I been wanting to write this article for some time. Several days ago I ran into an old friend who is now 78 years old and suffering from Parkinson’s disease. I was riding my bike and noticed him as I passed by, so I was excited to stop and talk with he and his wife. I hadn’t seen the man in 15 years. I had good memories of this man as he bought me my first suit when I was very poor. We were both part of a great “organized” church in the 70’s. He began to tell me how that church was falling apart, and had become very controlled oriented.
I am bringing this up, because it points out something that is expressed in the book of Revelation beginning in the in the 2nd chapter concerning the church at Ephesus. The Lord congratulates that church for hating the teachings of the Nicolaitanes. The Lord chides the church for leaving it s first love, but commends them for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitanes. Later, the Lord speaks to the church of Pergamos about the same matter, but now the deeds had evolved and become doctrines.
Who were the Nicolaitanes and why the indictment, and how do we apply this matter to today?
Nicolas of Antioch was a man who believed he had superior revelations from God, and hence considered himself aloof and above the average layman of his time. Because of his high opinion of himself and those who submitted to his views, doctrines and were initiated into these disciplines, there developed a clerical system; hence a clergy and a laity.
The deeds of this ennobled priesthood evolved to such a degree that there came a designated priesthood that one could enter into were he so led. Hence the evolution from deeds to doctrines…..
but the Bible teaches of no such thing. There is no clergy class that distinguishes itself from a laity. The meaning of Niclolaitanes is to be understood as a distinct people who have escaped the laity. Either we are all clergy, or all laity, there is no distinction nor two class system in Christ.
Nico -to escape- laitanes -the laity. The Nicolaitanes system is to be overcome.
Today, by and large, the visible church is in a state of Nicolaitanism. The problem for most people is where can we go to church, because they fear the scripture in the book of Hebrews that says..
” let us stimulate one another unto faith and good works not the forsaking of our selves together as the manner of some is, but even so much the more as we see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25
So,… not wanting to disobey, people go to an organized church out of a legal constraint. But what is assembling? Jesus said it best, “When two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst.” Two or three suggest “a congregation” just as well as five hundreds or even thousands. But the mistaken assumption is that unless it is organized and formal it doesn’t constitute a church, and therfore not going to the bigger assembling is a violation of obedience to the scripture.
We think erronously that going to an organized church is the only way to have viable fellowship. Much of that assumption comes from a mental theatre of a spiritual laziness, because we do not believe that we can actually feed ourselves, and if you do not go to the organized church you will not grow.
There are alot of people in the organized church that stopped growing long ago.
But by subsidizing the existing church system with our “required tithe” and the pressure to financial support the Nicholatian church system we may be doing more harm than good. Why? Because it perpetuates a false “Nicholiatan priesthood,” and the notion that only a pastor/priest can hear from God.
He that hath an ear let him hear what the spirit says to the churches. To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Rev. 2: 7