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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

15 September 2005

The Nicolaitans

Q: I was reading Revelation and in 2:6 it says, “This you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” I’m sure it’s the only time anywhere in the Bible that Jesus says he hates anyone. So I’m sure being a Nicolaitan is very bad. So what is one of these people?

A: This is not, however, the only instance in Scripture where God expresses hatred toward sinful people or concerning specific evils. Perhaps this condemnation comes in the voice of Jesus to emphasize that He is truly God.

As for the Nicolaitans themselves, we know very little. Likely, they were a sect founded by someone named Nikolaos. The early Church writer Iranaeus claimed that they were antinomians (those who completely set aside God’s law) and used the Gospel as an excuse for sensual excesses. They were active at least in Ephesus and Pergamum, and maybe elsewhere. Whatever or whoever they were, they must have been a major concern for a time, yet the historian Eusebius notes that they did not last long.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.


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