Nicolaitanes: Who or what are they?

What are they? Who are they? We find the word mentioned in Revelation 2:6, 15. The churches at Ephesus and Pergamos at least had this much in common with God…They hated the deeds of the Nicolaitanes.

C.I. Scofield in his 1917 edition of the Scofield Reference Bible had a note, and I stress HAD. The New Scofield Reference Bible changed it. The 1917 version says, “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 (Mt. 23:8), into “priests” and “laity.” What in Ephesus was “deeds” (2:6) had become in Pergamos a “doctrine” (Rev. 2:15).” The New Scofield reads thus; “The name “Nicolaitanes,” according to early church fathers (Ignatius, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Hippolytus), refers to those who, while professing themselves to be Christian, lived licentiously.”

It makes you wonder why Scofield didn’t see it when he was alive. The only trouble is, the 1917 edition makes the most sense. Another interesting note that backs up Scofield’s 1917 edition is found in Numbers 16:10. “The “gainsaying of Korah” was an intrusion into the priests office (“no man taketh this honor unto himself, Heb. 5:4). It was an attempt to create a priestly order without the divine authority (5:10). The modern analogue is Nicolaitanism (Rev. 2:6, 15), the division of an equal brotherhood (Mt. 23:8) into “clergy” and “laity”; a vastly different thing from the due recognition of ministry gifts 1 Cor. 12:4-31; Eph. 4:8, 11, 12), or of elders and deacons (1 Tim. 3:1-13; Tit. 1:5-9).”

It is referred to as the “The Gainsaying of Core (Korah)” in the book of Jude, vs. 11. It was showing that Korah was trying to intrude into the “priests office.” I believe Oxford changed it and had no real authority to do so. There is a vast difference between the notes in the 1917 version and the New Scofield Reference Bible. The old version will or should offend everyone that has accepted ordination and uses the title “reverend,” thereby being set apart in an outward (show of flesh) manner.

The symbolic meaning really seems to fit. The clergy carries a lot of power over the people. People give many preachers more respect than they deserve. 1 Thessalonians 5:12 exhorts us to know those that are over us in the Lord.

Dave Breese, in the July 2000 Prophetic News Letter, published by World Prophetic Ministry says, “It comes from the words “nicao” (subjugation) and “laos” (the people). So it is subjugation of the people that God hates.”

I believe the title “Reverend,” belongs to God and God alone. Psalms 111:9 says, “holy and reverend is his name.” Man has no right using this as a title or a job description. A great number of preachers know this truth and refuse to use it as their job title. They know its use is wrong but they still allow the Bible institutions to tack it on the front of their names as proof that they, as a result of a course of successful study, can now go (into all the world) and preach the word of God. And not preach the word of God only, but to bury, marry, baptize and administer the Lord’s supper. Almost all churches restrict those ceremonies to the “clergy.”

Look at the Strong’s definition of Reverend. “3372 yare’ (yaw-ray’); a primitive root; to fear; morally, to revere; caus. to frighten: KJV– affright, be (make) afraid, dread (-ful), (put in) fear (-ful, -fully, -ing), (be had in) reverence (-end), X see, terrible (act, -ness, thing).” This (definition) is why we (mortals) should not be using the name reverend, and proves that this is just another intrusion into the office of God, or should I say onto His throne.

Some of the people who know the use of the name is wrong, say they use it to get their foot in the door, so to speak. I had one preacher even tell me that.

William L. Pettingill, in his book, Bible Questions Answered, page 160 says in answer to the question: Should we or should we not call a minister “reverend?” “There are some ministers that like to be called “reverend,” and there are other ministers who prefer not to be called that title. The word “reverend” occurs only once in the Bible; Psalm 111:9, speaking of God, says, “Holy and reverend is his name.” ”The meaning of the word according to Strong’s Concordance is dreadful, frightful, terrible.” I would prefer some other epithet. Strictly speaking and in conformity with Scripture instead of common usage, the minister should be called “pastor” or “elder.”

If the above theory is correct concerning the word Nicolaitanes, and I believe it is; Evangelicals (such as Scofield) believe this obviously refers to PRIESTS of “those other religions.” I believe it applies to all churches that use and endorse the notion that there is a difference between a preaching “professional” and a preaching “layman.” There is nothing wrong with going to a school to learn the Bible more fully. But beware if you come out with a title. The title may say “reverend” here on earth, but “Nicolaitane” in heaven. It will be the same with, Rabbi, Father and Master.

I believe the warning not only extends to the people that desire to teach, but to the people that also submit themselves to the whole idea of a “clergy order.”

As indicated before, I think all churches that use the title, “Reverend,” and use other than the elder system could possibly be considered Nicolaitane. Churches that add things to their doctrine that can’t be justified through scripture, can and will slip into the category of the unscriptural church. Such a church can in fact, prosper and grow into a world wide organization with a membership of millions, but does it mean it’s right with God?

Please read 3 John 1:9-10 9. “I wrote unto the church: but, Diotrephes who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.”

I think this very well could be an example of Nicolaitanism. As Diotrephes wanted the preeminence in his particular church, so did those in Jerusalem grouping themselves together as one in a church hierarchy that withstands the Holy Spirit. Remember Scofield’s definition of a Nicolaitane. What’s the difference between a person wanting preeminence in the affairs of the church or a group of people that want the same?

It was a real feather in the cap of the church in Ephesus when they hated the deeds of the Nicolaitanes. Please reconsider Revelation 2:6. “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.” If God hates something, there is trouble to be had in the doing thereof.