From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [1]

St. John says in his Revelation, to the angel of the church of Ephesus, "But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate,"  Revelation 2:6; and again, to the angel of the church of Pergamos: "So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate,"  Revelation 2:15 . These are the only two places where the Nicolaitans are mentioned in the New Testament: and it might appear at first, that little could be inferred from these concerning either their doctrine or their practice. It is asserted, however, by all the fathers, that the Nicolaitans were a branch of the Gnostics: and the epistles, which were addressed by St. John to the seven Asiatic churches, may perhaps lead us to the same conclusion. Thus to the church at Ephesus he writes: "Thou hast tried them which say they are Apostles and are not, and hast found them liars,"  Revelation 2:2 . This may be understood of the Gnostic teachers, who falsely called themselves Christians, and who would be not unlikely to assume also the title of Apostles. It appears from this and other passages, that they had distinguished themselves at Ephesus; and it is when writing to that church, that St. John mentions the Nicolaitans. Again, when writing to the church at Smyrna, he says: "I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan,"  Revelation 2:9 .

The Gnostics borrowed many doctrines from the Jews, and thought by this means to attract both the Jews and Christians. We might therefore infer, even without the testimony of the fathers, that the Gnostic doctrines were prevalent in these churches, where St. John speaks of the Nicolaitans: and if so, we have a still more specific indication of their doctrine and practice, when we find St. John saying to the church in Pergamos, "I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication,"

 Revelation 2:14 . Then follow the words already quoted, "So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate." There seems here to be some comparison between the doctrine of Balaam and that of the Nicolaitans: and I would also point out, that to the church in Thyatira the Apostle writes, "I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols,"  Revelation 2:20 . The two passages are very similar, and may enable us to throw some light upon the history of the Nicolaitans. Tertullian has preserved a tradition, that the person here spoken of as Jezebel was a female heretic, who taught what she had learned from the Nicolaitans: and whether the tradition be true or not, it seems certain, that to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication, was part of the practice of the Nicolaitans.

These two sins are compared to the doctrine of Balaam: and though the Bible tells us little of Balaam's history, beyond his prophecies and his death, yet we can collect enough to enable us to explain this allusion of St. John. We read, that "when Israel abode in Shittim, the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab; and they," that is, the women, "called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods,"  Numbers 25:1-2 . But we read further, that when the Midianites were spoiled and Balaam slain, Moses said of the women who were taken, "Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor,"  Numbers 31:16 . This, then, was the insidious policy and advice of Balaam. When he found that he was prohibited by God from cursing Israel, he advised Balak to seduce the Israelites by the women of Moab, and thus to entice them to the sacrifices of their gods. This is what St. John calls "the doctrine of Balaam," or the wicked artifice which he taught the king of Moab: and so he says, that in the church of Pergamos there were some who held the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. We have therefore the testimony of St. John, as well as of the fathers, that the lives of the Nicolaitans were profligate and vicious; to which we may add, that they ate things sacrificed to idols. This is expressly said of Basilides and Valentinus, two celebrated leaders of Gnostic sects: and we perhaps are not going too far, if we infer from St. John, that the Nicolaitans were the first who enticed the Christians to this impious practice, and obtained from thence the distinction of their peculiar celebrity. Their motive for such conduct is very evident. They wished to gain proselytes to their doctrines; and they therefore taught that it was lawful to indulge the passions, and that there was no harm in partaking of an idol sacrifice. This had now become the test to which Christians must submit, if they wished to escape persecution: and the Nicolaitans sought to gain converts by telling them that they might still believe in Jesus, though "they ate of things sacrificed unto idols." The fear of death would shake the faith of some; others would be gained over by sensual arguments: and thus many unhappy Christians of the Asiatic churches were found by St. John in the ranks of the Nicolaitans.

We might wish perhaps to know at what time the sect of the Nicolaitans began; but we cannot define it accurately. If Irenaeus is correct in saying that it preceded by a considerable time the heresy of Cerinthus, and that the Cerinthian heresy was a principal cause of St. John writing his Gospel, it follows, that the Nicolaitans were in existence at least some years before the time of their being mentioned in the Revelation; and the persecution under Domitian, which was the cause of St. John being sent to Patmos, may have been the time which enabled the Nicolaitans to exhibit their principles. Irenaeus indeed adds, that St. John directed his Gospel against the Nicolaitans as well as against Cerinthus: and the comparison which is made between their doctrine and that of Balaam, may perhaps authorize us to refer to this sect what is said in the second Epistle of St. Peter. The whole passage contains marked allusions to Gnostic teachers. There is another question concerning the Nicolaitans, which has excited much discussion. It is a question entirely of evidence and detail; and the two points to be considered are,

1. Whether the Nicolaitans derived their name from Nicolas of Antioch, who was one of the seven deacons:

2. Supposing this to be the fact, whether Nicolas had disgraced himself by sensual indulgence. Those writers who have endeavoured to clear the character of Nicolas have generally tried also to prove that he was not the man whom the Nicolaitans claimed as their head. But the one point may be true without the other: and the evidence is so overwhelming, which states that Nicolas the deacon was at least the person intended by the Nicolaitans, that it is difficult to come to any other conclusion upon the subject. We must not deny that some of the fathers have also charged him with falling into vicious habits, and thus affording too true a support to the heretics who claimed him as their leader. These writers, however, are of a late date; and some, who are much more ancient, have entirely acquitted him, and furnished an explanation of the calumnies which attach to his name. We know that the Gnostics were not ashamed to claim as their founders the Apostles, or friends of the Apostles. The same may have been the case with Nicolas the deacon; and though we allow, that if the Nicolaitans were distinguished as a sect some time before the end of the century, the probability is lessened that his name was thus abused; yet if his career was a short one, his history, like that of the other deacons, would soon be forgotten: and the same fertile invention, which gave rise in the two first centuries to so many apocryphal Gospels, may also have led the Nicolaitans to give a false character to him whose name they had assumed.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [2]

The name signifies ‘followers of Nicolas,’ as Nicolas = ‘conqueror of the people.’ They are mentioned twice in the NT ( Revelation 2:6;  Revelation 2:15) as a party at Ephesus and also at Pergamum, whose tenets were similar, it seems, in the judgment of the writer, to those of Balaam (q.v.[Note: .v. quod vide, which see.]) in that they enjoined or permitted laxity in ceremonial (the eating of food offered to idols) and in social morals. There is no reason to suppose that the Nicolaitans would have accepted this judgment as anything but an illegitimate inference from their principles. In the Apostolic Church, as ever since, two schools of thought were opposed to each other-that which was more Jewish in character and that which was more Greek. The former speaks in the Apocalypse of John and the latter in the Gospel of John, and the apocalyptic writer in condemning the other party, the Nicolaitans, states not what they held but what he thought their teaching must logically end in. The word is probably a nickname, as are Balaam and Nicodemus.

The party mentioned in the Apocalypse left behind them no historical trace, for there is no good reason for identifying with them the sect mentioned by Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Eusebius, pseudo-Tertullian, and Jerome. The last four of these writers merely repeat Irenaeus, who in his turn seems to have been elaborating on his own unsupported authority the references in the Apocalypse (I. xxvi. 3); indeed, in one passage (III. xi. 1) he asserts that the Nicolaitans had disseminated their heresy long before Cerinthus, and he makes their founder Nicolas, one of the Seven. Hippolytus (vii. 24) repeats Irenaeus and adds nothing of his own, except that he emphasizes the Greek character of Nicolaitan teaching. Tertullian (de Praescr. 33) speaks of there being now ‘another sort of Nicolaitans,’ and he seems to identify them with the Cainites. By the 4th cent. the legend had grown, and pseudo-Tertullian (adv. Omnes Haer. 1) bluntly assigns certain Gnostic speculations to the Nicolaitans. The Apost. Const. (vi. 8) originated the description of the Nicolaitans as being ‘falsely so called,’ and it is followed by the interpolator of the Ignatian epistles (Trall. 11 and Philad. 6). Epiphanius (adv. Haer. 25), Georgius Hamartolus (Chronicon, iii. 135), and Jerome (adv. Lucif. 24) carry on the tradition without adding to it. Clement of Alexandria, however (Strom. iii. 4; cf. Eus. Historia Ecclesiastica (Eusebius, etc.)iii. 29), has an independent tradition about Nicolas which vindicates his character. On the whole, all that the evidence justifies us in concluding is that the Nicolaitans of the ecclesiastical writers were among the Gnostics, that their paternity and distinctive doctrines are unknown, and that their identity with the party named in the Apocalypse is doubtful.

W. F. Cobb.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

 Revelation 2:6;  Revelation 2:14-15. Irenaeus (Haer. 1:26, section 3) and Tertullian (Praescr. Haeret. 46) explain, followers of Nicolas one of the seven ( Acts 6:3;  Acts 6:5) as there was a Judas among the twelve; confounding the later Gnostic Nicolaitans with those of Michaelis explains Nicolas (conqueror of the people) is the Greek for the Hebrew Balsam ("destroyer of the people," Bela' 'Am ); as we find both the Hebrew and Greek names, Abaddon, Apollyon; Satan, devil. A symbolical name. Lightfoot suggests a Hebrew interpretation, Nikola , "let us eat"; compare  1 Corinthians 15:32. Not a sect, but professing Christians who, Balsam like, introduce a false freedom, i.e. licentiousness. A reaction from Judaism, the first danger of the church.

The Jerusalem council ( Acts 15:20;  Acts 15:29), while releasing Gentile converts from legalism, required their abstinence from idol meats and concomitant fornication. The Nicolaitans abused Paul's doctrine of the grace of God into lasciviousness; such seducers are described as followers of Balsam, also in  2 Peter 2:12-13;  2 Peter 2:15-19;  Judges 1:4;  Judges 1:7-8;  Judges 1:11 ("The Son Of Bosor" For Beor, To Characterize Him As "Son Of Carnality": Bosor "Flesh") . They persuaded many to escape obloquy by yielding as to "eating idol meats," which was then a test of faithfulness (compare 1 Corinthians 8 and  1 Corinthians 10:25-33); they even joined in the "fornication" of the idol feasts, as though permitted by Christ's "law of liberty." The "lovefeasts" ( Judges 1:12) thus became pagan orgies. The Nicolaitans combined evil "deeds" which Jesus "hates" with evil "doctrine."

Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]

Nicola'itans (Followers Of Nicolas). A sect mentioned in  Revelation 2:6;  Revelation 2:15, 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;  Acts 15:29. 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;  Judges 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.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [5]

Heretics who assumed this name from Nicholas of Antioch; who, being a Gentile by birth, first embraced Judaism and than Christianity; when his zeal and devotion recommended him to the church of Jerusalem, by whom he was chosen one of the first deacons. Many of the primitive writers believed that Nicholas was rather the occasion than the author of the infamous practices of those who assumed his name, who were expressly condemned by the Spirit of God himself,  Revelation 2:6 . And, indeed, their opinions and actions were highly extravagant and criminal. They allowed a community of wives, and made no distinction between ordinary meats and those offered to idols. According to Eusebius, they subsisted but a short time; but Tertullian says, that they only changed their name, and that their heresies passed into the sect of the Cainites.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [6]

Nicolaitans ( Nĭk-O-Lâ'I-Tanz ). Heretical persons or teachers, mentioned in  Revelation 2:6;  Revelation 2:15. Compare  2 Peter 2:12;  2 Peter 2:19;  Judges 1:4;  Judges 1:7-8;  Judges 1:11-12. Some suppose them to have been followers of Nicolas the deacon, but there is no good evidence that he ever became a heretic.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [7]

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.

Holman Bible Dictionary [8]

 Revelation 2:6 2:15  Revelation 2:20-25 Numbers 25:1-2 2 Peter 2:15

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [9]

NICOLAITANS. See next article.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [10]

( Νικολαϊταί ), a class or sect mentioned twice in the New Testament ( Revelation 2:6;  Revelation 2:15). In the former passage the conduct of the Nicolaitans is condemned; in the latter, the angel of the Church in Pergamus is censured because certain members of his Church held their doctrine. Irenaeus, the first author extant who refers to these passages, says that Nicolas, one of the seven deacons of the Church in Jerusalem ( Acts 6:5), was the founder of the sect ( Contra Haeres. 1:26). But Epiphanius ( Advers. Faeres. 1:25), with whom Tertullian, Hilary, Gregory of Nyssa, and other fathers agree, says that Nicolas had a beautiful wife, and, following the counsels of perfection, he separated himself from her; but not being able to persevere in his resolution, he returned to her again, as a dog to his vomit; and not only so, but justified his conduct by licentious principles, which laid the foundation of the sect of the Nicolaitans. But the practice of putting away wives for the sake of sanctity belongs to a later period; nor can we conceive that taking back his wife would be considered a crime, in view of Paul's instructions ( 1 Corinthians 7:3;  1 Corinthians 7:6). Suspicion is thrown on the whole passage by the further statement of Epiphanius, that all the Gnostics derived their origin from Nicolas; which is too absurd for controversy.

Clement of Alexandria has preserved a different version of the story (Strom. 3:4, p. 522, ed. Potter), which Eusebius copies from him (Hist. Eccles. 3:29), and which is repeated by Augustine and other ancient writers: "The apostles," they say, "reprehended Nicolas for jealousy of his wife, who was beautiful; whereupon Nicolas produced her, and said, Any one might marry her who pleased. In this affair the deacon let fall the expression, that we should abuse the flesh;' which, though employed in a good sense by him, was perverted to a bad one by those who would gain to their licentiousness the sanction of a respectable name, and who from thence styled themselves Nicolaitans." Who can believe that a sect should take its rise and its name from a casual expression by a man whose obvious sense and whose conduct were opposed to the peculiarities of the sect? Grotius supposes that Nicolas, being reproved for jealousy of those Christians who saluted his wife with the kiss of peace, ran at once to the other extreme, and imitated the custom of the Lacedaemonians and of Cato, permitting others to have intercourse with her, affirming that it was no crime when both parties consented. This is improbable, and unsupported by testimony. Nor is there sufficient evidence to connect the Nicolaitans of the apostolic age in any way with the Gnostics of succeeding centuries. The ingenious conjecture of Michaelis is worthy of consideration, who supposes that by Nicolaitans ( Revelation 2:6;  Revelation 2:15) the same class of persons is intended whom Peter ( 2 Peter 2:15) describes As Followers Of The Way Of Balaam; and that their name, Nicolaitans, is merely a Greek translation of their Hebrew designation, the noun Νικόλαος (from Νικάω and Λαός ) being a literal version of בַּלְעָם , that is, בעל עם , The Master Of The people; or, according to another derivation, the devourer of the people (so Hengstenberg, as if from בָּלִע ). (See Balaam).

The custom of translating names, which prevailed so extensively in modern Europe, was undoubtedly practiced also among the Jews, as the example in  Acts 9:36 (to which others might be added) shows. Accordingly, the Arabic version, published by Erpenius, renders the words Τὰ Ἔργα Τῶν Νικολαϊτῶν , The Works Of The Shuaibites, the Arabic Shuaib being apparently the name for Balaam. The whole analogy of the mode of teaching which lays stress on the significance of names would lead us to look, not for philological accuracy, but for a broad, strongly marked Paronomasia, such as men would recognize and accept. It would be enough for those who were to hear the message that they should perceive the meaning of the two words to be identical. Cocceius ( Cogitat. In  Revelation 2:6) has the credit of being the first to suggest this identification of the Nicolaitans with the followers of Balaam. It has been adopted by the elder Vitringa ( Dissert. De Argum. Epist. Petriposter. in Hase's Thesaurus, 2:987), Hengstenberg (in loc.), Stier (Words of the Risen Lord, p. 125, Engl. transl.), and others. Lightfoot (Hor. Heb. in Act. Apost. 6:5) suggests another and more startling paronomasia.

The word, in his view, was chosen, as identical in sound with נַיכוֹלָא , "let us eat," and as thus marking out the special characteristic of the sect. The only objection against this identification arises from the circumstance that in the passage  Revelation 2:14-15 both "they that hold the doctrine of Balaam" and "the Nicolaitans" are specified apparently as distinct. Yet even there the collocation of the two classes of heretics seems to imply some agreement between them, though not identity. See Janus, De Nicolaitis; Heumann, De Nicol. E Catol. Haereticor. Expung. in Acta. Eruditorum (1712), p. 179 sq.; Storr, Apol. Der Offenbar. p. 260; Miinscher, Ueber Die Nicol. in Gabl. Journal, v. 17 sq.; Scheffler Tiburtius, De Nicol. (1825). "We are now in a position to form a clearer judgment of the characteristics of the sect. It comes before us as presenting the ultimate phase of a great controversy, which threatened at one time to destroy the unity of the Church, and afterwards to taint its purity. The controversy itself was inevitable as soon as the Gentiles were admitted, in.any large numbers, into the Church of Christ. Were the new converts to be brought into subjection to the whole Mosaic law? Were they to give up their old habits of life altogether to withdraw entirely from the social gatherings of their friends and kinsmen? Was there not the risk, if they continued to join in them, of their eating, consciously or unconsciously, of that which had been slain in the sacrifices of a false worship, and of thus sharing in the idolatry? The apostles and elders at Jerusalem met the question calmly and wisely.

The burden of the law was not to be imposed on the Gentile disciples. They were to abstain, among other things, from meats offered to idols' and from fornication' ( Acts 15:20;  Acts 15:29), and this decree was welcomed as the great charter of the Church's freedom. Strange as the close union of the moral and the positive commands may seem to us, it did not seem so to the synod at Jerusalem. The two sins were very closely allied, often even in the closest proximity of time and place. The fathomless impurity which overspread the empire made the one almost as inseparable as the other from its daily social life. The messages to the Churches of Asia and the later Apostolic Epistles (2 Peter and Jude) indicate that the two evils appeared at that period also in close alliance. 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;  Judges 1:11). They, like the false prophet of Pethor, united brave words with evil deeds. They made their liberty' a cloak at once for cowardice and licentiousness. In a time of persecution, when the eating or not eating of things sacrificed to idols was more than ever a crucial test of faithfulnmess, they persuaded men more than ever that it 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. There was the most imminent risk that its Agapae might be come as full of abominations as the Bacchanalia of Italy had been ( 2 Peter 2:12-13;  2 Peter 2:18;  Judges 1:7-8; comp. Livy, 39:8-19).

Their sins had already brought scandal and discredit on the way of truth.' All this was done, it must be remembered, not simply as an indulgence of appetite, but as part of a system, supported by a doctrine,' accompanied by the boast of a prophetic illumination ( 2 Peter 2:1). The trance of the son of Beor and the sensual debasement into which he led the Israelites were strangely reproduced. These were the characteristics of the followers of Balaam, and worthless as most of the traditions. about Nicolas may be, they point to the same distinctive evils. Even in the absence of any teacher of that name, it would be natural enough, as has been shown above, that the Hebrew name of ignominy should have its Greek equivalent. If there were such a teacher, whether the proselyte of Antioch or another, the application of the name of his followers would be proportionately more pointed. 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). Comp. Neander's Apostelgesch. p. 620; Gieseler's Eccl. Hist. § 29; Alford on  Revelation 2:6." See Neander, Ch. fist. 1:452; Guericke, Anc. Ch. Hist. p. 179; Killen, Anc. Ch. p. 206; Burton, Eccl. Hist. 1st Century, p. 274, 278, 281, 301, 303, 305; Hase, Ch. Hist. p. 35. (See Nicolas).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [11]

nik - - lā´i - tanz Νικολαΐταί , Nikolaitaı́ ):

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 ,  Revelation 2:15 ). 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.

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.

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 AD, 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 8:1-13 ).

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 , 70 ff, 27,28, 37.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [12]

A sect of heretics that arose in the Apostolic Church, presumed to have been a party of professing Christians of Gentile descent, who, after their profession, continued to take part in the heathen festivals, and to have contributed to break down the distinction between the Church and the world, so essential to the very existence of the faith they professed, founded, as it is, no less absolutely on No to the world than on Yea to God. See Everlasting No and Everlasting Yea .