But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Rev. 2:6
What was the doctrine of the “Nicolaitans”? There was a connection between them and Balaam. Balaam is from the Hebrew word Baal, meaning “lord” or “master” and am references the people. It is an expression of superior rank over the people, contrary to the directive of Christ, the King.
Nike is the Greek word for “conqueror” with nikos meaning “victor”. Laos is a word for “people”. Nicolaitan and Baalam are two different forms of the same idea. Both include the idea of rank, lordship, and submission to an exercising authority who can judge the people. They are systems that make gods, judging rulers, of men to whom other men must pay homage , homage being fealty and allegiance.
Nicolaitans were people “who were charged with holding the error of Balaam, casting a stumbling block before the church of God by upholding the liberty of eating things sacrificed to idols as well as committing fornication.” They were snared by their own appetite for benefits at the expense of their neighbor. The people are devoured in the civic pot of their own flesh.1
The things sacrificed to idols were the welfare programs ministered by the civic or licensed altars of those various governments. One could become eligible for those benefits by an application for membership. This application often included an agreement to serve and contribute regularly to those incorporated altars of the state. There usually was an oath required to bring you under the penalty of the courts which were attached to those systems of control.
Both God’s Kingdom and the kingdoms of the world had ministers (i.e. clerks, bureaucrats, clergy, ministers) who managed the institutions or altars and the contributions they received. Both are religions, as they are systems of belief which are to take care of the needy. Both are to be supported by the people to fulfill their purpose. But both are as different as night and day, good and evil, purity and wickedness.
There are several ways to distinguish the Nicolaitan or Baalam systems of clerk and laity from from the government which was established by Christ.
One system is dependent upon charity and the other is dependent upon force.
One system is relies upon hope and the other relies on guaranteed entitlements.
One system is requires faith and the other requires allegiance.
One system operates through the hands of men who serve the people as servants of God the Father in Heaven, and the other operates through the hands of men who call themselves benefactors but exercise authority2 one over the other.
It is clear by the Biblical text that Jesus appointed men to serve the people. Those individuals also made appointments of men chosen by the people for a particular purpose.3 The clergy is simply the clerks of the kingdom, the bondservants of the King, in service to the laity or people who live by the perfect law of liberty with its burden of individual responsibility.
In Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”, he praised “the union and discipline of the Christian republic.” This personal discipline included the rights and responsibilities of freedom. It was a kingdom that depended on faith, hope, and charity. He also pointed out that “it gradually formed an independent and increasing state in the heart of the Roman Empire.”
What were those early Christians doing that Modern Christians fail to do?
What are Modern Christians doing that early Christians would not do?
The reason early Christians gathered together was to take care of the business of the kingdom of God. There was religious freedom guaranteed by the Roman constitution. There was no persecution because men loved one another. The problem was the difference between these two systems of government, and the jealousy and envy that arises when the proud are failing and the humble are bearing fruit.
The followers of Christ were turning the world right-side up. To the self righteous who loved the status quo and did not want to change, e.g. repent, they accused Christ's followers of turning the world upside down.
The bureaucrats of Nicolaitan or Baalam system of governance entice the people to give their allegiance, with promises of benefits, but then exercise authority, compel their contributions in the form of taxes, and make laws and regulations that control the simulated charity of the people.
Most of the power of governments over the lives of the individual is directly related to the agreements and application of the people with government for benefits provided by forced contributions. They can force those contributions because men have made those agreements/contracts/covenants.
David had told us this in the Old Testament :
“Let their table become a snare before them: and [that which should have been] for [their] welfare, [let it become] a trap.” Psalms 69:22
Paul repeats the warning making reference to this precept spoken by David centuries before:
“And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:” Romans 11:9
The Clerks of Christ’s Kingdom of God at hand offer their service in a system that only works if we love one another in faith, hope, and charity. Christians would not apply to the Romans nor the Jews who had no king but Caesar and would not follow Christ. Christians would not touch benefits provided for by the compelled sacrifices or contributions of the people. If they ate of those altars, they would be Nicolaitans, the conquered people, snared by their own covetous hearts.
“When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.” Proverbs 23:1-3.
To live as free souls under God we must take the responsibility to love and provide for our neighbor when he is in need. But false teachers have not taught the ways of God but the ways of Cain, Nimrod, Pharaoh and Caesar.
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” 2 Peter 2:1
Israel as a nation sustained itself with freewill offerings of charity amongst a system of social ministers for centuries. In fact most successful nations did the same. It took constant daily sacrifice and love of neighbor but without that love amongst men, tyranny would reign.
“The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.” Proverbs 12:24
There are few more repeated warnings and godly advise or taboos than the ones against making agreements with the inhabitants where we go and with their ruling judges than the ones against making covenants or contracts:
“Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.” Exodus 23:32, 33
“Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:” Exodus 34:12
“Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and [one] call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;” Exodus 34:15
“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” 2 Corinthians 6:16
The detailed warnings are rampant throughout Old and New Testaments:
“My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood. Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird. And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives. So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.” Proverbs 1:10,19
God wants us to live by love, not covet our neighbors goods, or exercise authority over his life even for our own benefit. We are to live by faith, hope, and charity and the perfect law of liberty. We need to strive and seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness in a brotherhood of faith. We need to wake up to the truth of the gospel of the kingdom and repent...
“My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth. Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend. Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler. Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? [Yet] a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:” Proverbs 6:10
1“...This city shall not be your caldron, neither shall ye be the flesh in the midst thereof; but I will judge you in the border of Israel...” Eze. 11:3, 11. Exodus 16:3; Proverbs 1:10, 33; Micah 3:1, 4; Zechariah 14:21
2Luke 22:25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so...
3Ecclesiastes 11:2 Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.
Micah 5:5 And this [man] shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men.
Acts 6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men … whom we may appoint over this business.