The Importance of the Mysterious

As many of you may already know, I have a deep fascination for both the mysteries of our world and those found within the Bible. In my endeavor to sit in wonder of these mysteries, I believe that a solid foundation, or prolegomena, is essential. This foundation encompasses a sense of awe and stability, recognizing that some things remain secret and belong only to the Lord, while others are granted to us by God for our understanding (Deut. 29:29).

One of my favorite subjects in this area that fills me with wonder is the exploration of the mysteries in the early parts of the Bible, particularly concerning the “Sons of God,” the Nephilim, and the various groups associated with them (did you know there were others?). Here is the result of my research on these four mysterious groups:

Four Bizarre Species

1. Sons of God:

The term “Sons of God” is found in Genesis 6:2, where it mentions that these beings took the “daughters of men” as wives. Their exact identity is significantly debated among scholars, with some, including myself, interpreting them as angels or divine beings. Jude 1:6 of the New Testament references the angels that are “now in prison because they did not keep their proper domain.” If the association is correct, these particular “Sons of God” or angels were confined to a state of punishment or holding for sins committed before the flood. However, it is important to note that it is only the particular angels that did this before the flood that are confined.

Many (including me again) believe that the subsequent existence of the Nephilim (the progeny of the angel/woman union), after the flood, is a result of the “Sons of God” who continued to engage in this unnatural amalgamation of species. However, this abominable practice seems to diminish significantly in subsequent years. This is probably due to the fact that angels are now more cautious due to the unfavorable penal award given to their colleagues. (Of special note: I do not believe that there was just one fall of the angels or celestial beings. I believe they can, and sometimes do, fall at any time. Another blog!).

The term “Sons of God” is a translation of the Hebrew phrase “בְּנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים” (Benei HaElohim). It is a phrase used in the Bible to refer to divine beings, often understood as angels or celestial beings. While the term itself doesn’t have a direct Hebrew meaning beyond “Sons of God,” it is used in passages like Job 1:6 and Job 2:1, where it describes angelic beings presenting themselves before God. In these contexts, the “Sons of God” are indeed associated with angels.

2. Nephilim:

The Nephilim are mentioned in Genesis 6:4: “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.” These are the offspring of the union between the “Sons of God” and the women they “married” (Gen. 6:2; can you imagine what that marriage ceremony was like? Who agreed to preside over it? What were the vows? I am just kidding…kind of, but you get the point…this is bizarre stuff!).

Nephilim are often associated with giants or powerful beings. It is noteworthy to emphasize again that these beings existed both before the flood and after the flood. While these beings may have played a significant role in God’s decision to flood the earth, it is crucial to remember that the primary reason for it was the proliferation of sin and rebellion among humanity. These beings are just one part of that larger narrative.

The name “Nephilim” (נְפִילִים) is derived from the Hebrew verb “naphal” (נָפַל), which means “to fall” or “to come down.” The term “Nephilim” is often associated with the idea of “fallen ones” or “those who have fallen.”

3. Anakim:

The Anakim are mentioned in various passages, including Numbers 13:33: “We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” This verse links the Anakim to the Nephilim and describes them as descendants of the Nephilim. Some believe that the description of their size is an exaggeration and that they were merely large individuals, not giants. Others, including myself, entertain the possibility that they could have been actual giants, significantly taller than the average person (perhaps 15-20 feet).

The name “Anakim” (עֲנָקִים) is believed to be derived from the Hebrew word “Anak” (עֲנָק), which means “necklace” or “collar.” The exact reason for this name is not explicitly explained in the Bible, but it may have been chosen to describe a group of people known for their tall stature or to signify something distinctive about them.

4. Rephaim:

The Rephaim are mentioned in several biblical passages, including Deuteronomy 2:10-11: “The Emim formerly lived there—a people great and numerous, and tall as the Anakim. Like the Anakim, they are also counted as Rephaim, but the Moabites call them Emim.” The Rephaim are considered a distinct group, and this verse mentions their similarity to the Anakim. Og, King of Bashan, was described as the last of the Rephaim. We are told that he had a bed made of iron that was 13.5 feet long and 6 feet wide (Deuteronomy 3:11).

The name “Rephaim” (רְפָאִים) is derived from the Hebrew word “Rapha” (רָפָא), which can mean “giant” or “dead.” The Rephaim are associated with giants in the Bible, and the name likely reflects their imposing size. Additionally, the term “Rephaim” is sometimes associated with the dead or deceased in biblical contexts, possibly indicating a connection to ancestral spirits.”


As I conclude this exploration, I acknowledge that the mysteries surrounding these ancient beings and groups persist. The Bible offers glimpses into their existence, but many questions remain unanswered. No one has this stuff figured out. Whatever view you take, hold to it loosely. The world is big and much more mysterious than we imagine. In our pursuit of understanding, let us at least find room to marvel at these profound mysteries woven into the fabric of the Scriptures and the universe, reminding us of the awe-inspiring depths of our faith and our God.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    5 replies to "Through the Gates of Mystery: A Fascinating Glimpse of the Sons of God, Nephilim, and Other Weird Beings"

    • Bob Burke

      The idea that the “Sons of God” are some sort of angel or other supernatural being means that God destroyed the entirety of life on earth (aside from those who went into the Ark) because SUPERIOR beings TOOK mortal women to them. What kind of God would destroy mankind for the sins of beings they would have no power to resist? It paints God as an UNJUST monster, punishing the innocent for the sins of the guilty.
      If, however, the “Sons of God”, are men who were faithful believers who decided to take women who weren’t believers and intermarrying with them, against Gods expressed will, then it is the fault of the believers for disregarding God’s warning and they brought the punishment upon themselves. In this way they would also have “fallen” from grace and the Hebrew meaning of Nephilim, “those who have fallen”, would be consistent.
      I ask you to reconsider your view on the “Nephilim” with this in mind. It isn’t just about who they may or may not have been, it is a reflection of the justice and mercy of God Himself.
      The description of the Nephilim is so sparse that any position of who or what they are is pure speculation and nothing more. As such, we must look beyond that meagre evidence and use logic, common sense, and the nature of God’s consistency and justice.
      When it is considered from this perspective I don’t see how anyone who believes in a just and fair God can come to any other conclusion than to identify the “Sons of God’ with believers who rejected God’s counsel not to intermarry.
      Thanks for all you do!

    • Ewan Kerr

      Some have suggested that there is a common link to all these traditions of giants or gods becoming men ia a long lost previous age. This seems to be the Hebrew version. To believers, it is the origin of the traditions.

    • HC
      An alternative view.
      son of God -Elohim, Creator, not Redeemer = Cain’s descendants. Not angels.

    • Eric Quek

      Feasibility of Giants: A Scientific, hermeneutical, and historical-grammatical analysis.
      To grasp a more holistic understanding, let us delve into the realm of biology, physiology, hermeneutics, and historical-grammatical analysis.
      Biological and physiological view: The Square-Cube Law: States as the organism grow, their volume and mass increases at a much faster rate than their surface area. If, a human was to double in size, the potential metabolic implications, such as overheating and cardiovascular stress, would be significant! (This is the easy version.) Delve deeper: Imagine you have a small wooden block like granddaughter toy block) that is 1 inch on each side. This block has
      • A surface area of 6 square inches –has 6 faces.
      • A volume of 1 cubic inch (has 1 inchX1 inch X 1 inch)
      Now double the size of this block in every dimension to 2 inches on each side.
      • Surface area of block each face of block now 4 square inches (2X2). Still has six faces, the total surface area would be 24 square inches.
      • Volume would be 8 cubic inches (2X2X2)
      Compare the two: Surface area went from 6 to 24 by a factor of 4; Volume went from 1 to 8, factor of 8.
      Relate to Human anatomy:
      Skin surface area need to accommodate a fourfold increase. One of many functions of the skin is Heat Regulation. The body’s metabolic activities –related to volume and weight are increase eightfold and the surface to release this heat is ONLY increase by fourfold. This mismatch will cause OVERHEATING resulting in either heat exhaustion, or heat stroke! In other words, he would not even reach his first birthday. ( More to say below)
      Delving into historical -grammatical method (HGM)and juxtaposing them against the pygmy-giant analogy (PGA).
      1. Goliath:
      • HGM: Goliath stands as a towering Philistine adversary, his grandeur amplified by intricate details of his stature and armor.
      • Timeless Principle: Beyond the literal, David’s triumph against Goliath accentuates the might of divine faith, transcending human physicality
      • Pygmy-Giant analogy (PGA): Analogous to a pygmy confronting a 7-foot-tall individual, Israel’s apprehension of Goliath transcends mere height differences, highlighting the significance of intrinsic capability and valor over mere external appearances.
      • HGM: Exact nature remains a subject of theological debate. HOWEVER, if we include current scientific knowledge, we may see this in different light. Scientifically, this will be problematic with key reasons: a) SQUARE-CUBE LAW: Proposed by Galileo states that when an object is scaled up, its volume and weight increase by the cube of the multiplier, while its surface area only increase by the square of the same multiplier. For a hum, this means that if they were to double in height, their muscle strength would increase fourfold due to the increased cross-sectional area of muscles, but their weight would increase eightfold. Result: This giant would have significant difficulty supporting their own weight and moving around. b) Bone strength: Bones will need to be proportionally thicker or denser material unlike ours. Larger beings, like dinosaurs, had very different skeletal structures to manage their weight. C) Reproductive and developmental concerns: Given the differences in height, weight, size of parents, it is hard to imagine the ability to reproduce, in addition, childbirth would present serious challenges. d) The heart would need to pump blood much more forcefully to distribute it throughout a significantly larger body, in addition to rid of waste. All these would be very challenging if not impossible. ( I have not even mention respiratory, brain energy demand and host of other biological and physiological challenges.) (**It is important NOT to insert God of the Gap theory)
      • Timeless principle: Rather than a comprehensive exposition of the Nephilim, the narrative underscores the prevalent moral decay, culminating in the Flood.
      • (PGA): Mirroring the cultural variances in defining a “giant”, the term “Nephilim” encapsulates ambiguity, necessitating contextual interpretation.
      • (KGM): Israelite spies scout Canaan in Numbers, they saw giants causing them to fear and were not eager to move forward in invasion.
      • Timeless Principle: Underscores trusting in divine promises. While the majority of spies saw unbeatable foes, Caleb and Joshua placed their faith in God’s assurance and power.
      • PGA: Our perception often determines the magnitude of challenges. What might appear as an overwhelming obstacle to one could be seen as a surmountable challenge to another, shaped by faith and perceptive. Reflecting on our personal journey, how many such perceived giants have we faced and triumphed over?

      Take home: (Summary)
      My use of HGM and PGA serves to bridge the gap between pure science and religious narrative, suggesting that while there are definite physical limitations to what is described, there might be allegorical or metaphorical explanations. For example: by analyzing Goliath a 7 foot- individual to a pygmy, the physical differences can be amplified based on perspective. I believe this is a novel way in understanding the biblical “giant” —not as a literal, towering figures but as a powerful entity when viewed through the lens of the less powerful
      Michael delves into the biblical narrative and its mysterious figures, while I present a science and analytical perspective. Together, we present a comprehensive picture of these biblical entities, encouraging others to explore the boundary between faith, mystery, and science.

      ***** Thanks to Michael Patton for insights that enriched this analysis : The Theology Program. (2011). Bibliology and Hermeneutics Course #2. Zondervan Publishing House
      This one I had to think and took me some time;

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