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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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Revelation 2:6; Revelation 2:14-15. Irenaeus (Haer. 1:26, section 3) and Tertullian (Praescr. Haeret. 46) explain, followers of Nicolas one of the seven (Acts 6:3; Acts 6:5) as there was a Judas among the twelve; confounding the later Gnostic Nicolaitans with those of Michaelis explains Nicolas (conqueror of the people) is the Greek for the Hebrew Balsam ("destroyer of the people," bela' 'am ); as we find both the Hebrew and Greek names, Abaddon, Apollyon; Satan, devil. A symbolical name. Lightfoot suggests a Hebrew interpretation, nikola , "let us eat"; compare 1 Corinthians 15:32. Not a sect, but professing Christians who, Balsam like, introduce a false freedom, i.e. licentiousness. A reaction from Judaism, the first danger of the church.

The Jerusalem council (Acts 15:20; Acts 15:29), while releasing Gentile converts from legalism, required their abstinence from idol meats and concomitant fornication. The Nicolaitans abused Paul's doctrine of the grace of God into lasciviousness; such seducers are described as followers of Balsam, also in 2 Peter 2:12-13; 2 Peter 2:15-19; Judges 1:4; Judges 1:7-8; Judges 1:11 ("the son of Bosor" for Beor, to characterize him as "son of carnality": bosor "flesh"). They persuaded many to escape obloquy by yielding as to "eating idol meats," which was then a test of faithfulness (compare 1 Corinthians 8 and 1 Corinthians 10:25-33); they even joined in the "fornication" of the idol feasts, as though permitted by Christ's "law of liberty." The "lovefeasts" (Judges 1:12) thus became pagan orgies. The Nicolaitans combined evil "deeds" which Jesus "hates" with evil "doctrine."

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Nicolaitans'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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