WHAT IS THE ‘DOCTRINE OF THE NICOLAITANES’?
15. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.
Nicolas was one of seven, from the 70 disciples of the Lord, chosen to act as some of the first ‘deacons’. (Acts 6:5). He was originally from Antioch. It is said that he was one ‘of good report, full of the Spirit, and of wisdom.” (Acts 6:3). Like Judas was a betrayer, and failure amidst the 12 disciples, Nicolaus was a failure amidst the 70, and amidst the deacons. Ireneas, Hippolytus, and others of the early church confirm that Nicolas was the founder of the Nicolaitanes’ doctrine.
Even early in the church, a cover-up was attempted, for this verse, Rev. 2:15, indicates that ‘also’ this doctrine was wrong, it does not equate Balaamism to Nicolaitanes’ doctrine. But the early church soon made the Nicolaitanes doctrine to be part of the church, and therefore this still condemnation of such had to be squelched. Their method was to make the Balaam ideology and the Nicolaitanes ideology to be identical, and thereby never have to answer for why they had taken into church doctrine, this errant Nicolaitanes heresy, which Jesus said He hated.
So, many commentaries and Bible dictionaries will spread the idea put forth by Catholic proponents, who try to ignore the facts of what this doctrine is. Many in the Nicolaitanes’ heresy likely did swallow also the Balaam heresy, and practice such. But the two are separate false doctrines. The "Nicolaitanes" are mentioned again here, following its first mention in Rev. 2:6, for in this Pergamos age the clergy began to demand undue pre-eminence and worship. The people became spectators, and not participants. Notice the ‘also’, meaning that his doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, was not identical to the doctrine of Balaam. Some likely held both false doctrines, but this is a separate error referred to here, and is one that is spelled out as ‘hated’ by our Lord.
The Greek word "nikao" means "to conquer",”to dominate”, to intimidate”, and “to manipulate”. This refers to undue control.
The word "laos" means "the people" and here refers to the laity.
The Lord knew that in the ages to come, the church would be overrun and controlled with those who claim this doctrine to be ‘truth’. So, in the word, the name itself, He has revealed what the church for so long tried to hide. There was to be no intimidating, controlling, power-hungry lords playing overlord, "baal", to the layman.
The church is a ‘body’, and its Head is Jesus. Yet, down through the ages, just as Lucifer wanted to ascend to the throne of God, so many of the church seek to un-seat Jesus, and impose his or her will upon others, twisting Scripture in a dictatorial manner.
These are the "wolves" of Ephesus that Paul referred to in Acts 20:28-31:
“Take heed therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers (episkopos, a bishop, a preaching elder), to fed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His Own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years, I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”
These who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, have the nature of a wolf, says Paul. A wolf will encircle its victim and attack.
There are some who prefer to have someone else to think for them, Interpret the Bible, and to shepherd them.
These followers believe that this will bring them into the fellowship of God. And it is easier for them, than for them to themselves to build a relationship with the Lord, to hear personally from Him.
Weak Christians will gravitate toward "religious lords”. There are some in the church who need to be needed, and must surround themselves with "their flock” who will be easily swayed to whatever the controlling, shepherding one wants.
These ones will hate the direct access of others to the Holy Spirit. They feel that they themselves are a knowledgeable, in tune with the Spirit mediator, who should shepherd, guide, lord others, rather than with the Word of God, and with teaching each saint to personally speak with the Lord themselves.
There are many today, who speak of accountability, of answering to
mankind, not to God and want to control, as with a jezebel spirit, the persons of God. This can only lead to ruin, and the Lord warned us twice here in Revelation that He hates this nicolaitanes doctrine.
The teaching of the priesthood of the believer and of the personal relationship of each believer with the Lord, Who wants to be the only Lord for each believer needs a re-teaching. The ones who want to control ministries, persons of God will attack and oppose anyone teaching the priesthood of believers.
II Corinthians 11:3
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."
The Ephesians were praised for opposing the Nicolaitanes, but in time this doctrine grasped a hold, and by the time the Pergamos church age came, the Lord went from praising a church for their opposition to threatening a church for its acceptance of this heresy.
Today, there are some who do not follow the instructions of Peter, to
I Peter 5:2,3..
"Feed the flock of God...not for filthy lucre...neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock."
A common reason for such desire of some to ‘lord’ the flock of the Lord, is ‘filthy lucre’, the love of money:
I Timothy 6:10
"For the love of money is the root of all evil."
The cure for this heresy called Nicolaitanes doctrine is the priesthood of believers. This priesthood of the believers is what Jesus Christ loves, in contrast to the Nicolaitanes doctrine which He hates. The Old Testament told us about it:
"And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation."
"But ye shall be named "the Priests of the LORD": men shall call you "the Ministers of our God"
This is not the Levitical priesthood referred to here. Jesus, our High priest, died on the cross for our sins. Since that price was paid for sin, all in Jesus are priests:
"For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law".
"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: And I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord': For all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest."
I Peter 2:9
"But ye (all believers) are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light."
The book of Revelation begins with that teaching that there is a priesthood of believers, not a separate priesthood for some to answer to, to be accountable to, in replacing our true Lord, Jesus Christ:
Rev. 1:6; Rev. 5:10; Rev. 20:6
"And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father"
I Peter 2:5
"Ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."
We are not to abandon that position of being a priest ourselves, to answer directly to our High Priest, to another “lord”, a Nicolaitanes promoter. If we tolerate this doctrine, they will seek to control the flock of the Lord. Christ hated those Nicolaitanes and said so twice. He rebuked the Pergamos church, because they suffered and allowed this errant doctrine.
Christ warned us:
Matthew 24: 4,5, 25.
"Be not deceived. Many will come in My name".
When our Jesus walked this earth literally, He taught us to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, whom He called “hypocrites.” Jesus said that they were corrupted were blind leaders of the blind. These ones who wanted others to be accountable to them, in that day, made long prayers for a "pretense," a "show", a form of humility, was for the purpose only of being seen of men. They wanted the ‘uppermost seats’ in the Synagogues; the uppermost rooms at the feasts; and wanted to be esteemed as superiors and ones to be answered to.
But Jesus commanded:
"Be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren ... Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant".
There are leaders chosen, by the Lord, to direct the church functioning, but not to direct individuals in place of Jesus, there is a vast difference.
I Thessalonians 5:12-13
"We beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves,".
I Timothy 5:17
"Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine,"
Some may lead and guide as ‘examples’, but not dominate:
I Peter 5:1-3
"The elders which are among you exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed. Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock,"
16. Repent; or else: I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
It is both "the deeds" and "the doctrine" of those in the two "churches" of Revelation 2:6, and of 2: 15 that the Lord demands repentance and He threatens punishment if they do not obey Him.
17. 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 hidden manna,
To the "overcomers" is promised the "hidden manna." Spiritual food was lacking in this church, but some would find the spiritual food, even in this type of church if they searched. Hidden manna is vital to those in churches with false doctrines, and error. For the ‘manna’ is not easily received in services where the Spirit is grieved. Many in that age had to depend on ‘hidden manna’, for the church had become corrupted with many false teachings. The Lord wants us to know, that He will provide manna, spiritual food and blessings, for those who desire such, despite the false doctrines of the day. He will lead to truth, to places of refreshing, to other like-starved saints who can fellowship together. The manna from heaven will fall, even if to only those who are seeking such, while the others, who are swallowed up in heresy or apathy, will not see that manna, for it is ‘hidden’ to them.
and will give him a white stone,
The "white stone" referred to the fact that in trials, a white stone was given for an innocent decision, and a black stone was given as a sign of a guilty decision. Overcomers were thus promised to be declared innocent of the sins of the church. Some were guilty of false doctrines in this church, but the Lord looks at the church, as being on trial, and the members being judged on whether they had swallowed the heresy of evil ‘manna’, or found, despite the heresies of others, the ‘hidden manna’. Those who have searched, and found the ‘hidden manna’ are promised that their trial will end with a ‘white stone’ of declaration of innocence.
and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
The Lord has a "new name" for each of us, one given by our heavenly Father. Our earthly parents have given us names, and they may or may not be fitting, but the Lord Who knows all things knew a name that befits us. Simon became "Peter" (a stone), and Jacob became "Israel" (a prince with God). There has been a tendency for many to try to tell others what name God has chosen for them, but this verse tells us that God will not tell your name to any other, before He tells you. You have a name, given to you, long before your earthly birth, when in the mind of God you were ‘conceived’. This name will someday be told to you, and only God will give it you. Some have tried to reveal names to others, but God has kept this privilege only for Himself. Those who think they are needed to tell you your heavenly chosen name, are likely in the Nicolaitanes doctrine. For they want to do the work the Lord wants to do personally with you. The one who wrestled Jacob, renamed him, Israel. Simon bar jona was renamed Peter by Jesus. It is the Lord Himself who will tell you what name He chose for you, and you can learn from Him, in this age, or in heaven, but even if you do not learn here, you will up there be told what your real name is.