Psa. 75:7 π Mt. 7:20 π Mt. 13:30 π Mt. 18:17 π Mt. 20:25-26; 2nd π Mt. 23:8-10; 2nd π Mt. 23:13 π Mt. 24:4 π Mt. 24:12 π Mt. 28:20 π Mk. 7:13 π Mk. 10:42-43 π Mk. 16:18 π Lk. 5:38-39 π Lk. 22:25-26 π Lk. 22:26 π Jn. 15:5 π Acts 28:3-6 π Rom. 13:1-4 π Rom. 16:17-18 π 1 Cor. 5:4-5 π 1 Cor. 15:29 π Eph. 4:11 π Heb. 13:7 π Heb. 13:17 π Rev. 2:6 π Rev. 2:15 π Rev. 19:7
In order to recognize a Nicolaitan when we see one, we must first know what they are. Jesus said to the ekklesia of Ephesus, "But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate." ( Rev. 2:6 ) and to the ekklesia of Pergamos, "Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate." ( Rev. 2:15; top ) No group throughout church history has ever conclusively been shown to be the Nicolaitans - until relatively recently. Through a clearer understanding of the Greek, we know that "Nicolaitan" is a word-picture that refers to those who "rule over" or "conquer" ("Nico") "the people" (the "laity"). Unfortunately, many people who "understand" this definition are Nicolaitans and are completely unable to see themselves for what they really are. These people are most commonly called "pastors" though there are other titles behind which these people hide.
For those who object to making such broad, sweeping statements on the basis of a single Greek definition, let us consider that the Scriptures give us even less reason to even condone, let alone practice, centralize and exalt the position of "pastor." As a result of King James' ideas about retaining old, obsolete ecclesiastical terms, the word "pastor" was inserted into the KJV New Testament only once. (in Eph. 4:11 ) The other 17 times the Greek word "poimenas" is used, it is translated "shepherd." "Pastor" is derived from a Latin word - it is exceedingly hard to even imagine what rightful place it could possibly have in the original Greek text! When one carefully examines what the New Testament does and does not say, there is more evidence within the New Testament to support snake handling (which is at least mentioned twice - Mk. 16:18 and Acts 28:3-6 ) and an equal amount of Biblical support for the notion of baptism for the dead! ( 1 Cor. 15:29 ) And, when we recognize that Nicolaitanism is simply "lording over the people," we can see that there is many times as much in the Scriptures to condemn the "pastor" position as there is to condone, support, practice or exalt it into the ungodly position it represents today. Anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear knows that the modern "pastor" more resembles a CEO (chief executive officer) of a worldly corporation than a true spiritual shepherd. That so few "pastors" and "leaders" have eyes to see and ears to hear this is simple confirmation that we are in the day of deception and lawlessness just prior to Christ's return. ( Mt. 24:4 , 12; top )
There are two paradigms relied upon by "pastors" and other titled "leaders" in "Christian" circles. The first is "trickle-down" authority. This is where God supposedly gives His authority to the "pastor" and the "leaders" and they rule absolutely but as benevolently as they can. This is blatantly refuted in the New Testament by Christ's commands to not lord over one's brothers at all. ( Mt. 20:25-26 ; 23:8-10 ; Mk. 10:42-43 ; Lk. 22:25-26 ). That this clear command is contradicted by English renderings of other passages (such as Lk. 22:26 ; Heb. 13:7 , 17 for example) tells us that translators (in bondage to the trickle-down authority paradigm, the rightful system of this world's civil authorities - see Rom. 13:1-4 ) allowed their limited understanding of spiritual authority to color and distort their renderings. We must jettison this deceptive understanding of Christ's spiritual authority if we are going to be the blameless, spotless Bride prepared for Christ's return. (see Rev. 19:7; top )The second paradigm is that of "delegated" authority. Closely related to "trickle-down" authority, delegated authority says that God gives His authority to "pastors" and "leaders" and then they retain this authority and they can exercise this authority of their position over the people however these "pastors" and "leaders" believe best. (Note well how many "pastors" and "leaders" rely on Psa. 75:7 , claiming their "promotion" is from the Lord! Contrast Mt. 23:8-10 however.) Delegation of authority is clearly refuted by Christ's statement, "Apart from Me, you can do nothing." ( Jn. 15:5 ) A delegate is, by definition, one who is sent apart from the delegator to accomplish some specific purpose for which the delegator cannot or will not do for himself. "Delegated" authority over other believers is also clearly contradicted by Christ's command not to rule over one's brothers (again see Mt. 20:25-26 , etc.; top) and cannot be found anywhere in the New Testament (unless one already subscribes to the paradigm, in which case it is easily inserted into the meaning of the text).
Whereas Moses and the Temple priests and the kings of Israel rightly functioned under trickle-down and delegated authority, the Man Christ Jesus, who was, is and always will be the complete and final fulfillment of all of these types, is with us always. ( Mt. 28:20; top ) We easily see that salvation, faith, righteousness, wisdom, everything else of the divine nature is ours only in Christ, but for some reason the Nicolaitans see their authority as being somehow functionally independent of Christ and they are free to do with it as they think best (with the proviso that abuse of this independent authority will probably get them in some "pretty hot water" or at least earn them a slap on the wrist, as it were, on Christ's judgment day). Unfortunately, for the Nicolaitans and anyone snared under their deceptive regimes, their authority is independent of Christ - it is derived from a completely separate and distinctly different source - and is what enables them to practice lawlessness, doing what is right in their own eyes, in the name of Christ.
Perhaps the biggest stumbling block to walking in this truth is that Nicolaitanism is such a well-established "church" tradition - a powerful tradition of men, the only thing that makes the word of God ineffectual. ( Mk. 7:13 ) Its roots go almost as far back as the New Testament itself. Ignatius of Antioch, a young disciple closely associated with the apostle John and martyred around 107 AD and several others of the "church fathers" are the original Nicolaitans and their doctrines and practices have been an evil influence on the people of Christ ever since as God has allowed the wheat and the tares to mature alongside one another. ( Mt. 13:30; top ) As the harvest day draws very near, however, when the tares will be removed first, God is drawing back that veil so that the wheat and the tares, who have cross-pollinated in far too many instances, can decide, for all of eternity, to which class they belong.
There are several practical sign posts we can watch for to determine whether or not we are dealing with a Nicolaitan. As Jesus said, "By their fruits you will know them." ( Mt. 7:20; top )
- Perhaps the most obvious sign is: Does the man have his own "church"? That is, is the "church" (patterned not on the New Testament pattern of ekklesia but built by political machinations primarily and mostly upon the "church" paradigm), is that "church" his own peculiar possession? If you disagree with what the man says, does or teaches, are your only options to be quiet about it or leave and find somewhere else more compatible with your views? This is Nicolaitanism at its most divisive and that man is rightly to be avoided. ( Rom. 16:17-18; top )
- Closely related to this is what we might call the power to ex-communicate. The New Testament teaches that it is the whole of the local ekklesia who is to ostracize and dismiss a brother deemed guilty of unrepentant sin. ( Mt. 18:17 ; 1 Cor. 5:4-5; top ) When a "pastor" and/or the leadership take this role upon themselves, it is Nicolaitanism. It is still Nicolaitanism when a blog host or board of moderators, apart from the unanimous agreement of the ekklesia present, summarily dismiss a participant from their site.
- Is the man or men "untouchable" - that is, unable to be confronted regarding his/their own sins or errors? Does the leadership hide behind the "church" board, assistant "pastors" or secretaries (most often carefully selected sycophants, yes-men) or does he hide behind technology - as a blog host, does he delete messages and remove bloggers because they dare to question or speak out about his opinions, directives, errors and/or abuses? Does the "leader" refuse to answer personal emails because he has somehow become exalted above having to answer to anyone whom he does not personally recognize? (Again, those "seconds" and "lieutenants" - if they actually exist - are most often carefully selected sycophants. The notion of spiritually-minded "loyal opposition" is completely foreign to such "leaders.") This too is Nicolaitanism.
- Closely related to this, are you required to come into (under) a "controlled environment" just to be near this man? Body guards, secretaries and set hours for contact (office appointments, after meetings consultations, etc.) are sure indications that the man has allowed himself to be unduly exalted. Is the environment so controlled that the Holy Spirit is not allowed to rule and reign over Christ's people? This is demonically-enhanced Nicolaitanism in one of its worst forms - run, do not walk, to the nearest exit!
- If a sin or error of a "pastor" or "leader" is confronted or somehow becomes exposed, does the leadership respond with "damage control" to preserve whatever they can of that one's reputation, stability and financial viability of their "ministry" rather than humbly seek out the individual(s) wronged by their words or actions? That is, do they issue public statements assuring everyone of their spiritual superiority and correctness and their absolute mastery and control over the situation while they privately talk with everyone (especially lower echelon leaders) except the individual(s) wronged by their words or actions? This is a common hypocrisy under a Nicolaitan regime.
- Is there only a one-way accountability. That is, the leadership can do no wrong, will not admit to doing wrong, will not recognize or hear anyone who says they are doing wrong, but, should anyone outside of the leadership step out of line (especially if it calls the authority of the leadership into question), that is quickly confronted, squelched and quieted. This also is Nicolaitanism.
- The one common thread across all variants of Nicolaitanism is arrogance. The Nicolaitan is above the common herd, at least in his own opinion and in the eyes of his sycophants, groupies and followers. This arrogance may not be easily apparent so long as the man stays behind his pulpit and puts forth his well-polished aura of Biblical knowledge, authority and infallibility - though his regular appearances in front of a crowd are less-than-subtle clues. Often, his arrogance becomes readily apparent, though, just by simply observing the man in normal, ordinary circumstances. It becomes especially apparent when those who bring confrontation of sin or error are summarily dismissed. It becomes readily apparent when personal emails and/or letters go unanswered (or relegated to some lower echelon "leader") or, on the internet, when discussion points are summarily erased and participants banned from a blogsite because they are unfavorable to the blog host and/or his own views -especially of himself! This arrogance is the common denominator and is the most readily visible sign of even the most subtle forms of Nicolaitanism.
Nicolaitanism (also known as clergyism) is routinely preached against by Nicolaitans and clergy alike because very few believers recognize how far-reaching this evil really is. Rejecting Nicolaitanism has been part of several movements throughout church history (a tenet for which many have willingly sacrificed their lives), but, with the hardening of each successive wineskin (see Lk. 5:38-39; top ), authoritarian "leadership" has always risen up and taken over the reins and controls of that movement - thus precipitating, at least in part, the next movement away from sin and error.
Jesus hates this stuff! Why? Because arrogant men wrongfully claiming to have expert or superior knowledge of the way to eternal life stand in front of the door to the kingdom of God - they do not themselves go in and they don't let anyone else go in either. (see Mt. 23:13; top )
Let he who has ears hear.
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