What is "the doctrine of the Nicolaitans"?

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Ps104_33, Oct 24, 2004.

  1. Ps104_33

    Ps104_33
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    In chapter 2 of the Book of Revelation the "doctrine of the Nicolaitans" is mentioned. What is this doctrine? I've read a couple of different viewpoints on this. According to the notes in my Schofield Bible:

    From nikao, "to conquer," and laos, "the people," or "laity." There is no ancient authority for a sect of the Nicolaitanes. If the word is symbolic it refers to the earliest form of the notion of a priestly order, or "clergy," which later divided an equal brotherhood Matthew 23:8 into "priests" and "laity." What in Ephesus was "deeds" Revelation 2:6 had become in Pergamos a "doctrine Revelation 2:15.

    From Philipp Schaff:

    The Nicolaitans are mentioned as a licentious sect in the Apocalypse 2:6, 15. They claimed as their founder Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch and one of the seven deacons of the congregation of Jerusalem (Acts 6:5). He is supposed to have apostatized from the true faith, and taught the dangerous principle that the flesh must be abused,836 that is, at least as understood by his disciples, one must make the whole round of sensuality, to become its perfect master.

    What do you think?
     
  2. Dr. Bob

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    I've read both. Sounds like a real group (evident in more than one of the Ionic churches to which John was writing), not just a made-up word talking about catholic practice.

    A blend of gnosticism and asceticism. Ugly. We have some legalist in our church that would be drifting that direction . . .
     
  3. CoachC

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    I think this would be the polar opposite of the priesthood of the believer. No wonder God doesn't like it.
     
  4. Bro. James

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    "To conquer the people"

    My word study carried me through "St. Nicolaus, St. Nick and on to the Mass of Christ--Christmas.

    It is curious that the U.S. merchants depend on the time of St. Nick to make or break their bottom line.

    I wonder if there is any connection between "nicotine" and nicolaitan? The tobacco industry continues to control a lot of people in the world.

    Selah,

    Bro. James
     
  5. Mark Osgatharp

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    The Bible does not specifically state the doctrine of the Nicolaitans so it is therefore useless to speculate about it.

    What we do know about them is that Jesus Christ hated their doctrines and deeds and criticized them by name. This fact should forever dispell the commonly held myth that "we ought not criticize other denominations."

    The sad fact is, if there was a "Church of the Nicolaitans" in the same town as your church and some of your members had family or friend who attended it and you got up in the pulpit and preached against them and stated that you hated their doctrines and deeds, some of the people in your church would get mad and say that you shouldn't criticize other denominations (although the same people wouldn't mind criticizing you).

    How do I know this? I have personally experienced it, the only difference being that it was the Methodists, Calvinists, Campbellites, and Charismatics that I criticized rather than the Nicolaitans.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  6. Dr. Bob

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    Sorry, good guess, but no cigar. :eek: :eek:

    Sir Jacques Nicot, French Ambassador to Portugal first introduced tobacco into France in 1560. The poisonous alkaloid found in its leaves was named after him - Nicot-ine.
     
  7. James_Newman

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    Thats what the tobacco companies want you to believe! Its a conspiracy. [​IMG]
     
  8. Matt Black

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    Sorry, good guess, but no cigar. :eek: :eek:

    </font>[/QUOTE]Not even a cigarette? :eek: :eek:

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  9. Bro. James

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    "Re: "Schofield" Bibles.

    Dr. Schofield was probably an able scholar. His interpretations are not without human error.

    His interpretations of "ecclesia" are seriously faulty.

    Selah,

    Bro. James
     
  10. JackRUS

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    'Nico'. To rule over, or to have victory.

    Lait means the people, or laity.

    To rule over the people in their sect.

    A proving ground in the mind of Satan to Roman Catholicism perhaps?
     
  11. mioque

    mioque
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    Bro. James
    "My word study carried me through "St. Nicolaus, St. Nick and on to the Mass of Christ--Christmas."
    "
    St. Nick (Nicolas of Myra) lived 2 centuries after the Book of Revelations was written, so no sigar there either. :eek:

    Schaff's explanation comes from the Church Father Iranaeus (who lived a few decades after Revelations was written), who describes the Nicolaitans in his exposé of heresies as an "offshoot of the knowledge which is falsely so-called" meaning that they were Gnostics. Further he claimed that they "lead lives of unrestrained indulgence". That usually means that when it came to sex they did everything banned in the Old Testament.

    Scofield's explanation is mere speculation based on a possible explanation of the name of the movement.
     
  12. Matt Black

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    Or equally 'rule of the laity'; it cuts both ways

    I'm sticking with Irenaeus; he lived much closer in time to the period than you, I or Dr Scofield and therefore is more likely to be reliable

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  13. Bro. James

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    More questing for cigars:

    The existence of "Nicolaitan-like" practices centuries after "The Unveiling" would be a verification of the scripture:"The mystery of iniquity already works".

    The majority of "Christendom" is overthrown by the clergy. Hence the offices of: pope, cardinal, archbishop, archdeacon, vicar; and the titles: Right Reverend, Most Reverend, Reverend, etc., etc.

    The Bride of Christ does not participate in such things.

    This is all part of the "Deeds of the Nicolaitans".
     
  14. HankD

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    Indeed, and even emerging before that...

    1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

    3 John 1:9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

    HankD
     
  15. qwerty

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  16. Link

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    Eusebius was a bishop in the 300's. He wrote _Ecclesiastical History_. The first part of it contains some interesting traditions from the first centuries of Christianity, including records of gift of the Spirit in the 200's, and a traditional explanation for the two lineages of Christ in scripture. Eusebius was an amillinealist, I think, but he recorded a little about Papias, one of John's associates who believed in a more literal eschatology that would have more in common with the readers of this board (a millinealist, but probably not pre-Trib. Pre-trib probably wasn't invented until after the Reformation, so I doubt anyone influential in the first century believed in it.)

    Back to the topic at hand-- Eusebius recorded some traditions about the Nicolatians, that they were one of the groups that believed that it was okay to fornicate and eat meat offerred to idols. There were Gnostic groups back then that drew from popular believes that matter was evil. One result of this philosophy was ascetecism. The other was libertinism--that since matter is evil, spiriti is what is important, and they reasoned it didn't matter what they did physically, hence the fornication and idolatry. The Nicolatians were supposedly libertines. The tradition Eusebius' recorded is that one of the Seven mentioned in Acts, Nicolas, was accused of jealousy, and to make the point that he wasn't jealous, offerred his wife to any of those present. No one took him up on it. Somehow the name supposedly got picked up by a group of libertines. This is just an old tradition of how the name came about. I do not know if it is true.

    From the contextof hte passage, it seems quite concievable that Nicolaitans were libertines who thought it was okay to fornicate and were lax about idolatry.

    The early days Plymouth Brethren movement was a time when 'folk etymology' in the use of interpreting scripture was popular. Someone in the Plymouth Brethren movement tried to interpret the meaning of the word 'Nicolatian' by splicing up the meaning of it's component parts. The Plymouth Brethren were proponents of the Biblical pattern for a plurality of elders, and were against the extrabiblical traditions of one bishop over the elders, or of one pastor per church. So someone interpreted 'Nicolatian' to refer to the clergy system.

    The Christodelphians of the 1800's had a similar interpretation, though perhaps better thought out, in the word _Eureka_, seeing the Roman Catholic priestly system as a manifestation of Nicolatianism.

    Remember also that many interpret this passage eschatologically to refer to different church ages, so there is a motivation there to see the errors of Roman Catholocism in the passage. Also, some were using the 'angel of the church' as an argument for the one man bishoprick.

    The idea of 'Nicolatianism' referring to one-man clergy or to the clergy in a clergy-laity system is popular among certain groups like the Plymouth Brethren, and the Local Church Movement and things influenced by Watchman Nee, since they were influenced by the Brethren movement. House church movements in the US, also influenced by Nee, also have proponents of this interpretation of 'Nicolatianism' as well.

    I think the use of the verse about Diotrophes wanting to be first to refer to the one-man pastorate system is a much better Plymouth Brethren argument than the folk etymology argument about Nicolatianism, which, imo, doesn't seem to hold much weight.
     
  17. JackRUS

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    Or equally 'rule of the laity'; it cuts both ways

    I'm sticking with Irenaeus; he lived much closer in time to the period than you, I or Dr Scofield and therefore is more likely to be reliable

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
    </font>[/QUOTE]Matt.
    You may be correct that these Nicolaitans were a form of Gnostics. But my point was that Satan uses the same ploy disguised by different man-made religions to add to, and there-by nullify the Gospel. (Gal. 5:4,9)

    You had the Gnostics that claimed that esoteric knowledge was needed in order to be saved. You had the Jews that wanted to add circumcision and the Law (Acts 15:5-31), and now the Catholic that added the Sacraments, meritorious works and the mass, etc.

    They all want to control salvation market. But Satan wants to destroy them all. This "proving ground" worked well then and continues in all of the false Christian churches that add to the Gospel while they seek to control the masses and their wealth.
     
  18. blackbird

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    The only thing more damaging to a church than the doctrine of the Nicolaitians----is the philosphy of the Laodiceans!!---the rule of the Pastor over the People(Nicoliatian) verses the rule of the People over the Pastor(Laodiceans)

    Blackbird
     
  19. Bro. James

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    Democracy worse than autocracy?

    I do not think so.

    Been to Cuba lately?

    Selah,

    Bro. James
     
  20. Matt Black

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    Excerpt from Eusebius' "Church History" (fairly reliable), ch. 29:-

    "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. But they say that Matthias also taught in the same manner that we ought to fight against and abuse the flesh, and not give way to it for the sake of pleasure, but strengthen the soul by faith and knowledge." So much concerning those who then attempted to pervert the truth, but in less time than it has taken to tell it became entirely extinct."

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     

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