“But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate” Revelation 2:6
Jesus offered some commendations for the church at Ephesus, followed by some negative issues He also had; this further commendation is sort of tacked on at the end, after the corrective action.
Why is this commendation tacked on after the initial commendation and the correction? I have no clue. So, if you have one feel quite free to share it; I would value your thoughts.
So, who were these guys, the Nicolaitanes? Nobody seems to know exactly, but there are several opinions around from different commentators.
It seems clear that they were heretical in some way, we just can’t say the way that was dogmatically.
There is a school of thought that says the Nicolaitanes were some who followed the teachings of Nicolas of Antioch, who may have been the same Nicolas mentioned as one of the original 7 deacons selected in Acts 6:5. Some early church history indicates that Nicolas taught the idea the Christian freedom and the insignificance of the human body meant all sort of sexual immorality and other sins were perfectly okay. From the Gotquestions.com website: “It is possible that Nicolas became an apostate, denying the true faith and became part of a group holding “the doctrine of Balaam,” who taught Israel “to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.” Clement of Alexandria says, “They abandoned themselves to pleasure like goats, leading a life of self-indulgence.” Their teaching perverted grace and replaced liberty with license.”
Other commentators don’t assign the group to any particular man or teacher but address it more as simply a problem of false liberty and sexual sins. One commentator said the word, Nicolah, in Greek, means, “let us eat,” leading some to reference back to encouraging others to eat meat offered to idols.
Whatever the specifics are, it is clear that our Lord hated the deeds of these folks. It seems certain that, no matter the specifics, that some sort of abuse of grace as a license to sin freely was going on here.
It’s interesting that they come up again later, in Jesus’ letter to the church at Pergamos. Unfortunately, that church seemed to be embracing the false teaching of the Nicolaitanes.
Both of the warnings concerning the Nicolaitanes seem especially relevant in some of today’s more progressive “Christian,” movements, where sins of the flesh, particularly those sexual in nature, seem to become more and more acceptable in the name of “grace.” Jesus didn’t like it then, and He doesn’t like it now.