Which I also Hate
“But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” Rev. 2:6
What were the deeds of the “Nicolaitans”?
Eusebius suggests that the sect of the Nicolaitans was short-lived which would have to be true if there ever was a particular group or sect going by that name. It is true that Irenaeus, Epiphanius, and Theodoret mention the Nicolaitans but there is no clear evidence that it was a particular group headed by an heretic named Nicolas. Some say the sect was named after “Nicolas the deacon” or named after the bishop “Nicolas of Samaria” who was in the company of Simon Magus.
Since it was the “deeds” and the “doctrines” of the Nicolaitans that we should be concerned with we need to know what they were more than who they were.
Beda Venerabilis, a monk at the Northumbrian monastery in the 7th century said Nicolas allowed multiple spouses. This idea probably led to Thomas Aquinas of the 13th century suggesting the error concerned polygamy or having common wives.
Hippolytus of Rome (c 170 – c 236) and later Victorinus of Poetovio (writing in 270AD) suggest that the heresy involved the idea of “fornicators and eaters of things offered unto idols”. This is probably near the truth.
The question is what type of fornication and when do you get a chance to eat something sacrificed to idols?
“Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam [the son] of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;” 2 Peter 2:15
There was a connection between the doctrine and deeds of the Nicolaitans and Balaam. Balaam is from the Hebrew word Bal (lb), meaning “lord” or “master” and am references the “people”. It is an expression of superior rank over the people, which is contrary to the directive of Christ, the King, who came to set men free.
Nike is the Greek word for “conqueror” with nikos meaning “victor” or “conquer”. Laos is a word that also means “people”. Nicolaitan and Balaam are two different word forms of the same idea. Both include the idea of rank, lordship, and submission to an exercising authority by the people. These authorities like Nimrod of Babylon obtain this power over the people because the people apply to these men who call themselves benefactors but who also exercise authority one over the other. This power is not granted by God but often relinquished by the consent and voice of the people. It includes the “power”to judge or rule over the people. They are systems that make gods, judging rulers, of men to whom other men must pay homage, homage being fealty and allegiance.
Nicolaitans were not followers of a man but of a doctrine. Nicolaitans 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. What kind of fornication? This was not sexual.
The people who were meant to be
free were snared by their own appetite for benefits at the expense of
their neighbor. The people are devoured in the civic pot filled with
their own flesh.
We cannot partake of that
cauldron unless you agree with the terms. Paul asks, “And what
agreement hath the temple of God with idols? ...” 2Co 6:16.
When people give up their right
to choose in exchange for benefits they are conquered by their
own avarice, lust, appetite and desires. God hates the deeds of the
If we are to follow Christ we
need to live by faith, not by the sword of rulers who take from
others. Those governments offer a snare, not a benefit. Those who see
it must come together to loosen it. The key to the kingdom is what
you bind on earth is bound in heaven and what you loosen on earth is
also loosened in heaven.
Nicolaitans were the people “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.” They were snared by their own appetite for benefits at the expense of their neighbor. The people are devoured in the civic pot of their own flesh.
The things sacrificed to idols were the welfare programs provided by an administration which exercised authority. The were the civic altars of those various governments who took from one class to provide another. One could become eligible for those benefits by an application for membership. This application often included an agreement to serve and contribute regularly to those incorporated altars of the state. There usually was an oath required, under the penalty of the courts, attached to those systems.
Both God’s Kingdom and the kingdoms of the world had ministers (clerks, bureaucrats, clergy, ministers, and administers) who managed the institutions or altars of contributions. The problem arises in distinguishing the Nicolaitan or Baalam system of lords and laity, master and subject from the liturgical ministers and laity which was established by Christ. Some systems of faith and allegiance have a top-down clergy that exercises authority, compels services and contributions, but Christ's system of the Kingdom of God operates according to the perfect law of liberty by faith, hope and charity..
The error that we have a right to take from our neighbor through legal systems of social welfare is not unique to the Nico-Laity or the Ba-Laam but stems back to the original error of mankind.
“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” Jude 1:11
It is clear by the Biblical text that Jesus appointed men, the ekklesia or Church, to serve the people so they did not have to turn to men who call themselves benefactors but exercise authority. Those individuals also made appointments of men chosen by the people. The clergy of the church were to be the servants or clerks of the kingdom, the bondservants of the King, in service to the laity, or people. Many people think there is no need for a church or its ministers but that is only because they pray to the clergy of their state church established by men. That state church exercises authority over the people who have chosen to not live by the perfect law of liberty but have coveted their neighbor's goods through the government they have created for themselves..
The contributions given to those governments of men, often established by Contracts, Covenants and Constitutions are the sacrifices of those people to the gods they have created for themselves. Their social security is dependent on the Corban of the Pharisees and the Qorban of Rome that “made the word of God to none effect”. It is the tribute that the wicked must pay after they have rejected God and have followed civil religion.
In Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”, he praised “the union and discipline of the Christian republic.” This personal discipline included the rights and responsibilities of freedom. It was a kingdom that depended on faith, hope, and charity. He also pointed out that “it gradually formed an independent and increasing state in the heart of the Roman Empire.”
The reason early Christians gathered together was to take care of the business of the Kingdom of God, the government of God. There was religious freedom guaranteed by the Roman constitution. They were seeking a pure religion that cared for the needy of their society. There was no persecution because men loved one another. The problem was the difference between these two systems of government. Christ was turning the world right-side up. To those who did not want to change, they accused His followers of turning the world upside down.
“But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” Revelation 2:14
The bureaucrats of Nicolaitan or Baalam system of governance entice the people to give their allegiance, with promises of benefits, but then exercise authority, compel taxes, and make laws and regulations. The Clerks of Christ’s Kingdom of God at hand offer their service in a system that only works if we love one another in faith, hope, and charity. Christians would not apply to the Romans nor the Jews who would not follow Christ. They would not touch benefits paid for by the compelled sacrifices of the people. If they did that, they would be Nicolaitans.
“When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.” Proverbs 23:1-3.
When people give up their right to choose in exchange for benefits they are conquered by their own avarice, lust, appetite and desires. God hates the deeds of the Nicolaitan.
If we are to follow Christ we need to live by faith, not by the sword of rulers who take from others. Those governments offer a snare, not a benefit. Those who see it must come together to loosen it. The key to the kingdom is what you bind on earth is bound in heaven and what you loosen on earth is also loosened in heaven.