout the Old Testament (e.g., Genesis 24:3,4; 28:1; Exodus 34:15,16; Deuteronomy 7:3). However, it probably is better to consider that the judgment was given not merely on the basis of mixed marriages, but also on the failure of the sons of God and the daughters of men to maintain their spiritual integrity despite those marriages. Thus, universal destruction is prescribed for universal sinfulness. It is easy to see how this situation may have arisen, especially if the phrase 'multiply on the face of the ground' indicates that the Cainites were increasing in great numbers, in which case the influence of the numerically superior Cainites may have been overwhelming. Through intermarriage, the Sethites would have become subsumed both racially and morally: it would be easier for the Sethites to descend to the moral level of their newly acquired relatives than for the converse to occur.
God already had promised a way of overcoming sin through a descendant of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:15), and hence must have decided that unless He intervened in a miraculous way, the integrity of the messianic line would be defiled, and man would have no chance of redemption. Therefore, the sons of God departing from their mission and marrying in an improper manner, leading to an overwhelming apostasy, provides the appropriate connection between the parallel genealogies of Genesis 1-5 and the Noahic Flood of Genesis 6-9.
While Genesis 6:1-4 possesses many difficult aspects of interpretation, its general meaning may be ascertained by the examination of the peripheral context and doctrinal principles in both the Old and New Testaments. The latter procedure eliminates a popular explanation that defines the 'sons of God' as angels, and refutes another interpretation which attributes the same expression to a class of nobility. Instead, the overall context suggests that the 'sons of God' and 'daughters of men' exist as an antithetical parallelism, and refer to the godly Sethites (Genesis 4:26) and worldly Cainites (4:11), respectively. The unsanctioned and improperly motivated marriages between these two groups (6:2) led to the total moral breakdown of the existing world order (6:5), the exception among them being Noah and his family (6:8). Further, the nephilim should not be considered the strange, mythological offspring of this union, but rather as a class of tyrannical warriors who maintained a faith-breaking reign of terror. In this respect, they serve as a deliberate parallel to the nephilim of Numbers 33, who also caused Godís people to stumble.
"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Rev. 21:4).