The ‘Nicolaitans are mentioned just twice in the Bible. In Revelations 2:6 God commends the Church at Ephesus because they ‘hated’ the deeds of the Nicolaitans. “But this you have , that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate .” That is very strong language for God to use, it is not often that God says that He hates something. So who are the Nicolaitans and what do they do? Most commentators will sat that we know little or nothing about this group of people, but I believe that if we take a closer look, we not only can know who they are but we will realize that many of our churches have Nicolaitans in them today. The Greek word for Nicolaitans means “Destruction or conquest of the people”. Now many might think of Rome which was the great empire during the New Testament age but the Nicolaitans were not a government. They were a group of people who had made their way into some of the churches. With that in mind think about the definition of this word again. ‘Conquerors or destroyers of the people’, there were those within the church who were conquering and destroying the people of the church. Sounds a lot like ‘Spiritual Abuse’ to me. Lets consider I Peter 5:1-4 “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” Peter tells pastors and elders to lovingly and gently lead the body of Christ and that they should not do it for selfish gain but because they care for the people of God. He also tells them to lead by example and not as ‘lords’ over the flock. The Greek word for lords means “to lord against, ie control, subjugate or exercise dominion over.” Peter warns pastors and church leaders NOT to be spiritually abusive. I think by definition the ‘Nicolaitans’ of Revelations are the pastors and church leaders who in fact were ‘lording’ it over the flock…. conquerors or destroyers of the people. They were subjugating and controlling the congregation for their own selfish purposes. If that is true then we not only know who the Nicolaitans are, but we see that many of our churches are being ‘controlled’ by them. We only need to look at the many recent stories that are happening all around us of abusive pastors and leaders damaging the precious souls they were supposed to leading. Many of you have lived through this nightmare of out-of-control church leaders verbally, physically, spiritually and/or sexually abusing you or those you know. God says that He HATES the deeds of these very evil people and that He commends those who HATE this abuse as well.
I mentioned that the Nicolaitans were referred to twice in Revelations. In Revelations 2:15 God rebukes the church at Pergamos because they had those who ‘hold’ to the doctrine (or teachings) of the Nicolaitans. Spiritual abuse is a great evil indeed but it is prevalent in many of our churches. God’s answer is simple and clear….”repent! or I will come and fight against you with the sword of my mouth.” Congregations have the power and ability to oust their leadership who are abusive and it is time to start doing so. Our church leaders are little different than our politicians who think that the citizens of the country are their subjects and that we exist to meet their every demand. They are supposed to be public servants who go to Washington to ‘serve’ their country. So the church leaders of today are supposed to be servants to the people of God.