Doctrine of the Nicolaitanes
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Pergamean Church Age
"So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate."
You will recall that I brought out in the Ephesian Age that the word, Nicolaitane, comes from two Greek words: Nikao which means to conquer, and Lao which means the laity. Nicolaitane means, "to conquer the laity". Now why is this such a terrible thing? It is terrible because God has never placed His church in the hands of an elected leadership which moves with political mindedness. He has placed His church in the care of God-ordained, Spirit-filled, Word-living men who lead the people through feeding them the Word. He has not separated the people into classes so that the masses are led by a holy priesthood. It is true that the leadership must be holy, but then so must be the whole congregation. Further, there is no place in the Word where priests or ministers or such mediate between God and the people, nor is there a place where they are separated in their worship of the Lord. God wants all to love and serve Him together. Nicolaitanism destroys those precepts and instead separates the ministers from the people and makes the leaders overlords instead of servants. Now this doctrine actually started as a deed in the first age. It appears that the problem lay in two words: `elders' (presbyters) and `overseers' (bishops). Though Scripture shows that there are several elders in each church, some began (Ignatius among them) to teach that the idea of a bishop was one of preeminence or authority and control over the elders. Now the truth of the matter is the word `elder' signifies who the person is, while the word `bishop' signifies the office of the same man.
The elder is the man. Bishop is the office of the man. `Elder' always has and always will refer simply to a man's chronological age in the Lord. He is an elder, not because he is elected or ordained, etc., but because he IS OLDER. He is more seasoned, trained, not a novice, reliable because of experience and long standing proof of his Christian experience. But no, the bishops did not stick to the epistles of Paul, but rather they went to Paul's account of the time he called the elders from Ephesus to Miletus in Acts 20. In verse 17 the record states, "elders" were called and then in verse 28 they are called overseers (bishops). And these bishops, (no doubt political minded and anxious for power) insisted that Paul had given the meaning that `overseers' were more than the local elder with official capacity only in his own church. To them a bishop was now one with extended authority over many local leaders. Such a concept was neither Scriptural nor historical, yet even a man of the stature of Polycarp leaned toward such organization. Thus, that which started as a deed in the first age was made a literal doctrine and so it is today. Bishops still claim power to control men and deal with them as they desire, placing them where they so will in the ministry. This denies the leadership of the Holy Ghost Who said, "Separate Me Paul and Barnabas for the work where-unto I have called them" This is anti-Word and anti-Christ. Matthew 20:25-28, "But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." Matthew 23:8-9, "But be not ye called Rabbi: for One is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for One is your Father, Which is in heaven."
In order to clarify this even more, let me explain Nicolaitanism in this way. You recall that in Revelation 13:3 it says, "And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death: and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast." Now we know that the wounded head was the pagan Roman Empire, that great political world power. This head rose again as the "Roman Catholic spiritual empire". Now watch this carefully. What did political pagan Rome do that was the basis of her success? She, "divided and conquered." That was the seed of Rome--divide and conquer. Her iron teeth tore and devoured. Whom she tore and devoured could not rise again as when she destroyed Carthage and sowed her to salt. The same iron seed remained in her when she arose as the false church, and her policy has remained the same--divide and conquer. That is Nicolaitanism and God hates it.
Now it is a well known historical fact that when this error crept into the church, men began to vie for the office of bishop with the result that this position was being given to the more educated and materially-progressive and politically-minded men. Human knowledge and program began to take over Divine wisdom's place and the Holy Spirit no longer controlled. This was indeed a tragic evil, for the bishops began to maintain that it no longer required a transparent Christian character to minister either the Word or the rites in the church for it was the elements and the ceremony that counted. This allowed evil men (seducers) to rend the flock.
With the man-made doctrine of the elevation of bishops to a place not accorded them in Scripture, the next step was the handing out of graded titles that built up into a religious hierarchy; for soon there were archbishops over bishops and cardinals over the archbishops and by the time of Boniface the third there was a pope over all, a Pontiff.
What with the Nicolaitane doctrine and the amalgamation of Christianity with Babylonianism the net results had to be what Ezekiel saw in Chapter 8:10, "So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall around." Revelation 18:2, "And he cried mightily, with a strong voice saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird, for all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication."
Now this Nicolaitane doctrine, this rule that was established in the church did not hit it off too well with a lot of the people for they could read the odd epistle or essay on the Word written by some godly person. So what did the church do? It excommunicated the righteous teachers and burned the scrolls. They said, "It takes a special education to read and understand the Word. Why even Peter said that many things Paul wrote were hard to understand." Having taken away the Word from the people, it soon came to the people listening only to what the priest had to say, and doing what he told them. They called that God and His holy Word. They took over the minds and lives of the people and made them the servants of a despotic priesthood.
Now if you want proof that the Catholic Church demands the lives and minds of men, just listen to the edict of Theodosius X. Theodosius' First Edict.
This edict was issued immediately after he was baptized by the First Church of Rome. "We three emperors will that our subjects steadfastly adhere to the religion which was taught by Saint Peter to the Romans, which has been faithfully preserved by tradition and which is now professed by the pontiff, Damasus of Rome, and Peter, bishop of Alexandria, a man of Apostolic holiness according to the institution of the Apostles, and the doctrine of the Gospel; let us believe in one Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, of equal majesty in the Holy Trinity. We order that the adherents of this faith be called Catholic Christians; we brand all the senseless followers of the other religions with the infamous name of heretics, and forbid their conventicles assuming the name of churches. Besides the condemnation of divine justice, they must expect the heavy penalty which our authority, guided by heavenly wisdom shall think proper to inflict..."
The fifteen penal laws that this emperor issued in as many years deprived the evangelicals of all rights to the exercise of their religion, excluded them from all civil offices, and threatened them with fines, confiscation, banishment and even in some cases, death.
Do you know what? We are headed right that way today.
The Roman Catholic Church calls herself the Mother church. She calls herself the first or original church. That is absolutely correct. She was the original First Church of Rome that backslid and went into sin. She was the first that organized. In her was found the deeds and then the doctrine of Nicolaitanism. No one will deny that she is a mother. She is a mother and has produced daughters. Now a daughter comes out of a woman. A woman robed in scarlet is sitting on the seven hills of Rome. She is a harlot and has borne daughters. Those daughters are the Protestant churches that came out of her and then went right back into organization and Nicolaitanism. This Mother of the daughter-churches is called a whore. That is a woman who was untrue to her marriage vows. She was married to God and then went off fornicating with the devil and in her fornications she has brought forth daughters that are just like her. This mother and daughter combination is anti-Word, anti-Spirit and consequently anti-Christ. Yes, ANTICHRIST.
Now before I get too far along I want to mention that these early bishops thought that they were above the Word. They told people they could forgive their sins upon confession of those sins. That never was the truth. They began to baptize infants in the second century. They actually practiced regenerational baptism. No wonder people are mixed up today. If they were so mixed up then, so close to Pentecost, now they are in a most desperate condition, being about 2000 years away from original truth.
Oh, Church of God, there is only one hope. Get back to the Word and stay with it.
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