What was it about the Nicolaitans that Jesus hated? It was their deeds. But why were the Nicolaitans even in Jesus’ view when He is messaging the churches? This was a group who according to Irenaeus and Hippolytus originated with the teachings of “the” Deacon called Nicolas who resides in scripture in Acts 6:5, who was listed as one of seven chosen for church service. How important is this for us to understand? — listen:
Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 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:
Acts 6:3,5 KJV
These were all men considered to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. So obviously something went drastically wrong with Nicolas in the area of following the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. What might that have been? The clue from scripture shows up in the deeds.
Matthew 7:16-20 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.
But it takes time to bear fruit. We should know that. How important is it to know that fruit can become rotten on the inside at the core, and we would be unknowing, so we must be cautious. Almost hidden from our understanding are the words of Paul offering this warning:
“And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Acts 20:25,29-30,32 NASB
Apparently the Nicolaitan doctrine as far as we can tell was based on a twisting of God’s teaching, a twisting of scripture leading to bad fruit. And the word of God was and is even today our only protection against us becoming, or against us recognizing others who may be becoming a savage wolf in our midst. Nicolas apparently was not considered one, but he became one arising from their own midst.
We can conclude that his teaching was not based on works of the law apart from faith, for that sin was already laid claim to by the circumcision party. So what were the perverse things Nicolas spoke which would lead to hated deeds?
There are three concepts taught in scripture that Even today can potentially allow the Nicolaitan doctrine to erupt. Basing a doctrine upon the scripture can’t be wrong can it? Unfortunately it can if one ignores other associated scriptures and their warnings. This practice opens a door leading to an acting out of these hated deeds, for they must be sinful actions because Jesus is the one doing the hating. But does Scripture really create false teachers? If Scripture can be twisted there will be false teaching in the church. The Nicolaitans are the proof. So how did they take perfectly good scriptures and turn them into hated deeds? Let’s consider:
1. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 KJV
Is it possible in the area of deeds, that if we are crucified with Christ, that we would see that our flesh positionally died with Christ on Calvary. If we then were to wrongfully say that the flesh is dead in God’s sight therefore what we do in the flesh is of no importance to God; would this Yield-a twisted truth — savage wolf — teaching which would definitely affect one’s deeds.
2. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Ephesians 2:8 KJV
By faith we are saved and that not of ourselves. Faith is certainly not something that comes from within us. It is gifted to us as we hear the word of God which is also gifted to us. These gifts are both from God and they are used by the Holy Spirit the power of God who is given us for salvation. This faith exercised by us places us in Christ. About this John says:
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 1:12-13 KJV
If one says that salvation is a one time application of faith then do they ignore what John says here. These were men such as Nicolas who were born of God Who were given the power to continue in the faith and to endure. But if Nicolas and his followers did not endure in the faith, why then did they not? They did something which negatively affected their deeds. If they felt that deeds or works in the flesh have no importance before God in His offer of salvation would that impact their deeds? Could it be that with them obedience in the body — our own works for which we will be judged — is considered to not be important to God. A twisted truth that definitely impacts deeds in both teaching and actions of the flesh. Is there evidence in scripture that salvation is impacted by what we teach which could affect our deeds? I often use this next verse. I believe it, you should too.
Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. 1 Timothy 4:15-16 NASB
“The name “Nicolaitans” is derived from the Greek word nikolaos, a compound of the words nikos and laos. The word nikosis the Greek word that means to conqueror 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.“*
3. And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Acts 16:31 KJV
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.
If they say “believing is not accomplished in the flesh. It is a work of the Spirit. Therefore we cannot crucify that which is already considered crucified. We cannot repent of what was already paid for. Obedience is believing only in what Christ did; therefore it can not depend on what we do for that would be works.” If this is all believed then and even today — Would this impact the deeds done in the flesh?
So what is wrong with any of this thinking. If their conclusion is that no fleshly sin can change your position in Christ– so that immoral acts (Homosexuality, adultery, etc) are ignored as sin and become the fruit or deeds, which Jesus hates, but which no one says that He hates; then can they not be more easily produced by them — could this not be the cause for their deeds? Doing these things can they remain in Christ wherein we are imputed power to live this life we are called unto, which makes us (worthy Luke 20:35) to become the sons of God.
What must the Nicolatians do with truth in order to twist it?
1. They must take some out of context
2. They twist the impact of others by simply ignoring them.
3. And some scripture is reinterpreted in order to justify their doctrine of error and sin.
4. They see no need to repent of fleshly sin which they can easily justify by taking scriptures separately apart from the body of teaching on the flesh and thus consider their own flesh as being dead flesh with its sin already paid for by Christ, then on need to repent again.
These things were and perhaps still are done by the Nicolatians with their doctrine which in turn makes their deeds hated by our Lord?
They taught that indulging the flesh is no longer sin for us because if we have died with Christ fleshly sin has no affect, and fleshly works are of no consequence to salvation. If it is the belief that all sins past present and future no matter their nature are “overlooked” because after all we are crucified with Christ and our faith alone in His act on Calvary is all that is necessary for salvation; so then what can Christ hate about our deeds? Yet Nicolas came up from within and his deeds were hated.
Do they see only a narrow gate to enter at conversion, forgetting the straight way of which Jesus spoke?Therefore the willful Indulgence of sin is expected from flesh which is corrupt and will never enter into the Kingdom of God.
So Jesus hates not the scriptures they teach, but their deeds produced by their twisting of those scriptures.
Revelation 2:18, 20-23 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this: But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.
The lord makes clear that Believers (bond servants) can be led astray, and that they will suffer the same punishment as their false teacher unless they repent. This condition in the church is obviously continued on into the last days. This is shown to be present until the Last days within the church, because the Lord has great Tribulation in store for this punishment. And we are told that all the churches will see what happens (great Tribulation). Interesting that the churches (plural), not “the church” or (bride) is to see this great Tribulation punishment of this self proclaimed prophetess and those bond servants who fail to repent.
Now if PAUL agrees with James concerning faith and it’s works, there should be Scriptural evidence. Galatians 5:4, 6, 18-24 Galatians 6:7-8 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. ( we must be clear good works cannot save us, but faith can save us from evil works — deeds) Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
1. Faith works in love if we are Believers. The operative word here is faith — but it is understood to yield works.
2. Christians because of free will have a choice to sow either to the flesh or the Spirit. This would be our fruit. You shall know them by their fruit.
3. Our work is obedience to Christ, part of which is the crucifixion of the flesh by faith. Notice Paul says that we are the ones who crucify the flesh, but it is a faith thing. This is part of our work. (Prayer, fasting if necessary, trust)
Does Salvation have a cost?
Luke 14:27-33 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
Part of these possessions are our deeds. We cannot defeat evil except by faith — give them to Him. Our physical possessions are His held by us to administer for His glory not our own.
We either accept His word or we twist it. We persevere in this teaching or we make “the Nicolaitan way” the excuse for the flesh. God created me this way. The flesh is with me and will sin each and every day. I have no power over this flesh that is sinful and evil. You get the picture. This thinking disregards the fact that Jesus has conquered Satan’s power over me. He has given me power, I am not to walk in the fleshly desires. I am to walk as a mortal today in His Spirit, and thus over come the flesh, and the mindset of the world and put on the mind of Christ.
Revelation 2:6 Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Folks if we do not hate our own fleshly deeds we are in trouble.
The following quote is taken from renner.org the same article quoted above:
“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.…It seems that the “doctrine” of the Nicolaitans was that it was all right to have one foot in both worlds and that one needn’t be so strict about separation from the world in order to be a Christian. This, in fact, was the “doctrine” of the Nicolaitans that Jesus “hated.” It led to a weak version of Christianity that was without power and without conviction — a defeated, worldly type of Christianity.”
This conclusion is a necessary one for those who adopt a firm stand regarding eternal security as this writer seems to have done, which would include the inability to lose one’s salvation. But, is the conclusion itself in danger of placing ones teaching in the same vein as the Nicolaitan? Jesus has this to say to Pergamos:
So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
Revelation 2:15-16 KJV
One must ask is the sword of The Coming ones mouth for striking the believer?
From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.
Revelation 19:15 NASB
Be ye doers of The Word. Was Nicolas, who was a chosen vessel of the church full of the spirit and wisdom, merely a sinful vessel? — or was he a fallen lost vessel leading others to a fallen lost state?
There is a battle raging for the souls of men isn’t there. One cannot read Romans 7, and base Paul’s teaching exclusively on that chapter without Romans 8. God bless you as you consider these things.
*quotes taken from renner.org, Who Were the Nicolaitans, And What Was Their Doctrine and Deeds?