“Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.” (Rev 2:15)
In His message to the churches, Jesus decried the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which is still operational in the church-system today.
The doctrine of the Nicolaitans is based on three principles.
- Nicolaitans want some aspects of the Mosaic Law and Judaic traditions to be part of Christian doctrine. They rejected the idea of Gentiles who were regarded by Jews as ‘dogs’ coming into Christianity without being circumcised, circumcision being the most important aspect of Judaism. Most of the elders being Jews held that view too. Even Peter initially was one of them but he later dissociated himself from that doctrine.
- The second principle was based on the belief that man has a contribution to make towards the salvation of fallen mankind. The sacrifice of Jesus is good but they held the view that man must sacrifice something also to make salvation complete.
- The third principle was compromise with the world. The Nicolaitans did not see anything wrong in enjoying the pleasures of this life and being Christian at the same time. They opposed total separation from the world-system.
In Christendom, there are two major doctrinal concepts: Apostolic doctrine, which later became Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.
Protestantism believes man is justified by faith without works; every believer has direct access to God, and the Bible is the final authority in matters of faith.
Roman Catholicism, on the other hand, teaches that a person can only be saved through the Roman Catholic Church and adherence to what is known as sacraments.
The Roman Catholic doctrine is the clearest expression of the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, even in this end time period.
Although the original Apostles’ doctrine, as expressed in the Apostles’ Creed, is fairly represented in the Tenets of Faith of most protestant denominations, in reality there has been a big drift towards Roman Catholic doctrinal practices in recent times.
Ancient and modern-day Nicolaitans, as advocates of running fellowship centers like corporate organizations, are unimpressed with the fellowship standards set by the original Apostles.
Most churches today preach what Paul described as “another gospel.” He told the Galatian churches “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal 1:6-7)
Nicolaitans among house church overseers were not content with that role. They wanted to be independent and make a name for themselves. Consequently,
- They rejected the idea of equality of brethren; hence, the introduction of clergy-laity dichotomy.
- They drew attention to themselves rather than to Christ, thereby usurping the glory that belonged to Christ.
- They were instigators of institutional rather than communal churches hence the proliferation of churches owned by men.
- They disdained home church fellowship method of nurturing believers to grow in grace to maturity.
- They preferred large congregations to showcase their avowed importance, relevance, success and approval by God.
- They believed that mammonism was an important aspect of serving God hence the demand and payment of indulgence, honorarium, and tithing.
- They believed that miracles were required to authenticate call into ministry.
- They did not see anything wrong in using spiritism, the practice of communicating with the dead, to grow the church.
- They introduced the idea of pastoral chief executive officer, elevating the office of ‘pastor’ above other five-fold ministries whereas it was not part of the appointive posts in house churches.
- They made themselves bishops of the souls of men.
- They did everything to shutout the five-fold ministry just as institutional churches are doing today.
- They loved titles.
- They developed many precepts that the Lord termed ‘deeds of the Nicolaitans.’
Most of what we have in the church system today emanated from the doctrine of the Nicolaitans that Jesus hates.
Our detailed presentation on the doctrine of the Nicolaitans is available on our YouTube and Vimeo channels.