First-Century Clergyism and Priestcraft

Reprinted from the American Christian Magazine, July-Aug 1992

But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.

So have you also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. -Revelation 2:6, 15

Speaking to His own, Jesus Christ identifies the spirit of Nicolaitanism as the thing He hates (or detests). Thinking of the things you personally detest can bring you to understand the emotion of Godly anger our Lord has toward Nicolaitanism. His respons response of anger to this nicolaitan spirit is not unlike His response to the moneychanger spirit recorded in Matthew 21. Should not we (the genuine followers of Jesus Christ) demand of ourselves complete agreement with the mind of the Lord in detesting the nicolaitan spirit?

Hating Nicolaitanism should be a "basic of the faith." But, there is overwhelming evidence we, as a people, have done the exact opposite! Contemporary leaders claiming to represent Christ not only fail to hate, detest and despise Nicolaitanism, they passionately covet it and support it.

They love, revere, maintain, defend and protect Nicolaitanism ... thinking they are doing God a service. We, the saints born into the contemporary "Christian" experience, have been blindly following these leaders who themselves have been blind to this nicolaitan spirit for several centuries now.


Identifying this spirit is a major first step toward restoration of genuine representations of the Ekklesia ... which will, in turn, restore the purity, potency and vitality Jesus Christ infused into first century communities.

When denouncing the nicolaitan spirit, our Lord was addressing communities of saints at Ephesus and Pergamos. Would not His words be the same today to us in our communities where we interact with fellow saints? Yet, investigation reveals contemporary saints are almost totally ignorant of the cursed spirit of Nicolaitanism among them.


Two Greek root words are brought together to form "nicolaitan" : NICO and LAOS. "Nico" means to conquer or bind. "Laos" means "the common people." "Lait" (as in the central section of NICO - "LAIT" -AN) is a form of "laos." The modern term "laity", was for formed by simply adding a "y."

Now, for there to be a laity there must be a clergy. The "clergy" is the elite ruling class, as contrasted with the "laity" which is the common class. Hence, we now understand that the thing Jesus Christ hates and detests is the spirit of clergy/laity (i.e., class society with one ruling over another). Are you beginning to smell something?

Nicolaitanism is a widespread gigantic system of error and deception perpetrated upon the saints of God by those claiming to represent God. Actually, Nicolaitanism was devised by the church/state system of this world as a replacement for the Ekklesia.

Nicolaitanism reveals the concept of "conquering the common people," "victorious over the people," and "subjugating the people."

The nicolaitan "government" is counterfeit to the government Jesus Christ referred to in the model prayer for His disciples, "Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven" (Matt. 6:10). Can we see this paraphrased as, "let there be manifest on earth, a visible body of people whose government is Jesus Christ"?

The body of Christ is presently in bondage to the spirit of Nicolaitanism. Nicolaitanism, as government, is interpreted by the Christian as clergy. Christians en-masse give support and obedience to clerical government, ignorantly believing clerical government is one-and-the-same as Christ's government. Clergy propagates itself as a special "spiritual" class with privileges the laity doesn't have. They claim to be officials (e.g. by ordination & license) who have the right to leadership in spiritual things. Churches have held the saints in bondage by practicing Nicolaitanism. Man-made titles are issued as counterfeits to God-authored abilities and natural positions (Rom. 12:4-8; Rm 13:1; I Cor. 12:4-11; Eph. 4:7; I Pet. 4:10).


Occupied with worldly things, the "laity" are brainwashed to think they can't be spiritually equal to the clergy. Thus, the people (or masses) are ushered away from, and excused from, their personal spiritual responsibilities. In the Ekklesian concept (founded in Ex 19:5-6) each head of the household would be a "king/priest"-each one commissioned directly under Christ-with no middlemen! (1Pet 1:23; 2:5; Heb 13:15, 16; 1Cor 12:7). There is nothing in the New Testament about needing "ordination papers" from the establishment church clergy before one is qualified and authorized to serve.

The ekklesia is opposed to Nicolaitanism, in every form-church, government, etc. The danger is that some may recognize it in Catholicism, but fail to see it in their own congregation. The truth is that Nicolaitanism is Churchism-anywhere it appears. It is seen in titles such as Reverend, Doctor of Divinity, Apostle, Evangelist, etc. Protestant, Fundamentalist and independent "Churches" need also to come clean on these issues.

A primary question is: does anyone teaching today (deluded by the spirit of Nicolaitanism) properly identify what a genuine New Testament "pastor" is? Has not this term "pastor" been corrupted and twisted in order to perpetuate the error to the extreme detriment of virtually the whole body of Christ?

A "pastor" is, in fact, a shepherd. An ekklesia is a called-out body of people; a specific community. The pastor shepherds within the community. Neither of these titles indicates "church," "religion," or "ritual." The challenge is to identify clearly the mind of Christ pertaining to these terms. Once defined, this revelation would do wonderful destruction in Churchdom and be a quantum leap for the Ekklesia!


More than any other group, church "pastors" today restrict, hinder and prevent saints in the congregations from maturing into effective disciples. Under the nicolaitan system of control, pastors must hold their "flock" from maturing to equal "spiritual" status as themselves. There is an unwritten code: "my people must not progress to the ground I hold or I lose my ground, my status and benefits as "pastor." Under the nicolaitan spirit the pastor must always be the pastor, the flock must always be the flock. The only exception being for people who will adhere to nicolaitan disciplines (Bible college, license, ordination, etc.) and aspire to the corrupt "pastor" status themselves.


Contemporary nicolaitan ordination practices which anoint and appoint "pastors" and other "church" offices are far afield of what Jesus Christ established for the first century Ekklesia.

What is firmly in place today in Christendom is precisely what Jesus Christ warned the ekklesia at Ephesus and Pergamos to avoid.

With little exception, "pastors" today have vested interest in the nicolaitan "system" and will not "bite the hand that feeds them." Licensed to marry and bury, the contemporary "Reverend" enjoys maintaining his position a "step above" the flock. Where do you find a "minister" performing a wedding or a funeral in the Scriptures? The perks of status, salary, parsonages, pensions, etc., make "pastoring" today an attractive "profession" for those who will meet nicolaitan standards of practice.

The "sacred desk" of the pulpit, the special class "ordained" to baptize, advise, sermonize, etc. maintains the nicolaitan stronghold. Only the "pastor" or his designates (those he deems will not upset the nicolaitan apple cart) are allowed access to the "sacred desk." Nicolaitanism results in the "one tongue, many ears" syndrome of pulpit and pews. Full operation of the entire organic body, as established by Jesus Christ, is thwarted by the nicolaitan system which prevails in virtually every "church" today. The nicolaitan spirit demands a ruling hierarchy over the organic body, usurping the "Headship" of Jesus Christ. So-called "pastors" today justify this by calling themselves "undershepherds"??? Book, chapter and verse, please!

Whether it be to the "founding families", church board, corporate board, missions board, or denominational headquarters, apathetic saints today are kept in tow via the nicolaitan concepts Jesus Christ detests. The purity, power and potency God could supply through obedience to His Ekklesia concept is kept at bay. "Church" members are taught the outright lie that God wants them to "tithe" and contribute to the continuance of these nicolaitan churches and pastors.

Nicolaitanism divides the true organic body of Christ at given localities, fostering a spirit of un-Godly competition among the saints. Saints, like dumb sheep, relish the social benefits and pay dues to these "churches" and "pastors" to their own detriment and destruction. Then, when the crops fail, they blame God for the weakness.

They cry out to God for revival. But, revival is not what is needed! Transformation is what is needed. Transformation through repentance and housecleaning of the nicolaitan spirit, and a turning to adhere to Ekklesian principles of Scripture by the Spirit of the Living God!

But what about the "independent ministries"? Virtually all "para-church" ministries today are life-supported by the nicolaitan spirit as well-in traditional church fashion. Exposing the spirit of Nicolaitanism will serve to bring the contemporary "Christian Star System," and big name nicolaitan ministries, crashing down to God's Glory!

Would to God those who would give to ministries today could cease from following after deceptions which drain off funds needed for genuine Ekklesian work and local body cultivation.


Exhortations of Jesus Christ to the seven Ekklesias (Rev. 1-3) reveals additional insights.

Baalamism (Rev. 2:14) is companion to Nicolaitanism in causing God's people to mix with the nations from which God had carefully separated them.

"Church" members today are not a visible, practical, identifiable, separate "called-out" people. Nicolaitanism has succeeded in holding the saints of God under the dual aspects of Roman Civil Government and Clerical Government (i.e., Priestcraft). Hence, the saints have not functioned practically under the government of Jesus Christ. Commitment and obedience to the government of Jesus Christ is shown to be inconclusive as the "first love" of the saints is abandoned in Revelation 2:4. The "False Apostles" of Revelation 2:2 are those whose "calling" is by the nicolaitan spirit. They attempt to make the Ekklesia fit the mold of synagogues (today we call them "Judeo-Christian churches").

Revelation 2:9 mentions the "...synagogue of the adversary." These false Jews were attempting to hold the saints bound to the rabbinical system and religious standards. Churches, by nature, must perpetuate themselves by providing the nicolaitan structure for offices and the ostentatious statuses of men.


The Ekklesia is an organism; a living thing; a complex structure of interdependent elements whose relations and duties are largely determined by the needs therein. The Ekklesia is the "one new man" of Ephesians 2:15 & 4:24 -a body constituted to carry on the activities of life by means of organs separate in function but mutually dependent. Do we recognize this in 1 Corinthians 11:29-30? "...many are weak, sick and die... not discerning the Lord's body."

Genuine love toward our Lord Jesus must bring us to repent of the nicolaitan spirit. This must be our chief occupation today if we are to be overcomers and " of the Tree of Life..." (Rev. 2:7), "...of the hidden manna..." and "...receive a new name..." (Rev. 2:17). Without this repentance we have the Lord's promise He will fight against us (Rev. 2:16).

This must call us to the work at hand. Deliverance begins in the house of God (1Pet 4:17). The nicolaitan spirit pervades religion today ... indwelling individual saints. This spirit must be cast out. Nothing less than the all-out warfare of Ephesians 6:12 against "...wickedness in high places..." must be implemented to the pleasure of our God and the success of our posterity.

Leaders willing to accept the challenge to root out this nicolaitan spirit prove themselves as genuine leaders. Warriors bold enough to overcome this nicolaitan spirit prove themselves true warriors!

"Wherefore come out from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you" (2Cor. 6:17).

-C. J. Milosh


Nicolaitanism: The Rise and Growth of the Clergy. by Fredrick W. Grant

Nicolaitansim by R. P. Daniel

Both available for a few dollars from Believer's Bookshelf, PO Box 261, Sunbury, PA 17801.

Further word-study:

Strong's Greek Dictionary. #3531,32

Babylon Mystery Religion, Ancient and Modern by Ralph Woodrow, p 115.

Unger's Bible Handbook see Revelation Chapter 2:6-7, page 845.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, a commentary by John F. Walvoord, pp 58, 67-69.


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