In the New Year’s post I wrote about the Jesus’ promises in John 14 and how often we miss the dunamis power because we do not realize or yet worse possibly refuse to recognize the the power given to us as blood bought Christ followers. Today I want to look at look at a term the Apostle John used in the book called the Revelation of Jesus Christ or some call the Unveiling Jesus Christ.
Lets start with John quoting Jesus in the vision to the church at Ephesus:
” Yet this you have: you hate the works of Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” Revelation 2:6 ESV
There has been much theological debate and discussion through church history about what and who the Nicolaitans were and what they represented. Now I come from an engineering background and the one thing that you learn early on is something called the “KISS” principle which is the acronym for ” Keep it Simple Stupid”. So what is my point? In the study of God’s word we can make things overly difficult to grasp and understand. The above name is one of those that theologians have made overly difficult and frankly I think we have missed the mark to what Jesus was warning about to the church of Ephesus in Revelation.
So lets look at Nicolaitans and what that name actually means in definition form. It is apparent in verse 6 that Jesus hated the works of Nicolaitians and that we know and agree it was a false teaching. But I want look at what the actual name means in its root form and in Notes on the Bible from Cyrus Scofield he suggests that Nicolaitans ” refers to the earliest form of the notion of a priestly order, or ‘clergy’, which later divided an equal brotherhood into ‘priests’ and ‘laity.'”
With all the discussion on what the heresy might have been we can miss the point about the Nicolaitans. There where two groups that were formed clergy(priests) and a laity (lay people). Was this wrong to do? Yes or No? Since most of todays 21st century church have some type of hierarchal leadership model and in Acts there were roles of leadership within in the 1st century church given. I would say you need a structure of accountability to sustain a vibrant church.
But what if this clergy/priests and laity roles become abused or misused in a way that does not honor what Jesus had laid out to the apostles for the early church? Such as clergy becoming so powerful within the church that it decides what is theologically correct and not correct. And forgets it’s servant role and making a second tier or lower class in the church of the laity/lay people. The decisions may include adding in traditions, false teachings and superstitions of man to the church. We get have gotten so hung up on what the heresies might have been that we as a global church have missed the simple part of what Jesus hated.
Finally read Matthew 24:31-46 ( * you can read in your study) is a very sobering account from Jesus on judgement and honestly very scary. Remember who his audience is when he gives this warning. The religious elite of his day! Back to Revelation 2:6 I believe that the name or term Nicolaitan is referring an elite religious order that strayed into heresy over time and forgot there first love. We don’t always need to have endless debate on what the apostasy was but more importantly what allowed the apostasy to gain momentum to begin with.