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Smith's Bible Dictionary

(followers of Nicolas), a sect mentioned in (Revelation 2:6,15) whose deeds were strongly condemned. They may have been identical with those who held the doctrine of Balaam. They seem to have held that it was lawful to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication, in opposition to the decree of the Church rendered in (Acts 15:20,29) The teachers of the Church branded them with a name which expressed their true character. The men who did and taught such things were followers of Balaam. (2 Peter 2:15; Jude 1:11) They, like the false prophet of Pethor, united brave words with evil deeds. In a time of persecution, when the eating or not eating of things sacrificed to idols was more than ever a crucial test of faithfulness, they persuaded men more than ever that was a thing indifferent. (Revelation 2:13,14) This was bad enough, but there was a yet worse evil. Mingling themselves in the orgies of idolatrous feasts, they brought the impurities of those feasts into the meetings of the Christian Church. And all this was done, it must be remembered not simply as an indulgence of appetite: but as a part of a system, supported by a "doctrine," accompanied by the boast of a prophetic illumination, (2 Peter 2:1) It confirms the view which has been taken of their character to find that stress is laid in the first instance on the "deeds" of the Nicolaitans. To hate those deeds is a sign of life in a Church that otherwise is weak and faithless. (Revelation 2:6) To tolerate them is well nigh to forfeit the glory of having been faithful under persecution. (Revelation 2:14,15)

ATS Bible Dictionary

Heretical persons or teachers, mentioned in Revelation 2:6,15. Whether they were the same as the Nicolaitans of the second century and later is very doubtful. Some suppose them to be followers of Nicolas the deacon, but there is no good evidence that he ever became a heretic.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

nik-o-la'-i-tanz Nikolaitai):

1. The Sect:

A sect or party of evil influence in early Christianity, especially in the 7 churches of Asia. Their doctrine was similar to that of Balaam, "who taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication" (Revelation 2:14, 15). Their practices were strongly condemned by John, who praised the church in Ephesus for "hating their works" (Revelation 2:6), and blamed the church in Pergamum for accepting in some measure their teaching (Revelation 2:15). Except that reference is probably made to their influence in the church at Thyatira also, where their leader was "the woman Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophetess" (Revelation 2:20; compare Revelation 2:14), no further direct information regarding them is given in Scripture.

2. References:

Reference to them is frequent in post-apostolic literature. According to Irenaeus (Adv. Haer., i.26, 3; iii.10, 7), followed by Hippolytus (Philos., vii.36), they were founded by Nicolaus, the proselyte of Antioch, who was one of the seven chosen to serve at the tables (Acts 6:5). Irenaeus, as also Clement of Alexandria (Strom., ii.20), Tertullian and others, unite in condemning their practices in terms similar to those of John; and reference is also made to their Gnostic tendencies. In explanation of the apparent incongruity of such an immoral sect being founded by one of "good report, full of the Spirit and of wisdom" (compare Acts 6:3), Simcox argues that their lapse may have been due to reaction from original principles of a too rigid asceticism. A theory, started in comparatively modern times, and based in part on the similarity of meaning of the Greek "Nikolaus," and the Hebrew "Balaam," puts forward the view that the two sects referred to under these names were in reality identical. Yet if this were so, it would not have been necessary for John to designate them separately.

3. Nicolaitan Controversy:

The problem underlying the Nicolaitan controversy, though so little direct mention is made of it in Scripture, was in reality most important, and concerned the whole relation of Christianity to paganism and its usages. The Nicolaitans disobeyed the command issued to the Gentilechurches, by the apostolic council held at Jerusalem in 49-50 A.D., that they should refrain from the eating of "things sacrificed to idols" (Acts 15:29). Such a restriction, though seemingly hard, in that it prevented the Christian communities from joining in public festivals, and so brought upon them suspicion and dislike, was yet necessary to prevent a return to a pagan laxity of morals. To this danger the Nicolaitans were themselves a glaring witness, and therefore John was justified in condemning them. In writing to the Corinthians, Paul gives warning against the same evil practices, basing his arguments on consideration for the weaker brethren (compare 1 Corinthians 8).


Simcox, "Revelation" in the Cambridge Bible; H. Cowan in Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes), article "Nicolaitans"; H.B. Swete, The Apocalypse of John, lxxff;, 27, 28, 37.

C. M. Kerr

3531. Nikolaites -- a Nicolaitan, a follower of Nicolaus
... Word Origin from Nikolaos Definition a Nicolaitan, a follower of Nicolaus, who probably
was not the same as NG3532 NASB Word Usage Nicolaitans (2). ...
// - 6k

The Melchisedecians; the Nicolaitans.
... Book VII. Chapter XXIV."The Melchisedecians; The Nicolaitans. While, however,
different questions have arisen among them, a certain ...
/.../chapter xxiv the melchisedecians the nicolaitans.htm

Nicolaus and the Sect Named after Him.
... 1. At this time the so-called sect of the Nicolaitans made its appearance and lasted
for a very short time. ... Salmon, in his article Nicolaitans, in the Dict. ...
/.../pamphilius/church history/chapter xxix nicolaus and the sect.htm

Earliest Heretics:
... Enough it is for us that this heresy of the Nicolaitans has been condemned by the
Apocalypse of the Lord with the weightiest authority attaching to a sentence ...
/.../tertullian/against all heresies/chapter i earliest heretics .htm

On the Perfection of Patience.
... [2094] S. Matthew 10:36. [2095] As Cassian here implies, considerable doubt exists
whether the Nicholas from whom the sect of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:15 ...
/.../cassian/the conferences of john cassian/chapter xvi on the perfection.htm

The Last Judgment. By the Rev. John Welch, AD 1570-1622.
... for it, as the faithful martyr Antipas did; but yet he had a few things against
them, because they maintained the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing he ...
/.../knox/the pulpit of the reformation nos 1 2 and 3 /the last judgment by the.htm

Objections from the Revelation and the First Epistle of St. John ...
... introducing into the Church, and urging justly to repentance, an heretical woman,
who had taken upon herself to teach what she had learnt from the Nicolaitans. ...
/.../tertullian/on modesty/chapter xix objections from the revelation.htm

Present Heresies (Seedlings of the Tares Noted by the Sacred ...
... is charged to chastise those "who eat things sacrificed to idols," and "who commit
fornication." [2208] There are even now another sort of Nicolaitans. ...
/.../chapter xxxiii present heresies seedlings of.htm

Causes of Corruption Chiefly Intentional.
... John was yet alive, had the Nicolaitans developed their teaching at Ephesus
[447] and in the neighbouring Church of Pergamos [448] . ...
/.../chapter xiii causes of corruption.htm

The Synod of Jerusalem, and the Compromise Between Jewish and ...
... Leipzig, 1880, pp.1-53, on the Corinthian parties and their relation to the errorists
in the Galatians and the Nicolaitans in the Apocalypse. ...
/.../schaff/history of the christian church volume i/section 34 the synod of.htm

Marcion Forbids Marriage. Tertullian Eloquently Defends it as Holy ...
... Let us see, then, whether it be a just one: not as if we aimed at destroying the
happiness of sanctity, as do certain Nicolaitans in their maintenance of lust ...
/.../chapter xxix marcion forbids marriage tertullian.htm

Nicolaitans (2 Occurrences)
... Standard Bible Encyclopedia NICOLAITANS. ... To this danger the Nicolaitans were themselves
a glaring witness, and therefore John was justified in condemning them. ...
/n/nicolaitans.htm - 10k

Nicola'itans (2 Occurrences)
Nicola'itans. Nicolaitans, Nicola'itans. Nicolas . ... Revelation 2:6 but this thou
hast, that thou dost hate the works of the Nicolaitans, that I also hate. ...
/n/nicola'itans.htm - 6k

Nicolaitanes (2 Occurrences)

/n/nicolaitanes.htm - 7k

Nicolas (1 Occurrence)
... Some of the church Fathers (Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Pseudo-Tertullian) state that
he was the founder of the sect called NICOLAITANS (which see) (Revelation 2:15 ...
/n/nicolas.htm - 8k

Nicolaus (1 Occurrence)
... Some of the church Fathers (Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Pseudo-Tertullian) state that
he was the founder of the sect called NICOLAITANS (which see) (Revelation 2:15 ...
/n/nicolaus.htm - 7k

Doings (111 Occurrences)
... liars. (WEY BBE). Revelation 2:6 Yet this you have in your favor: you hate
the doings of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. (WEY). ...
/d/doings.htm - 36k

Practices (80 Occurrences)
... God. (See NAS). Revelation 2:6 But this you have, that you hate the works
of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. (See NIV). Revelation ...
/p/practices.htm - 29k

Cling (35 Occurrences)
... fornication. (WEY). Revelation 2:15 So even you have some that cling in the
same way to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. (WEY). Revelation ...
/c/cling.htm - 16k

Hating (95 Occurrences)
... (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV). Revelation 2:6 But at least you have
the credit of hating the works of the Nicolaitans, as I do. (BBE). ...
/h/hating.htm - 33k

Favor (184 Occurrences)
... God. (See NAS). Revelation 2:6 Yet this you have in your favor: you hate
the doings of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. (WEY NIV). ...
/f/favor.htm - 40k

Bible Concordance
Nicolaitans (2 Occurrences)

Revelation 2:6 But this you have, that you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Revelation 2:15 So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans likewise.



Related Terms

Nicola'itans (2 Occurrences)

Nicolaitanes (2 Occurrences)

Nicolas (1 Occurrence)

Nicolaus (1 Occurrence)

Doings (111 Occurrences)

Practices (80 Occurrences)

Cling (35 Occurrences)

Hating (95 Occurrences)

Favor (184 Occurrences)

Least (76 Occurrences)

Credit (39 Occurrences)

Holding (62 Occurrences)

Likewise (149 Occurrences)

Hate (177 Occurrences)


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