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Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by mima, Feb 26, 2006.
What are the "Deeds of the Nicolaitans" spoken of in Revelation 2:6
Well, the term 'nico' is said to mean ruling over or conquering. And 'lait' refers to the laity. So I suppose that they were cult like and ruled over their laity with a false belief system.
No one knows what they believed though.
I was told once that they held themselves above the common believers, much like the popes.
I was also told once that they taught that sin brought glory to God.
MacArthur says that the writings of the early church fathers link the Nicolaitions to the Nicolaus of Acts 6:5, one of the men who oversaw the distribution of food.
He says the deeds seem to be the abuse of Christian liberty in regards to sexual temptations.
Jack is correct in saying that no one really knows for sure.
I tend to agree with Jack. The one hint, IMO, Biblically, is that what were "deeds of the Nicolaitans" which the church at Ephesus hated, as they obviously knew about it, had become "doctrine of the Nicolaitans" and was at least tolerated, if not supported, at Thyatira. (Rev.2:15) And the resurrected and glorified Lord Jesus Christ said he hated both the deeds and the doctrine.
The New Scofield Referece Bible (NKJV) has a footnote that suggests along the lines of MacArthur. Perhaps this is correct, that this was somewhat akin to 'anti-nomianism'. This seems to be a possibility. But the etymology of the word is definitely as Jack has suggested. Regardless, I would assume the seven churches that John was instructed to write to, would have understood, even if we have lost the definitive idea, today. I'd suggest that staying away from both these ideas is a very good practice. And that you or I couldn't go wrong to avoid both!
In His grace,
Primarily, sexual immorality. A sense of sexual freedom outside the (heterosexual) marriage relationship.
Also, eating meat offered to idols.
I would say this suggestion is taken from the NKJV. It may not be entirely incorrect as to the first part, at least, (see above post) but would suggest the several other translations I checked, render the reading of "thus", in Rev. 2:15 as more along the lines of "in the same manner", or "likewise". The fact that the text offers somewhat of a 'comparison', suggests that these are, in fact, somewhat different.
Certainly, no place in Scripture suggests that "exual immorality" is to be accepted practice. Paul, Jesus, and others offer dire warnings and even, curses against such. But the same Paul, writing to the Corinthians seems to put eating meat offered to idols in a category that we might dub as "doubtful things" or things "fully allowed, but should be avoided in certain circumstances, especially for testimony."
Ergo, I suggest that your suggestion is probably mistaken.
In his grace,
I would agree that it is highly unlikely to have been the eating of meat sacrificed to idols.
Amateur etymology isn't the way to figure out the theology of a group of heretics.....
Some information has have survived that was written by (near)contemporaries of the Nicolaitans, covering their actions.
The most famous example being the following.
"the Nicolaitans are the followers of that Nicolas who was one of the seven first ordained to the diaconate by the apostles [Acts 6:5]. They lead lives of unrestrained indulgence . . . teaching that it is a matter of indifference to practice adultery, and to eat things sacrificed to idols." ( Irenaeus, Against Heresies, i.xxvi.3
Sexual immorality is the primary thing and what the Lord was talking about, if I recall correctly.
Actually, I may have been mistaken about the 'eating of meat sacrificed to idols'. I was thinking about another of the 7 churches, though I've seen it mentioned in several commentaries re. the Nicolaitans. It is far secondary to the sexual immorality in any case.
Does anyone have harder information about the sexual immorality?
Irenaeus' description is the oldest description of the Nicolaitans; other writers generally cribbed or expanded his definition. Tertullian says this:
"A brother heretic emerged in Nicolaus. He was one of the seven deacons who were appointed in the Acts of the Apostles. He affirms that Darkness was seized with a concupiscence-and, indeed, a foul and obscene one-after Light: out of this permixture it is a shame to say what fetid and unclean (combinations arose). The rest (of his tenets), too, are obscene. For he tells of certain ¦ons, sons of turpitude, and of conjunctions of execrable and obscene embraces and per-mixtures, and certain yet baser outcomes of these. He teaches that there were born, moreover, dµmons, and gods, and spirits seven, and other things sufficiently sacrilegious. alike and foul, which we blush to recount, and at once pass them by. Against All Heresies, Ch. 2"
(Clement of Alexandria, however, denied that they were related to teaching of the deacon Nicholas.)
Eusebius contradicts Clement, saying:
"At this time the so-called sect of the Nicolaitans made its appearance and lasted for a very short time. Mention is made of it in the Apocalypse of John. They boasted that the author of their sect was Nicolaus, one of the deacons who, with Stephen, were appointed by the apostles for the purpose of ministering to the poor. Clement of Alexandria, in the third book of his Stromata, relates the following things concerning him.
They say that he had a beautiful wife, and after the ascension of the Saviour, being accused by the apostles of jealousy, he led her into their midst and gave permission to any one that wished to marry her. For they say that this was in accord with that saying of his, that one ought to abuse the flesh. And those that have followed his heresy, imitating blindly and foolishly that which was done and said, commit fornication without shame.
But I understand that Nicolaus had to do with no other woman than her to whom he was married, and that, so far as his children are concerned, his daughters continued in a state of virginity until old age, and his son remained uncorrupt. If this is so, when he brought his wife, whom he jealously loved, into the midst of the apostles, he was evidently renouncing his passion; and when he used the expression, to abuse the flesh, he was inculcating self-control in the face of those pleasures that are eagerly pursued. For I suppose that, in accordance with the command of the Saviour, he did not wish to serve two masters, pleasure and the Lord. (Church History, Ch. 29)
Eusebius then, would have the Nicolaitans the opposite of what is generally believed and would be a counterpoint to "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. (Rev. 2:14)"
The truth is that virtually all we think we know was first recorded by Irenaeus (who wrote in the late second century). The charge of antinomianism is widely held (including by John Gill).
(near)contemporaries was probably stretching it a bit, considering that Irenaeus wrote a century later...