John Gill (1697-1771 AD) noted the following within his Exposition of the Old and New Testament:
That the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair,…. Or “good” (k), not in a moral but natural sense; goodly to look upon, of a beautiful aspect; and they looked upon, and only regarded their external beauty, and lusted after them: those “sons of God” were not angels either good or bad, as many have thought, since they are incorporeal beings, and cannot be affected with fleshly lusts, or marry and be given in marriage, or generate and be generated; nor the sons of judges, magistrates, and great personages, nor they themselves, as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, and so Jarchi and Aben Ezra; but this could be no crime in them, to look upon and take in marriage such persons, though they were the daughters of the meaner sort; and supposing they acted a criminal part in looking at them, and lusting after them, and committing fornication with them, and even in marrying irreligious persons; yet this could only be a partial, not an universal corruption, as is after affirmed, though such examples must indeed have great influence upon the populace; but rather this is to be understood of the posterity of Seth, who from the times of Enos, when then began to be called by the name of the Lord, Gen 4:25 had the title of the sons of God, in distinction from the children of men; these claimed the privilege of divine adoption, and professed to be born of God, and partakers of his grace, and pretended to worship him according to his will, so far as revealed to them, and to fear and serve and glorify him.
You just gotta love old fashioned writing as that was all one single sentence!
Well, quite a sentence it was yet, utterly inaccurate on a few points.
John Gill, merely, asserts that the sons of God were not angels, even whilst admitting that this is what many, such as the earliest known Jewish and Christian commentators, have thought.
His basis for denying the original and contextual interpretation is that Angels are incorporeal. This is common knowledge and yet, it is a misconception. The Bible nowhere states anything of the sort and certainly no, as some must follow up upon such a claim, that they take on physical bodies when they interact with us. Biblically, Angels look like human males, have no wings and no halos.
They appeal to inhabit originally created bodies of the sort we would term glorified (or resurrected) such as was inhabited by Jesus after His resurrection whereby He could but did not have to interact with our commonly experienced dimensions or space and time.
Based on his rejection of Angelic corporeality he concludes that Angels cannot be affected with fleshly lusts, etc. Yet, Jude 6-7 states:
…the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
2 Peter 2:4-6 states:
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.
And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly…
Jude refers to Angels not keeping their first estate, presumably heaven thus, they left heaven and fell.
Also, note Jude’s context as he draws a direct correlation between that which the Angels did and that which was done in Sodom, Gomorrha and other similar cities who, “in like manner” not only fornicated in general but went “after strange flesh” in particular. Thus, in like manner; Angels fell from heaven and fornicated with flesh unlike their own, with human women.
Peter employs Genesis 6’s context as it begins with the affair of the sons of God and daughters of men which leads to the flood. In like manner, Peter references “the angels that sinned,” notes Noah and the flood and also correlates the Angel’s sin to that of Sodom and Gomorrha.
John Gill also states that Angels cannot “marry and be given in marriage” which is an unfortunate statement particularly in the manner wherein he made it. In fact, many people make the very same statement in the very same what that is, they merely paraphrase Jesus but do not quote Him, quote Him but do not site the quotation or quote but only partially. Gill does not even claim to be quoting or paraphrasing Jesus so only the discerning reader would know that this is what he was doing. In any case, recall that Jude referenced the “angels which kept not their first estate” and consider Jesus’ statement, “in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:30 and Mark 12:25).
Carefully note that Jesus does not state that Angels “neither marry, nor are given in marriage” but He qualifies His statement by specifying that the Angels who “neither marry, nor are given in marriage” are “the angels of God in heaven.” Thus, those loyal Angels do not marry but the fallen ones did so.
Luke 20:34-36 has somewhat of a parallel which is more generic to our consideration but is noteworthy:
And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
When John Gill comments, specifically, upon Matthew 22:30 he, for some reason, bypasses Jesus’ qualifier. Gill begins his comment thusly (with the first ellipses in original)
For in the resurrection,…. At the time of the resurrection, and in that state; when the bodies and souls of men shall be reunited, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; neither the men marry wives, nor are the women given in marriage to men, which is done by their parents here, generally speaking, they having the right of disposing of children in marriage…
He then references “everlasting life and glory, ‘neither marry nor are given in marriage’; shall not enter into any such natural and carnal relation” so, again, he avoids the qualifier.
He then actually quotes the qualifier by bypasses it by jumping over to Luke:
But are as the angels of God in heaven; or, as in Luke, “are equal unto the angels”; and which he explains their immortality: “neither can they die any more”; no more than the angels can: for this must not be extended to everything; not in everything will the saints be like, or equal to the angels; they will not be incorporeal, as the angels are, but then, even their bodies will be spiritual, and in some respects, like spirits; they will not stand in any need of sustenance, by eating and drinking, any more than the angels; nor will there be any such things as marriage, and procreation of children among them, any more than among angels; for they “are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection”: they will then appear to be the children of God by adopting grace…
And Gill begins sermonizing so I will stop here to consider the illogical nature of this statement. So, the resurrected will, indeed, be “as the angels of God in heaven” and be immortal since “‘neither can they die any more’; no more than the angels can.” But Gill hits the break as he appears to see the logical and theological conclusion which would contradict his personal take on the matter.
Thus, he, upon his own authority, asserts that “this must not be extended to everything” such as marital copulation. Yet, he is basing this claim on his misconception that Angels are incorporeal but he knows that resurrected humans will be and will inhabit “spiritual” bodies (note that a spirit body is a contradiction in terms as a spirt does not have flesh and blood but a spiritual body is aka a glorified or resurrected body; see Luke 24:39 & 1 Corinthians 15:44).
So, as per John Gill, the correlation between the resurrected and unfallen Angels in heaven does not extended to everything but does in some respects such as that the resurrected “will not stand in any need of sustenance, by eating and drinking.” Yet, the Bible affirms that the resurrected will, indeed, eat and drink. Jesus stated, “But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29), Revelation 22:2 states that within the New Jerusalem (the place where eternity will be experienced which is generically referred to in common parlance as “heaven”) there will be “the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Moreover, Revelation 19:9 refers to “the marriage supper of the Lamb,” etc.
FYI: on Mark 12:25 Gill’s commentary states, “See Gill on Mat 22:30.”
When it comes to Jude 6, Gill writes (first ellipses in original):
And the angels which kept not their first estate,…. Or “principality”; that holy, honourable, and happy condition, in which they were created…but this estate they kept not, for being mutable creatures, one of them first sinning, the rest were drawn into it by him, and so were not what they were before, nor in the same estate, or place: but left their own habitation; by attempting to rise higher; or by quitting their station and posts of honour, being unwilling to be subject to God…they were drove out of their native habitation, heaven; they were turned out of it, and cast down to hell; see Pe2 2:4 [which does not refer to “hell” but to tartaroō aka tartarus G5020]…
I am bypassing much of his commentary as he sermonizes and so most of his statement are not relevant to our context.
One Jude 7, Gill states (first ellipses in original):
Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them,…. Admah and Zeboiim, for Zoar was spared. This is a third instance of God’s vengeance on sinners; and which, like that of the Israelites, and of the angels, was after great favours had been enjoyed…But they in like manner giving themselves over to fornication; not as the angels, who are not capable of sinning in such a manner; though the Jews make this to be a sin of theirs, and so interpret Gen 6:2 [Gill’s note, “Pirke Eliezer, c. 22. Joseph. Antiqu. l. 1. c. 3. sect. 1”], but rather the Israelites, among whom this sin prevailed, Co1 10:8; though it seems best of all to refer it to the false teachers that turned the grace of God into lasciviousness…in like manner as they, the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, gave themselves over to the sin of fornication; wherefore these men might expect the same judgments that fell upon them…and going after strange flesh; or “other flesh”; meaning not other women besides their own wives, but men; and designs that detestable and unnatural sin, which, from these people, is called sodomy to this day…go after strange flesh: suffering the vengeance of eternal fire…
There is not much substance here and he misses the mark as the context is that which the Angels did so as to be condemned yet Gill reinterprets and misinterprets the text by claiming “fornication; not as the angels” and applying the fornication to humans. This is even though he knows that the Jews (and the early church) interpret Genesis 6 as per the Angelic view.
To 2 Peter 2:4, John Gill wrote (first ellipses in original):
For if God spared not the angels that sinned….. By whom are meant the devil and his angels; who are spirits created by God and as such were good; their first estate which they left was pure and holy, as well as high and honourable; they, were at first in the truth, though they abode not in it…what their first sin was, and the occasion of it, is not easy to say…God spared not…The Jews give an account of the dejection, fall, and punishment of the angels, in a manner pretty much like this of Peter’s, whom they speak of under different names; so of the serpent that deceived Adam and Eve, whom they call Samael, and because of that sin of his, they say (k) that the Lord “cast down Samael and his company from the place of their holiness, out of heaven;” and of Aza and Azael, angels, who, they say, sinned by lusting after the daughters of men, they frequently affirm, that God cast them down from their holiness [Gill’s note, “Zohar in Gen. fol. 25. 3”]…
Again, John Gill merely asserts that Angels “are spirits” and again affirms that he is aware of the Jews’ (and early church’s) interpretation. He references the Jewish mystical text the Zohar which contains statement much like those of the apocryphal Book of Enoch aka 1 Enoch aka Ethiopic Enoch (see here).
On 2 Peter 2:5, Gill completely misses the correlation between the Angel’s sin, the flood and Sodom and Gomorrha.
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