Revelation 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I (God) hate.Some interpret this passage, and the other in Revelation 2 like it, as God hates the Nicolaitanes. However, God so loved the world, and he did not harbor hate for anyone. God hates the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes. This hatred of doctrine is mentioned twice, making it important and essential that Christians not adhere to it.
Church father's had various different ideas what this doctrine is, and from whom it originated. Obviously, for it to be crucial enough to be hated, it must have been the doctrine of an influential person, and it must have been a very sinful doctrine. Most church fathers believed that Nicolas, one of the appointed seven in Acts 6 was a righteous man gone bad. Nicolas was a convert from some other religion, probably not Judaism, because he was referred to as a proselyte. Because of the decadence of the Roman and Hellenistic influences, he is more likely to have been a pagan who worshiped other or many gods from their pantheon.
The Romanized culture fairly well accepted sexual types of worship. Monogamy was the norm both in Roman and Greek culture, but sexual relations was acceptable if it was with prostitutes in that they were not another man's wife. Therefore, it may be that Nicolas considered prostitution an acceptable activity; after all monogamous Romans and Greeks consorted with them!
That brings into the picture the sins of Balaam. Theologians believed that he brought prostitution and pimping into the worship of God.
Revelation 2:14 " But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication."Since Baalam is mentioned right along with the Nicolaitanes, it is reasonable to assume that the doctrine of Balaam in Judaism was the same as the doctrine of Nicolas in Christianity. Some even believe that Balaam in Hebrew is the same name as Nicolas in Greek. In that case the followers of Nicolas would also be followers of Balaam. If Nicolas, one of the seven, was a proselyte (pagan), then he would no little about Balaam, but much about culturally acceptable prostitution. At any rate, Nicolas brought idol worship and prostitution into the church.
When the qualifications for bishop and deacon are enumerated in 1 Timothy 3 the literal translation is that both are to a man of one woman. This has nothing to do with one wife, but merely one woman - gune in the Greek. Some have made it more specific in error to mean wife. What that means is that bishops and deacons can not consort with prostitutes or be fornicators in any manner. It is present-tense, meaning that past sins which are forgiven do not void current qualifications. In that culture prostitution was prevalent and acceptable, and had even entered the church.
Because Nicolas apparently was not of the religion of Moses, surely means that he was not a follower of God's Law. Because of liberty in Christ, he may have been one to take grace to the extreme as Paul preached against.
Romans 6:1 "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."Note that Paul was speaking to the pagan Romans who lived in a sinful culture, and who frequented prostitutes. This situation fits Nicolas quite well as a likely pagan. Apparently he carried this cultural doctrine into the church because of sola gratia - by grace alone, which later on became the doctrine pf Calvin. If Nicolas was never a follower of Moses, he would certainly care little about obedience to the Law. It would be easy for him to bring this doctrine into the church, which was part of Gnosticism which Paul preached against so often. Later on, this heresy fit well with what was called antinomianism - the doctrine that because justification is by faith in Jesus alone, then there are no moral restraints. Essentially, this heresy voids the Ten Commandments, and is a ticket for licentiousness.
Does it still exist today? Sure does! Five-point Calvinists would point out that Christians are saved by irresistible grace and were elected to be at the beginning of time. There is nothing that they can do to reject their predetermined fate. As such, any regulations are merely a way to enslave and the Christian is at liberty to sin at will. Even some who accept only eternal security (Calvin's point five), that they can sin even to the extent of murder, and slip into heaven as a sinner because God's grace erases current and future sin.
As an example, a friend of mine told a filthy joke. I reproved him by saying, "I thought you were a Christian." His answer was, "That sin was forgiven two-thousand years ago." That is very true, but there is more: Romans 3:25 says that the acceptance of Jesus blood was for past sins. He did die for all sins, but Christians are expected to continually obey and repent. What's more, Jesus said that if we love him, we are to obey his commands. Whether it is eternal or conditional security, we are to leave the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes out of the church!
Hard Calvinists still do practice the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes. Because that doctrine is so cultural in the west, many modern Christians bring prostitution and adultery right into God's house without ever being convicted that it is wrong. We all know some who cohabitate without legal marriage. We condemn them when they do that. However, based on the definition of marriage in Judea, cohabitation is marriage. Serial cohabitation is adultery, and frequenting prostitutes is fornication. That doctrine is still rampant in the church and for that, those of that doctrine must repent!
Furthermore. no Nicolaitanes, Balaaamites, or even antinomians should be bishops or deacons. Some are because the criteria of divorce is wrongly used.