Spiritual Tyrants:

How to Spot a Nicolaitan

Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
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 )

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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