“Nicolaitans” – Scripture Study

This word “Nicolaitan” is a transliteration of a Greek word which is made up of “Nico,” which means ,“to rule over or conquer,” or “victorious over” and “lait” or “Laos” which is “the common people,” the laity.

Essentially, Nicolaitanism is the most common form of Church government. It is none other than the Clergy-Laity system.

The first time they are mentioned, the Lord Jesus says that He hates their deeds.

“But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”
(Revelation 2:6)

The second time that these men are mentioned the Lord Jesus says that He hates their doctrine.

“So thou hast also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.”
(Revelation 2:15)

Who were these men?

The Preeminent Ones

Diotraphes was the first recorded Nicolaitan in the First Century.

“I wrote unto the church: but Diotraphes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.”
(3rd John 9)

Things to Consider…

The Word of God teaches that the Nicolaitans were a group of men who controlled the assembly. They wanted to be in control and they had to have it their way or otherwise they will cast them out of the congregation exactly like what the Apostle John was saying about Diotraphes. And not only that, they sought to control the people. These Nicolaitans would rise up to become a separate assembly than the assembly of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles of Jesus.

What the Lord Jesus Christ is really referring to is the practices and teachings of the clergy who lord it over “the flock of God” (Acts 20:28-29).

Diotraphes was doing exactly that. He was controlling the assembly. He wanted to be the main person, the preeminent one, the head of the body, and as we have seen, he was rejecting the Apostle’s doctrine and he was casting the brethren out of the assembly. Not only that, but he would not receive the Apostles or any brethren that were contrary to his beliefs. This points to the beginning of the Nicolaitans during the time of the Apostle John and by time of the letter to the congregation of Pergamos the doctrine of the Nicolaitans was really established. Interestingly, the congregation of Pergamos is known as a seat of Satan. This is when the Nicolaitans are described as having a doctrine so this gets very interesting because these men claiming to be Christian were Antichrist, they did not see themselves as against Christ, but they were coming in place of Christ!

The Nicolaitans are those who rule over, or rather, prevail over the body of Christ.

“So shall it not be among you.”

  • No Hierarchy in the Ekklesia!

“But Jesus called them [to him], and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be the servant of all.”
(Mark 10:42-44)

“Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.”
(Matthew 20:26-27)

Jesus Christ – The Preeminent One

“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence.”
(Colossians 1:18)

The Nicolatians – The Opposition

“I wrote unto the church: but Diotraphes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.” (3rd John 9)

“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you…” (2nd Peter 2:3)

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which he have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. (Romans 16:17-18)

“For I know this, that after my departing shall grevious wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29-30)

Paul’s words were fulfilled exactly as he said. After his departing it came to pass that every major city had a man standing in the place of Christ as the head of the body over the assembly. These men and the Nicolaitans are one and the same.


“Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away.” (Job 32:21-22)

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