Revelation 2:15
So have you also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.
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(15) So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanesi.e., thou, as well as those of old, hast such teachers. There is little doubt that this is the connection between the verses, but opinions are divided whether we are on this account to identify the Balaamites with the Nicolaitanes, and to suppose that both names point to the same sect. The simplest meaning of the passage seems to be that the temptation to which the Israelites were exposed, is used to illustrate the temptations of the Pergamene Church, through the teaching of the Nicolaitanes. Both temptations lead in the same Antinomian direction. Such a tendency was early seen (comp. Romans 6:4; Galatians 5:13; Jude 1:4), and is not extinct now. “Is there not,” writes Dr. Vaughan, “a vague, unavowed, unrealised idea that the Atonement has made sin less fatal, that even sin indulged and persisted in, may yet not work death?” To such and all who countenance them the warning is, “Repent; but if not, I am coming for thee, and will war with thee (note the change of person and number) with (literally, ini.e., armed with) the sword of My mouth.”

2:12-17 The word of God is a sword, able to slay both sin and sinners. It turns and cuts every way; but the believer need not fear this sword; yet this confidence cannot be supported without steady obedience. As our Lord notices all the advantages and opportunities we have for duty in the places where we dwell, so he notices our temptations and discouragements from the same causes. In a situation of trials, the church of Pergamos had not denied the faith, either by open apostacy, or by giving way so as to avoid the cross. Christ commends their stedfastness, but reproves their sinful failures. A wrong view of gospel doctrine and Christian liberty, was a root of bitterness from which evil practices grew. Repentance is the duty of churches and bodies of men, as well as of particular persons; those who sin together, should repent together. Here is the promise of favour to those that overcome. The influences and comforts of the Spirit of Christ, come down from heaven into the soul, for its support. This is hidden from the rest of the world. The new name is the name of adoption; when the Holy Spirit shows his own work in the believer's soul, this new name and its real import are understood by him.So hast thou also them ... - That is, there are those among you who hold those doctrines. The meaning here may be, either that, in addition to those who held the doctrine of Balaam, they had also another class who held the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes; or that the Nicolaitanes held the same doctrine, and taught the same thing as Balaam. If but one class is referred to, and it is meant that the Nicolaitanes held the doctrines of Balaam, then we know what constituted their teaching; if two classes of false teachers are referred to, then we have no means of knowing what was the uniqueness of the teaching of the Nicolaitanes. The more natural and obvious construction, it seems to me, is to suppose that the speaker means to say that the Nicolaitanes taught the same things which Balaam did - to wit, that they led the people into corrupt and licentious practices. This interpretation seems to be demanded by the proper use of the word "so" - οὕτως houtōs - meaning, "in this manner on this wise, thus"; and usually referring to what precedes. If this be the correct interpretation, then we have, in fact, a description of what the Nicolaitanes held, agreeing with all the accounts given of them by the ancient fathers. See the notes on Revelation 2:6. If this is so, also, then it is clear that the same kind of doctrines was held at Smyrna, at Pergamos, and at Thyatira Revelation 2:20, though mentioned in somewhat different forms. It is not quite certain, however, that this is the correct interpretation, or that the writer does not mean to say that, in addition to those who held the doctrine of Balaam, they had also another class of errorists who held the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes.

Which thing I hate - So the common Greek text - ὅ μισῶ ho misō. But the best-supported reading, and the one adopted by Griesbach, Tittmann, and Hahn, is ὁμοίως homoiōs - "in like manner"; that is, "as Balak retained a false prophet who misled the Hebrews, so thou retainest those who teach things like to those which Balaam taught."

15. thou—emphatic: "So THOU also hast," As Balak and the Moabites of old had Balaam and his followers literally, so hast thou also them that hold the same Balaamite or Nicolaitane doctrine spiritually or symbolically. Literal eating of idol-meats and fornication in Pergamos were accompanied by spiritual idolatry and fornication. So Trench explains. But I prefer taking it, "THOU also," as well as Ephesus ("in like manner" as Ephesus; see below the oldest reading), hast … Nicolaitanes, with this important difference, Ephesus, as a Church, hates them and casts them out, but thou "hast them," namely, in the Church.

doctrine—teaching (see on [2676]Re 2:6): namely, to tempt God's people to idolatry.

which thing I hate—It is sin not to hate what God hates. The Ephesian Church (Re 2:6) had this point of superiority to Pergamos. But the three oldest manuscripts, and Vulgate and Syriac, read instead of "which I hate," "IN LIKE MANNER."

So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes; so, saith he, thou sufferest in thy communion filthy persons, who maintain fornication lawful, and the lawfulness of eating meat offered to idols, which exactly corresponds with Balaam’s doctrine or counsel given to Balak, in order to his weakening the Israelites by separating them from God. His counsel took place, to the destruction of twenty-four thousand Israelites.

Which thing I hate; I am the same God still, and hate such doctrines, as much as ever I did in the time of Balak. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans,.... These impure heretics sprung up in the time of the apostolic church, but their doctrines were not received, and their deeds were hated, see Revelation 2:6. This seems to design the doctrines of the church of Rome, which in this period took place; which forbid marriage to the priests, and recommended celibacy and virginity to others also; which were the source of all uncleanness and abominable lusts; for which pardons and indulgences were given, and, in process of time, brothel houses were set up, and licensed and encouraged by authority,

Which thing I hate; the doctrine of these men, as well as their deeds.

So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the {13} Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

(13) Which follow the footsteps of Balaam, and such as are abandoned to all filthiness, as he showed in the verse before, and is here signified by a note of similarity, and thus also must Re 2:6 be understood. For this matter especially Ireneus must be consulted as well.

Revelation 2:15. οὕτως κ.τ.λ. Are the N. put parallel to, or identified with, the Balaamites? The latter becomes more probable when the symbolical sense of N. and B[902] (see above, on Revelation 2:6, and Kalisch’s Bible Studies, i. 23) is adopted. In this event a single class of errorists is in view; they are instigating and seducing the local Christians much as Balaam managed (by means of Balak, in rabbinic tradition, cf. the slight play on βαλεῖν) to get the Israelites enticed to ruin (Sanh. 105 a). Josephus explains that Balaam showed Balak how to win a victory over the Israelites (νίκην τινὰκατʼ αὐτῶν κερδᾶναι) by enticing them to lust, and such a symbolic allusion is quite in the manner of the Apocalypse. The Niko-laitans, who probably resembled Cerinthus or Carpokrates in their tenets, are no better than a Balaam. And the Jewish dictum was (Sanh. 106 b) that whenever one discovered anything bad in Balaam’s life, one should preach about it.

[902]. Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.15. thou also] As well as Israel of old.

which thing I hate] Instead of these words read in like manner. This correction makes it certain that we are not to suppose two immoral sects prevailing at Pergamum, those who held the doctrine of Balaam and those who held that of the Nicolaitans: but one sect holding the doctrine taught by Balaam of old and the Nicolaitans now. The sense is, “thou hast with thee followers of Balaam: he taught God’s people to fornicate and to communicate in idol-worship, and the Nicolaitans with thee teach the same.” The passage gives no support to the theory that the Nicolaitans were so called from Balaam;—the etymology of whose name is doubtful, but according to a possible one Nicolaus (“conqueror of the people”) might be an approximate Greek equivalent to it. If not called after Nicolas the deacon, they no doubt were called after another Nicolas—as we hear from a tradition or conjecture, later than the one which traces them to him.Revelation 2:15-16. Ὁμοίως μετανόησον οὖν) The angel at Pergamos is ordered to repent in like manner with the angel at Ephesus: καὶ, also, corresponds, Revelation 2:15. The reading ὁμοίως, for which others have written ὅ μισῶ from Revelation 2:6, is defended by almost all[34] the authorities. Yet οὖν, therefore, remains with great emphasis. Comp. Revelation 2:5, ch. Revelation 3:3; Revelation 3:19.

[34] This reading therefore (ὁμοίως) is preferred in the margin of Ed. 2 and Vers. Germ., otherwise than is the case in the greater Edition.—E. B.

ABC Vulg. Memph. Syr. read ὁμοίως: Rec. Text, ὃ μισῶ, without good authority.—E.Verse 15. - So hast thou also some that hold. As in vers. 13 and 14 "hold" is κρατεῖν with the accusative (see notes on ver. 13). What does "also" mean? Probably, "As Israel had Balak to seduce them, and Balak had Balaam, so hast thou," etc.). Others take it, "As the Church at Ephesus has Nicolaitans, so hast thou." The reading of the Authorized Version, "which thing I hate," must certainly yield to that of the Revised Version, "in like manner," which is supported by all the best manuscripts and versions. In the Greek there is much similarity between the two readings, ΟΜΙΣΩ and ΟΜΟΙΩΣ. "In like manner" refers to the similarity between those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, and those who hold the doctrine of Balaam. It confirms the view that two sects are meant. So

Even as Balak had Balaam for a false teacher, so hast thou the Nicolaitan teachers.


See on Revelation 2:6.

Which thing Ihate


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