The doctrine of the Nicolatians – part 1

The fight we help to lead against gay christian doctrine is nothing new to the church. It has, through the centuries since its founding on Calvary by Christ, fought valiantly against many forms of false Christian-oriented doctrines.
As we began taking a closer look at a first century heretical sect called the Nicolatians, there emerges a convincing picture that the doctrine and deeds of the Nicolatians bare a striking resemblance to modern gay church theology. What’s more, the “allies” of the gcm, whom we have cited here such as Bishop Carlton Pearson, Cynthia Clawson and Bishop John Spong among others are part of a wider movement of various forms of antinomianism. Indeed, the beliefs of the Nicolatians were based on a form of antinomianism which taught that the grace and love of Christ allowed one freedom from adhering to the moral laws of God. In this first part we will look at what we know about the Nicolatians from scripture and cultural context. In the sequel we’ll look at its simularities with the gay christian movement.

Although there is no specific written doctrinal work on record by the Nicolatians, several things we can be sure of.
1. Their deeds and doctrines were hated by Jesus Christ. He specifically denounced and condemned this twice and followed with a stern warning to repent.
2. The Nicolatians were closely associated with idolatry and sexual immorality and exerted a certain amount of influence over the people of God. It required a forceful confrontation from Christ and his apostles. The scripture equate this negative influence with leaven.

WHAT THE NAME MEANS

According to Truth Ablaze and doctrinal exposition site, the name of the sect reveals much about the doctrinal error.

The name, Nicolaitanes, is a compound word which is composed of three Greek words, and which, because of being a proper noun, is transferred instead of being translated into English. As thus transferred, it is subject to the laws of Greek construction in regard to ellipsis, contraction and phonetics.

The Greek words used in its construction are first: “Nikos,” of which we use the English equivalents instead of the Greek letters, as we shall also of the other two. Nikos is defined as “a conquest; victory; triumph; the conquered; and by implication, dominancy over the defeated.” Another transferred name in which this term is used is “Nicopolis,” i.e., Niko – conquest; polis city. Hence, the city of conquest, or city of victory. Also “Andro” — “nikos;” a man of conquest, of victory.

The second term used in the name under consideration is “laos,” — people, another use of which is Nicolas, which is transferred and is composed of Nikoslaos and means one who is “victorious over the people,” the letter “s” being, in both words, the nominative case ending, which is retained only at the end of the word to denote the case, while “a” short and “o” short are contracted into “a” long.

Rev 2:14 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. Jesus also linked the Nicolatians to the error of Balaam, an Old Testament false prophet who has become a biblical symbol for apostasy.

Here in Pergamum, we see the “doctrine of Balaam” strictly condemned by Christ. It is important that we understand what Balaam’s “doctrine” was, so that we may steer clear of it today. What the Old Testament alludes to- Jesus makes very plain – the doctrine of Balaam involved idolatry and sexual immorality. I’m not going to post the whole story of Balaam for the sake of time and space. I encourage you to read about him in Numbers chapters 22-24. To make a long story short, Balak hired Balaam (a prophet of sorts who is called a “southsayer” in Joshua 13:22 KJV) to curse Israel. After numerous attempts at bribing him by Balak, Balaam finally comes to the conclusion that he cannot curse what God has blessed (I could really preach here, but I’m going to resist the urge so that we can stay on track). It’s going to take more than some verbal curse to make Israel vulnerable to her enemies. So he comes up with a strategy. This strategy is later revealed in Numbers 31:8,16. What becomes obvious is that Balaam’s strategy included getting the children of Israel to commit sexual immorality with the Midianite women. In committing this trespass, the men of Israel were also mingling with the pagan gods worshipped by these women. This is a perfect example of religious syncretism. That’s a big theological word, but it basically means a “mixture” of different belief systems. What makes it so deadly is that it gives the outward appearance of piety and reverence for God, all the while tolerating the things that He has so clearly designated as an abomination to Him. We must beware of this even today-now more than ever!

Revelation 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. The Nicolatians are likewise linked with Jezebel, another Old Testament personality who became known for leading Isreal into unrestrained idolartry and ruthlessly persecution of God’s true prophets.

Though the names keep changing (Nicolatians, Balaam, Jezebel), the message is basically the same. This teaching offers a Christianity which doesn’t demand obedience and loyalty to Jesus Christ alone. This is heresy and God hates it- plain and simple! We can clearly see that the aim of these false teachers is to convince Christians (notice Jesus calls them “my servants” in Revelation 2:20) that sexual immorality, ungodly lifestyles, and idolatry can be practiced without affecting one’s standing in Christ. Jesus strongly rebukes that notion by saying that judgement is surely coming to those who practice such works. He calls such teachings the “depths things of Satan.” (KJV) I think it would be interesting to see how this is translated in various versions for effect.

Even without an extensive knowledge of the Nicolatian sect, we can see why Christ declared his hatred for their actions and their false teachings. Today, though we are accused of hating homosexuals, it is the spirit behind the gay christian movement with its form of godliness that is truly worthy of the hatred of God’s people. Neither should it be tolerated. Our example should closely follow Christ’s in calling on them to repent and return to the truth.

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2 thoughts on “The doctrine of the Nicolatians – part 1

  1. Thank you for this post. A while back, I did some research on the “Nicolatians.”

    Here is a portion of what I found:

    Notice what the Lord Jesus Christ says about the “Nicolatians”:

    Rev 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

    Rev 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

    Rev 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

    Jamieson Faussett and Brown commentary:
    Nicolaitanes–IRENAEUS [Against Heresies, 1.26.3] and TERTULLIAN [Prescription against Heretics, 46] make these followers of Nicolas, one of the seven (honorably mentioned, Act 6:3, 5 ). They (CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA [Miscellanies, 2.20 3.4] and EPIPHANIUS [Heresies, 25]) evidently confound the latter Gnostic Nicolaitanes, or followers of one Nicolaos, with those of Revelation. MICHAELIS’ view is probable: Nicolaos (conqueror of the people) is the Greek version of Balaam, from Hebrew “Belang Am,” “Destroyer of the people.” Revelation abounds in such duplicate Hebrew and Greek names: as Apollyon, Abaddon: Devil, Satan: Yea (Greek, “Nai”), Amen. The name, like other names, Egypt, Babylon, Sodom, is symbolic. Compare Rev 2:14, 15 , which shows the true sense of Nicolaitanes; they are not a sect, but professing Christians who, like Balaam of old. tried to introduce into the Church a false freedom, that is, licentiousness; this was a reaction in the opposite direction from Judaism, the first danger to the Church combated in the council of Jerusalem, and by Paul in the Epistle to Galatians. These symbolical Nicolaitanes, or followers of Balaam, abused Paul’s doctrine of the grace of God into a plea for lasciviousness ( 2Pe 2:15, 16, 19 Jud 1:4, 11 who both describe the same sort of seducers as followers of Balaam). The difficulty that they should appropriate a name branded with infamy in Scripture is met by TRENCH: The Antinomian Gnostics were so opposed to John as a Judaizing apostle that they would assume as a name of chiefest honor one which John branded with dishonor.
    Matthew Henry commentary:
    3. He knows the wickedness and the falsehood of their enemies: I know the blasphemy of those that say they are Jews, but are not; that is, of those who pretend to be the only peculiar covenant-people of God, as the Jews boasted themselves to be, even after God had rejected them; or of those who would be setting up the Jewish rites and ceremonies, which were now not only antiquated, but abrogated; these may say that they only are the church of God in the world, when indeed they are the synagogue of Satan. Observe, (1.) As Christ has a church in the world, the spiritual Israel of God, so the devil has his synagogue. Those assemblies which are set up in opposition to the truths of the gospel, and which promote and propagate damnable errors,—those which are set up in opposition to the purity and spirituality of gospel worship, and which promote and propagate the vain inventions of men and rites and ceremonies which never entered into the thoughts of God,—these are all synagogues of Satan: he presides over them, he works in them, his interests are served by them, and he receives a horrid homage and honour from them. (2.) For the synagogues of Satan to give themselves out to be the church or Israel of God is no less than blasphemy. God is greatly dishonoured when his name is made use of to promote and patronize the interests of Satan; and he has a high resentment of this blasphemy, and will take a just revenge on those who persist in it. (bold mine)

    David Guzik commentary:
    iv. The Nicolaitans, like all deceivers which come from the body of Christ, claimed “not that they were destroying Christianity, but that they were presenting an improved and modernized version of it.” (Barclay)
    f. Which I also hate: These are powerful words, in that they come from our Savior who is so rich in love. Whoever exactly the Nicolaitans were, and whatever exactly they did and taught, we learn something from Jesus’ opinion of the. We learn that the God of love hates sin, and wants His people to also hate sin.

    *******
    Take special notice of what it says in Rev. 2:16 -Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

    What does the “sword of my mouth” mean? It is the Word of God!

    This is what we are to do – fight against such heresy and apostasy with God’s Word!

  2. Our example should closely follow Christ’s in calling on them to repent and return to the truth.

    Amen! It is interesting to note, the word “love” is not even used in the book of Acts – in any context. Paul and the others indeed preached the death, ressurection and the personal need to Repent of sins and belief in Jesus Christ.

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