In Revelation there is mention, in two congregations, concerning the "Sect of Nicolaus".

What exactly was this sect? What did it teach? And has it's influence survived into our day?

2 Answers 2


Revelation 2:6 and 2:15 refer to an unidentified group of people called the Nicolaitanes, commending the church at Ephesus for hating the "deeds" of the Nicolaitanes, and blaming the church of Pergamos for having them who hold their "doctrines". John of Patmos opposed them for their doctrines, not just their deeds, however the church at Pergamos had been able to reconcile those doctrines to the extent that Nicolaitanes were members of the church.

The existence of a sect called Nicolaitanes in the second century is attested by Irenaeus, Tertullian and Clement of Alexander. Eusebius states, in Church History chapter 29, that members of the sect claimed it was named after Nicolaus, saying:

"At this time the so-called sect of the Nicolaitans made its appearance and lasted for a very short time. Mention is made of it in the Apocalypse of John. They boasted that the author of their sect was Nicolaus, one of the deacons who, with Stephen, were appointed by the apostles for the purpose of ministering to the poor. Clement of Alexandria, in the third book of his Stromata, relates the following things concerning him..."

Another, apparently conflicting theory is based on a Greek analysis of the name, suggesting that Nicolaitanes insisted on separation of the clergy and the laity, resulting in ‘conquest’ or domination of the laity.

John Glyndwr Harris, in Gnosticism, at page 120, says that the Nicolaitanes, founded by Nicolaus (or Nicolas), were said to have lived promiscuously.

It has been suggested that Jude 1:4 is referring to the Nicolaitanes, who were said to lead lives of unrestrained indulgence. If so, there is no evidence of any real elements of their influence down to the present day.

We do not really know that the Nicolaitanes were promiscuous, since Eusebius wrote his Church History so many centuries later. The suggestion that Nicolaitanes insisted on separation of the clergy and the laity could even mean that the author of Revelation was referring to what has now become the mainstream, or orthodox, church, remembering that there is no evidence that the Book of Revelation was written by the orthodox Christian Church. This scenario, although less likely, would certainly mean that the Nicolaitanes had influence down to the present day.

  • Great answer, and thank you for the detail you've given.
    – user9485
    Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 21:50

What was the “Sect of Nicolaus” and did elements of it's influence carry down to our day?

Here is some Catholic scholarship on the subject and they seem to discount some of the earlier ideas as well.


I can see a case in favor of Niko (power) laites (people) those who use power over people because it is consistent with the warning of Peter;

1 Peter 5:2-3 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

Football has been described as 65,000 people who really need exercise watching 22 guys who really need rest. In a way Christian practice has become a church full of people watching a guy do religious stuff. The division between church leaders and church members is still with us.

  • The football analogy is great, especially in the clergy/laity comparison.
    – user9485
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 21:05
  • Two things commend this answer, though it is 'less likely'. The church has not avoided the other warnings either, and certainly the clergy would come up with answers so that it did not point to them.
    – Bob Jones
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 10:46

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