Sunday, February 13, 2011

Revelation Chapter Two, Part 3 of 9

2:6 thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Much speculation has gone into the identity of this sect that our Lord first speaks of here. I will not speculate as to who they are, or what they were preaching, but the meaning of their name gives something away about the character their leaders must have possessed. First, the name Nicolas from where the term derives means, “victor over people.” The term Nicolaitans is translated “follower of Nicolas.” Simply put, like certain televangelists and charismatic leaders, they rise up to lead away the flock of Christ after them; they have no genuine intention of bringing people to Jesus, so that our Lord receives the glory of saving them and cleansing them from their sins. Instead they wish to have the adulation that only belongs to God. They overcome the people with the sole intent of hoisting themselves up as some uniquely qualified guru imparting wisdom unavailable elsewhere.

Paul warned of these men: “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,” Acts 20:29-30. Paul specifically warned the Ephesian elders about this type of leader, and it seemed that forty years later they had taken his counsel to heart, and hated the deeds of such men. Christ commended them, for He too hates such deeds.

Jesus hates? God hates? In fact, yes; God has perfect hatred. He hates the sin that corrupts His creation, and He hates when His creatures choose eternal condemnation over Him in their proud and blind rebellion. He pities them, and He hates what sin has done to His perfect creation; it marred the image of God in us, and even in His saints sin taints us so frequently that we must have our feet washed in prayer and confession more often that most would honestly admit. Make no mistake, God hates; He is perfectly balanced in every attribute that He possesses. It is not evil or sinful to hate; here we have Jesus commending men for it; it is sinful when we abuse hate to turn it toward individuals, and we can no longer disassociate a sinner from their sin, and simply decide to hate both. We should yearn for the salvation of the lost and pray for them and plead with them. How many chances to witness of Jesus to others have been shipwrecked because we opted instead to hate?

People such as Joseph Smith (Mormonism), Charles Taze Russell (Jehovah’s Witnesses), Mary Baker Eddy (Christian Science), Ron Hubbard, (Scientology), etc. have all been disciples of the Nicolaitans. They wished to overcome the people with unique messages imparted only to them and dispensed solely through them; messages which invariably denigrate the cross of Jesus Christ and the glory He gained by triumphing over sin, death and the Devil. Instead they elevate these teachers to levels that match or exceed Jesus with methods and messages as to how salvation may be achieved because the message has been lost, confused, garbled, changed, corrupted, misunderstood, etc. They alone now have such a message to restore the purity of God’s word, and they are all too eager to impart it to the unsuspecting followers that will walk after them in droves, down the broad road that leads to destruction. Are we to hate these deeds? Without doubt, yes.

2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches
How are we to know what the Spirit says unto the churches? Paul has a simple answer: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Romans 10:17. The messages to the churches in Revelation 2-3 are for all the churches, through all the centuries that this present dispensation endures. Jesus calls out to those that hath an ear. How do you know if you truly have an ear? First, you must hear the word of the gospel preached unto you. But more than that, you must believe what this gospel is relating to you. The gospel is summed up in these words, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,” 1st Corinthians 15:3-4. This is the gospel. This is the word that we as Christians have been commissioned to preach from one end of the earth to the other. But hearing alone will not avail you. Mental assent to creeds and formulas will not save you. The writer of Hebrews says:

For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief… For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it,” Hebrews 3:16-19; 4:2.

When you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you have been born again. Your receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit; He comes and indwells you to enable you to both see, hear and comprehend spiritual things, to which previously you were blind, deaf and dumb to. You have passed from death unto life; sin, death and the Devil hold no more legal claim to you, and your new nature, your born-again spiritual nature, can no longer be imputed with sin in a legal sense, 1st John 3:9. Why? You are dead to the law but alive to Christ; you live in the Spirit and are commanded to likewise walk in Him. You are to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, as revealed by the word of God, and this leading will always direct you to Jesus Christ. It's for Him we live, and by Him we live. Daniel writes, “Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked (a reference to the unsaved) shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand,” Daniel 12:10. Note: none of the wicked, no matter how brilliant, learned or sagely, shall understand God’s wisdom. God only imparts His wisdom, genuine, spiritual wisdom, to His children born again by faith, James 1:5.

Paul writes twice regarding the unsaved’s ability to comprehend the things of God, “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe,” 1st Corinthians 1:19-21.

Again he says, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned,” 1st Corinthians 2:12-14.

The Holy Spirit only imparts spiritual truth to God’s children who are His by adoption through faith in Christ. The Bible is His medium, and to those willing to yield to His teaching, He can certainly make us to know all things regarding this life (the life we have received in Christ), 1st John 2:20; 2nd Peter 1:3.


  1. The interpretation of Nicolaitanes as a follower of Nicolas is relatively new, not showing up in older Greek dictionaries. Nevertheless you have captured the idea behind the teaching. Man begins to focus attention on himself, rather than directing attention to God.

    Great post.

  2. Thank you for commentary. May I ask: do you know of/have older dictionaries, lexicons, etc. that have differing information on the term "Nicolaitins"?
    If so, can you direct me where to find it? I would be interested if there is a clearer way to understand the term and its application in Revelation. Thanks again for the input.

  3. My older Strong's Concordance dates back to the early 60's. It defines the tern nicolaitanes on the basis of the meanings of the root words for nico, to rule or conquer the people, and laity, or common people. I am not sure just when the newer definition was changed but my dad's still older one uses the same definition..


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