TO THE MESSENGER OF THE CHURCH OF EPHESUS

Rev 2: 1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (KJV)

"These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;"

The fact that He has the messengers in His Right Hand speaks of the security that they have in Christ. The issue of this messenger's salvation isn't at stake here. The issue of his ministry is at stake.

He is reminded that the Lord walks in the midst of the churches, and He knows what is taking place in His churches. We go into this message with that understanding having been established.

In each of these messages, the Lord acknowledges the work that these messengers do for Him. A minister by his very calling does some sort of work for the Lord as he is in service to the Lord.

Matt 5: 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

The purpose behind our works is not to be seen by others as we are engaged in our service to the Lord, but rather, they are to be such an extension of our lives that people will just be constantly aware of them.

When you go to a car dealership, it becomes very obvious to you who the salesman is.

When you go to a restaurant, it soon becomes obvious who the waitress is.

When you go to Wal-mart, you know who works there because of the uniform they wear.

Likewise, wherever we go in this world, it should be obvious who we serve. The uniform we wear should be the Righteousness of God, and it should very obvious that we are clothed with His Righteousness wherever we go. Unlike those who are in the world, whose work is on a 9-5 basis, the servant of God who has heeded the Call of the Lord in his or her life should be continually employed in the work of the Lord.

We will all be judged according to our works. This is not saying that we are SAVED by works…but we will be judged according to our works.

Rev 20: 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

Rev 22: 10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

By reading the commendation that the Lord gives him for the ministry that he does, this messenger to the church of Ephesus would seem to be a mighty man of God.

The Lord commends him on his works. This man is not just a hearer of the Word, he is a doer. His works for the Lord are not only acknowledged, but also his labor:

2873 kopos- 1) a beating 2) a beating of the breast with grief, sorrow 3) labor a) trouble, to cause one trouble, to make work for him b) intense labor united with trouble and toil

This word is used in other places in the Bible. We will look at some of the places where this word is used just to get a good feel for it's meaning.

1Thes 1: 2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;
3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

1 Cor 3: 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

Rev 14: 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

This messenger is occupied about the business of the Kingdom. From the context, and the position of the words that are translated as "works" and "labor", this messenger puts all that he has into it.

Some of the things that he does for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God are not easy. We have seen that one of the definitions given for this word translated as "labor" is:

b) intense labor united with trouble and toil

This person goes out of his or her way to do what is necessary to further the Kingdom of God, regardless of personal cost. They put their all into the Work that was entrusted to them.

This is the person who understands that service to the Lord is not a nine to five job, but a full time occupation.

This is the person who will readily respond to a call for counseling or a plea for help at three o'clock in the morning.

This person truly has learned to deny himself for the service of God.

…how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

He is commended because he isn't a pastor or a minister who will scratch the itching ears of those who refuse to endure sound doctrine. He calls evil for what it is. He reproves people for their wrong thoughts.

It is said that this man cannot bear those who are evil. The word "bear" actually means to "sustain", or to support someone. He isn't going to tell them that they are all right in their sins. He calls sin for what it is, and calls men to repent of their sin.

This man is said to be able to discern the false apostles, and to see them as the liars that they really are. Yet he carries or sustains those who need help, or who may be merely deceived.

Where he doesn't tolerate sin, he endeavors patiently to do all he can to bring the people out of their sinfulness.

3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

They are aware that sometimes their service to God may even cost them their lives. But they serve God no matter what, and they serve Him with cheerfulness.

The word "patience" here means "Cheerful endurance"

5281 hupomone (hoop-om-on-ay'); from 5278; cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy: KJV-- enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting).

Thayer's lexicon defines it as:

5281 hupomone- 1) steadfastness, constancy, endurance a) in the New Testament, the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings b) patiently, and steadfastly 2) a patient, steadfast waiting for 3) a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance

This servant of God performs his ministry with a sincere minister's heart. He considers it a privilege to serve God in whatever capacity he is called to serve Him, regardless of the personal hardships that he may incur as a result of it.

He doesn't give up on people. He wants to see the body of Christ succeed in their walk with Christ. His object is to Glorify the Name of the Lord in all he does.

This man doesn't know the meaning of Spiritual Burnout. He wants to walk in integrity before God. It would seem that we need more people like this messenger. Yet the Lord has somewhat against him, because he has left his first love.

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

This first love would be his love for God like he had when he was first saved, or when he was first called to the ministry. When he first began his Service to the Lord, he had a great burden for souls, because of his love for God and his love for the lost, as well as for the brethren.

His sincere desire was to see people come to a saving knowledge of the Lord. His walk before God was simple. He just wanted to please the Lord. His motivation was simply to serve the Lord, no matter what, because he loved the Lord.

Now that he is mature in the Lord, and established in ministry, he is very knowledgeable in the Word of God, and he still does the Work of God like he used to. As a matter of fact, because he is more knowledgeable, he actually does more than he used to when he first got saved.

He stands for Truth, and Righteousness, just like he always has. But his motivation is not that he does these things so much out of his love for God anymore, as it is that he does it because it's what he does, and he understands that this is what he needs to do to serve God.

When he isn't actively engaged in ministry, the Lord finds him neglecting his private time with Him. He may still have private time with the Lord, but he doesn't get as intimate with the Lord as he used to. Things of the world have crept in and have begun to dilute his love.

It's not that he doesn't love God any more...he just doesn't love Him like he used to.

The parallel would be when I first loved my wife. I wanted to spend all of my time with her. I wanted to hold long conversations with her. I wanted to always have her close to me.

When I had to be occupied with something else, I couldn't wait until I got back with her. My thoughts were consumed with her and my love for her.

Wherever I went, I had to talk about her.

Then after a while, familiarity replaced some of that great desire I had for her. Soon, and not with any great noticeable changes, I could be away from her presence for a few hours without really thinking of her. I could be in her presence, and our conversation would not be as long or intense as they once were.

I could read the newspaper, and not be aware of her presence.

When I left to go some where, I would peck her on the cheek, and say something like "I love you, honey. I will see you later!".

My heart wouldn't long for her like it had before. Token kisses, token hugs, and token conversations took the place of that intimate closeness we once had. There was no question that I still loved her…but that spark that was in that first love has dissipated.

For this messenger to the Church of Ephesus described in Revelation 2, it has become like that. Television programs, sports events, "leisure" time, possessions, video games, books, secular activities, and the like have served to dilute his first love.

Or maybe the desire to be successful in ministry has diluted his first love. Maybe his mind has become preoccupied with the desire to build his church, or to build his ministry. These goals can also serve to dilute his first love. Not that he will go to Hell if he partakes of these things…it's just that his ministry is merely hindered from its' full effectiveness.

Paul touches on it when he says:

1 Cor 10: 23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth. (KJV)

There was a time when the things of God took absolute preeminence over anything else in this man's life.
But not any more. Not like it used to.

He understands that pew sitting is not the answer. He understands that the Church needs to be active. But he doesn't understand the importance of walking in his first love.

A person who has served in the capacity of an evangelist for a number of years has learned enough to be able to lead people in a prayer to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord, with no anointing at all.

It doesn't take an anointing to lead someone down the "Roman Road" or through an Evangelism Explosion technique.

Preachers who have preached the Word of God for years can prepare a sermon and preach a wonderful sermon out of the Word of God without the Anointing of the Holy Spirit, and see people respond to an altar call.

Some preachers have enough knowledge of the Word to preach a message without advance preparation, and see wonderful results at the altar call.

Memorization of the Word doesn't necessarily constitute a Love for God. All of these things I have just touched on aren't necessarily BAD… But if a person loses focus of his first love, Legalism and a Critical Spirit can spring from this mentality.

God wants His children to intimately know Him. Working for the sake of merely working for the Kingdom, if it is not motivated out of love, is done in vain.

No matter how effective a ministry may be, if it is not primarily motivated out of love, the work that will be produced will be wood, hay, and stubble.

A minister of the gospel who is entangled in legalism is a person who hasn't understood the Love of God, and the Privilege of Service to God. The standards of dos and don'ts that he feeds the flock of God become a yoke and a burden like those of the Pharisees that Jesus rebuked.

Matt 23: 15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

Luke 11: 46 And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.

Though it is commendable for a minister to refuse to condone or support those who are evil, if that minister has fallen into the error of forsaking his first love, he will end up pointing his finger at the sinners and heap a bunch of laws (dos and don'ts) on the sheep in order to keep them from evil and will move them into condemnation instead of allowing the conviction of the Holy Spirit to do His Work.

Though it is commendable for a minister not to be deceived by false apostles, the person who has forgotten his first love may become entangled in legalism and/or ensnared by a critical spirit, and will wind up turning his ministry into a campaign to expose these people, instead of feeding the flock and leading them to the place where they need to be, so that they won't be led astray by false teachers.

Many people write lengthy books to expose these men's works, or spend considerable time confronting these people and engaging in arguments over doctrinal errors. Because of the time they spend in these areas, there is the danger of losing sight of their primary purpose, and becoming argumentive with others who disagree with them.

The Word of God says "Knowledge puffs up…But love builds up." (1 Cor 8:1) Where Paul was talking to the Corinthians, he was speaking in reference to false doctrines.

Sometimes a person may be caught up in an error, and all the knowledge we have about that error may make us think that they are our enemy, and we can get into an argument that will profit nothing. The goal of the servant of God is to BUILD the Kingdom of God, one soul at a time. And we are to build that Kingdom through our love for God and for others.

I don't want to be misunderstood here. I think that those who expose false doctrines and false teachings do a wonderful job in service to the body of Christ, in equipping them. I believe this is a necessary work.

This is just a warning not to get too puffed up through our knowledge, and forget about our first love, while we receive accolades from men. There is always the danger of falling into an "I'm right you're wrong" mentality, and becoming argumentive with every person who doesn't agree with you.

THE GOAL OF A MESSENGER OF GOD SHOULD BE TO WIN SOULS, NOT ARGUMENTS.

The New Testament pattern in regard to this particular situation is that while a few false teachers were named by Paul, he didn't spend a lot of time expounding on their error. Paul lived his life as an example of how to serve God, not as a finger pointer.

This is the duty of every person that God has appointed to be His messenger. I believe Truth will prevail over a lie.

I don't believe we have to spend a lot of time arguing over doctrines and pointing fingers at each other, and exhibiting the same type of conduct that the world engages in when we see error. The way of the world is to call people names, to ridicule, to taunt, and to condemn.

The way of God is to speak the Truth in Love. We are to reprove the unfruitful works of darkness. But it's HOW it is done, and in what Spirit it is done, and WHY it is done that is at stake.

I believe that the life of the minister of God will be reflected in those people who he ministers to.

Legalism begets Legalism.

Critical Spirits beget Critical Spirits.

Judgmentalism begets Judgmentalism.

Christlikeness begets Christlikeness.

Ministers of the gospel can do all the right things for the wrong reasons.

Gal 6: 1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

If a person isn't motivated out of a pure love for God, and for others, the works he does are merely works of the flesh.

It doesn't matter how good they look. It doesn't matter how righteous we may appear.

God sees what the work is made of. It doesn't matter how much a person may be told about his or her need to return to their first love, or their need to repent. If they are caught up in themselves, they will think they are doing fine.

The letter to the Ephesian church that was written by Paul, expresses the fact that the Christian must be ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN LOVE (Eph 3:17).

Our highest call as Christians is that we would comprehend what is the BREADTH, LENGTH, DEPTH AND HEIGHT AND TO KNOW THE LOVE OF CHRIST, which passes any kind of earthly knowledge we may have. This will result in our being filled with all the fullness of the knowledge of God.

Once WE have sought that and have learned to walk in it, then our highest call as messengers of the Gospel is that we would strive to teach the Church what is the breadth, length, depth, and height and to know the love of Christ, which passes any kind of earthly knowledge that we may have.

Eph 3: 14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

The purpose of the Messenger of God, whether he is an apostle, an evangelist, a prophet, a pastor or a teacher is this:

Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

How easy it is to become so involved in our SERVICE to the Lord, that we forget the very basic thing…our love for Him. Not just a love for Him, but our FIRST love.

Let's look at Paul's advice. He had been talking about the various gifts of God in which the Body of Christ can function, and then he says:

1 Cor 12: 31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

Then he expounds on this more excellent way:

1 Cor 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity

5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

We have already seen that the candlesticks represent the churches. I don't believe the Lord is saying that He would destroy the church, unless the messenger repents.

I believe that He is saying that this church would not be in its' rightful position concerning the Kingdom of God, UNLESS THE MESSENGER RETURNS TO HIS FIRST LOVE.

The church will be MOVED OUT OF IT'S PLACE.

Every other place where the word translated as "remove" here is used, the word is translated as "move". The church will not be removed…or the works of this ministry will not be removed and counted as nothing, but it will not have the place of honor and authority and effectiveness that it could have had.

As I said before:

Legalism begets legalism.
Critical spirits beget critical spirits.
Judgementalism begets judgementalism
Love begets love

As the teacher is, so the students become. I believe the Word of the Lord to this messenger is that the result of his labor is contingent on his walk before His Lord.

It is interesting that after the Lord calls this messenger to repentance, he commends him again.

He says:

But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

In all fairness, I must point out that nobody today has a definite answer as to what the Doctrine of the nicolaitans was. But I will endeavor to submit my opinion as to what that doctrine is. Some views as to what the Nicolaitans were are found in the writings of the early church fathers. I personally don't believe we can draw a reliable conclusion as to what the Nicolaitan doctrine is from their writings. As we will see, the reports greatly vary, as time goes by:

According to Iraneus, (A.D. 120-202) The Nicolaitans were a Gnostic sect, who preceded a heretic named Cerinthus, and who taught doctrines that were contrary to the orthodox understanding of Who God is. Iraneus wrote:

"John, the disciple of the Lord, preaches this faith, and seeks, by the proclamation of the Gospel, to remove that error which by Cerinthus had been disseminated among men, and a long time previously by those termed Nicolaitans, who are an offset of that "knowledge" falsely so called, that he might confound them, and persuade them that there is but one God, who made all things by His Word; and not, as they allege, that the Creator was one, but the Father of the Lord another; and that the Son of the Creator was, forsooth, one, but the Christ from above another, who also continued impassible, descending upon Jesus, the Son of the Creator, and flew back again into His Pleroma; and that Monogenes was the beginning, but Logos was the true son of Monogenes; and that this creation to which we belong was not made by the primary God, but by some power lying far below Him, and shut off from communion with the things invisible and ineffable." (Iraneus, Against Heresies Book 3 Chapter 11)

In the "Stromata", written by Clement, of Alexandria, (a.d. 153-217) we find that he mentions followers of Nicolaus (thought by some, but obviously not Clement, himself, to have begun the error of the Nicolaitans), comparing them to a man named Aristippus, who had embraced a doctrine of self indulgence to the extreme:

"Such also are those who say that they follow Nicolaus, quoting an adage of the man, which they pervert, "that the flesh must be abused." But the worthy man [sic Nicolaus] showed that it was necessary to check pleasures and lusts, and by such training to waste away the impulses and propensities of the flesh. But they, abandoning themselves to pleasure like goats, as if insulting the body, lead a life of self-indulgence; not knowing that the body is wasted, being by nature subject to dissolution; while their soul is buried in the mire of vice; following as they do the teaching of pleasure itself, not of the apostolic man."

It is important to note here that Clement himself defended Nicolaus, by saying that those who followed him perverted his teachings.

We will see that as time goes by, Nicolaus himself is accused as becoming the perpetrator of this sect of immorality called "Nicolaitan".

Later, Tertullian (A.D. 145-220) came on the scene, and also addressed the heresy of the Nicolaitans. It should be noted here that Tertullian leaned more toward the viewpoint of Iraeneus as to what the doctrine of the Nicolaitans was:

"A brother heretic emerged in Nicolaus. He was one of the seven deacons who were appointed in the Acts of the Apostles. He affirms that Darkness was seized with a concupiscence - and, indeed, a foul and obscene one - after Light: out of this permixture it is a shame to say what fetid and unclean (combinations arose). The rest (of his tenets), too, are obscene. For he tells of certain Aeons, sons of turpitude, and of conjunctions of execrable and obscene embraces and per-mixtures, and certain yet baser outcomes of these. He teaches that there were born, moreover, daemons, and gods, and spirits seven, and other things sufficiently sacrilegious alike and foul, which we blush to recount, and at once pass them by. Enough it is for us that this heresy of the Nicolaitans has been condemned by the Apocalypse of the Lord with the weightiest authority attaching to a sentence, in saying "Because this thou holdest, thou hatest the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which I too hate."

By the time of Hyppolytus, the heresy seems to have eventually been laid at the feet of the apostle Nicolaus, And popular opinion was that Nicolaus taught a doctrine of sexual immorality:

(Hipolytus A.d. 170-226) "…But Nicolaus has been a cause of the wide-spread combination of these wicked men. He, as one of the seven (that were chosen) for the diaconate, was appointed by the Apostles. (But Nicolaus) departed from correct doctrine, and was in the habit of inculcating indifferency of both life and food. And when the disciples (of Nicolaus) continued to offer insult to the Holy Spirit, John reproved them in the Apocalypse as fornicators and eaters of things offered unto idols."

By the time of Eusebius,(A.D.265-239), we now have the doctrine and the extent of it's heresy fully defined:

"About this time, also, for a very short time, arose the heresy of those called Nicolaites, of which also mention is made in the revelation of John. These boasted of Nicolaus as their founder, one of those deacons who with Stephen were appointed by the apostles to minister unto the poor. Clement, of Alexandria, in the third book of his Stromata, relates the following respecting him, "Having a beautiful wife, and being reproached after the ascension of our Lord, with jealousy by the apostles, he conducted her in to the midst of them, and permitted any one that wished to marry her. This they say as perfectly consistent with that expression of his, that every one ought to abuse his own flesh". And thus those that have adopted this heresy, following both this example and expression literally, rush headlong into fornication without shame."

In my search of the Stromata, from which I quoted earlier, I have found no such account written by Clement, as Eusebius charges. Rather, we have seen that Clement defended Nicolaus, and called him a "worthy man".

From this brief study of the opinions of some of the early church fathers, we can see that there is no clear HISTORICAL fact as to what the doctrine of the Nicolaitans were.

Indeed, according to the "New International Dictionary of the Christian Church," we read: "Virtually nothing is known about these sectaries beyond John's reference to them…"

Bullinger, in the Companion Bible, says "History has no record of these. Tradition says much."

Who the Nicolaitans actually were has been lost through time. But I don't believe that is an accident. We must keep in mind that the BOOK OF Revelation was written to the SEVEN CHURCHES, (BUT SPECIFICALLY TO THE SERVANTS OF GOD) CONCERNING THOSE THINGS WHICH WERE SHORTLY TO COME TO PASS…(Rev. 1:1,4).

This doctrine of the Nicolaitans is a doctrine that would prevail in that future time which we know as the "last days".

We have seen that there are several opinions as to what the Nicolaitans were, but I personally believe that the definition of this doctrine can be found in the literal meaning of the word "NICOLAITAN".

This word literally means "conquering the laity".

How does some one "conquer the Laity?"

According to Unger's Bible Handbook, "Some take this symbolism (Nicolaitans), however, as indicating the origin of cliericalism (nikao, "conquer", and laos, "people"), making them a group that early favored a clerical system which later developed into the papal hierarchy."

There are those in ministry who would be pleased to keep the sheep in the pew and receive their tithes and offerings and their reverence and admiration. The attitude is "I am the minister that the Lord has called".

These are men who are content to Lord it over the flock.

They want CONTROL in their church.

They CONTROL the flock through their power in the pulpit.

They may even get a few people behind them, appoint them as "elders" or "deacons", and use these men to exercise their authority over the flock of God. In many cases, this is just another form of a "Clique" mentality.

There are lots of Christians who have a sincere desire to step into service for the Lord. But if there are areas in their lives that the "Overseer" doesn't agree with, they will use the "yes men" in their self-appointed "elder" or "deacon" board to "keep them in line."

"We don't think you are ready to minister on the streets, brother Joe, because, according to our records, you haven't been faithful in paying your tithes to the church." What a way to manipulate a person to "buckle under" to the whims of the controlling pastor!

A minister of God is not to "Lord it over others", but to be examples to the flock, and to instruct them so that they can reach their full potential as fellow ministers of the gospel.

In the church where the Doctrine of the Nicolaitans is upheld, people who are called to be evangelists, prophets, teachers, apostles and pastors are delegated to the pew because of the shepherds who want to control everything. They ignore Ephesians 4:11-15.

But this messenger of the church in Ephesus understands that his work is to equip the saints and to make them ready for the work of the ministry.

A true servant of God is just that: a SERVANT.

He is looking to do whatever he can to help others to abound and excel in their work for the Lord.

But because those who are actively embracing the doctrine of the Nicolaitans are seeking their own good instead of the good of those who the Lord has entrusted them, they forget about their first love, because they are too busy loving themselves.

Those who do move into ministry under their instruction will fall into the same error. They will be more interested in building their own Kingdom instead of God's; because of the example they were given.

We just need to be careful to walk in that first love, so the ministers our ministry begets are consumed with the same motivation:

TO LOVE THE LORD THEIR GOD WITH ALL THEIR HEART, ALL THEIR SOUL AND ALL THEIR MIGHT

Another way the laity can be conquered (or kept from finding their calling) is through encouraging them in immorality, and false doctrine, as well as compromise with the standards of the world, and conformity to those standards.

The Catholic Church is by far the most obvious church that has embraced such an erroneous practice, but I need to point out that the Catholic Church is not the only church that embraces this doctrine. Most so-called Christian churches today embrace some degree of this Nicolaitan mindset.

The Catholic Church endorses Mardis Gras, a celebration of revelry and such unbridled lust that serves to mock the atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Throughout the world, similar festivals and partying are permitted on their grounds.

Adherents of the Catholic Faith are not taught to know how to possess their bodies in sanctification. This is supposedly only the duty of the Church "hierarchy". The clergy are the "holy ones"…the laity are taught and even encouraged to indulge in licentiousness to the extreme, and then to do an act of penance to be forgiven.

But as I pointed out earlier, the Catholic Church is not the only one that embraces this Nicolaitan doctrine.

Some Protestant churches also teach "once you say the prayer, it really doesn't matter what you do… the worse that could happen is that you will lose some rewards in heaven."

They call this false teaching "Unconditional Eternal Security". The endorsing of sin is a way of "conquering the laity".

The Catholic Church is laden with idolatry. Statues are everywhere, and people bow before them, praying to the dead, (which is defined as Necromancy in the Bible), and putting their trust on others, instead of Jesus Christ, supposedly implying that Jesus is too busy to hear all our prayers.

Mary has become a substitute or is on a par with Jesus as an intermediator. But although the Catholic Church is so blatantly caught up in idolatry, many Protestant churches are as well.

Covetousness is idolatry, and the covetousness that abounds in many Charismatic Christian churches is running rampant. "Clergy" encourage the "laity" to "believe for big things", while giving into their bosom.

Thieves, hypocrites, and wolves abound in the Churches today, and the laity is being conquered through their deception. The laity is being encouraged (by example) to bow before their idols and is rendered ineffective for the work of the Kingdom of God.

Promoting idolatrous practices in the hearts of the people is a way of conquering the laity.

The Catholic Church has taught it's people to compromise their faith in Christ, but so has the Protestant Church. Catholics will have no problem receiving the Mark of the Beast, by the very nature of the compromise that Catholicism embraces.

But the Catholic Church is not the only guilty one.

Many in the Protestant church teach that the Church will be raptured before the coming of Anti Christ. The "hierarchy" have so conditioned the laity to believe this error, that the unsuspecting Christian will be so sure that this cannot be the mark, because "I haven't been raptured yet", and will unwittingly take the mark.

Compromise of the Word of God will result in conquering the laity.

The whole reason for embracing the Nicolaitan doctrine by the messengers of today's churches is to be held in honor and prestige in the eyes of the laity.

God hates those who embrace the Nicolaitan mindset.

They seek Glory for their works.

The Priest or the Pastor thrives on the honor the laity bestows on him.

The Evangelist boasts of his "exploits".

The Prophet glories in the mystique behind his ministry.

The Apostle establishes works to be recognized by men.

The Teacher soaks up accolades from men declaring how wise and knowledgeable he is.

They all love their titles.

And they make sure their names are preceded by their tiltes: "Bishop so and so",
"Elder such and such",
"Pastor this and that",
"Evangelist what and when",
and "Apostle Where and How",
or "Father Holy One".

Niclolaitans.

Glory seekers.

To insist on such titles, I believe is an abomination before God. There is no humility involved.

Now, If others choose to call us a teacher, or pastor, or priest, or evangelist, or apostle, or prophet (but never Father), because the recognize us as filling that office, that is quite another thing.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

As I stated earlier, I personally believe that, taken in context of the nature of these letters, and the fact that they are written to the messengers, the Lord is literally saying that He doesn't expect His messengers to parrot what other messengers are teaching, but that every messenger needs to hear for themselves what the Spirit of God has to say to the Churches.

And as they hear, they need to be faithful to teach what they are hearing from the Spirit of God.

The book of Revelation is written for the Church. It is a warning to the Church.

It is saying "WATCH AND BE READY". The true messenger of God must prepare the Church to be ready for the coming of Jesus Christ.

The true messenger of God must teach the church to set her affection on only the things of God, to be as a bride who is awaiting with great anticipation the coming of the Bridegroom. Another who comes her way will not win a bride who is deeply in love with her bridegroom. The Christian who is deeply in love with the Lord will not allow himself to be distracted by those things that have only temporal value.

The true messenger of God will teach the flock that the Lord has given him charge over the same thing that Paul taught:

Col 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Jesus warns against teaching His church in the wrong way:

Matt 5: 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

The scribes and Pharisees were teachers. Jesus said that those who are appointed as teachers must walk in such a way as to walk in the Lord's righteousness, and not in their own.

The messenger of the Lord must teach the flock of God to walk in obedience to Him. The reward of the faithful servant will be that those who overcome will eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.

Rev 22: 1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.

AN interesting note:

Rev 22: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

We see in Revelation 22:19, that the Lord warns us that if any man takes away from the book of this prophecy, God would take away his part out of the book of life…in the Greek, this "book of life" is actually to be translated as "tree of life!"

What a warning the messengers of God should pay careful attention to!

Adam and Eve had a part in the Tree of Life. But they took away from the commands of God, and in their transgression, they lost their part in the Tree of Life.

That messenger who has lost focus of his first love, and who is teaching the flock of God to pursue the things of this world is in grave danger.

Matt 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

The word "offend" means to cause one to stumble, in such a way as to trap them. The world is full of traps that entice people to become spiritual adulterers.

Jesus pronounces a woe unto the world because of these stumbling blocks that are put in the way of humanity in general, which keeps them from God.

Matt 18: 7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

But He expressly says that if someone causes one of His little ones to stumble, it would be better for him that a millstone was hanged about his neck, and he was drowned in the depth of the sea.

We can read about what happens to that religious system that teaches the Lord's people to embrace the ways of the world in Revelation 18.

There is a contrast between two cities in the book of Revelation. The city of Babylon (Rev. 18:10), and the City of the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:2). Babylon is a religious system full of materialism. The New Jerusalem is full of the Glory of God.

Only those who overcome the world will be able to be a citizen of the New Jerusalem.

The faithful messenger of God will exhort the people of God to come out of the worldly Babylonian religion.

Woe to that teacher who causes the Lord's flock to stumble and to lose sight of their first love.

Woe to those who embrace the ways of the world and teach others to do so as well!

They will have their part of the Tree of Life which is in the midst of the CIty of God, that New Jerusalem, taken away.

It is the Goodness of God that leads men to repentance…Today's messengers to the churches MUST REPENT OF THEIR COMPROMISE TO THE WORLD IF THEY HOPE TO PARTAKE OF THAT TREE OF LIFE THAT IS IN THE MIDST OF THE HOLY CITY OF GOD.

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