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The Angels that Abandoned Their Original State

A good place to start in our effort to understand Gen. 6 is with Jude 1:6. From Jude we read about “the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation.” We can understand “kept not” to mean that they failed to “watch over” or “guard.” The point is that they where to hold fast to something that was of value but they failed to do so. The word “left” is “to forsake.” So they not only failed to keep watch over something of value but they forsook it; they intentionally with malice of forethought abandoned it!  What was it that they failed to hold fast to? What did they abandon? They abandon their “first estate.” The word “estate” is an Old English word meaning “state” or “condition.” It is the translation of the Greek “arche.”


The ancient Greek’s, when attempting to understand how the world came to be, said that it came from the “arche.”  At first, they believed the arche to be water. In other words water was the principle element from which all of existing materials were made. They later include earth, wind and fire. They believed that from these substances everything in the physical world came into being. From this we can develop an understanding of what Jude meant when he says that the angels left their “arche.”


In Scripture, arche can be understood variously depending on the context. It can be the first in a series of events as in Mark 13:8 where it is translated “the beginning of sorrows.”  In Luke 12:11 it is translated “magistrates” and means “a high office.” In Ephesians Paul uses “arche” to refer to the angelic authorities and in 1:21, 3:10, and 6:12 it is translated “principalities.”  In Acts it is translated “corners” and has reference to the extremities of the sheet which Peter saw in a vision. In John 1:1 it is “the beginning” or that point in history past before there was anything we know as the creation. It is before time; before space when there was only the Triune God. Arche is used in the same way in Hebrews 1:10 where it is “the beginning” and used to refer to that period in history past when God laid the “foundations of the earth and the heavens.” In Hebrews 5:12, it is the “first principle” or the foundational doctrines of Christ (Heb 6:1). It is the “milk” of the word. There is nothing any more foundational to the Christian faith then “the arche” or “the first principles” of the faith. Finally, In Revelation, “Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning (arche) and the ending.” He is that which from everything else in the universe has it origin. He is timeless; without beginning and without end.


In Jude, the angels abandoned their “original state.” That state in which they were created. Many commentators believe that this is a reference to their “office” or their “position.” Remember however, that the correct way to interpret arche, or any word for that matter, is in context. The next phrase, “but left their own habitation” helps us to understand how we are to define arche. Jude tells us that the angles forsook their original “habitation.” The Greek word “oiketerion” which is translated “habitation” appears only twice in Scripture; here in Jude and again in 2 Corinthians 5:2 where we read,For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house (oiketerion) which is from heaven.” In this verse, “house” is oiketerion and obviously refers to the heavenly body (see 1 Cor 15:35-50) or the “glorified body” which we will receive at the resurrection. Commenting on 2 Corinthians 5:2, A.T. Robertson says, “Oikētērion is old word used here of the spiritual body as the abode of the spirit.” Accordingly, The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates the Jude 6 passage as, “angels…deserted their proper dwelling.”


So the proper understanding of what the angels failed to keep watch over and rather forsook was their arche; their original state; their oiketerion; their heavenly bodies! Some might say that angels do not have bodies but Welch, commenting on 1 Cor. 15:44 quotes Paul as saying, “there is (such a thing as) a spiritual body.” In verse 40 Paul says, “There are also celestial (heavenly) bodies, and bodies terrestrial (earthly): but the glory of the celestial (heavenly) is one, and the glory of the terrestrial (earthly) is another. So it would seem that angels do indeed have bodies – “heavenly bodies.”


Jude likens the sin of these fallen angels to the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Good News Bible translates Jude 1:7, “Remember Sodom and Gomorrah, and the nearby towns, whose people acted as those angels did and indulged in sexual immorality and perversion.” Jude says that their sin was of the most perverse kind. That is, they “went after strange flesh.” The word “strange” is “other.” It means something of a different kind. It is used in 2 Cor 11:4 in reference to another (a “different”) or we might say a “strange” Jesus being preached who is not the same Jesus that Paul preached. So Jude is saying that the angels left their bodies, crossed the boundaries between species established in Gen 1:12; 22; 24; 25[1] and had unnatural relations with “strange flesh.”

Fallen Angels


In Leviticus 20:16, God condemns such relations between species saying, “And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” In Genesis 6 we will find that he deals with those who crossed the line between species in much the same way.


[1] Paul addresses these same boundaries in 1 Cor 15:39-40.