George asked:

Can you explain Genesis 6, 1 through 4 where it talks about the sons of heaven having intercourse with the daughters of man?

Patrick Madrid replied:

"... It does not mean that angels, bad angels, are having sexual intercourse and producing off spring with women. The reason it can't mean that is because angels are incorporeal. They do not have bodies. They are utterly simple because they are pure spirits, so they can't be divided. They can not beget children. There's no way for an angel to have children ...

The Nephilim, or the giants, are not the offspring of fallen angels and human beings. What I think they are, and this seems to me based upon what the fathers of the Church and other notable authorities have said is, these are the descendants of Adam and Eve ... Do you remember the story of Cain and Abel? Cain wickedly killed his brother Abel and Cain was not killed by God but he was punished by being sent away. And his descendants carried that shame of what Cain had done. And so this section here in Genesis chapter six is referring to how the descendants of Cain, the daughters of men, they began to intermarry with the sons of God who would be the righteous offspring of Adam and Eve, who did not follow Cain into exile. That's what it's referring to."

Source material:

Genesis 6:1-4
When men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God[a] saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.


Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1965, 1966 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Catholic Answers, "Open Forum" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2014)

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Show air date: July 22, 2014

Name of show: Open Forum

Guest comments by: Patrick Madrid

Question appeared in show: 2:58

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