Last updated on January 8th, 2022
Who were the Nicolaitanes?
In the book of Revelation Jesus gives the apostle John a message for the Churches, and says that he hates the deeds and doctrine of the Nicolaitanes:
“But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.” – Revelation 2 v 6
“So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.” – Revelation 2 v 15
There is no description of the Nicolaitanes given in the Bible; however, the early church fathers (such as Irenaeus) considered them to be self-serving, professing Christians living lives of “unrestrained indulgence”. They were claimed to be followers of Nicholas of Antioch (or Saint Nicholas), a Gentile convert to Christianity.
The doctrine of the Nicolaitanes was that believers could live whatever lives they pleased, as their sins were forgiven through faith in Christ. They rebelled against the written law of God, dictating themselves what was or was not right, changing God into what they wanted him to be. They called themselves Christians, but rather than living holy lives according to Christ’s teaching they embraced the materialistic and sensual lifestyles of those around them, teaching that such things were acceptable under God’s grace. By their doctrine, the Nicolaitines subdued Christians into following their ways.
The name Nicholas means ‘conqueror of people’, being based on the Greek words ‘nikos’, meaning ‘conqueror’ or ‘destroyer’, and ‘laos’, meaning ‘people’. Nicholas is the Greek variation of the name Nimrod, which means ‘we will rebel’.
Saturn is another variation of the name Nimrod. Before being associated with Christmas, December 25th was called ‘Saturnalia’, the birthday of Saturn. Given the connection between Nimrod and Nicholas it is no coincidence that Santa Claus, or Saint Nicholas, is a prominent figure at this time. Saturnalia upheld the same principles as the Nicolaitanes and was itself a time of unrestrained indulgence, with drunkenness, revelry, and riotous behaviour, where even slaves obtained temporary freedom to join in.
Kings, Babylon, and rebellion
From its foundation to hundreds of years after, the nation of Israel had no king. God ruled the people, speaking through prophets he raised up. But there came a point where the people of Israel were enticed by the status of the nations around them and desired a King to reign over them.
Israel’s demand for a king revealed that they were rejecting God himself by desiring a man to rule over them. Although God had proven himself to the people time and again it was not enough. They admired the presence of a king they could see rather than an invisible God. Israel rejected God because of their pride and their desire to be in control:
“And the Lord said unto Samuel, Harken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” — 1 Samuel 8 v 7.
It is clear that a king is a replacement for God’s rule. Nimrod was the first man recorded in the Bible to set up his own kingdom to rule over people, rebelling against God and setting himself up in a position to say what was right or wrong:
“And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.” – Genesis 10 v 8-10
Nimrod’s aim was to control the people, using his position of power to influence them into uniting, so that they should make themselves great. In wanting to make a name for themselves, rather than glorifying God they were glorifying themselves, revealing the same pride and desire to be in control that caused Satan himself to fall.
The ancient historian Josephus claims that Nimrod turned the people away from God by use of force, and stirred them up with words to hate God, claiming that God was evil because he caused the flood to destroy mankind from the earth. Nimrod planned to build a tower so high that he could avenge himself on God, and that it would not again be overcome by a flood. God’s flooding of the earth only took place because of the exceeding wickedness of man, and God himself had already promised not to flood the earth again. Rather than accepting God’s requirement of holiness he made God out to be evil.
“And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” – Genesis 11 v 4-9
The name ‘Babylon’ is taken from the name ‘Babel’, and refers to the same place – both are mentioned in the Bible as being in the land of Shinar. Another variation of the name Nimrod, the sun god of the Babylonians was called ‘Baal’, meaning ‘master’ or ‘lord’. Baal is claimed to be the god of nature and fertility, and having a position above all other gods. His followers partook in child sacrifice, an act performed to get rid of unwanted children born out of a lifestyle of sexual promiscuity. The lifestyle of his followers is claimed to be one of unrestrained indulgence, similar to that identified with the Nicolaitanes.
Other names for Nimrod are Chemosh, meaning ‘to subdue’, the God of the Moabites and Ammonites, and ‘Molech’, which in Hebrew means ‘to ascend the throne’. Most references in the Bible concerning nations worshiping other gods point to this single character, using one of the variations of his name. Although the original Nimrod was a man and not a god, the spirit behind this character has been worshiped throughout the world for centuries.
Deeds and doctrine of the Nicolaitanes today
Today we see the spirit of Nimrod working throughout the western world. Lands that were once considered Christian are rejecting the ‘old’ God and embracing the things God’s word commands them to abstain from. The Church worldwide is accepting a lascivious lifestyle, along with abortion, and many other things that the Bible says God abhors. Many claim that the Bible is outdated, and that these things are acceptable in our modern lifestyle. They are attempting to create their own laws and doing their utmost to eradicate the holy requirements of God from the earth. These very things are the deeds and doctrines of the Nicolaitanes, and the ways of Babylon that are mentioned in the book of Revelation.