From Mobile Alabama, U. S.A., we receive at times a leaflet called Plainer Words by a Mr. Tom Ballinger, much of whose teaching is sound, although he adheres to the theory of separating the intent of Paul's prison epistles from those written earlier. As many of our readers are aware, that is a frequent misunderstanding of Acts 28:28, part of Paul's address to Jews at Rome, which has been misconstrued as if it was only then that the salvation of God would be sent to the Gentiles. Consequently that point of time has been mistaken by some as the beginning of a new "dispensation". We realise that Paul there instead was only quoting what had happened to the "fathers" of that generation a long time before. It is not a valid reason for denying the unity and continuity of all Paul's epistles as a whole, even though they do constitute a progressive revelation from the earlier to the latter.
On a different subject, however, Mr. Ballinger has written a paper called "The Sons of God in Genesis 6" containing some very useful observations which we gladly commend to our readers. The textual basis for this appears in Gen. 6:1-6 which reads as follows:
Mr. Ballinger very rightly disputes a widely accepted yet mistaken interpretation of this passage as if it means that those called "Sons of God" were the sons of Seth, and as if the incident recorded concerns the breakdown of a previously preserved separation between the godly line of Seth and the godless line of Cain, which we agree is NOT Scriptural. He defines the meaning of "sons of God" which he reminds us is a term set in contrast to "the daughters of men", but if the "sons of God" had been really sons of Seth there would have been no contrast, for "the daughters of men" included also daughters of Seth, and we are nowhere told that the sons of Cain saw the daughters of Seth "that they were fair". It is only natural that the sons of men are attracted to the daughters of men. What we are told here in Genesis is quite different; that the sons of God as one kind of beings were attracted to the daughters of men from a separate kind of beings. The sons of God did something NOT natural in taking the daughters of men as their wives and the progeny of that misalliance became giants, resulting in great wickedness on earth, so that God was grieved at His heart.
"Sons of God" are mentioned elsewhere in Scripture, notably in Job: "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them". This is unmistakable, because when God asked Satan from whence he had come to appear in His presence, Satan replied; "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it" (1:7).
Thus far at least, no sons of men have ever appeared in the presence of God, but the fact that sons of God had existed before Adam is well attested in Job 38.4,7. "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" Since those sons of God had preceded the creation of man, it is evident they had to represent a supernatural pre-Adamic race which is further remindful of a passage in Psalm 89:6:
There again the "sons of the mighty" are set in contrast to "the assembly of the saints" and those of the heavens are invariably characterised as males; never mentioned by the feminine or neuter gender. This is also consistent with our Lord's words where He said that in the resurrection humans will be "as the messengers", all of them male, neither marrying nor giving in marriage.
To quote further from Mr. Ballinger's words: "The angels who appeared to Abraham in Gen. 18:1, 2, 22 are angels but are called 'three men'. They look like men, they talk as men, they are called men, they are mistaken for men, but they are angels". Likewise the angels who visited Lot according to Genesis 19 were mistaken for men; so also was the angel of the Lord who appeared to Manoah and his wife in Judges 13 when he was interchangeably called "a man of God", "the man", or "the angel of the Lord". Manoah even asked: "Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman?" to which the angel replied "I am".
From these examples of Scripture Mr. Ballinger concludes also (and we agree) that angels or messengers cannot be sexless as alleged in certain Hebrew and Christian interpretations, for that would be denying clear statements in the Word of God. They are always, without exception, identified as males, and no others could have been "the sons of God" in Genesis 6.
Jude likewise refers to "angels that kept not their first estate" ("their first habitation"—CLNT) and Peter recognises these as "the spirits ...once stubborn when the patience of God awaited in the days of Noah" (I Pet. 3:19-20). Both these passages clearly relate to the same "sons of God" who took wives from daughters of men when they as heavenly messengers had been transformed to bodies of flesh and blood, going after "strange flesh" as Jude says further. The offspring of this unnatural union became superhuman—"mighty men of old, men of renown" who might well have been the "gods" of ancient mythology. All this coincides with the utter corruption of humans culminating in the days of Noah where we are told of man that "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually ... The earth also was corrupt before God and the earth was filled with violence" (Gen. 6:5, 11). Mr. Ballinger suggests also that this contamination of humanity was one of Satan's attempts to prevent the arrival of the woman's promised "Seed" (Gen. 3:15). It is quite evident that if the whole human race had been destroyed from that contaminated state, it would have averted the doom of the Adversary by the Seed of the woman. It is therefore most significant, at the time of the Flood, that Noah was called "perfect in his generations", indicating that only he and his family were acceptable for being preserved alive, wherefore he was told to build the ark so that all human flesh would not be destroyed.
Before we leave this subject for now, it is well to observe that apparently there were further hybridisations of angels and humans even after the Flood. Where we are told in Genesis 6:4 that "there were giants in the earth in those days"—before the Flood—we find these significant further words: "and also after that". This accords with other passages which indicate there was some subsequent attempt to corrupt the race. First after Abram was called of God, no doubt Satan observed that this was the line of descent through which the promised Seed would appear. Consequently when Abram had entered Canaan, we are told coincidentally that "the Canaanite was then in the land" (Gen. 12:6). Much similar words appear also in Gen. 13:7.
This appears to explain a matter which has frequently troubled very many; just why God should have told the Israelites to utterly destroy the inhabitants of the lands they conquered and occupied. Assuming that the people of those areas were the descendants of an unatural union between celestial messengers and earthly females long after the Flood, as suggested also by that appended phrase—"and also after that"—then it is not strange that God should have commanded Israel to exterminate all without exception. As Mr. Ballinger further indicates, it is quite apparent that some of them had escaped destruction until well after Israel had occupied much of Canaan. Thus when the twelve spies were sent out in advance to explore the land, they came back with great and real fear—not necessarily cowardice—when they reported what formidable giants they had seen in the land: "And we saw the giants": they said, "the sons of Anak, which come of the giants, and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so were we in their sight" (Num. 13:33). There is also much cause to believe that the last survivor of that hybrid evil race was Goliath of Gath, slain by David, type of the greater David, the coming Seed of the woman.
It is most conceivable that there will be still a future and similar corruption of the race as though earth were to be visited by "men from outer space". This would accord with our Lord's prophecy of the time when His return to earth will be impending. " As it was in the days of Noah," He said, "so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man". Likewise in the parable of the Wheat and Tares He associated "the children of the wicked one" with the sower of false seed. Mr. Ballinger concludes most appropriately, "The Bible is the most radical book in print ...not so hard to understand as it is to believe".
Cecil J. Blay (Treasures of Truth, Instalment Eight, February-March 1973)