WHAT JESUS HATES IN THE CHURCH
By W. G. Guy
Revelation 2:6 – But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Revelation 2:15 – So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
The above two verses are from the letters that Jesus told the apostle John to write to the churches of Ephesus and Pergamos. Jesus had issues with each of the seven churches written to, but these two had a particular problem that got Jesus very irritated. So what was, or is, the doctrine of the Nicolaitans that Jesus hates so much?
The Greek meaning of “Nicolaitans” is “to rule [conquer] over people.” Many see in this term the beginning of the movement of every believer from being a priest to being part of a special class of clergy who ruled over the church. There is also a case to be made that the Aramaic word niaqleidto can be translated “the performing of rituals,” which would make the verse read “You despise the performing of rituals, which I also despise.” (This paragraph taken from the Passion Translation Bible footnote on verse 6.)
So we see that what Jesus hates, or despises, in the church is the establishment of an ecclesiastical hierarchy, or simply the division of the people into two groups, the “clergy” and the “laity”. In addition, Jesus despises the liturgy that has been established in many of the churches. Both of these issues that Jesus hates are fully evident throughout history in the Roman Catholic Church. The problem is that this division of clergy and laity, and some rituals, have been carried on into the Protestant churches which are spin-offs of the Roman Catholic Church.
Jesus does not want His followers divided into two different classes of people, with the one receiving higher recognition, and the other being the ruled over or dominated. Jesus has determined that His followers comprise His kings and priests in His kingdom and under His domain:
Revelation 1:6 – And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen
Clergy and laity are not Biblical; in addition, the Pope is not the “vicar of Christ” as head of the church as taught by Roman Catholicism. Jesus opposed exalted positions and spoke directly to that issue with His disciples.
Matthew 23:8-12 – But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
In the Catholic Church they established an exalted hierarchy with specific titles of honor and regal vestments to wear with unique headdress to identify rank and position. Even the priests are to be called “father” which goes totally against what Jesus said in the verse above.
Matthew 20:25-28 – But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister (servant); and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
According to Jesus, those who are His ministers to the church, are to be servants to the people, not exalted potentates to dominate over them. The apostle Peter also deals with this issue, and he, being recognized as a lead apostle, did not assume to a high exalted position, and identified himself as a fellow elder.
1 Peter 5:1-3 – The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 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. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
Consider that Christ’s gift ministers of apostle, prophet, teacher, evangelist and pastor all work together to equip the believers for the work of the ministry. These gift ministries are not exalted positions of hierarchy, but instead they are necessary functions to serve the Body of Christ as His servants and co-laborers with us.
Ephesians 4:11-15 – And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Now, as to dealing with ritualistic practices in the churches, which have become established traditions; Jesus addressed this issue because of the rituals that were prevalent in His day that were contrary to what God had ordained.
Matthew 15:1-3 – Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
The doctrines of man make up all kinds of excuses to justify their traditions:
Matthew 15:4-6 – For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; and honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
Jesus died on the cross and gave His life to free us from the religious dictates of man controlled religious systems. Why do people subjugate themselves to such abdominal practices that Jesus hates? It is because of ignorance of God’s Word and the efforts of men to exercise control. You can be free of such by knowing the Word of God and fellowshipping with Him in prayer and devotion. He will reveal truth to you by His Spirit – which is truth!
John 8:30-32 & 36 – Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. …… If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
Jesus’ own prayer for all His followers is for us to be free from the bondages of a decrepit religious system and to be sanctified (set apart for Him) that we may be equipped to represent Him in this world, and not represent some errant religious system which He hates.
John 17:15-18 – I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.