Revelation 2:6: A Holy Hatred?

Updated: Jan 18, 2020

Verse 6:[1] But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of (Rev. 2:15) the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

[But this thou hast] That is, of good (Menochius). With marvelous art, He mitigated the censure by commendations both prefixed and subjoined. Paul makes use of the same method, 1 Corinthians 1:11 (Grotius).

But this thou hast; thou hast yet thus much to commend thee.

[Thou hast hated the deeds (not the persons, but the vices [Lyra, thus Durham] of the Nicolaitans] Whose heresy it was, to permit fornication, and to make use of women promiscuously, even those joined in marriage (Lapide, Menochius, similarly Tirinus, Durham, Cluverus, Cotterius); who were discrediting marital chastity; who did whatever they pleased, without fear of scandal (Durham), visiting pagan rites (Cluverus), eating things sacrificed to idols (Durham). See Irenæus’ Against Heresies 1:27, Ignatius’ Epistle to the Philadelphians, Clement of Alexandria’s Stromata 2:177; 3:187 (Cluverus). They had their name from a certain Nicolas (Cotterius), from one of the first Deacons [Acts 6:5], Nicolas (Grotius, similarly Camerarius, Zegers, Drusius, Piscator, Hammond, Lapide, Menochius, Tirinus); which is quite evident among the Fathers (Grotius), and which Irenæus, Tertullian, Hillary, Jerome, Epiphanius, Philastrius,[2] and others relate (Tirinus). But whether those evil doctrines proceeded from him, or indeed were falsely set forth under his name, not likewise [is it evident]. To me, bringing together the testimonies of the Ancients, a middle opinion pleases, which is this, that Nicolas, having been accused ζηλοτυπίας, of envy, because, having a beautiful wife, he was not well enduring those kisses of peace customary among Christians of both sexes, ran to the opposite extreme; and, after the example of Laco and Cato,[3] permitted to others the use of his wife, plainly as if in this which was done with the husband and wife willing there was no sin. But with this window against Evangelical chastisty once opened, afterwards, as evils are not wont to stand where they began, with that entire window opened, lusts were admitted. Indeed, it is not strange that those that had despised discipline permitted to themselves meats sacrificed to idols without any discrimination (Grotius). Clement of Alexandria and Augustine excuse Nicolas, who ascribe this to jealous Gnostics who were explaining his words adversely, and were falsely prefixing his name to their own sect (Tirinus).

That thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans; thou hatest the deeds of those who teach the lawfulness of a common use of wives, and eat things offered to idols; for these, they say, were the tenets of the Nicolaitans, so called from one Nicholas; but whether he were one of the first deacons, named Acts 6:5, (who, they say, to avoid the imputation of jealousy, brought forth his wife, being a beautiful woman, and prostituted her,) or from some other of that name, I cannot determine.

[Which I also hate] Namely, as contrary to the Gospel. In a manuscript, ἃ/which is wanting, although required by the sense as a whole (Grotius). Learn from hence how much God holds all encouragers of sins as hated (Cotterius).

Which I also hate: God, as a lover of his own order, and of human society, hateth such doctrines and practices as are contrary to the rule of his word, and tend to the confusion of human societies.

[1] Greek: ἀλλὰ τοῦτο ἔχεις, ὅτι μισεῖς τὰ ἔργα τῶν Νικολαϊτῶν, ἃ κἀγὼ μισῶ.

[2] Philastrius was the Bishop of Brescia in the late fourth century. He was a great defender of orthodoxy during the ascendancy of the Arian party. He wrote a book against heresies, Liber de Hæresibus.

[3] Cornelius Laco was a corrupt counselor of Emperor Galba. Cato the Younger divorced his second wife, Marcia, so that she might marry Quintus Hortensius; this was irregular enough to warrant the charge of “wife trafficking” by Julius Cæsar.

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