(Also called Nicolaitans), a sect mentioned in the Apocalypse (ii,6,15) as existing in Ephesus, Pergamus, and other cities of Asia Minor, about the character and existence of which there is little certainty. Irenaeus (Adv. haer., I, xxvi, 3; III, xi, 1) discusses them but adds nothing to the Apocalypse except that "they lead lives of unrestrained indulgence." Tertullian refers to them, but apparently knows only what is found in St. John (De Praescrip. xxxiii; Adv. Marc., I, xxix; De Pud., xvii). Hippolytus based his narrative on Irenaeus, though he states that the deacon Nicholas was the author of the heresy and the sect (Philosph., VII, xxvi). Clement of Alexandria (Strom., III, iv) exonerates Nicholas, and attributes the doctrine of promiscuity, which the sect claimed to have derived from him, to a malicious distortion of words harmless in themselves. With the exception of the statement in Eusebius (H. E., III, xxix) that the sect was short-lived, none of the references in Epiphanius, Theodoret etc. deserve mention, as they are taken from Irenaeus. The common statement, that the Nicolaites held the antinomian heresy of Corinth, has not been proved. Another opinion, favoured by a number of authors, is that, because of the allegorical character of the Apocalypse, the reference to the Nicolaitans is merely a symbolic manner of reference, based on the identical meaning of the names, to the Bileamites or Balaamites ( Revelation 2:14 ) who are mentioned just before them as professing the same doctrines.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online