The stern warning to the church of Ephesus in chapter two of Revelation includes this encouragement that is notoriously difficult to understand.

“Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate”. (Rev 2:6)

To better understand this, we must consult the letter to the congregation in Pergamum as well, since this is the only other place that Nicolaitans are mentioned:

“… you have there some who hold to the teaching of Balaam [a powerful pagan sorcerer], who kept teaching Balak [King of Moab] to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. You also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.” (Rev 2:13-15)

It is clear that whoever the Nicolaitans were, they were guilty of these kinds of sins.

Christian Hebraist, John Lightfoot, argued that Nicolaitans was a form of Aramaism. In this case, “Aramaism” is not a Greek word but a “loan” word, originating in Aramaic but spelled Greek.

The Aramaic word ניכולא (nichola) means “Let us eat!“. Thus the Greek word Νικολαΐτης (Nicolaitans) was formed from the Aramaic ניכולא combined with the Greek plural ending ίτης. The basic meaning of Nicolaitans, therefore, would be “let-us-eat-ers”.

The Book of Revelation must never be read in isolation from the Book of Acts and the Pauline letters. In Acts 15 we read the text of a letter authored by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem.  This letter of encouragement and instruction was sent to gentile Christ-followers who had been delivered from the bondage of paganism (Acts 15:22-29). The conclusion of the letter reads as follows:

“… for it seemed best to the Holy Spirit and to us not to place any greater burden on you than these necessary rules: that you abstain from meat that has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what has been strangled and from sexual immorality.

Once we realize this etymological connection between “Nicolaitans” and “Let-us-eat-ers,” it is not difficult to see that this aberrant group of Gentile Christ-followers were at odds with the decision of Jerusalem Council and the will of God in Christ. They appear to have set aside the teaching of the apostles given in Acts 15 and were slipping back into their former pagan practices.

BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

134 COMMENTS

  1. You are invited to post your comments here and Dr. Noel Rabinowitz or myself will try to respond within reasonable time. Let us keep thinking together.

    • The emphasis on the Nicolaitans being ‘rulers of the people/laity’ is far stronger than that of the interpretation that says it is ‘let us eaters’, in light of Paul’s statement about the basic principles Colossians 2:16- 21. 20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules 21 “do not handle, do not taste, do not touch”.

      • John R, That is my understanding as well, but this idea of the “Let-us-eat-ers” is interesting. It fits with the teachings in Jude about those who were feasting without fear, as well as Paul’s discussion of Meat in Romans 14.

        • I also concur. They were slowly slipping away, because wicked influence or sinful tendencies tends to win the light hearted quickly, and yet it was not easy to stop those pagan practices easily.

      • You comments are so powerful and full of deep understanding, I am greatful for you. Thanks, for this little I have seen of you. God bless you .

      • I rejoice of the comment of let us eaters is consistent with Colossians 2:16-21 by if we have salvation in yeshua then Yeshua will bless our faith by the burdens of faith we will receive from Yeshua and not from our denomination! In the gospel of John , Peter was asked 3 times do you love me as preparation to telling his spiritual burden! Higher blessing from God require higher spiritual burdens this is to say in Colossians 2:16-21 the lower spiritual burdens will indicate that their deeds will burn up like chaff!

    • I disagree Nico means over and layitines means the company Christian nothing to do with kosher that’s for the Jews till Jesus came as gal 3:19 adds.

      • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Stories of Jewish Christ: First Century Diversity or The Story of Our Hebrew Fathers: Abraham and Isaac. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!

        • LOL, you knew this was going to come up. Some of the MANY different source texts for Gal 3:19 say “grace” was added, not just “it” which implies the law was added. That to me makes much more sense. Think about it, if there is no law there can be no transgressions. So to interpret it as Christianity does one would have to believe (as many do) that the law was added to cause sin. I’m sorry, but that’s a different God than the One I know!

      • Nicolaitans .A heretical sect which encouraged idolatry and sexual sin ; see v 14-15 .Writing in the late second century ,Irenaeus speculated that they were followers of Nicholas ,the Jewish proselyte who was appointed shammash ( attendant ,caretaker etc .) in the Jerusalem community ( Acts 6:5 ) but by ,implication went astray .There is no evidence for his hypothesis . Constantine was the creator of the church in 313 CE/AD ” Pagan Christianity ” began in 313 CE/AD .The First Counsel of Nicaea was convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine in order to set church doctrine .

        • one of the gross misunderstandings in Christendom is that the seven in Acts 6 [three of the seven were Steven (martyred), Phillip and Nicholas the proselyte] were “deacons”, a kind of caretaker for the Greek widows. The word deacon (a transliteration) is nomally translated minister or servant from the Greek “deaconos”. The word deacon is not in the whole book of Acts (KJV). Phillip is called an evangelist Acts 21:8. Like Nicholas the seven were bi-lingual or multi-lingual. The scrolls were rolled out on tables to show where Christ was in scriptures. Greek widows were neglected in this.

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        • How do you arrive at that conclusion, David? Do people who follow the Roman calendar generally also eat meat and blood sacrificed to idols? I don’t follow.

    • Seems they were an actual formal identifiable group if they had a formalized name. I think it would be like someone saying today “the Mormons” or something similar. Regarding your interpretation, didn’t Paul eventually override the “meat sacrificed to idols” argument by saying it was to be determined by simply not doing something to harm your brother or sister? therefore, not intrinsically wrong or a sin unless it is causing someone else emotional or spiritual stress or conflict. If “Let us eat” can be a legitimate euphemism for orgy-type practices, that would make more sense, IMO.

      • I believe the prohibition on “eating meat sacrificed to idols” was to keep the newly converted pagans away from the pagan temples–(because where would you go to get “meat sacrificed to idols”?) Also the injunctions against “sexual immorality” and the eating of blood. or strangled animals were also warning against resuming activities of the pagans. Certain rituals were common at the pagan temples (temple prostitution for one) as well as other unsavory practices as well–like strangling and boiling baby animals in their mothers’ milk or drinking blood (strictly forbidden in Judaism too).

      • You are the most right “on the context of ‘let us be eater” on foods that depends but sex orgies so much abominable against GOD and HIS Messiah!!

    • Thank you. One had said once to me ,”we are under grace,” when I did not consent to sex outside God’s boundaries. I replied,” shall we continue to sin and say let God’s grace abound.” Later she replied,” I didn’t know because of Jesus, you can’t have sex.” I remained silent. Why I knew that he who turns to God becomes a prey like Jeremiah, instead I chose to follow Jesus and not false teachings for she kept on sending things after me to give up Jesus. “You judge whether it is best to follow God or you,” I replied.

    • I thought Nicolaitans meant ‘against’. Also the passage mentions Balaam and Balak so you have to go back in OT Scripture and study on what it was that they did that was wicked in God’s sight. But the passage does give you some insight on it.

      • Hi Sarah, Exactly! In order to understand what’s going on here we need to listen to those “echoes” from the Hebrew Scriptures. Context is so important!

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    • Thanks for your post clearing this study of the Nicolaitans. I once read an interpretation of them that portrayed them as “controlling” the members of the Church. Also, since John was told to write down “what was, what is and what will be” is there any indication if this is an ongoing practice of tolerance in Churches of particular denominations today? Thanks, God bless

      • If one does not hold to the importance of original context all kids of things can fit in here :-).

    • Thank you Dr. Eli for your insight. The Aramaic connection is interesting. As you have said, it is clear that we know very little about this group, yet it is clear, that sexual immorality and some sort of misuse of food is clearly involved. Where they ‘Let us eaters’ or ‘followers of Nicolas’, or even ‘Overcomers (nike) of the people (laos)? Who can be sure. Is it possible in the Infinite wisdom of the Lord, that all three are true. Sadly, those same tactics of the evil one, have been used time and time again. When will we ever learn?

      • Peter, I know what you mean :-). But I think we can’t be assure I don’t think that other reconstructions come even close to this explanation. (You need to take the Revelation in Jewish Context course to see the whole argument, this of course is just a small part of it).

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    • Acts 15 clearly shows Gentiles were not to be forced to be under the Law of Moses (Torah) ” But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” Not only be circumcised, but keeping the ordinances. It was the “ordinances” that were nailed to the Cross, not the universal Laws of God that move from covenant to covenant which Jesus taught he came not to destroy but fulfill. It’s obvious the Nicolaitans were of the Gnostic heretics.

    • I believe Gnosticism was the predominant source of heresy when the New Testament was written. The books of John, 1 Cor, Gal, Col, 1 and 2 Tim, Jude, and 1 John all combat various elements of Gnosticism. Even the book of Revelation cited a couple of Gnostic beliefs and practices, referring to “know[ing]” the depths of Satan and “the Nicolaitans” (Rev 2:6,15,24). Gnosticism is clearly not some minor biblical issue. Given that the Bible is timeless and has never been more applicable than here at the end time – when knowledge is increased, and faith is lacking.

    • Rev 2:14,15 are all accursed leaders. Nicholas the name means “victory of people” (without God). Nicolaitanes were a sect that attempted to use Christian liberty as an excuse for self-indulgence and immorality thus deeds hated in revelation 2:6. Galatians 1:8, genuine Christ followers 1 John 5:4,5

  2. I’m familiar with Dr. Lightfoot’s work, but had not encountered this interpretation for “Nicolaitans” before. I admit, it does seem Biblically consistent. I’ve always understood that “Nicolaitans” comes from the Greek words “Nice” (victor/ruler) and “Laikos” (of the people/congregation). Nicolaitans would then be understood as those who have victory (or rule over) the people/congregation. This ties “nicolaitans” to the emergence of a paid, professional clergy/priesthood in the early church, as opposed to the priesthood of all believers.

    • Lightfoots reconstruction is not a bulet proof case. I agree, other possibilities like this one is also possible, but there is a way to tie Lightfoot’s interpretation to the overcoming as well, not to mention that in GREEK the Nicolaitans and those who overcome may be rhyming on purpose! This fits best with Balaam-Balak mention though.

    • Constantine created the Roman Catholic Church .in 313 CE/AD .And since Yeshua Himself is a Jew and all of His Talmidim were Jews they started Messianic Congregations after Shavuot / Pentecost .Jews were called to preach the Word of G-d to the Jews then to the Goyim /Gentiles .There are a lot of churches who for many years have been teaching and preaching replacement theology .Gentile believers need to get back to their Jewish roots and learn what the Word of G-d is saying from the Hebrew writings !

      • Jo Ann, the church in Rome was established by the apostles Peter and Paul almost three hundred years before Constantine. Read Eusebius.

        • No ! Kefa and all of the Talmidim were Jews not christians .Sha’ul /Paul was also a Jew and he never stopped practicing Judaism .Yeshua is a Jew ,the Word of G-d was written by Jews ,the Torah was given to Moshe on Mt .Sinai .On the Day of Shavu’ot /Pentecost they were all Jews who gathered on Yerushalayim not gentiles .Yeshua practiced Judaism .You need to get back to your Jewish roots and understand the Word of G-d is Jewish !!!

        • Let me also add ;Yeshua did not come starting churches and neither did His Talmidim .Again ,they are Jews not gentiles .Yeshua told Kefa and Sha’ul to preach to the Jews first ,then to the gentiles .The Roman Catholic church persecuted the Jews .The emissaries were also Jews .Many Jews were forced to convert to christianity or die or were driven out .Yeshua brought in Messianic Judaism not Christianity !!!

          • Jesus replied, “… And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock (Christ) I WILL build My church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”…

          • I don’t think we should be using “church” in the narrower technical sense it’s used today – to mean the Gentile Christian church – but the community of believers in Yeshua, made up of Jews and Gentiles, called into a covenant relationship with YHWH.

        • No Barry .Why would Jews who has been persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church start churches ? No ,your peddling false doctrines !!!

        • Jews did not start churches .Kefa /Peter , Sha’ul /Paul were Jews .Again ,your are peddling false doctrines .Kefa and Sha’ul practiced Messianic Judaism not Christianity !!!

          • Paul was a Benjaminite So is it by tribal name or by religion? The OT was given to Israel with Judah as part. Where is the rest of Israel today? One thought is European countries as Jesus sent His disciples to the lost sheep of Israel Matt 10:5 – 6

      • When man leaves out the Jewish roots and assumes things that is where the split comes into teaching. (weeds) Without understanding our roots we can get lost and go the wrong way. When we read the Bible we need the Holy Spirit in us to teach us and show us the light or right path to take. I have seen many preachers lead people in the wrong direction. Could that be one reason we have so many churches and different religions. By the way could it be possible that the church building made of bricks and stones enslave us? Think

    • Jim, I see no problem with either interpretation. Whether “let us eaters” (gluttons, which includes sexual gluttony) or being bound to the rulers of this world (demonic and men sold out to demons) the effect is the same. So to argue this would be what my Dad would have called “Majoring in the Minors.” Personally, I think both have something to teach us; a thing which Abishter (The Most High) likes to do! Yours teaches against the absolute hold the church hierarchy has over the laity in many denominations. And THAT is a great lesson to take to heart!

      • Jo Anne,Yeshua did bring about Messianic Judaism, Belief that the Messiah had indeed come, But don’t forget that Christians also follow the Messiah Christ, Christ-ians. There is however a belief that the church succeeded Judaism, and this is just so not right, ( replacement Theology) God has a covenant arrangement with his people, and that does not involve the church. A Jew who accepts The Christ is a Messianic Jew.

        • Noel ,read Romans 11: 11-32 .Even gentiles who excepts Yeshua are Messianic . Gentiles have made another religion separating both Jews and gentiles .This was never Yeshua’s purpose .He intended for the gentiles to be grafted into the natural olive tree .It was the Roman Catholic Church who persecuted the Jews and drove them out of the congregations .This is why many Jews today do not trust Christians .

  3. There is a teaching that Nicolaitans are followers of Nicholas who was one of seven elected by Apostles to minister in the table but backslided. Is it?

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    • I agreet with you Reji Paul. Nicolas was a proselite. It means. He was a gentile and became a jew, then he converted himself as a Christian. Lucas named him in the Last place among diacons just he did with judas among the apostles. The diference was that all the apostles and jew disciples used to meeting in the synagoes with other no Christian jew. Probabily Nicolas made a New group with other gentile. This we calling proselitsm, a usual practice in our churches today. That God hate it.

  4. Thank you for this explanation. It was clear, concise, and well written. There are always some who think the rules don’t apply to them.

  5. I tried reading Rev 2 with Acts. What I see is very different & calls into question the words fallen & repent in Rev 4 & 5. What does “fallen” mean? To be lead to a place of rest. I believe we are to mourn , not repent, and do the works we did at first, Isaiah 22:13. Those who mourn hate things sacrificed to idols and acts of immorality. Those who mourn will receive another comforter because they love God’s commands, John 14:15. The word repent as well as negative language ( (against you, abandoned) throws me off.

    • Kat, to mourn is truly to show one hates the evil around. To repent however means one who once loved the evil now turns away from the evil. When judgment begins at the house of Yahweh, as in Ezekiel 9, those who mourn the evil are spared. But before the judgment, the prophets or servants of Yahweh send forth warnings to repent and turn away from the evil, so that one may escape the judgment when it comes. To mourn and to repent are therefore both valid expectations of the kingdom of Yahweh from people at different stages of faith.

      • Dr Eli , Thanks for sharing on this topic , it is not as simple explain as you attempted , sorry no disrespect to your findings . they having been mentioned in the new testament , and in revelation , means that there is some importance attached , especially Yeshua speaking so hard against their teachings and doctrines . someone mentioned ” to rule ” I think going from this base we could get a better understanding . so lets attempt to understand , I haven’t got all of the information in front of me , just nakedly , going

    • Right .. the meat in itself is nothing. The problem is the connection to idol-worship, that is to demons.

  6. Dr Eli , Thanks for sharing on this topic , I was impressed to write as I was thinking on this last night , in conversation with a friend . firstly , Yeshua spoke harshly about their doctrines . they were (false )followers of of Yeshua. They sought to use the gospel for selfish purposes and gain , and rule over their subjects , managed to secure a advantage point and enemies of the teachings of Yeshua , the gospel . they use that power and will do so in the future to control , with iron force.

  7. the other point I wanted to make was , that the nicolatians corrupted the true teachings of the laws of God , telling their followers that they need not obey the ten commandments , that grace was sufficient . the book of revelation is mainly prophetic , and symbolism so they being mentioned in Rev , is saying to use , that their teachings and doctrines will , if not already have its introit, again . People , especially those who are of the Nicolatians mindset , seeks to rule and control not through GOD’s methods, but their own .

  8. This prompted my thoughts to consider any biblical examples of “laity rule” so commonly taught for 1,000 years. The closest I could find was about “false teachers rising up among you”, but this is not specifically about someone ruling but about teaching false doctrine and leading many astray; not about laity taking over the church. The Aramaic/Greek definition fits more closely with warnings in nearly every epistle.

    • People interpret Nicolaitan as “Conquering the Laity” not as “laity Rule” but as abusive leaders. The writer to the Hebrews speaks of such, as do Jude, Peter and Paul. There is always the temptation to Judaize Gentiles, and Paul was so opposed to this. I oppose the Gentilization of Jews!

    • what about it? It exists as do others but it is Lightfoot’s interpretation that fits the Jewish Context within Roman Empire perfectly.

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  9. Why thrash around in the dark when there is well known tradition explaining this: That they were associates of the deacon Nicholas elected under Peter (as recorded in Acts) who took excuse from the situation developing around Nicholas who neglected his attractive wife because of his duties and became a subject of scandalising gossip for it and distortion of his responses and teachings about it – and these associates were notoriously turning it into a doctrine of permissiveness saying the grace of God justified things like wife swapping. “They turned the grace of God into a license for immoraility”.

    • Hi Stephen. I am a colleague of Dr Eli here at the Israel Bible Center. The interpretation you suggest is, of course, a possibility. But we just think the view Eli proposed is just a little bit better. But thanks for your feedback!

  10. Just wondering… How many opposed to the “ruling over the laity” explanation are church leaders ruling the laity in “their” church?

  11. “Let-us eat-ers ” (i. e. Gluttons) seem to confirm my own view of Nicholaitans as Grecian Jews (Act 6:1-5) who pride themselves as educated/liberated Christians, led by Deacon Nicholas, and who became more pleasure loving rather than spirit minded like Stephen or Philips. Quite insightful bro. Thanks.

  12. I learned via Derek Prince that there is a spiritual war between two kingdoms. Satan against the Kingdom of God. Satan said to Eve : the fruit was nice to see, good to eat, it would make us equal to God. Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert to be tempted by Satan, but He withstood the three main attacks. The apostle John warns us in 1 John 2:12 – 14. Any religion, (Nicolaitans?)that puts itself above God’s Word is on the wrong side of this war to the death. Jesus is Victor.

  13. Jo Ann and others of a similar mind. Constantine did not start the Christian Church in 313 AD. The first members of the church were the apostles which as the name means were sent into the world by Christ (Romans 1:1ff; Galatians1: 1-5) to teach the gospel message to all nations. Before they were called they were known as ‘Followers of the way of Jesus of Nazareth’ and if my Bible is correct (which I trust it is!) they were first called Christians when Paul and Barnabas preached in Antioch. (Acts 11:25-26). Shalom.

  14. I forgot to add to my previous comment that my understanding of Messianic Jews is that they are Christians as they too have accepted Christ as their Messiah. This fact alone puts them outside of orthodox Jewish belief and practice. So then, Messianic Jews are members of Christ’s Church.

    • Jonathan…..I’m a year late!! You are correct…..only Jews call themselves Messianic. But here again is a division between Jew and Gentile, when we are all supposed to be one. Paul explained what a true Jew is, so if we obey Christ in everything He taught, we all, Jew and Gentile are the true Jews. We are then also classed as being the true Israel of God.

  15. Its fasinating to learn in context at last. There goes many versions of the same text for many years which at some point put divisions among the body of Christ. So I believe your well reaserched teaching will correct many incompelete and or faulse teachings in perspective and in context. Thank you so much.

  16. As A Believer in the Saviour who shed His blood for my salvation I see the importance of kosher cooking meat. We are forbidden to eat blood. God says the blood belongs to me. Powerful and simple is the Blood of the Lamb which overcomes Satan. So glad the jewish people faithfully kept kosher. Yeshuah came to make the law more healthy…not destroy it. Keeping kosher helps me in my intimate walk with Him. So intimate and personal is His relationship with us. Thank you for your articles. God bless your heart.

  17. Flesh eaters and blood drinkers…they were mingling with the Nephelims? ….the Giants of that time? Yes the early believers was not set-apart like their Messiah….our Messiah. We need to be set-apart from all fleshly and worldly things of our time. We need to come back to our First Love Yeshua and offer ourselves to His as the first fruits of His righteousness and to live through Him.

  18. We have been warned all along to stay away from worshipping and worshippers of Baal. Roman and Greek cultures have adopted and interjected so many diety’s that the Jewish People were to abstain from all along. Yet, for some such as the Nicolations it was not just back sliding but adopting a pagan way of life. Idolatry and eaters of sacrificed food is to ignore Adoni’s Commandments and therefore, embrace self condemnation.

  19. This week’s Parasha sums it up nicely. “Shetuk” Let us be like the Datel tree that grows straight and not like the palm tree that bends and leans in many directions. Such as, Acacia = Shetuk ( to bend). Be Blessed

  20. The biggest problem for the Church, as it pressed into Gentile areas was the misinterpretation of what it meant to receive grace. The Apostle Paul scolds some in the Church at Rome who were saying, “the more sinning, the more grace”. (see Romans 6:1-4). Paul explains that those who are truly in Christ, have died to sin. In Romans 8:9, Paul plainly tells them that those who are without the indwelling Holy Spirit are not even believers at all. This is consistent with Jesus’ teaching in the gospels about the Holy Spirit. (e.g. John 14)

  21. It seems to me, reading Rev 2:14&15 that the Lord was drawing the attention of those in Pergamos (and ours) to two distinct groups – those who held the doctrine of Balaam and those who held the doctrine of Nicolaitans, separately and not jointly. They were two different doctrines and not the same or else the Lord would have grouped them together. Doctrine of Ballam promoted eating food sacrificed to idols and committing fornication. Doctrine of Nicolaitans seems obscure, hence this discussion. Lightfoot’s interpretation which Dr Eli has put forward says that Nicolaitans also promoted eating food sacrificed to idols.

  22. That seems to be at odds with what the Lord was drawing our attention to. He was clearly referring to two different doctrines and not the same. I am not quite sure about the “ruling the laity” interpretation either. So to me it still seems obscure and need further enlightenment from the Lord.

  23. Jo Ann, I so much agree with you when you mention Romans 11. I am so grateful that I am grafted into the olive tree that is Israel. Even though I am just a Dutch old lady. My “juices,” that I live by, have the Life and Wisdom that God has given to the Jewish people and I am grateful to Dr Lizorkin that he shares his widom and knowledge with people like me. It is so important to search: “where are the roots ?, where does this teaching come from? “. Thank you, Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg.

  24. I did a study several years ago with Pastor Rick Renner on the 1st three chapters of Revelation, which included an exhaustive of each of the seven churches. Along with what you’ve shared, was also the concern for the Israelites to even go into the marketplace where the ‘pagan meat’ was purchased. The marketplace was filled with the unholy for the Jewish people – idol worship, sexual perversion and kinds of unholy. So to even go there, was like walking into a demonic pit of abomination, causing the downfall of their faith. Great lesson even for today.

  25. Baal worship involved human sacrifice of children. Satanic rituals sometimes include sexual immorality and can even include forms of cannibalism, something that would be evil in every way, definitely calling for God’s justice and the condemnation of any God-fearing person. Look at our culture–we have cannibalism represented in some comedy series and there are suspicions that we do have satan worshipers in our world today who do such things. God have mercy on all of us if we do not condemn such practices. Certainly abortion can be seen as a form of Baal worship .

  26. I have read with great interest all your comments and I wonder why we need,as Christians, several hundred Christian denominations to serve the Great God and His messiah??? I come from a mixed heritage but believe we should worship as the first Christian believers, in dedicated homes of ordinary Christians, to pray,share revelations, and disperse to the world what we share as brothers and sisters,NOT in huge churches with images like idols around walls and works of art as decoration. Wouldn’t God be more willing to share His salvation with “ordinary” people dedicated to His works??

    • Shalom Phil, Alas – I think many believers didn’t get Jesus’ memo about unity! All kidding aside, Jesus prayed in John 17 that his followers would be one but few seem to have taken that message to heart. On the other hand, it would be difficult to worship exactly as believers during the first century.

  27. I am confused about who the remnant (gentiles) in Acts 15:17 is. Amos 9:11 calls them Edom. Were they not descendants of Esau’s. Why would they not have been circumcised?

    • The difference in these two passages, Kat, comes from the version of OT used by the apostles. They apparently used the Septuagint Greek translation containing the very words used in Acts 15:17 in Amos 9:11-12. Free pdf downloads are available on the internet.

    • Concerning the circumcision of all Abraham’s seed in the flesh, it may not have been easy for those that married Gentile wives to maintain the tradition. A good example is Moses that married Jethro’s daughter. Jethro was a Midianite priest. Moses did not circumcise his son, and Yahweh threatened to slay him on his way to Egypt to deliver Israel. He then apparently had the child circumcised by force, and his poor wife, Zipporah, called him a bloody husband! See Exodus 4:24-26. Esau married Gentile wives, so may have failed to maintain the tradition of circumcision.

      • Yahka, remember that Jethro was apparently also a descendant through Abraham’s son Midian. Judges 1 tells us that Jethro was of the Kenite clan. The Kenite clan eventually threw in their lot with Israel and lived with them in Judah. Circumcision was practiced among many Semitic nations.

  28. About Saint Irenaeus’ interpretation, according to which Nicolaitans were followers of Nicholas of Jerusalem; As he wrote this about 100 years after the Book of Revelation was written, I have always understood this as a speculation based on conjecture: IF Nicholas was a common Greco-Roman name, why should there only be ONE Nicholas in the Early Church? Just because we find two Nicholas mentioned, a corresponding name does NOT in any way guarantee a match of identity! Proof?See the 2 apostles Jude & Judas = both were called Yehuda! That’s why one of them had to be nicknamed: Iscariot!

    • What Irenaeus has going for his interpretation is that he was trained by Polycarp who was trained by the author of Revelation, John the beloved. This line of the early church were incredibly faithful to the Torah and the Tanak as a whole. Unlike the Roman church or the Alexandrian.

  29. Second, as I have dealt with numerous textual dilemmas requiring solid hermeneutics, as when debating with bible-based heresies (typically twisting scriptures by inferring a meaning which simply cannot be found there), I have found that only the context (first the immediate, then the closest) can give us a clear, limpid and sure meaning. And this path of interpretation, followed in this article to comment these passages, follows this sound method faithfully. Crystal clear. No inference & no speculation. Brilliant by its simplicity.

  30. Thirdly: As I shared your article with a scholar friend, we were both stunned by the science of philology used here: to bring back to life the fact that an Aramaic expression used all around the Near East (going as far as Asia Minor (modern Turkey), Syria and even Persia), sheds an unexpected but refreshing light on the philological etymology of the word Nicholas. Understanding the etymology of this Aramaic word imported into the Greek vernacular, eliminates the need to talk about a speculative Nicolas, which distracts from the simple meaning laid out in front of us in plain view.

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    • Hi Lorraine, Ultimately, its a matter of conscience – but that said – I think its okay to eat halaal products. You are merely consuming meat that meets Muslim standards.

      • Since Muslim standards require the meat to be dedicated to Allah as well, the question then becomes whether Yahweh and Allah are the same being. It is not yet easy for me to answer that in the affirmative. Yet, I have to separate the gaffes of Islamic scholars that simply ignored the testimonies of the prophets of Israel about a re-gathering and final mercy to Israel from the Quran. These scholars have made the goal of destroying Israel appear Quranic. (A replacement theology of sorts.) But the Quran itself affirms these prophets of Israel, and therefore their prophecies.

  31. To Lorraine about Halal. I have eaten halal food in the past, when I did only focus on the fact that halal food basically follows the kashrut rules. … But a friend reminded me that since the symbol of Islam is the Moon Crescent, thus pointing to Hubal, the top pagan Moon god, one of the many idols worshipped in the Kaaba before Muhammad eliminated all of those worshipped there, except for Allah… She will NOT eat halal, as she believes that it would be eating meat sacrificed to an idol, as an imam invokes Allah when performing butchery.

  32. I do not feel good about eating halaal food, but I cannot explain why. I know too little about exactly what goes on when for instance a chicken in the shop has the halaal sign on it, as all chickens do in Durban S.Africa where I used to live for many years. I know not to trust feelings. Therefore, Dr. Eli, could you explain more about this subject? Do you eat halaal chickens ?

  33. The Muslim halaal way of slaughtering animals is extremely barbaric and cruel. No farmer in our whole district will do it and so halaal meat must be imported from other districts by caterers.

  34. Thanks for sharing this insight. I agree they were people who wrongly believed it was ok to eat food offered to idols. Please what’s your take on 1 Cor 8 v 4 -7? A pastor once argued with me that it is ok to eat such food based on 1 Cor 8 v 4 -7.

    • Food sacrificed to idols is strictly forbidden in Acts 15 (and before that in Torah). Paul rejoiced in the decision of Acts 15. SO there is no way under heaven that Paul can say… you know what it is ok food sacrificed to idols. Whatever our interpretations are of this great Jewish man, we must always remember where he is coming from.

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  35. Shalom. So we can’t be certain who the Nicolations were but we know what they did that was not acceptable to God. Eating anthing they wanted to eat. Eating meat sacrificed to idols, consuming meat with blood in it, being sexualy immoral. It is very simple. Do not do these things. There are so many other good things to eat it should not be too difficult to restrain from the things God asks us to.

  36. Nico means “to rule, to dominate” while laity means “people”, so Jesus was against spirit of leaders dominating over people instead of over creation and this is Pharaoh spirit. Nicolaitan also means fleshly indulgence, it represent those who says my spirit is saved therefore its not affected even if I indulge in the flesh.

    • God is the one who puts rulers in place, and one day, Yeshua will rule the world. I don’t think He is against ruling people, but of course he would be against abusively ruling over people.

  37. I have a book from the 1800’s about a traveller who spent much time where the 7 Greek churches once stood. He said the Nicolations believed that their spirit was already in heaven and they were free to indulge. Business people belonged to a guild and had to attend the guild’s meetings which eventually turned into drinking and orgies. Those who felt it wasn’t right to indulge in such practices were assured by the Nicolations that their spirits were safe in Heaven and they could enjoy their life on earth. A bit like the preservation of the saints.

  38. Very interesting. Particularly seen in light of the fact that much meat sold today are really sacrificed to other deities – and some even choked. This is particularly true of HALAL, which is sacrificed to the Devil, and some of these animals can suffer for half an hour before dying.

  39. Nikolaitans in Greek would refer to victory over the people. Leaving the simple method of leadership set out by the early Jewish apostles elders pastors teachers overseers the leaders tried to include priestly leadership who dictated to the laity. Christ hated that and so do we today. No bishops priests

    • God hates abuse and evil manipulation, sure, but to be certain, He is not against all forms of authority. He is the ultimate authority, of course, and He sets up people in positions of authority, i.e., leaders, officers. If those people abuse that authority, shame on them, and God will judge them for it.

  40. Comparing scripture with scripture is a great way to study today. But is it reasonable to assume believers in the first century had access to other letters that would become canonized as the NT? Would the church at Ephesus have had the writings of Luke?

    • It is difficult to prove. There are several theories as to how the books/letters of the NT were spread, but it’s probable that as believers traveled, they visited the local congregation, copied local letters and took them to their home congregation upon returning home. The gospels would have been particularly desired since it was a biography of the Lord, and not just a responsa to a specific congregation.

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  41. Thank you Dr Eli. Your teachings have opened the scriptures to new meanings to me. God is using you & the others to help correct incorrect translations so God can show us His True Word in these last day!

  42. “… You also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.” (Rev 2:15)
    You ALSO have… it means Jesus mentioned SOMETHING ELSE then idolatry & Immorality.
    Teaching = Deeds (doctrines). It is not about what you mentioned.

  43. So Holy Spirit told me that Nicolatians are idol worshipers, for the original meaning of Nicolatians, we can say different view but the important thing is to know why God hate them,(idol) God bless us. Some words Jesus will use, we will only understand them by revelation

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