The Top 25 Historic Ways To Control God's People (text first 5.24.14, tweaked Oct. 2019)
Videos 1-4 (under 1 Hour Each)
Updated (and somewhat streamlined) videos Feb '17:
Man's Selfish Knowledge Or Faith, Word and Spirit?
Revelation 2,6 is about the controlling behavior of some church leaders, the "Nicolaitans," in the late first century church at Ephesus.
Revelation 2,15 is about similar behavior that has become doctrine in Pergamum, and then throughout the world, spanning the entire history of the church.
It begins with the a group of church leaders in the late first century that "knew better" in Ephesus. When we know better we often faith less. We best "trust in God and lean not on our own understanding." (Proverbs3,5)
It's very likely that the leading Apostles like James, Peter and Paul, of mid first century service, have long gone into glory by this time. The prophet John the Revelator is still living, but at a Roman prison on the 13 square mile island of Patmos, just off the coast of Turkey, where Ephesus is the major provincial city. He is on Patmos on account of his true witness to Jesus, on account of his prophesying, Revelation1,9.
So, the risen Jesus is compelled to stand in for John the Revelator in his forced absence from Ephesus. John likely was a church leader in this pre-eminant regional church, the first church to whom Jesus prophesies. So the risen Jesus stands in the midst of these seven churches of Asia Minor to give crucial guidance for the valid transition into second generation Christianity, that speaks for all subsequent generations. 1and2Timothy are also about Ephesus and the smooth transition from first into second generation Christianity.
Jesus, the risen Lord and prophet gives the prophet John The Revelator seven words, to seven churches, the very first one to Ephesus about the first scourge plaguing this transition between first and second generation Christianity, Nicolaitanism (2,6 and 15), whereby a professional religious class, tries to dominate the people.
There's a tension, and a choice right here in this chief Apostolic battleground of Ephesus, post honeymoon, between knowing better, which is man's knowledge, and a faith that confidently acts on the written promises of God and the core of the Christian gospel.
Are we going to know better, get all legalistic and clerical, or have a bible faith, a faith in the whole gospel? The way we answer this question has always been and is still now really important. If we answer the "Nicolaitan way," man's selfish way, we careen off course right quick or trundle down the path of non biblical hierarchy and law-like tradition, of joining church and state, of gatekeeper creeds enforced by pseudo and extraneous gatekeepers, of worldy compromise that leads to empire, or absent empire any old pastorianity-priestianity -preacheranity-prosperianity-churchianity will do!
All these ill conceived traditions in the history of the church have one thing in common- leaders who selfishly control God's people with man made decrees for the benefit, power, and control of themsleves for themselves. This is Nicolaitanism, literally per the Greek controlling the people.
But we, having read the book of Revelation, reject this outright and instead we humbly stand on the promises and walk the salvation road of the whole bible, Hebrew Scriptures too, of the whole gospel and what it takes to be saved and serve after God's heart. The whole Christian gospel includes personal and church witness, shared responsibility for mission, and individual freedom for all inside the church and outside it. Only wityh this freedom road gospel can we avoid capture and conquering by the ever present Nicolaitans past, present and future.
Fooling Even The Elect
Matthew24,24 warns that even the very elect at the end of the age will be deceived by false christs and false prophets even while performing great signs and miracles. Even signs and wonders can be used to conquer God's blood bought people, who become like the experience chasers who wanted yet another sign from Jesus. To them Jesus said at Matthew16,4 "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of Jonah, except the prophetic sign of preaching the gospel in faith and by faith, preaching repentance unto salvation.
Even the signs and wonders of false christs and false prophets and false teachers are notable forms of Nicolaitanism, of controlling people.
But Psalm129,4 promises us "But the Lord is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked." Whatever form of Nicolaitanism is being used, hierarchy or politics, or charlatan healers and charlatan prophets, and all who buddy up with the world and the local strongman, it all adds up to controlling God's people.
But the Apostle Paul said "For freedom Christ has set us free." (Galatians5,1). We're not buying any form of Nicolaitanism past present and future, whether it's subtle or overt, gets results and runs a good business or falls on its face
When the son sets us free we are free indeed!
From Pentecost To Pew Passive?
How did God's people go from the power of Pentecost to pew Passive?
I'm preaching the 25 historic ways God's people have been controlled and thus rendered pew passive. We'll get to the list but as a launching point we go right back to Ephesus and Revelation 2,6 and 15 wherein a group of leaders thought they knew better than the full panoply of church offices according Ephesians 4,11 - prophets, apostles, evangelists, and pastor-teachers, and the unlimited office of deacons.
How did we go from these offices and the endless gifts of the Holy Spirit, and a gift(s) (which 1Corinthians12,7 says we all have) to modern "priestianity" and "pastorianity"? How did we go from tarrying for the Spirit before the first Pentecost to "my church or my denoimination says this" and "my pastor says that?"
How did we go from many Gallilean fisherman to universal Vatican State primate and pope in the late 4th century?
From mandatory celibacy, the 'doctrine of demons' of 1Timothy4,3, to mandatory celibacy in the 11th century?
From rule by the Eastern Prophet Jesus to that of rule by Western religious Caesars of whatever stripe?
From Jesus' apostolic exhortation to just take one set of clothes to prosperianity?
The short answer is Nicolaitanism. Some folks knew better and set up a system that separates the people from themselves and Jesus, a system that allegedly grants them power and jurisdiction to change the immutable Word of God. So, the historic church soon became about "us" and "them", the professionals, the powerful, the politicians, Lords and subjects.
Taxers and tithers.
Not much difference between Protestants and Catholics, all rendered by hierarchy either Lords or subjects, the latter being pew passive, for the benefit of the ruling class of professional church people.
The risen Jesus "hates" this. That's Revelation 2,6: "Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans." Hate is a strong word, but it's His word. And make no mistake, whether in the flesh or risen, Jesus made clear that He would not tolerate this type of clericalized, top down priestianity-pastorianity:
"The Kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called benefactors. But not so among you [who are not "gentiles!" And don't have the excuse of not knowing any better!]; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves." Luke22,25-26.
"Rather, is not the fast I require: to loose the fetters of injustice, to untie the knots of the yoke, and set free those who are oppressed, tearing off every yoke." Isaiah58,6.
"But you, do not be called 'Rabbi'; for One is your teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. And call no one on earth your father, for one is your heavenly Father." Matthew23,8-9.
Then to the church at Pergamum, mere deeds had morphed into the doctrines (and then dogmas) of controlling people:
"you have in Pergamum some that hold to the teaching Balaam, who taught Balak to put temptation in the way of the Israelites. He encouraged them to eat food sacrficed to idols and to commit fornication, and in the same way you also have some who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans." Revelation 2,14-15.
This is going to be a lengthy study. It won't be overly difficult, but I challenge you to stick with it. It will shed light on why we should be more than good consumers of religion, more than subjects of wolfy lords, more than good tithers, passive in the pews.
For me this study has been not just like a light going on in a dark room, but like a light filling a biblical freedom room I never knew existed before. Until I went back to the biblical control room of Revelation, the last biblical revelation of Jesus to His church, I couldn't fully understand this freedom room.
Why Do This Study?
Firstly, because Jesus is saying so.
And secondly, His word says "study to show yourself approved....rightly dividing the word of truth." (2Timothy2,15). We can't even begin rightly dividing the Word unless we all take off our Nicolaitan denominational blinders and recognize that the historic church, Roman and Protestant, claims to follow an Eastern prophet, a conciliar leader, but then has done so according to a non biblical Western hierarchical-political model. This mindset is by definition Nicolaitan- control the laity- for the benefit and power of the church elites.
Jesus is fully capable of personally shepherding and directing each of us, with or without anything taught here, but by recognizing the ubiquity of Nicoaitanism, we are then able to witness to and advocate for the holy Ghost faith and freedom that teaches all folks to live his word and know and heed his voice (John 10,10).
Thirdly, we do this study because the control mechanisms of traditional Christianity have left many souls still in Egypt, or endlessy wandering in the the desert, church to church, or chasing the next experience, or chasing the false God of money, or just lukewarm, neither fish nor fowl as captives of Nicolaitanism.
Fourthly, the bride of Jesus deserves the best, not to be micromanaged unto a sometimes abusive submission.
Fifthly, the way we do church matters to our eternal salvations. Our saving faith is not in any church itself, but in the gospel itself and Jesus Himself, precious gifts, of which churches are not owners, but merely stewards.
Controlling folks and selling and using and shading our pet doctrines is the type of sin that leads to spiritual death, cf 1John5,17.
I'm guessing that most church leaders agree with me that the case against Nicolaitanism in church history is clear and convincing. We'll get to that case,and your free to disagree, but if we agree we're against Nicolaitanism now we need to tell God's people what we know so they can be free and faithful according to their conscience and the WORD.
I'm also aware that there are some so called leaders and church followers who are so accustomed to following the habits and customs of a closed religious hierarchy they clearly prefer it to the freedom and responsibility of a bible based Christian faith. But to those in the comfort camp the word and Spirit saya "What good is it to gain the whole world and lose your soul."
Not Bashing Any One Denomination Or Your Pastor Or Your University
This study is not about bashing any one denomination, but doing church biblically, bringing more of God's people into salvation, church in a way that recognizes the gifts of all God'a people and empowers ministry for all. This study and the bible is against the system of Nicolaitanism which is an ugly invisible spiritual stronghold, a foul religious spirit, a road block to the blood bought freedom of all God's people.
This road block has fixed itself in the center aisle of the overwhelming majority of Christian churches. This is not to say that there are not some good individual pastors, good servants, within the Nicolaitan system, though they quickly find that they are all tied up and shunned in any denomination or church when they try to do things Jesus' way.
This is not to say that I'm asking you to declare all things and ministries and institutions in the Nicolaitan system as evil. But a fallen Babylonian church system is ugly and strange to the Lord God of Israel, who finds himself limited by a fallen gentile system whereby its leaders lord it our HIS people.
And make no mistake- as Revelation 17-18 suggests Babylon Christendom may have lost the judgment of history, and may even be aware of that judgment, but still have a strong hold over God's people, a strong hold that continually tempts those within the Nicolaitan system to maintain the status quo for the sake of the hierarchical few at the expense of the many.
Nicolaitanism Is A Spiritual Stronghold
Our fight is not against people, not carnal, not physically violent, not against flesh and blood. It's not against those who lead and champion and defend the Nicolaitan system, and all it's various institutions, clubs, customs and all the rest, but against the unbiblical, unJewish spiritual and ugly stronghold of Nicolaitanism, that sits like a net over God's people, a stronghold that denies them in many cases the very biblical gospel, the biblical faith, that saves them.
And we take heart in 2Corinthians10,4: "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they [bible faith, the saving blood of Jesus, the living WORD of God, the NAME of Jesus in prayer and supplication, true teaching of the very knowledge of God, obedience to Jesus] have divine power to demolish strongholds."
In other words, if our endtime church, our seventh age church, the rich and sort of indolent Laodicean church (Genesis 3,14ff), mostly Nicolaitan, turned back to the Word and the Spirit of that Word, the Spiritual stronghold of Nicolaitanism would be defeated. Our churches would be creative, open and free, rather than one office based pastorianity and priestianity, with so many gifts wasted and unused.
Paul's goal when he aimed to pull down the stronghold of false authority false teaching, the very presumption of the smooth talking greedy "Super Apostles" (2Corinthians11,5) in Corinth, was true liberty that comes from living by faith, from living obediently to the true prophetic Word of Jesus and the gospel.
Every time this spiritual stronghold of super Apostle hierarchicalism, of Nicolaitanism is pulled down in any church, a whole lot more people are saved and set free, men and women, souls paid for only by the blood of Jesus.
What's The Difference?
And you might object what's the difference if we do things the bible way or the Nicolaitans way, the laborers will still be few. Yes the laborers may still be few even with a bible based Holy Ghost empowered church. But at least the few laborers will be laboring in the actual Spirit of the gospel.
Having said this and chosen this expansive topic, I invite you to test the Spirit here, and God willing, you may find it passes Holy Ghost muster.
Since it's a historical survey it necessarily includes more about the Vatican State church, which, like it or not, has had a Google like influence on those searching for God throughout history, at least pre-reformation anyway. This church has bred a large and various offspring of churches, and still influences the practices of most of them right up to the present day, an influence more notable than some "Protestants" would care to admit.
Empower All The Offices Of Ephesians4,11 And Recognize Ministry Gifts Of All
One more introductory thing. I was out spreading the gospel the other day and met a nice church couple still in love after 30 years were out taking a walk together. We talked about the need to develop faith maturity in the body, to develop leaders, men and women, young and old who actually are empowered and given and then take ministerial responsibility, who can actually carry some ministerial water, and the gal asked: "how could you make church any different (than the mostly pastor does everything-consumer passive experience we have now)?"
She was anxious to get back to her walk, so I blurted out "you teach and demonstrate Ephesians 4,11, and empower the whole body to spread the gospel." I didn't have time to also blurt out 1Corinthians12,7 that recognizes that every Christian has, by faith, a Holy Ghost empowered gift, a gift from God.
To empower all God's people according to all the offices and gifts in His body, in His church, we need to get an understanding from history of how we got to now, a one office (not five!), that of the pastor who often runs a hierarchical business-political-territorial model church that predominates the people and renders all but a small core group (often paid) passive.
We'll use God's Word to make the case against Nicolaitanism. And while I expect you won't agree with everything or even most of what I'm teaching, I'm thinking it will be hard for us to deny the fact that over the history of the church, and still now, many of God's people have been conquered by those who were supposed to be their servant leaders.
Jesus hates this.
Code Word In A Book That Speaks To All The Ages Of The Church
"Nicolaitan" is John the Revelator's word for false or "Gentile" (those not respectful of the servant leadership model of the Hebrew Scriptures-New Testament) churchmen who do what this Greek word means- conquer the people.
Traditional interpretation refers it back to Acts6,5, to Nicolas of Antioch, a gentile convert to Judaism, one of the first seven deacons ordained by the apostles in Jerusalem, an alleged profligate whose example morphed into the gnostic heresy that the general resurrection has already happened so folks can do whatever with their bodies (2Timothy2,18).
While sexual conduct may have been a symptomatic side issue of Revelation 2,6, then and now, any such literal licentiousness is not likely to have risen to a public doctrine defended in Pergamum, Revelation 2,15. We say this noting that at Revelation 17,2 and elsewhere 'fornication' is meant expansively, as a figure of compromise with the "gentile" world.
So, Nicolaitanism is bigger than any one sin. It's about the emerging legalistic and compromising pastoral rule that dominates the laity. This is the essence of both Revelation 2,6 and 14-15 (cf spirit and truth.org "The Nicolaitans" 4:13, citing Arnold Fructenbaum's "The Footsteps of Messiah", 51, Ariel Ministries, Tustin CA., 2003); cf "The Nicolaitans" ccg.org. p.202. The author is also grateful to William M. Branham for an initial introduction to and a fuller understanding of Revelation 2,6 and 14-15).
It's as if the worldy, business first, clerical spirit of the Jerusalem Temple priesthood (which had their temple destroyed in 586BC and 70AD, as Jesus prophesied) came into Christianity. "Woe to you scribes..." Jesus repeated this again and again, ie "woe to you clerics who Lord it over my people as if you were gentile leaders, as if you didn't know any better."
Nicolaitan Strongmen Follow The Way Of False Prophet Baalam
Even before any temple in Canaan there was the false leadership and soothsaying of the Transjordan strong man Balaam (the devourer), a gentile "prophet" and priest, out to make a buck selling his "holy" words and "sacrifices" to anyone.
Balaam is that "gentile" "prophet" who knows enough to sometimes tell the truth about Israel and God's word (Numbers 22-24). But Revelation2,14-15 blames him for sinking God's newly arrived people from Egypt by advising King Balak to lure them into religious-sexual compromise with the Moabites (Numbers25,1-2).
This is the Nicolaitan pattern: First, church leaders conquer by legalism as in Ephesus. But if that doesn't work sufficiently then they make deals the local strong men, deals that drag God's people down. This further binds His blood-bought people and keeps them from enjoying the promised land. This is a Nicolaitan two-step, legalism and then side deals with the world, that trap God's people in sin and wordly compromise.
The Conquering All Began Right There in Ephesus.
It began right away in the church in the middle of the first century in the fledgling church at Ephesus (began 52AD) when the lowly Christian leaders perhaps envied the emerging powers and perks of the nascent Roman Imperial priesthood, or the long established Greek priesthood of Apollo, or the well established money-making and political power-wielding, centuries-old, priesthood cult of the amazon goddess Artemis (adminstered by virgin-maiden priestesses under the mandatory celibacy "doctrine of demons" 1Timothy4,3 (like the Vestal virgins of ancient Rome, finally prohibited in the late 4th century).
The "Artemesion" temple for the Amazon Artemis (or "Diana" for the Romans) set a huge political and religious machinery in motion and put Ephesus on the world political power map. It was also full of local and regional import too, as the apostle Paul found out when he preached against Artemis, and her cash cow idol that fell from the pagan sky Acts 19,23ff.
(See "Priestly Personnel of the Ephesian Artemision: Anatolian, Persian, Greek and Roman Aspects" by Jan N. Bremmer, Theol.eldoc.rug.n1; especially pp. 9,14-15 and "Imperial Coins In Ephesus: Expressions of Inferiority, Superiority, or Isopolity", Erin M. Iosa, USF, scholarcommons.usf.edu, p. 12, 20-22).
The Apostle Paul prophesied Nicolaitan leaders emerging in Ephesus from within the flock. Acts 20,29: "I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock." This prophesy derived from Genesis 49,27, "Benjamin [Paul's tribe] is a ravening wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he snatches a share of the spoil"). Despite what they say and how they seem they will have no mercy on God's people.
We don't know exactly how this Nicolaitanism began in Ephesus. It probably was something as apparently innocent as a mandatory tax to get baptized, or to support the extra expenses of the elders, or managing elder, above the tithe. We do know from Revelation2,14-15 it had become a well-developed doctrine in the church at Pergamum whereby doctrine is formed and promulgated to protect the vested monetary and political interests of the ruling class in the church.
Most broadly "Nicolaitanism" is the Christian version of folks using unbiblical ways and turf conscious leadership positions to move up in power and prestige in the religious-political world, and the non biblical making of religious hierarchies for the sake of political and religious power.
More narrowly, as to the historic church up to the present day, Nicolaitanism is the ongoing system that reserves and appropriates the adminstrative powers, perogatives, prerequisites, and spoils of our freely given salvation in Jesus to priestianity or pastorianity, at the expense of the freedom and full empowerment of all God's people.
God's Faithful People Are Unconquerable
As followers of Jesus, descendants of the unconquerable Jacob (Genesis32,22-32 who wrestles with God ), this is abosolutely unacceptable. This is especially unacceptable now in a modern age of explosive knowledge (Daniel 12,4) wherein we all (or almost all) have His word in our own hands, good scholarship based teaching materials in our hands, and thus we all can understand that Jesus' church is word-based and Holy Spirit based, not Nicolaitan based, ie political, hierarchical, denominational or tradition-custom based.
We were never meant to be dominated, let alone conquered, by any hierarchical church-political figure or any political-religious figure, local or far off, or denomination, but rather served and protected (Luke22,26) by our leaders and then equipped for our own meaningful gospel service.
Jesus purposely never ordained anybody a priest, so this politicizing hierarchy is a total non starter, not at the last seder (or "supper') or elsewhere. Nor did he expect his apostles to make a high priesthood, having just been put to death by one.
Leadership Offices Are For Maturity And Structure For Service
"And he [Jesus] himself gave some to be apostles [plural], some prophets [plural] some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 Till we all come to the fullness of Christ; 14 That we should no longer be children, tossed about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into him who is the head-Christ-" Ephesians4,11-15.
The risen Jesus is the only figure who governs in a strict hierarchical and jurisdictional sense in his body. The call, equipping and placement of any individual in the Ephesian4,11 offices (or as a deacon) is something Jesus personally does. The offices are nothing more or less than His offer that we serve according to the latitude of the office, in faith and holiness, according to His word:
"Now in any great house there are not only utensils that of gold and silver, but also others of wood and earthen ware; the former offerings are valued, the latter held cheap. 21 Anyone who cleanses himself from all this wickedness will be a vessel valued and dedicated, a thing useful to the master of the the house, and fit for any honorable purpose." (2Timothy2,20-21)
The ultimate word of judgment and pastoring in the Body of Christ belongs to Jesus. It's worth noting that in writing Ephesians 4,11 Paul also studiously avoids any references (at 2,18-22) to any priesthood, hierarchical or otherwise, in referring to the governing offices of the church.
The only Christian priesthood in the New Testament bible is the priesthood of all the faithful (1Peter2,5 and 9, fulfilling God's plan per Exodus19,6), all those born again by the water and Spirit (John3,5).
Christianity Is Not Hierarchical: Acts 15
It serves again to note in this matter of the offices in Christ's body, especially us who come from a Western mindset, that the Eastern biblical mindset is geared toward councils of elders, Acts15.
In Acts 15, the Apostle James hosted a council and issued the decree that stated gentiles did not have to become Jews to be Christian. He was both an Apostle and the local managing elder (1Timothy5,17) in the first local Christian body in all history, in Jerusalem. He made this final decision after consensus, after hearing from Paul and Barnabas, and Peter, and likely others too.
He was no Vatican State Primate, with total jurisdictional power, an office conceived in the late fourth century, as political Rome was falling, nor a far off hierarchical figure from a capital city of an empire. James made the final decision that gentiles did not have to follow the law of Moses because he was the local pastor and Apostle, the very representative of Jesus who would be most effected by the decision not to circumcize gentiles. He had the final call after this consensus was reached.
No Nicolaitanism In The Five Biblical Christian Church Offices
Apostle As Missionary Catalyst
Before we list the top twenty-five Nicolaitan deeds and doctrines in the history of Christianity, it serves to briefly examine the servant characteristics, the non Nicolaitan nature, of the five biblically identifiable Christian "offices." These offices share the responsiblity for the gospel-conciliar governance of the church. They are the biblical norm so we all need to all know something about them.
These five offices, if all lived to the fullest, would and will prevent God's people from being conquered by the professional church class:
The Apostle is God's human catalyst conciously endeavoring to build Christ's people through the implementation of the new prophetic gospel built on Jesus, the risen cornerstone (1Corinthians10,3; 1Peter2,4-9; Ephesians2,16-22).
Apostles organize, exhort, teach, encourage- chasten, and so build up Jesus's entire resurrection-priestly (unordained)-gospel people (1Peter2,5 and 9) to be functioning servant members of his body, called out of worldliness to live instead a life of witness to the gospel. The Apostle is God's excavator who clears the land so that God's church may be built up in faith.
We do well also to note here that the office of Christian Apostle is prophetic in so far as the catalyst role includes the prophetic mandate of announcing the gospel to both the Jews (Acts 2,14ff) and gentiles respectively (1Corinthians14,37).
It wasn't until Pope Damasus I between 366-384 AD that the Roman church claimed the bishop of Rome as the successor to Peter, and worked up the overwrought theology of Roman Primacy based on Peter's confession of faith at Matthew 16,19 (Ellis L. Knox "The Papacy"). This "primacy" was at best based on unbiblical Roman state priesthood tradition and the unambiguous political pre-eminance of Rome.
In other words, we believe "Peter" (is there any proof he even got to Rome?) and His claimed successors became the perceived CEOs of a Western based church not because of God's word or Spirit (Ephesians 4,11 names no universal apostle, or pastor), but because Rome was the most powerful city in its own empire, and Tradition with a capital T claims, without proof, that he was martyred there. Thereby, the office and primacy of Peter was created by man's word, and thereafter the Vatican's unified political-religious system managed the succession and the primacy of an office they themselves created from the tradition that the Roman emperor was both imperial Caesar and high priest, Pontifex Maximus as well.
The Prophet Alive And Well In All Ages Speaks The Eternal Priorities Of The God Of Israel
The Prophet (whose office and gift is listed first at Romans12,6) is concerned always with the past, present and future priorities of God and His word: "Indeed the Lord God does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets." Amos3,7.
The Apostle-prophet Paul corrected the legalistic-Judaizing Apostle Peter (Galatians2,11-14), as John the Revelator and Jesus corrected the churches of Asia Minor (Revelation2-3), as also Peter corrected the Temple priesthood (Acts2,14ff).
The prophet has the power to correct anyone, especially Nicolaitans, wherever they are found in whatever time period. And if that correction is not heard, God can withdraw His kingly-political favor, His pastoral favor, any type of administrative favor, even the prophetic favor from anyone, according to the example of Israel First King, Saul.
In fact, it was the prophet Isaiah who corrected king Hezekiah's prime minister, master of the King's palace, the "sure peg" Shebna (perhaps a Persian gentile, Isaiah22,15-25, 2Kings18,37) for building himself an elaborate tomb (v.16), as if he were king Himself rather than a mere priestly servant of the the king of Israel. Vatican state adherents quote Isaiah22 for the idea that Shebna and his replacement Eliakim are biblical forerunners of their claimed successive papal key holders.
But closer inspection of the passage tells us that Shebna was demoted from holding the keys of the temple for His selfish distraction from His primary duties, by his feather bedding, his tomb building, his presumption that His office as the temple key holder high priest was eternal, as if kingly too. (Faithbuilders, "The Nail" cited fully below). This selfish distraction from his primary duties is a form of Nicolaitanism.
As we just said, from Isaiah22 Vatican adherents entertain the idea of Petrine Apostolic primacy and succession. For the sake of argument, we'll consider Matthew16,18-19 where Jesus did surprisingly give Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven, keys like Shebna regarding administrative matters of the Jerusalem temple. But we bear in mind that Peter was not installed in any ongoing biblical office of Christian priesthood. There is no such office in Christian scripture. He was merely a universal priest as all born again Christians are (1Peter2,5 and 9).
Again we remember that Jesus never ordained anyone to any office- he breathed on them, a figure of Holy Ghost baptism, John10,22), yet he did apparently give Peter the administrative keys of Christianity.
But from Shebna's example, and from Isaiah22,25 we know that the successive high priestly power and office was cut off by God's prophetic decree:
" 'In that day,' declares the Lord Almighty, the 'peg' [the high priesthood office] driven into a firm place will give way; it will be sheared off and will fall, and the load hanging on it [sacrificial-teaching system] will be cut down.' The Lord has spoken." That day came in 70AD when the High priesthood definitively lost its Temple in Jerusalem and the office of High priesthood.
And we also know from Shena's example, assuming for the sake of argument that the one time gift of the keys to Peter were successive, that any supposed successive and dynastic priestly like power claimed by the Vatican (Peter had the office of an Apostle not the Old testament office of a priest) would persist only if validly exercised, within the limited frame of doing what Christians are biblically commanded to do- spread the gospel, to Jews first, Acts2, and then gentiles, Acts10.
Once any Christian leader sidesteps the limited mandate of teaching the whole gospel and baptizing (Matthew28,18) they, like Shebna, would be demoted, Isaiah36,3. And if, again assuming for the sake of argument, Vatican succession history shows us that Vatican primates susequent to Peter were distracted like Shebna, distracted by selfish Nicolaitanism.
Yet again Isaiah22, 25 doesn't necessarily teach succession or binding and loosing by men with keys but simply one is fit for an office until any major distraction from duties such as selfish Nicolaitanism means your lose the office and any power that goes along with it. Likewise, just as the high priesthood in Israel was sacrpped in 70AD upon the destruction of the temple, so the the whole idea of any mere man holding any keys was scrapped by Jesus at Revelation 3,7, superseding words of any colorable claims of Matthew16,19 to promote Vatican primacy and succession.
John the Revelator, the prophet, not fully kknowing what he was writing, answered this claimed papal primacy and succession with two two key scriptures.
The first is Revelation6,2. The second one is Revelation3,7. Revelation 6,2 has to do with the first historical seal of seven:
"And I looked, and behold a white horse! And it's rider [Vatican church] had a bow [military might, the sword, wrongly exercised by the Christian church. The bow made famous by gentile Parthians, who in 62AD inflicted a military defeat on Rome. So here it is a veiled jab by John at the empire who was trying to conquer him on Patmos], and a crown was given to him [since the 8th century], and he came out conquering, and to conquer."
In other words, the Nicolaitan-Vatican church system left the gospel and took up the bow and conquering. Likewise, Jesus told Peter to put down his weapon of war, Matthew26,52. Horses are instruments of war in the bible. This is a conquering horse. Jesus was never bent on conquering anyone. He merely served salavtion, first to the Jews, then to the gentiles. This first horse is part of the other four, in this much compressed first seven verses of Chapter 6. This apparent white horse is the religious component, four horse Roman empire system, the system that conquers peoples, tribes and nations:
Peoples can be conquered by the first horse of conquering religion, by the second red horse, that is by war. By the third black horse, by famine. And by the fourth pale horse, by death and plagues.
John The Revelator, the prophet sees all these horse as forms of Nicolaitanism.
In contrast to militaristic conquering, there is scriptural based gospel preaching unto repentance and adult baptism. These are the first and only "keys to the kingdom" of God, of "binding and loosing," ie deciding who is in the church. This is what Peter did on the day of Pentecost.
Again Isaiah 22,25 speaks to religious rulers claiming primary and successive power who then lose it by getting distracted by selfish Nicolaitanism:
"In that day, declares the Lord almighty "the peg driven into the firm place will give way; it will be sheared off and will fall, and the load [burden, responsibility says faithbuilders] hanging on it will be cut down."
Isaiah 22,25 prophesies that the key holder priest and His successive high priestly office, and the cultic priesthood itself, sometime after Eliakim, will also fail, will be cut off (cf Jewish Study Bible, Oxford 2004 n.c).
So the upshot of Isaiah 22,15-25 is that the prophet's corrective word from God is the king's best official security, not any man, or any keys holder, or any supreme office, or high supposed official Christian priesthood made up by men. In fact, v. 25 says this whole idea of any one mere man with binding and losing power will be permanently cut off at some time in the prophetic future.
Keys To Peter Only A One Time Delegation, For Duration Of His Life
Faithbuilders Fellowship does a good study of Isaiah22 and the priestly nature of the keys to the temple and the sur peg in a fixed spot ("The Nail" "And I shall fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house." Isaiah22,23, auburn.edu/~allenkc/fbf/nail.html). This study helped me see that Shebna had been selfish and turned from humble service to self dealing and political aggrandizement, as if he were a king himself.
This study ably lays out the permanent replacement of the Temple priesthood in the Hebrew Scriptures, of the office of priesthood itself (an office not in Ephesians4,11) and champions this replacement with the great new and final key holder himself, our one high priest, the risen Jesus, and His new Melchizedek priesthood according to the Book Hebrews. Faithbuilders, I'm summarizing, goes on to say that Jesus is this final sure peg, humankind's final secure nail, our great high priest, the replacement of all former key bearers, and the only present bearer.
But while our brethren at Faithbuilders ably make this argument, they do not address Matthew16,19 where Jesus did in fact give the keys to the kingdom to Peter, not as a priest in an Ephesians4,11 Christian office, but as the Apostle who first understood the revelation of who Jesus was.
Where does this leave us as to the office of prophet and resisting Nicolaitanism?
Right back to our point!
It is the office of prophet and the prophetic word that still corrects distracted, selfish Nicolaitan "Christian" faith leaders. Just as Isaiah corrected Shebna, just as the prophet John the Revelator corrects and reveals the Nicolaitans at Revelation2,6 and 15 and 6,1 and Revelation 17-18, and all throughout this final book of the bible.
Jesus Has The Sole Key Of David
The prophet John hears the risen prophet Jesus at Revelation3,7 speaking to the church at Philadelphia. Here the risen Jesus Himself takes back any High priestly like power granted to Peter at Matthew16,19: "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: 'These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open."
What our savior and prophet gave to Peter at Matthew16,19 was a one time gift to His chosen Apostolic non hierarchical leader. We know this because Revelation3,7 depicts Jesus, one risen man-God, with the one key of salvation.
Revelation 6,2 and 3,7 take away any need to talk about papal primacy and succession (which wasn't even a claim at the time the prophet John wrote the book of Revelation in about 90AD).
Isaiah 22, Revelation 3,7 and 6,2 rein in the "Nicolaitan" self dealing of any High temple priesthood by predicting that this office would be cut off, which it was for seventy years in 586BC, at the Babylonian destruction of the temple, and then permanently in 70AD, when Rome destroyed it again.
Likewise Revelation3,7 and 6,2 and Chapter 17 and18 and this whole book of Revelation, written by a prophet, reins in all those who turn Nicolaitan in an any era of the Christian movement.
What the Lord and prophet Jesus gave at one time to Peter, for his life term if he obeyed the Lord's instructions, the risen Lord and prophet Jesus can take away from him or any one. Just as He took away the Temple or Mosaic priesthood and the office of the Hebrew Temple priesthood, he took away any man having the keys to the kingdom of heaven as soon as Christianity got off the gospel track in Ephesus and went Nicolaitan.
Right then and there, after what John and the risen Lord saw in Ephesus, the Nicolaitan misuse of relgious authority, He took the keys away so Nicolaitansim would be clearly rendered moot by Revelation3,7, so that biblical Christianity could enter its second generation with the freedom with which the Christian movement began at Pentecost.
Revelation17,6 updates the church as conqueror and conquering horse of Revelation6,2. It depicts a woman, of sorts, drunk on the blood of the saints, drunk with dominating God's people.
Burden Of Heading Up The Universal Christian Mission Is Jesus' Alone
So, the risen prophet and High Priest Jesus is our only sure peg in a secure spot, Furthermore, the burden of heading up the church is his alone, no Nicolaitanism allowed by mere human beings. Only Jesus, the risen man- God- has any such ruling glory in the faith family of God. Only He sits upon the throne in his father's house, Isaiah22,23-24.
In other words, God's people always must have God's own word spoken afresh by prophets. God does nothing without revealing Himself to His prophets, Amos3,7. No house-happy-all is always well speak prophets, no self proclaimed prophets, no "yes people," no sort of prophets carrying denominational three ring binders wearing denominational uniforms need apply: for "the spirits of the prophets [plural] are subject to the prophets." 1Corinthians14,32
"Would that all God's people were prophets." (Numbers11,29).
Without The Office Of Prophet Nicolaitans Always Rise Up To Conquer And Fleece God's People
Without prophets and the biblical priorities they defend, at the cost of their lives, the Nicolaitan religious hierarchy folks in any name brand church, in any age, will take over and put their greedy political minded thumb on God's people. This is the lesson of salvation history. This Nicolaitanism is not acceptable or biblical as John the Revelator prophesies at Revelation16,5:
"Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgements. 6 For they [Nicolaitans] have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood [judgment] to drink. It is what they deserve."
The Fresh And Winsome Word Of The Evangelist
The Evangelist is one who has the gospel teaching down pat in a such a winsome way that he or she travels to spread the good news to folks who may not have heard it, or heard it proclaimed according to God's word.
Local Managing Elder And Teacher
The Pastor-Teacher is the managing elder in the local congregation (1Timothy5,17), and as to what effects the local church most (Acts15), he decides local disputes and governs there according to the word and Spirit, and the revealed prophetic-word priorities of God.
Deacons and Deaconesses: Jacks and Jills Of All Godly Administrative Needs
The Deacon and Deaconess is the ministerial servant who works alongside a local pastor, or Apostle, prophet, evangelist and might be a local council elder as well (cf 1Timothy3,8).
25 Historic Deeds And Doctrines Of The Nicolaitans
1. The unhistorical, unbiblical and late claim that the Apostle Peter founded the church in Rome.
The church in Rome was not founded by either the Apostle Peter or Paul.
It's likely founded by the married Jewish couple Prisca and Aquila given that Paul gives them much credit for the Roman church that meets in their house, and his praise of their efforts to other gentile churches Romans 16,3-4 (And Priscilla gets her own Roman tomb in the catacombs, with a fresco depicting her seat at the Lord's Table, see Table of Lord Meditation N. 26 under topics tab at top of home page).
Or, the Roman chruch was founded by Andonicus and Junias, relatives of Paul, "fellow prisoners" of him, in Roman prison, who he describes in Romans as "outstanding among the apostles and were Christians before I was one." (Romans16,7).
Paul himself was keen in his ministry to avoid building on another leading Apostle's foundation (Roman15,20). And it was his life work (after his incarceration in Israel, appeals to Caesar, ship wrecks, and snakes bites) to get to Rome and put his stamp on the church in the most politically influential gentile city in the world, which he did Acts28,12-30.
What do the scholars say?
Peter may have travelled to Rome, even been martyred there (67AD), but he did not establish an ongoing Roman apostolic see, that had full CEO jurisdiction over the whole church:
"From the second half of the second century we do possess texts which mention the apostolic foundation of Rome, and at this time, which is indeed rather late, this foundation is traced back to Peter and Paul, an assertion that cannot be supported historically. Even here, however, nothing is said as yet of an episcopal office of Peter." (Oscar Cullman: "Peter- Disciple, Apostle, Martyr" 2nd Edition, Westminster, 1962, 234; from Saint Peter Role In early Church n. 51 Wikipaedia)
The claim that Peter led the church in Rome comes from the third century. (Raymond Brown: "Antioch and Rome: New Testament Cradles of Catholic Christianity" Paulist, 1983, p. 98, from Early Centers of Christianity, n. 48 Wikipaedia, and n. 50 Saint Peter Role In Early Church, Wikipaedia).
Thus, the claim of Traditional Roman Church supremacy is derived from and backed up by Roman political supremacy and also clearly contradicts the Eastern based Jewish derived biblical consensus model of Ephesians4,11ff.
2. John The Revelator, "your brother and partner in the distress," banished by Roman Emperor Domitian (86-96AD), likely from Ephesus, chief city of Asia Minor, 3rd largest in empire, to nearby prison island of Patmos, forty miles off the coast of Ephesus (Revelation1,9).
He pens and or completes the book of Revelation to the seven churches he just left (1,4).
His prophecies threatened the Roman Empire who had developed over time their own brand of secular Nicolaitanism, that political and religious Christendom would later adopt.
It would be interesting to know if John was sold out by the Nicolaitan ravenous wolves prophesied by Paul, who favored church advancement and compromise with the empire;
3. Polycarp Bishop of Smyrna, also in Asia Minor, burned at the stake in 155AD for refusing to state "Caesar is Lord."
For those who subscribe to a dispensational age biblical view of Revelation 2-3, this would encompass the '2nd church age', say 96AD to 305AD, End of Emperor Domitian reign to Constantine, who conquered the church, by joining it as an univited houseguest, who then made the rules and would not leave. This article does not hinge on this dispensational view, but it does add another layer of prophetic understanding, especially of Revelation 2,14-15, the Pergamon age, which begins when the the empire joins the church, a giant leap into the progressive, accumulated, unbiblical Nicolaitanism of Christianity.
The test in Polycarp's era was twofold and admittedly very difficult for the fledgling church:
A. Forge a new Judeo based Christian identity that is not Judaizing, part of 'synagogue of Satan' (Revelation2,9), but which still does biblical justice to the king of the Jews, and
B. Be loyal to Jesus rather than compromise with the Roman Empire:
"Do not dread what you are to suffer. True the devil is going to throw some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and for ten days you will have trouble. Be loyal, though it means your death..." Revelation2,10.
Polycarp's martyrdom was preceeded by a Nicolaitan based church controversy that started in 155 AD and wasn't settled until the 325AD at the Council of Nicaea (Turkey). The venerable Polycarp is believed to have been a confidante of the Apostle John in Ephesus, and as a good Christian Jew, like the other Apostles, and practiced, as did other Christians in the Roman province of Asia, the observance of the Passover at the Spring full moon, whereas Christian churches closer to Rome started celebrating "Easter" (derived from a pagan name of Ishtar) on the following Sunday.
The Bishop of Rome, Anicteus, in 155AD calls a meeting in favor of Roman practice, soon to be tradition, of a three day celebration now know as the Good Friday-Easter Sunday "Tridium." (vision.org, Ivor C. Fletcher and Peter Nathan, winter 2005).
This was no small controversy.
It sums up the compromising and errant biblical roots of Nicolaitanism. That is, if Rome can change the date and celebration particulars of the principal event of both Israel's and Christianity's salvation, even if it takes almost 120 years, it can then, and did, also minimize the Hebrew scriptures and roots thereafter. It can then change what goes on at the table of the Lord. It can then and did unabashedly in the future move Christianity out of the claims and perogatives of God's first people, now one new gospel people (1Peter2), out of the word, out from being a people of the book, toward unbiblical Greco Roman based religious values, practices and politics.
This was also the time of Marcion an Anti-Semite, who rejected Jesus as the God of Israel and the Hebrew Scriptures. He was bent of separating the church from its Jewish scriptural, cultic and cultural roots, and proposed a first canon of scripture that consisted of a pared down gospel of Luke and ten of Paul's writings.
Marcion was roundly and rightly condemned as a heretic by Rome, but his approach of scrapping the Hebrew Scriptures and the Jewishness of Jesus largely won the day and ther battle of history and became a sorry fact of historical Christendom and gave Nicolaitanism its beastly gallop.
Polycarp was resisting this separation from our Hebrew scriptural and cultural roots and was killed for failing to worship the Roman emperor, a foreboding of what was to come at the hands of Roman Inquisitors in the 12-16th century, especially for Jews in Spain in the 14-15th century, forced to convert or be martyred.
4. Nicene Creed of 325AD (Updated in 381 AD) Opens Door Wide To Nicolaitanism.
The Roman Emperor Constantine accepts the Christian Church (313AD. Edict of Milan), and the official persecution ends. But he had no initial baptism. He supposedly had a vision of the cross, but as a means to conquer, apparently as a means to conquer rather than liberate.
His actions show more than a man consumed with propping up the Western Empire that was attacked by Goths and Vandals as early as 190 AD, and consolidating the Roman Empires' expansion East. He was about saving and expanding the empire, which in the west fell in 476AD.
He was emperor by definition he was about conquering and politics before following Jesus. This is the apparent "white horse," the church and state beast united, of Revelation6,1-2. It looks good, but somethings not right, because the guy on the horse is out to conquer: "He was given a crown, and he rode forth, conquering and to conquer."
Constantine himself called the Council of Nicaea in Turkey 325AD (again Asia Minor the crisis point!), in the east, not because he cared about Christian doctrine but to consolidate his recent military unification of the East and West. He calls this meeting right on the heels of his victory in what was then "Byzantium" in 324AD, His "New Rome."
Jesus as a created son or angel of God (Arianism) wasn't a burning 'got to call a council' issue among the church folks East and West, but it was for Constantine to consolodate and expand his claim to power East and West. Faith suggests the bible would have won out. Besides our bible is ok with folks with different opinions, cf Mark 9,38ff: "'Teacher,' said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us." 39 "Do not stop him," Jesus said.
Constantine wants his creed, any creed, as a means of organizing the Eastern bishops who will help prop up the empire and consolidate the Roman Empire expansion there.
There was no sense of the pressing need for unifying dogma from an emperor at this time. There's no primacy of the Roman see yet, no papal succession dogma. The church had the bible, but this is how it soon lost it, how the people lost their blood bought freedom status and became subjects to the creed makers, the political power elites.
Again this council was called and driven by Emperor Constantine. The Bishop of Rome did not even go. He sent elders (cf background gci.org/history/nicene) At Constantine's bidding, they do settle the issue whether Jesus is an angel, or angelic son, a created son, a created being, or God in the flesh, one with God. We know this and believe it, from the bible, but they did it with a Nicolaitan creed that set back bible knowledge for at least a 1000 years!
This controversy was primarily political. The church doesn't need an emperor or an emperor's timetable to settle its disputes and doctrines. It doesn't need a creed to settle its disputes, only an empire needs this. The way this dispute was settled was by definition Nicolaitan.The dispute was about the "Arians" and their 'angelic view' of Jesus. Arius view was defended and led by a holy and well-respected priest named Arius (256AD-336AD, died in Constantinople) from Libya, and working in Alexandria in Egypt. He saw Jesus as created son of God, sort of like an angel, a created being.
The Roman Emperor wanted doctrinal peace among Christians, his subjects who would be easy to control if they were all forced to belive the same thing.
The truth was there was not much consensus in the church about this issue at this time. The political intrigues about it and the church power plays continued for decades of political horse trading, of deposing and trading bishops based on the political jockeying of the Arians and non Arians, after the council. All this disagreement was dependant on the politics of the empire propping itself up and expanding, of the "New Rome" in the East.
So, the council issues a decree that Jesus is fully God, same "substance", a Greek philosophical word, "homousious." As if Jesus was a physical substance prior to His incarnation, which defies the biblical Word that God is Spirit.
But our point here is only that Constantine's geo-military politics is the driving force behind this Council, and the creed. And there was no real consensus. But the historical upshot was a lesson that would srve Christendom well when the Roman political empire fell in the midddle of the 5th century. Yes the Emperor of Rome had clearly shown the church at Rome how to be political with church religious doctrine, ie how to control people, based on prcatical and worldy considerations as first and foremost.
This creed, and all creeds are mere substitute for the full word of God. Creeds are short cuts, man made, man written, by definition not God's word. God sent me back here to maintain this point. They are, by defintion, not the written by God.
Moreover creeds are always used in a non biblically hierarchical and political way to better exert rule over God's people. I don't primarily want a simple faith. I surely don't want a creedal faith.
I want a bible faith, just like Jesus had.
Our forbears the Jews didn't ask for creeds, or just keep it simple for the sake of politics. They asked for the word. The word liberates, creeds control. We see this at Nehemiah 8,1-3: Ezra read the entire Mosaic law to the entire community of Jews after they came back from Babylonian exile. The leaders could have crawn up a creed and the people could have asked for one. But as good Jewish faithful both leaders and people both knew knew the word was their first and best faith protection:
"Now when the seventh month came round- the Israelites being in their towns- all the pople gathered as one man in the square in front of the Water Gate, and asked the scribe Ezra to bring the Book of the Law of Moses which Yahweh had proscribed for israel. 2 Accordingly, on the first day fo the seventh month, the priest Ezra brought the Law before the assembly... 3 he read from the book from dawn till noon; all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law."
They did this for a whole week! (v.18) We Christian are called to read and listen the bible, not recite creeds.
Ezra didn't issue a poltically backed and motivated creed, to be recited through the ages. He read the law for 42 hours throughout the week and everybody was eager for all of it. Like our forbears the Jews, we Christians are a people of our God given book, a people seeking the whole counsel of God, not a people of the creed, given by potentates that want to control us.
1Timothy4,13 also says that the public reading of the word is protection of God's people, not a creed: "Until I [Paul] come, devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to preaching and teaching."
Revelation1,3 makes the same point: "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy."
No reciting creeds needed.
The Apostles creed in 390 AD made creeds and the dogma therein, the mode of teaching God's people rather than teaching the empowering word, and using all five offices of Ephesians 4,11.
A. Obedience to the emerging bible, and the gospel, our scriptural patrimony, as one new gospel people, as preached by Jesus and the five offices of Ephesians 4,11 up to this point is now traded in, sold out, for obedience to a creed-church-empire based in Rome.
B. Jesus mandate to 'render unto Caesar that which is Caesars and unto God that which is God's' (Mark12,17) is flagrantly ignored.
C. What the church now teaches is not a biblical-pastoral-Holy Ghost guided question, but a political-philosophical question hashed out over hundreds of years by a small group of political and religious elites.
This matters even today, and it is so subtle that even some "Protestants" folks can miss it. I was in a well known well attended apparently non-creedal church recently yet the recitation of the Apostles creed (390AD) was made a condition of receiving communion! I couldn't make this up. A non-creedal church told me as a bible believing Christian, an heir to the salvation through the Jews, to state a Roman creed before I could take communion in Jesus' one new gospel people church! The message was just as Constantine's fourth century- the whole bible is for the expert class, and the creed is for the "pray pay and obey" folks.
Lords and subjects, Lord's on an apparent white horse, forward conquering and to conquer.
Now I'm not saying it doesn't serve to study doctrine, and preach doctrine, though I'm against just developing it and creedilizing to suit our political tastes of the day, and in furtherance mere politcal and administive-bottom line interests of the "church."
We could have and still can give the people scripture and teach from it.
Instead we teach from creeds? That's Nicolaitan!
Remember, brother Polycarp, the good and faithful Jew, word based, him and the little flock Holy Ghost led church? His church, John the Revelator's church, the church of the bible, the little flock, was quashed right here in the first 300-400 years of Christianity, by tradition, by creeds, by geo-religious politics, by losing the word of God.
Polycarp and John the Revelator didn't lay awake worrying about schism and creeds to make religious and political unity.
They cared about the Word! The word liberates people. Gives all of us not just leaders a real playbook, above all the political-religious machinations of the Nicolaitans of Revelation 2,6 and 15, that are used to so efficiently dominate God's people, past present and future.
Before we go on, keep in mind- the western church based in Rome, now is in a competition with the Eastern church in Constantinople, "New Rome" issued this Nicene creed. Religious competition and the politics learned and dictated by Constantine therefore and thereafter went on to influence the dogmatic pronouncements of Rome, the primacy of Rome, the Petrine office, so called apostolic succcession, the trinity that are to come later in the century.
This political and religious competition and the dogmatism and politics that came out of it, this Nicolaitanism in practice, leaves both leader and laity ignorant of the biblical nature of the church and the service offices of Ephesians 4,11, and while such Nicolaitanism makes for way easier church and empire management, the risk to the salvation of God's blood bought people is clearly not worth any such risk.
Finally, isn't interesting that the Nicene and Apostles creed both prominantly mention Mary, mother of Jesus whereas the WORD makes her somewhat prominent and full of graceful holiness. But it was as just as the laity was given the simple creeds to get the sacraments, it was soon thereafter given devotion to Mary, and the "saints," while the clerical ruling class were custodians of all the theology, all the bible, and all the powers of the church. And by the way the church has just one church office that of Cleric-pastor, without prophets, non territorial prophets, evangelists of both genders, and deaccons of both genders, all of who have some share in the governance of God's bible based church according to Ephesians4,11.
This creed making changed the biblical nature of the church and gave it a political nature, run by experts in politics and dogma, who then lorded it over folks. This is textbook Nicolaitanism.
God's whole word, his whole counsel, in both the Hebrew and the New Testament Scriptures has always been the first defense of God's people, not creeds, not Nicolaitanism, not denominations who end up further creedalizing and dogmatizing their cherry picked doctrines and head toward Nicolaitanism to defend themselves and their turf, like Constantine of old.
5. 306AD Council of Elvira (near Granada Spain) forbids priests to have marital relations with wives (faculty.cua.edu n33), symptomatic of third and fourth century wave of asceticism in the Western church, especially in Northern Africa, which then became the rule of expanding monasticism's claim of 'renouncing the world.'
This 'holier than thou' asceticism morphs into Nicolaitan legalism by the leadership class, that tries in whatever way to dominate even it's own priests, in every aspect of their lives, right down to already rightful sexual relations with their wives! This mandatory celibacy is the doctrine of demons according to 1Timothy4,3.
For better of worse this monastic Nicolaitan notion still has large swaths of the Christian faithful in its strange and futile grip. It renders the laity passive- thinking "those who have fled the world, and claim to forswear sex, must be holier than me."
But hasn't the history of false cults and false prophets and religious scams proved there's is no valid fleeing the world while we are still physically in the world.
And how can we not mention, how could any church be so nosy, so controlling, about a man's valid marriage?
We see here early in the Western church the attempt to create a more efficient ruling class in the church, an undistracted class of servants, whose service is supposedly above that of family. This provides a future glimpse of the counter Reformational idea of celibate priests as the churches foot soldiers defending Roman tradition. Such celibacy meddling and the "chruch militant" idea it spawned are essentially Nicoliatan in their essence, ie about controlling people so the church can more easily rule over it's main assets it's priests and the laity, and maintain it's political power to boot!
6. 381AD Bishop Ambrose of Milan convinces Roman Emperor Theodosious to outlaw religions other than Roman Christianity. This edict has nothing to do with our biblical religion.
It was primarily used against pagans, but this era with its extrabiblical creeds and dogmas, sees here the further marriage of church to Caesar. This changes the Word about being separate from Caesar: "render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar [taxes], and to God that which belongs tt God [honor, glory, obedient faith]. Acts like this edict cast the Christian church in the Roman state exclusivity mode, as the institutional and empirte church being the only with validity:
"'Master we saw someone who is not one of us driving out devils in your name, and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him.' 39 But Jesus said. 'You must not stop him; no one who works a miracle in my name could soon speak evil of me. 40 Anyone who is not against us is for us." Mark9,38-40.
This edict opens the door to the thousand year "Dark Ages" after the fall of the political empire in 476 AD, wherein the church, in various degrees, is both the governing political force and also decreeing religious law backed up by its own political force.
A juridical church, made one by man made laws and man's creeds is not biblical. Such as fees for baptisms, burials on only certain lands, marriage fees and licenses, all of which determine one's standing with the church, and God, and salvation, and ability to make a living.
I talk to some Protestants, who seem somewhat romantic about church history, who repeatedly say "there were always pockets of the true faithful outside the confines of the Roman church." As much as I want to believe this, and I know the victors right the historry, I want more proof. I think we should save our bible bravado for the predicted day when we too, like our forbears, will be put to the test.
7. 418 AD Council of Carthage decrees that babies are born with original sin, and thus the heretofore rare infant baptism, mentioned by Tertullian in 220 AD, becomes the law of the church.
This is the Nicolaitan grand-daddy of them all. It tacitly tells folks everything is all right so long as you're baptized as an infant.
All you have to do is get baptized into the state church.
Thereby, the rigid sacramental sheep-pen mode of the Christendom church is born. Now every family in all Christendom has to come to it immediatly upon every birth, then back for confirmation-communion, then in twentieth century back for communion separate from confirmation, then back for confirmation, and then back for marriage, and funerals etc.
With infant baptism, the Nicolaitan system decrees and commands the presence of Holy Ghost via the performance of church "sacraments" regardless of the personal faith of anyone involved. This is not acceptable to the God of the bible. The God of Israel, cannot be forced to do anything. It's always his choice to accept our faith or "sacrifice" as he sees fit.
Note the broad and re-emerging theme, as the Roman political empire is crumbling, the power of the church is rising, especially with infant baptism.
A person on a desert island could read the New Testament bible a hundred times and the idea of infant baptism would never cross his or her mind.
If a church can decree infant baptism almost four hundred years after Jesus rises, it can decree just about anything, even redefine salvation itself. If infant baptism is an ok hierarchical decree then it's OK to publish dogmas as expediency dictates, and assume political power itself as the church becomes the state as we shall see.
8. 530AD Emperor Justinian gives Roman Bishop right to hear appeals of other big bishops (Patriarchs) in the church, and in 533AD declares Bishop of Rome to be head over all the churches.
In 534AD the authority of Bishop of Rome is codified in Roman civil Law.
A Nicolaitan church compromises with the state, seeks favors from the state, and goes into business with the state, and becomes just as political and powerful as the state, and then Lords it over its subjects. Again we remember Luke 22,25 says it wasn't meant to be like this for His "Jewish" apostles.
9. 625AD Conquering of Jerusalem by Eastern Roman Empire ("Byzantium") after Israel joins Persian rebellion against Eastern Empire in 613 AD at the battle of Antioch in Syria. (See Iran and Israel have worked together!)
Emperor Heraclius conquers Jerusalem in 625AD: had forbidden Judaism in Byzantium in 614AD (Eastern Parts of Roman Empire, ie Constantinople, see Wikipaedia Jewish Revolt Against Heraclius).
This Christian religious and political hostility toward Judaism (which we saw with Polycarp and the date of Passover, and with Marcion) is also biblical ignorance in that Romans 9,27-28 teaches a faithful remnant of Israel in the final land of Israel. Likewise, actions like conquering Jerusalem by Christians betray the following scriptural prophecies, among many, will be fulfilled in physical Israel:
Genesis12,2 (Israel will be a lasting and great nation, a nation of universal salvation);
Isaiah66,23-24 (universal priestly worship in Jerusalem);
Joel3,12-13 (final military conflict);
Zechariah12,10 (they, Israel in the last days, will look upon pierced and risen Jesus offering them mercy);
Zechariah 14,1-4 (Lord appearing on Mount of Olives on Day of Lord);
Matthew 24,31 (gathering the chosen from whole world);
Revelation 14,1 (vision of saved of Israel on Mount Zion);
Revelation20,4 (millenial reign from Israel).
This hostility and ignorance about the eternal nature of Jerusalem betrays a historical prejudice among Christians that allowed them to be more impressed with religious and political force from their empire than with keeping the Word, and thus more easily controlled by their political-church masters because they did not have access to scriptural prophecy or teaching regarding the ongoing importance of physical Israel.
In 1099AD the 'Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem' was founded by the Roman church backed crusaders who fought our biblical forbears, the Jews, the people of our shared Messiah, and Muslims too.
There is no Latin kingdom of Jerusalem! There has never been such, and there never will be. Rome is not the eternal biblical city. It is a city of seven hills, whereas Jerusalem, capital of Israel, capital of the kingdom is an eternal city, a city of seven mountains! This biblical ignorance about Israel, real or feigned, has allowed the Christendom greater facility in controlling God's people. If we as church don't have the anchor of the Hebrew scriptures, then "the Christ" can be made to fit any empire, and even Christendom and God's people will be governed according to Christendom's rules.
This is also the era of the forced baptisms of Jews (see 'Baptism, Forced' jewishvirtuallibrary.org): 616AD Spain; 626 AD Gaul; 661 AD Italy.
Those forced to receive baptism are now under all penalty of civil and ecclesiastical law to hold the faith they received by force.
(see also messianicjews.com).
Nothing depicts the gentile-Nicolaitan domination of God's people than the conquering of Jerusalem and forced baptism of Jews in the Roman empire.
10. 7th century Irish Monks bring Eastern monastic custom of individual confession to Western Europe (C.C.C.1447) and Matthew 16,19 (binding and loosing, a power given to Peter during his life, and revoked and taken back by Jesus per Revelation3,7), is unbiblically expanded to include private confession, not just public sinners seeking public reconciliation, or salvation, but for everybody's individual sins.
11. By the 10th century polygamy and concubines are common in the priesthood (Dr. John Oakes "Why Did Celibacy Become Mandatory For Priests" evidenceforchristianity.org ) and the sundry children of priests threaten church property and the streamlined Roman administration beyond the borders of Italy.
So in 1022 AD Pope Benedict VIII declares that priests are banned from taking wives contradicting Colossians 2,20-23 that says mandatory celibacy is of no value regarding chastity; and, as you know now, 1Timothy 4,1-5 which says this forced asceticism is "the doctrine of demons."
12. 1139 AD Pope Innocent II goes further and decrees all priestly marriages void.
It is not only patently impossible for a church man or office to void a marriage blessed by God and consumated by the parties to the marriage- for what God has joined let no man put asunder. Again celibacy implies and guarantees a separate or hierarchical priestly-laity divide (Ibid John Oakes, evidenceforchristianity.org).
Again, Jesus didn't ordain his apostles priests, let alone only pick celibate men as his apostles. He did invite them to the new seder in Jerusalem in his name, a non Priestly, non Temple sacrifice, while the family folk of the Apostles were necessarily safely back in Galillee, See Table of Lord Meditation N. 21 at tobinhitt.com.
Thus, we see another boundless Church decree, in the area of sexuality, made without respect to scripture for the purposes of Nicolaitan control.
Again, a celibate priesthood also gives the idea of the lay people necessarily being passive, easier to manage.
Let the "priests" do it- it's their job." This is Nicolaitanism.
13. 12 and 13th century dissident reformers in favor of universal biblical priesthood, and the biblical gospel, speak up and organize churches in Northwestern Italy, only to be routed by church in violation of Amos 3,7- God does nothing without telling his prophets.
Such as the great Peter Waldo from Lyon, 1140-1218 AD, and these Jesus Partisans take cover in Italian Alps.
Later, the unconquerable Girlamo Savonarola (1452-1498AD), church reformer and Republican leader from Florence, preaches against church and state nepotism, laxity and filthy luxury, and pays for it with his life.
These are just two of countless martyrs protesting Nicolaitan deeds and doctrines of Revelation2,6 and 15, whereby non biblical hierarchy does whatever is necessary to silence the prophets, from John the Baptist, to Jesus, to Polycarp, to Peter Waldo, to Girlamo Savonarola, up to the prophets of today.
By silencing the prophets, God's people are more easily controlled. Without prophets correcting and chastening, history right up to the present day, proves that vast swaths of "Christians" are standing on shaky ground when it comes to salvation.
14. 1213AD Medical doctors required to exhort patients to call priest in danger of death. Thus, it is evident that sacraments serve not just the people, but the end of the church itself;
1214 AD Individual confession with priest mandatory once a year;
Hasn't the church requiring confession once a year quit preaching and gone to meddling? Clerical meddling is a type of Nicolaitan control.
15. 1240-1560 AD Sacrament of Confirmation and first communion delayed until 15 years (Kay Lynn Isca, Catholic Etiquette, Our Sunday Visitor 1997. p. 91, from Wikipaedia, Confirmation) in the face of Reformation.
The Reformation, the Protestant Revolt against Roman Primacy and scriptural ignorance, leads the Vatican church to try and keep the flock in the fold by delaying the sacraments.
16. 1560AD Dogma of "Transubstantiation" stems Reformation exodus- by claiming priest words change bread into Jesus' pre Calvary body, wine into his physical blood, which is not kosher with Leviticus19,26.
Making up complicated non biblical dogma, as history goes along, keeps the Nicolaitans in charge of God's people and away from the Reformers.
17. This same council of Trent (1545-1564) forbad the bible in people's hands in langauges they can understand and placed it on its prohibited books list, and forbad reading it without a license from a Bishop or inquisitor. If you had a copy without such a license you had to give it back to your bishop or you could not receive absolution from your sins.
This written practice of condemning the reading the bible continued up at least until 1850 (jesus-is-lord.com/nobible.html). It is worth noting that mass distribution of bibles is still relatively rare among Catholic parishes, especially in Latin America, wherein bibles are alsio cost prohibitive.
18. Lay folks are expected to call priests "father" by mid 19th century. This custom began in the 6th century with the leaders of Monasteries, and then bishops approved of it for themselves, then confessors in the middle ages. (bustedhalo.com).
It's one step better than the fuedal "My Lord." Again, Luke 22,25- Jesus chose 11 Jewish leaders and 1 sympathetic Gentile as his 12 apostles. He told them they were not going to Lord it over His people.
The title "father" and other worldy titles through the whole history of the church are in direct contradiction of Acts 15 wherein the Apostles at the Jerusalem council were only referred to by their given first name.
This also obviously and impermissably contradicts Jesus own words, if they still mean anything, at Matthew 23,9: "call no man on earth your father..." Ie "don't give your Holy Ghost power away to anybody." "Don't invite or allow anyone to boss you around like a child." Jesus knew this was going to happen! We are a co-heirs with the Jews, chosen and precious, not serfs or peons, but equal gospel partners in the gospel.
This type of ingratiating deference perpetuates the Nicolaitan based hierarchy, fosters the domination of God's people, and to be fair, it clearly is not just a Roman state church problem.
Jesus teaching includes all titles that arguably render one as a religious subject of another person, like "pastor" and "Reverend," or please, "The Very Reverend."
How about returning to the New Testament scriptures and "brother" or "sister"? Those at the first Jerusalem council of Acts15 did not have any Nicolaitan titles! Christianity is at its best when it recognizes and insists upon, as did Jesus, on its egalitarian basis and roots, Mark3,35; Matthew12,50.
All the title games do is perpetuate low or high Nicolaitanism. We have no title- Ephesians 4,11- is not about titles between brothers and sisters. It's about the offices that only Jesus fills in the church. Jesus puts me and you in those offices. I have a relationship with all God's people, as a brother, that's it.
For we have one father in heaven.
19. 1870 AD Papal Infallibility decreed in the face of "modernism."
Infallibility suggests passivity is ok. You all in the pews- you don't have to worry about scripture and what it says. You don't have to worry about what the Spirit is saying to the churches, because one man and office is infallible.
Trust the church, trust one man, and everything will be OK?
20.1910 AD Pius X moves communion back to seven years old. Likewise 1917 Code of Canon Law allows National Bishops to delay confirmation, and separate it from first communion (Ibid Isca). This brings God's people back again to church, perhaps anticipating the rise of Pentecostalism?;
21. 1950 'Prosperity Preaching' born as a means to make powerful leaders and churches in contradiction of 1Timothy6,5-10. It's not just Vatican state deeds and doctrines that are Nicolaitan. 1Timothy5,10 tells us that since Ephesus there are those who "think that godliness is a means to financial gain."
This domination of God's people is an ongoing and varied in its expression, It is an ever present temptation which infects all churches of whatever denomination or non denomination.
Prosperity preaching isolates and twists certain pet scriptures and has influenced many denominations and independent churches. This is a form of Nicolaitanism, rendering folks slaves to Mammon (Luke16,13), rather than servants of our Risen Lord Jesus.
It tends to exclude from the church those who are not prosperous.
Prosperity Preaching makes prosperity the goal of a church and one's life, rather than preparing folks for healthy and empowered bible based gospel service.
It too is being used to conquer God's people.
22. 1970's rise of personality cult churches whereby the success and the word and the name of the ruling pastor defines the church:
"The pastor says ...."
So not many others are prepared for any biblical leadership responsibility, but all are taught to be subservient to the famous pastor in non biblical ways.
The rise of personality cult churches has dangerous effects and precedents (such as Jim Jones and "Jonestown" that ended badly in 1978). But its more common expression is in various local churches, of whatever type or background, that exert an ever-increasing control of people's finances, friendships, time, families, and faith.
If you are going to church more than three times a week- you might be in a personality cult- and this is just another form of Nicolaitanism based on what Paul identified as factions of the church based on personality cults. cf 1Corinthians1,12
23. 1980s-Present: More and canonizations of "saints" distracts from need for a return to biblical practices, distracts from empowering all the faithful, and restoring the offices of Prophet and Evangelist (some of who will be women), to taking the Lord's Supper back to its biblical and Jewish faith roots as a spiritual sacrifice that women can also lead (1Corinthians10,15-16), and all manner of bible based reform, such as discarding clerical celibacy and it's Nicolaitan premises;
24. 2000 to the immediate Present:
Some Protestant luminaries increasingly accept diplomatic invitations to come "home" to the church based on Peter, to the Vatican State church, born in the fourth century, whereas better they and all Christians came "home" to the Word, and a biblically based Lord's supper of 1Corinthians11 of the first century.
We love all God's children and peoples- friends and brothers and sisters- near and far, and champion religious freedom and association for all God's people. But, we are not called to return to any "home" denomination, but to our first love (Revelation2,4), Jesus risen from the dead!
LIkewise, these trying days for the faithful call for greater obedience to the Word- our path to gospel freedom- not a return to Nicolaitan tradition.
(See also Matthew16,24, pick up cross and follow Jesus, and Psalm61,8, only Christian "vow" is to follow Jesus).
25. 62AD Martyrdom of James in Jerusalem Until Now: The historical "Christian" indifference, ignorance and neglect regarding the unfinished biblical promises to Israel has made Nicolaitan domination of God's Christian people much easier.
Most Christians throughout the ages, perhaps a little less so in modern times with the rise of the biblical Jewish roots movement, have sufferred from this biblical indifference, ignorance and neglect and have in effect paved the way for Nicolaitanism.
Jesus told his first leaders, all Jews, that they were not to Lord it over the faithful, like gentiles do, making their authority onerous. Matthew20,25
Yet historic Christendom, Christendom being a term of religious empire, has lorded it over God's people like gentiles do. Again this is Nicolaitan. And historic Christianity, a milder term if you insist on it, at best has done little better, and also minimized up to the present day our prophetic faith roots in Judaism and all the unfinished biblical promises to Israel and our vital connection to their Zion and our Zion, for their millenial is our millenial, Isaiah66, their future is part of our future, their love for God and their scriptures is part of our love of our scriptures.
This gentile minimization of the the Hebrew scriptures is itself Nicolaitan, self limiting, and controlling given the high calling and stature of all God's sons and daughters.
We Christians need know:
Genesis12,2, the eternal land promise to a final great universal faith nation and;
Revelation 19,11-20,3, Jesus brings his recompense-judgment-kingdom to Israel.
A church without its Jewish biblical roots is ripe to go adrift from the service based model demonstrated by Jesus, and all the prophets of Israel..
This has spawned the unbiblical notion of 'replacement theology', as if God transferred all his promises to Israel to us and our church (but read Romans 9-11) and forgets the irreplaceable covenant God made with Abraham (Genesis12).
We "Christians" must forget that 'the just will inherit the earth', that we and faithful Israel will inherit the fullness of our shared faith patrimony, and will reign in the millenial [Revelation20,4) from physical Israel, from Zion with him:
"Then I myself will come and gather all nations and races, and they will come and see my glory;" Isaiah66,18b
Isaiah66,20: From every nation they [us gentile faithful] shall bring your countrymen [bring Jews to Israel, which is happening now] on horses, in chariots and wagons, on mules and dromedaries, as an offering to the Lord, on my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, as the Israelites bring offerings in pure vessles to the Lord's house; 21 and some of them [gentiles, made Temple priests in the end, not at last supper] I will I take for priests, for Levites, says the Lord. 22 For as the new heavens and the new earth which I am making shall endure in my sight, so shall your race [Israel and faithful gentiles] and your name endure; and month by month at the new moon, week by week on the Sabbath, all mankind shall come and bow before me [in Zion, in physical Israel, in the historical time of the millenial], says the Lord.
This indifference-ignorance hinders God's people from receiving the 'whole counsel' of God (Acts20,27) which leaves us prone to gentile Nicolaitans who supposedly 'know better.'
So, the Apostle Paul exhorts us today:
"Christ set us free, to be free men. Stand firm, then, and refuse to be tied to the yoke of slavery again." Galatians 5,1, fulfilling Isaiah 58,6.
A faithful, chosen, redeemed and free people, who realized our own Nicolaitanism and by faith, Jesus frees us from this stronghold and ugly religious spirit.
Nicolaitanism is the "gentile" religious and political system (Luke22,25-26) that attempts to conquer God's people, both Jew and gentile.
It begins with deeds (Revelation2,6) and rises to the doctrine of Priestianity-Pastorianity-Chruchianity-Preacheranity. If successful, it also ends with Balaamism (selling prophecy), compromise with the world, whereby the local strongman, at a time and a place, devours the conquered (Revelation2,14-15).
It's about all manner of politics, nothing personal, with not just God's people conquered bu a non bible religion and stroghold but many church leaders, fully conquered too, whereby people and leaders are rendered pawns on a religious-political chess board.
The Way Out
There is a way out of the accumulated fetters of Nicolaitanism- the everlasting biblical gospel of Jesus Christ!
By personal faith, as adults, we repent of our sin.
And profess Jesus as Lord.
And get baptized in His NAME and so sign our covenant with Jesus.
By a like precious faith, as adults, we surrender our lives in obedient service to him and His gospel as on the day of Pentecost unto receiving baptism in the Holy Ghost.
By this faith we feast on him at the table of the Lord.
By this faith we witness to him to the ends of the earth for the rest of our lives.
By this faith we reign and rule with him in the kingdom from Zion in the historical time of the millenial.
By this faith we lierally inherit the earth.
By this faith we and Jesus vindicate his shed blood.
Oh how we love Him, Lord Jesus, Name above all Names, King of the Jews, king of the nations, king above all kings, coming back to gather all His own in Jerusalem (Zechariah9,14-17; Zechariah14,9-21).
(Acts 2,37-39, Acts4,12; Acts 4,21; Romans10,9;1Peter4,17; Romans 10,16; Mark16,16; John 6,50ff; Luke22,19; Matthew 28,19-20 etc).
(NB This article is about a Nicolaitan system of church governance that is not limited to any denomination or church. It is not about individuals in any denomination or church. Zion Pentecost Mission subscribes to the loving faith example of Jesus who loved all people and lived out the 'golden rule' with all people.)
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...