6:1 multiply. God had commanded Adam and Eve to “multiply” (Genesis 1:28). With each man and woman enjoying hundreds of years of parental productivity plus almost ideal environmental and climatological conditions, the earth could well have been “filled” with people long before the Flood. For example, an initial population of two people, increasing at the rate of 2% annually (estimated to be the annual growth rate at present) would generate a population of well over ten trillion people in 1656 years (the time span from Adam to the flood).
6:2 sons of God. The identity of these “sons of God” has been a matter of much discussion, but the obvious meaning is that they were angelic beings. This was the uniform interpretation of the ancient Jews, who translated the phrase as “angels of God” in their Septuagint translation of the Old Testament. The apocryphal books of Enoch elaborate this interpretation, which is also strongly implied by the New Testament passages (Jude 6, II Peter 2:4-6; I Peter 3:19,20). The Hebrew phrase is bene elohim, which occurs elsewhere only in Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7. In these three explicitly parallel usages, the contextual meaning can be nothing except that of angels. A similar phrase bar elohim, occurs in Daniel 3:25, and another, bar elim, occurs in Psalm 29:1 and Psalm 89:6. All of these also refer explicitly to angels. The intent of the writer of Genesis 6 (probably Noah) was clearly that of introducing a monstrous irruption of demonic forces on the earth, leading to universal corruption and eventual judgment.
6:2 took them wives. The “taking” of these women most likely refers to fallen angels, or demons, “possessing” their bodies. The word “wives” (Hebrew ishshah) is better translated “women.” There is no necessary intimation of actual marriage involved. By this time in history, anarchism and amorality were so widespread that these demons were easily able to take possession of the bodies of multitudes of ungodly men; these in turn engaged in promiscuous sex with demon-possessed women, with a resulting rapid population growth, Satan perhaps hoping thereby to generate a vast army of human recruits to his rebellion and also to thwart the coming of God’s promised Seed by thus corrupting all flesh.
6:3 My spirit. One of the ministries of God’s Holy Spirit has always been to convict man’s spirit of “sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). Man is also “flesh,” however, and there is perpetual conflict between the flesh and the spirit, even in the life of a believer (Romans 8:5; Galatians 5:16,17). God is long-suffering with respect to man’s rebellion, but only for a time: the hour of His judgment must eventually arrive.
6:3 hundred and twenty years. This prophecy was apparently given, perhaps through Methuselah, just 120 years before the coming Flood. The prophet Enoch had already been translated. Shem, Ham and Japheth had not yet been born and God’s specific commands to Noah (Genesis 5:32; 6:10,13,21) not yet given.
6:4 giants. These “giants” were the monstrous progeny of the demon-possessed men and women whose illicit activities led to God’s warning of imminent judgment. The Hebrew word is nephilim (“fallen ones”), a term possibly relating to the nature of their spiritual “parents,” the fallen angels. That they were also physical giants is evident from the fact that the same word is later used in connection with the giants in Canaan at the time of Joshua (Numbers 13:33) and by the fact that the word here was translated in the Septuagint by the Greek word gigantes.
6:4 also after that. “After that” clearly refers to Numbers 13:33 and probably represents an editorial insertion in Noah’s record by Moses. These giants in Canaan may also have had demonically-controlled parents; they were also known as the Anakim, the sons of Anak.
6:4 daughters of men. The idea that these “daughters of men” were actually descendants of Cain, and the “sons of God” descendants of Seth has been a widely held Christian naturalistic interpretation. This was not the intended meaning of the writer, however, who could certainly have written that the male descendants of Seth began to take wives from the daughters of Cain if that were his meaning. The descendants of Seth were not “sons of God” (most of them perished in the Flood) and the female descendants of both Cain and Seth were certainly “daughters of men” (literally, daughters of Adam). Besides, Adam had many other sons in addition to Cain and Seth. Further, even though intermarriage between believers and unbelievers is wrong, it could not in itself have produced universal wickedness and violence.
6:4 men of renown. The antediluvian giants had, by the time of Moses, become renowned heroes of antiquity, as far as the world was concerned. They, like their parents, were probably demon-controlled, their giant stature engineered by genetic manipulations discovered and carried out by these evil spirits. They could not have been demi-gods (half man, half “god”), however, as ancient mythology claims, since such imaginary beings are beyond the pale of God’s creative purposes. Fallen angels are not prospects for salvation, whereas fallen men and women are. A half-angel, half-human being would be an impossible anomaly, in terms of soteriology. The only apparent solution to all the problems posed by these verses is demon possession of both parents and progeny, not demonic marriage or procreation.
6:5 only evil continually. Universal wickedness requires a universal cause adequate to produce it. Nothing less than a worldwide influx of demonic control seems adequate to explain it.
6:6 his heart. The first mention of the word “heart” occurs here, connecting the evil in man’s heart with grief in God’s heart. This figure occurs often in Scripture, the “heart” representing the deepest seat of one’s emotions and decisions.
6:7 repenteh me. The apparent contradiction involved in the Biblical record of God “repenting” when the Bible also says God does not repent (contrast I Samuel 15:11 and 15:29) is resolved in terms of man’s viewpoint versus God’s viewpoint. To “repent” means to “change the mind.” God cannot repent, since He cannot change His mind concerning evil. He seems to repent, when man changes his mind concerning evil. God’s attitude toward man is conditioned by man’s attitude toward Him. It is because God does not repent that He must seem to repent when man “changes his mind.”
6:8 found grace. This is the first mention of “grace” in the Bible: the first mention in the New Testament is Luke 1:30, where Mary “found favour” (same word as “grace”) with God. God’s grace is found, not earned! Note the consistent Biblical order here: Noah first found grace, then he was a justified, righteous man, finally becoming perfect (complete or mature) in his relation to both God and man, and ultimately walking with God in a life of total faith and fellowship.