The Nicolaitanes – The Rise of the Paid Religious Heirarchy

Rev 2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
Rev 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.

Jude 1:11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah.

Names in the Bible have significance. They often give some hint as to the character of the individual, something they are being called to do, something they did, etc. In John Chapter 3 Nicodemos a ruler of the Jews comes to Jesus by night. Nicodemus didn’t understand heavenly things, he wasn’t able to recognize the Messiah when He came, but he was one of the rulers and he along with others of his class set the tone for what the common people considered Orthodox Judaism.

Nicodemos’ name is a combination of two words – niko (triumphant/victorious) and demos (people). The picture painted is consistent with what the scriptures say about Nicodemos. He was a ruler of the Jews, he dominated them. What he and others of his class believed and taught set the direction that the common man followed. Who could question as learned a one as Nicodemos?

In Revelation a parallel group is mentioned – the Nicolaitanes. Again this name is a combination of two words – niko (triumphant/victorious) and laos (people). The problem they represent is the same as the problem represented by Nicodemus. The Nicolaitanes are mentioned in association with the church at Pergamos. At Pergamos those who stood against the fathers were being killed. Antipas – anti (against) and pas (father) was killed for standing against these religious fathers. These same fathers were – like Balaam – preaching for a reward. The church at Pergamos represented a significant shift in the direction of the church – the church was moving away from being a hunted, humble band of equal brothers to a hierarchical structure dominated by men with respectable religious titles (see Matthew 23:8 for a warning concerning this). They dominated the people, they recieved an earthly reward for what they did and sadly through their teachings they were beginning to undermine the teaching of the true Manna (a topic I write often about on this blog).

So Christ reminds the true believers at Pergamos – those that can still hear – that if they will overcome the teachings of the Nicolaitanes that He will give them to eat of the Hidden Manna and a new name. What is the hidden manna? It is the teaching of Christ as the True Bread from Heaven. It remains hidden for two reasons. One is only God the Father can reveal who the Son is (John 6:41-51), so only those – like Peter – who will hear understand and receive this teaching (John 6:52-69, Matthew 6:13-17). The second reason it remains hidden is because of the teachings of the Nicolaitanes – those who like Nicodemos and Balaam lead, not by the Spirit of God but by virtue of the position they have obtained. They are spiritually blind and sadly they themselves and those who follow them end up in a ditch (Matthew 15:14).

So now back to the new name. Our name in eternity will reflect our works. Antipas was slain for standing for the name of Christ. Antipas was not this brother’s given name. This is the name that God gave him for his faithful unto death stand for the name of Christ. Antipas stood for the True Manna that came down from heaven, his reward was a new name that reflected his faithfulness and a seat at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. While this is a topic for another post, the bread we will eat at the Marriage Feast will be manifest out of the Word of God just as the flesh of the Son of God was manifested out of the Word of God. We will truly eat of His flesh and drink of His blood (John 6:52-58, Mark 14:24-25).

Rev 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

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5 Responses to “The Nicolaitanes – The Rise of the Paid Religious Heirarchy”


  1. 1 Marianne May 17, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    It is kind of tragic, that so many have freely given their lives for their faith and the gospel, without charge, asking for nothing but the chance to serve Christ.

    And others have taken away the faith and lives of those who, although in need, have had to pay to hear the gospel from those who do not live it.

  2. 2 Lin May 21, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Nicodemos’ name is a combination of two words – niko (triumphant/victorious) and demos (people). The picture painted is consistent with what the scriptures say about Nicodemos. He was a ruler of the Jews, he dominated them. What he and others of his class believed and taught set the direction that the common man followed. Who could question as learned a one as Nicodemos?

    In Revelation a parallel group is mentioned – the Nicolaitanes. Again this name is a combination of two words – niko (triumphant/victorious) and laos (people).

    The above makes no sense. You are saying both names mean the same thing? What am I missing?

  3. 3 hayesrod May 21, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Lin – both names mean the same thing. They are describing those who form a religious heirarchy over the people. Nicodemos represented those who had formed this heirarchy over the Jews. The Nicolaitanes were those who began forming a heirarchy over the church. Today this heirarchy is so common place that we accept it as right, but it wasn’t what God intended. God wants a humble, meek, family of brothers and sisters with spiritual gifts they use to serve one another and the world around them – not a heirarchical structure of fathers, reverends and arch this or that.

  4. 4 Jim July 14, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Finding this website is a great encouragement to me. Both my Wife and I have been raised in a “Modern Day Nicolaitane Hierarchical Denominational Church” that has watered down the Truths of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. We have visited others in search of one that really does believe in Jesus as the Messiah sent down by THE FATHER without watering down HIS LIFE’S TEACHINGS for the sake of setting up their own hierarchy. Finding one is “like getting the camel through the eye of the needle.” They take our tithes to build their buildings, support financially their pastors, those in other roles of authority and too their pet projects (that really are our all of what we should be doing as individuals, such as the sermon on the mount, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and lonely and helping out wherever we can on a one to one basis) while keeping us from a complete loving relationship with GOD! Jesus sent the seventy-two out penniless to do His work and to “build up the Body of Christ,” but they focus on our coming to them for guidance and explanations of our life’s problems, usually telling us that this is in GOD’S plan for us or no one knows why your prayers haven’t been answered because we do not know God’s will for us, and asking for extra monies for this or that.
    Jesus left the Truth for us very clearly in the gospels as to repentance for our errors, inviting Him into our hearts, obeying the word, how to pray and to pray often with all sincerity. And, above all to have “Faith” in Him!!! Following His ways we can not go wrong and will have “ETERNAL LIFE.” Following the hierarchical modern day Nicolaitane denominations your Eternal Life is questionable. My advice is to read the FOUR GOSPELS under the guidance of the Holy SPIRIT over and over until you understand them inside out and begin to live as GOD is within your HEART, Your TEMPLE!!! You can’t go wrong if your FAITH and ACTIONS are indistinguishable from that life that JESUS taught and lived!!! YES, it is possible to do it as long as we let HIM become our ONLY TEACHER!!!

  5. 5 hayesrod July 14, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Thank you Jim for your post. I agree! I’m glad the site is an encouragement. It is an encouragement to hear from people of a like mine. Send me an e-mail (hayesrod@comcast.net) and we can dialog more. –Rodney


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