Society & Reality: Who Are The Nicolaitans? Revelation 2 Study
Revelation 2 King James Version (KJV)
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.
7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Who are The Nicolaitanes?
The name “Nicolaitans” is derived from the Greek word nikolaos, a compound of the words nikos and laos. The word nikos is the Greek word that means to conquer or to subdue. The word laos is the Greek word for the people. It is also where we get the word laity. When these two words are compounded into one, they form the name Nicolas, which literally means one who conquers and subdues the people. It seems to suggest that the Nicolaitans were somehow conquering and subduing the people.
Strongs Greek G3531 - Νικολαΐτης Nikolaḯtēs, nik-ol-ah-ee'-tace; from G3532; a Nicolaite, i.e. adherent of Nicolaus:—Nicolaitane.
Biblical Usage Outline:
Nicolaitans = "destruction of people"
a sect mentioned in Rev. 2:6,15, who were charged with holding the error of Balaam, casting a stumbling block before the church of God by upholding the liberty of eating things sacrificed to idols as well as committing fornication
Who was the founding Nicolaitan?
Ireneus and Hippolytus, two leaders in the Early Church who recorded many of the events that occurred in the earliest recorded days of Church history, said the Nicolaitans were the spiritual descendants of Nicolas of Antioch, who had been ordained as a deacon in Acts 6:5. That verse says, “And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch.” (we learned about Antioch in the Natsarim Post I did. If you have not read that, please do so.)
Acts 6:5 tells us that this Nicolas was “a proselyte of Antioch.” The fact that he was a proselyte tells us that he was not born a Jew but had converted from paganism to Judaism. Then he experienced a second conversion, this time turning from Judaism to Christianity. From this information, we know these facts about Nicolas of Antioch:
What does proselyte mean?
The biblical term "proselyte" is an anglicization of the Koine Greek term προσήλυτος (proselytos), as used in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) for "stranger", i.e. a "newcomer to Israel"; a "sojourner in the land", and in the Greek New Testament for a first-century convert to Judaism, generally from Ancient Greek
Nicolas came from:
1.He came from paganism and had deep pagan roots, very much unlike the other six deacons who came from a pure Hebrew line. Nicolas’ pagan background meant that he had previously been immersed in the activities of the occult.
2. He was not afraid of taking an opposing position, evidenced by his ability to change religions twice. Converting to Judaism would have estranged him from his pagan family and friends. It would seem to indicate that he was not impressed or concerned about the opinions of other people.
3. When he converted to Christ, it was at least the second time he had converted from one religion to another. We don’t know if, or how many times, he shifted from one form of paganism to another before he became a Jewish proselyte. His ability to easily change religious “hats” implies that he was not afraid to switch direction in midstream and go a totally different direction.
According to the writings of the Early Church leaders, Nicolas taught a doctrine of compromise, implying that total separation between Christianity and the practice of occult paganism was not essential. From Early Church records, it seems apparent that this Nicolas of Antioch was so immersed in occultism, Judaism, and Christianity that he had a stomach for all of it. He had no problem intermingling these belief systems in various concoctions and saw no reason why believers couldn’t continue to fellowship with those still immersed in the black magic of the Roman empire and its countless mystery cults.
Irenaeus Of Lyons (c.120-202)
“The Nicolaitanes are the followers of that Nicolas who was one of the seven first ordained to the diaconate by the apostles. They lead lives of unrestrained indulgence. The character of these men is very plainly pointed out in the Apocalypse of John, [when they are represented] as teaching that it is a matter of indifference to practice adultery, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. Wherefore the Word has also spoken of them thus: ‘But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.’” (Against Heresies, 1:26:3)
Clement Of Alexandria (d. c.215)
Such also are those (who say that they follow Nicolaus, quoting an adage of the man, which they pervert, “that the flesh must be abused.” But the worthy man showed that it was necessary to check pleasures and lusts, and by such training to waste away the impulses and propensities of the flesh. But they, abandoning themselves to pleasure like goats, as if insulting the body, lead a life of self-indulgence; not knowing that the body is wasted, being by nature subject to dissolution; while their soul is buried in the mire of vice; following as they do the teaching of pleasure itself, not of the apostolic man.” (Stromata, 2:20)
But when we spoke about the saying of Nicolaus we omitted to say this. Nicolaus, they say, had a lovely wife. When after the Saviour's ascension he was accused before the apostles of jealousy, he brought his wife into the concourse and allowed anyone who so desired to marry her. For, they say, this action was appropriate to the saying: "One must abuse the flesh." Those who share his heresy follow both his action and his words simply and without qualification by indulging in the gravest enormity.
I am informed, however, that Nicolaus never had relations with any woman other than the wife he married, and that of his children his daughters remained virgins to their old age, and his son remained uncorrupted. In view of this it was an act of suppression of passion when he brought before the apostles the wife on whose account he was jealous. He taught what it meant to "abuse the flesh" by restraining the distracting passions. For, as the Lord commanded, he did not wish to serve two masters, pleasure and God. It is said that Matthias also taught that one should fight the flesh and abuse it, never allowing it to give way to licentious pleasure, so that the soul might grow by faith and knowledge.” (Stromata, 3:4:25-26)
Hippolytus Of Rome (d. c. 236)
“There are, however, among the Gnostics diversities of opinion; but we have decided that it would not be worth while to enumerate the silly doctrines of these (heretics), inasmuch as they are (too) numerous and devoid of reason, and full of blasphemy. Now, even those (of the heretics) who are of a more serious turn in regard of the Divinity, and have derived their systems of speculation from the Greeks, must stand convicted (of these charges). But Nicolaus has been a cause of the wide-spread combination of these wicked men. He, as one of the seven (that were chosen) for the diaconate, was appointed by the Apostles. (But Nicolaus) departed from correct doctrine, and was in the habit of inculcating indifferency of both life and food. And when the disciples (of Nicolaus) continued to offer insult to the Holy Spirit, John reproved them in the Apocalypse as fornicators and eaters of things offered unto idols.” (The Refutation Of All Heresies, 7:24)
What/Who are the Nicolaitans Today?
1. Those who practice spiritual compromise generally believe that Christ is just one of many acceptable types of faith. The big issue to them is not truth, but respect. As such, truth takes a second seat to equally honoring the beliefs of other people, even if those beliefs are diametrically opposed to the doctrines of the Bible. Ultimately, Christ is demoted in their minds, viewed as just one option among many. According to this inclusive mindset, everyone is right and no one is wrong. This modern belief system harbors dangerous similarities with both the pagan mindset of the Roman Empire and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans that Christ “hated.”
2. Modern Nicolaitanism dresses itself in the guise of inclusivity. Rather than living separately from the world, those who espouse this view reason, “Since everyone is right and no one wrong both spiritually and morally, why should there be a need for separation?” Leading denominational churches have taken the position that the time has come to help lesbians and homosexuals blend into the church community and lead “holy” lives along with other church members. This sentiment mirrors the teaching of the Nicolaitans of the First Century, for these modern-day church leaders promote a message that will make them more acceptable with the multitude instead of one that will put them in opposition with the expectations of modern society.
3. Modern Nicolaitanism dresses itself in the guise of progressiveness, dismissing much of the Bible as being too restrictive or exclusive of other people’s beliefs. Instead of being a guide to absolute truth, the Bible is used merely as a reference for illustra- tions, motivational sermons, inspirational ideas, principles to build a marriage or business, and so on.
4. Modern Nicolaitanism dresses itself in the guise of tolerance, asserting that everyone has a piece of the truth. It ultimately levels the playing field and makes Christianity simply “a truth” among other truths. If the doctrine of Nicolaitanism is followed to its logical conclusion, it eventually leads to universalism, which is the belief that everyone and everything — even Satan and hell — will ultimately be reconciled to God. In fact, it is a pagan premise that there are many roads leading to the same eventual destination in the afterlife and that every person should therefore be able to find his own way.
We are Called to Come Out of the Beast System and Into The Truth of God!!
Revelation 18:4 King James Version (KJV)
4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
All information regarding the writings of the early church was taken from this link. It has sited sources for the book the quotes were taken from.