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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Minister's Big "O"

One of the main things that Jesus had against churches in Asia Minor, referenced in chapters 2 & 3 of the book of Revelation, was the doctrine of the Nicolaitans (or Nicolaitanes). Now most self-serving doctrineers say that we don't know what the doctrine was, but that Jesus was ticked about it, whatever it was (much as folks can't figure out that Jesus was talking about the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem in Matthew 24). Once again, grammar is not soft and gooey in the Bible. The language itself, the name itself has the meaning:

"The doctrine of the Nicolaitanes" is just what the word Nicolaitanes itself declares.


  1. In the book of the revelation of Jesus Christ, it is both "the deeds" and "the doctrine" of those in the two "churches" specified (Revelation 2:6, 15). The Lord demands repentance on the part of those who hold and practice these things and He threatens drastic punishment if they do not obey Him:

    "Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth," (Revelation 2:16).

  2. The name, Nicolaitanes, is a compound word which is composed of three Greek words, and which, because of being a proper noun, is transferred instead of being translated into English. As thus transferred, it is subject to the laws of Greek construction in regard to ellipsis, contraction and phonetics.
  3. The Greek words used in its construction are first: "Nikos," of which we use the English equivalents instead of the Greek letters, as we shall also of the other two. Nikos is defined as "a conquest; victory; triumph; the conquered; and by implication, dominancy over the defeated." Another transferred name in which this term is used is "Nicopolis," i.e., Niko - conquest; polis city. Hence, the city of conquest, or city of victory. Also "Andro" -- "nikos;" a man of conquest, of victory. The second term used in the name under consideration is "laos," -- people, another use of which is Nicolas, which is transferred and is composed of Nikoslaos and means one who is "victorious over the people," the letter "s" being, in both words, the nominative case ending, which is retained only at the end of the word to denote the case, while "a" short and "o" short are contracted into "a" long.


Also, a still further transferred use of "laos" is found in the name Lao(s)diceans, compounded with dike or dice as the Greek "k" is the equivalent English "c." Thus, in the name Laodiceans, we have laos -- "people" and dice la(ic)os means "laymen," of which laos is the root and stem, which selfsame word, with the "o" short contracted to "i", to which root and stem the plural definite article ton is joined to form laiton -- is a Greek phrase meaning "the laity." judgment, or vengeance, i.e., the people of my judgment, or of my vengeance. Also the Greek word

The third and last word entering into the construction of the proper name Nicolaitanes is ton, in which omega, the long "o", is contracted into long "a", thus making the word "tan" which is the genitive case plural in all the genders of the definite article the. Therefore, we have, without the legal Greek construction, the English hyphenated word Nickos-laoston, but which, with its lawful elisions and contractions, becomes the English name: Nicolaitanes, the full meaning of which, in its native tongue and in its ecclesiastical setting, is that the bishops and prelates of the Church have gained a triumphal victory or conquest over the laiton -- the laity -- until they have been compelled to submit to the arbitrary dominion of men who have become that thing which God hates: "Lords over God's heritage." -- J. H. Allen

So, the Nicolitanes are those who lord it over God's people, who set a clergy over a laity.

Now, it is self-evident that as Paul said, divisions MUST exist to determine who amongst us is "approved". No division is so evident as the divide between the "preacher", and everyone else in the congregation. Biblical church polity consists of a congregation, of whom are elders (bishops, overseers) who are men of proven character and maturity who handle the spiritual leadership and teaching), and deacons, who are also of proven character, and who handle many of the physical needs of the congregation. The elders are scripturally enjoined not to "lord it over" the flock.

Now, it is problematic where the whole "preacher" or "minister" leading a congregation came in (oops, I forgot about the whole priesthood thing), but it sure isn't biblical.

Now, our congregation was "preacherless" for almost two years, and many of the men, including your Aardvark, stepped up to the plate to handle the preaching and teaching. We had the most amazing togetherness develop.during that time. Elders, deacons, everyone was just in to serve God and one another. It was neat. There was more real growth in myself (and others) than I had experienced in years.

The big problem lies in the separation of the "preacher" from the rest of the congregation. There is...behavior...that sets the "minister" apart from everyone else. Nowhere does this otherness appear more pronounced than in the pulpit. The timbre of voice, the pronunciation. Some groups have schools that teach how a preacher should "sound" (adding a "huh" at the end of a phrase to show your passion: "I say unto you-UH, that we are going to have-HUH, a greaaaat revival-HUH,,,") Not our crowd, thankfully.

However, one practise that really rattles my cage is the use of archaisms, using language that makes it sound like Fanny Crosby was your nanny, and P.P.Bliss your headmaster. Beginning a phrase with a sonorous "O". O, how sweet to trust in Jesus. O, what trying times in which we live. Extending the "O" is good for emphasis: "OOOOOO, what a profound thought". I mean, no-one talks like that.in real life, and it only serves to increase the unreality of what passes for the Faith today.

It is axiomatic for many to "speak where God's word speaks, and be silent where it is silent". Allow me to add: "and speak normally when you do so". Preacherly airs do not endear, and serve to separate you from those to whom you wish to communicate the Word of Truth.


David The Good said...

O Aardvark, blessed among rodents, I shall pray for thee.

Thoughtful post. I love your line "using language that makes it sound like Fanny Crosby was your nanny, and P.P.Bliss your headmaster." Ha ha ha!

I think the ideal church situation is one where a plurality of godly elders provide oversight. No head pastor, per se. That's the kind of church I grew up in, actually.

The Aardvark said...

Rodent, you say?

I have my own order for goodness' sake.

But the prayers are much appreciated.

Yah, I liked that verbal assembly. Thought of it in the bathroom.

As to your ideal church, sounds New Testament to me! You're blessed to have experienced a congregation like that.

The Aardvark said...

I've been wallowing in the weird and wacky for awhile, and felt a need to make the blog masthead....not inaccurate.

MacLaren said...

Ha... David's an idiot. Everyone knows aardvarks have their own category of classification! Ever crack a look at Wikipedia, my scientifically malnourished friend?


Anonymous said...

Now, our congregation was "preacherless" for almost two years - Aardvark

I didn't know you went to First Baptist - Houston???

There was a time when they were without a preacher there. It was fascinating to watch. Being such a huge church, they had administrators to handle the "business" of the church. But your experience does not sound all that different, just maybe smaller. Which can be a good thing.

Anonymous said...

I have never read a breakdown of the words before. I was surely under the impression that the "geographical" approach to identifying these churches was not correct--but of all things, I never saw anyone pull the titles apart before.

I think it's really interesting, and probably more true than most would care to admit. Got any more like that?

Anonymous said...

Haw...naaah, just li'l ole North Alabamastan.

I have a personal, ngaaaah, concern about Very Large Congregations. Obesity may not be a problem just with the human body. I stress personal.

The early church had small, manageable congregations where all-or-most could participate

1 Corinthians 14:26, "How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying."

When you have a ginormous church, it is difficult for the "every one" to take part.

Hmmm....maybe it's not personal after all.

The Aardvark said...

Mrs. P, I first heard this from Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel. There is a consistent representation of this view amongst those who have no entrenched clergy / laity bent. It also requires no assumptions, as it is based upon the language itself.

As to the seven churches, they were churches in Asia Minor. Their praises and rebukes are certainly applicable across the history of the church. I do not hold with Scofield's dispensational follies, but Laodicea sounds amazingly familiar today.