Volume 3: 1771 Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica!


Nicolaitans, in church history, Christian heretics who assumed this name from Nicolas of Antioch; who, being a Gentile by birth, first embraced Judaism, and then Christianity; when his zeal and devotion recommended him to the church of Jerusalem, by whom he was chosen one of the first deacons. Many of the primitive writers believe that Nicolas was rather the occasion than the author of the infamous practices of those who assumed his name, who were expressly condemned by the Spirit of God himself. Rev. ii, 6. [21st Century Editor's comment: The deeds of the Nicolaitans were condemned by Jesus Christ our Lord, Who appeared to the Servant of God John (the beloved Apostle, author of the Gospel of John, and Evangelist) at the Island of Patmos in the 1st Century A.D.] And indeed their opinions and actions were highly extravagent and criminal. They allowed a community of wives; made no difference between ordinary meats and those offered to idols. According to Eusebius, they subsisted but a short time; but Tertullian says, that they only changed their name, and that their heresies passed into the sect of the Cainians.

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