“But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate“
But this you have
Jesus offers another commendation to the Ephesian church. He praises people for hating something.
that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans
Some people in the church at Ephesus were following Nicholas, a religious sect leader. This sect was located in Ephesus and Pergamum (2:6). The Lord accuses them of laxity about eating food sacrificed to idols and sexual license (2:20). This may have been libertine Gnosticism. Gnostics believed in indulging the body. They thought that the body was evil and should be satiated. They advocated sexual tolerance.
This was a compromise with paganism. Since all commercial trade was under the patronage of pagan deities, business people joined trade guilds to do business. This compromised Christianity. Second-generation Christians developed comfortable accommodation with pagans that their fathers would never allow. Jesus commends the Ephesian church for opposing compromise with these trade guilds.
Jezebel may have been a local leader of the Nicolaitans (Re 2:14-15). Jesus gave her “time to repent” (Re 2:21). He brought her to the point of sickness and death (Re 2:22-23). Jezebel is the name of King Ahab’s infamous wife (1 Kings 16:28-19:3; 2 Kings 9:22-37). She introduced harlotry to Israel. John uses her persona as a warning to the church against compromise with paganism.
Much of the social life of the first century revolved around pagan temples. The temples had the best bars and the best restaurants. These temples had temple-prostitutes that men enjoyed as an act of worship. As you can see, paganism was popular.
which I also hate
We do not often think of Jesus as hating someone. This is because we characterize Him as a glorified wimp. Obviously, Jesus is neither prissy nor weak. Jesus hates that which hurts. If we love people, then we appreciate principles that help people. If we love passionately, then we must hate passionately the principles that hurt people. We must distinguish between hating a concept and hating a person. The concept of the Nicolaitans was unrestrained indulgence. Jesus hates unrestrained indulgence because He knows that it will hurt people.
True love for the Lord involves hate.
Our society does not hesitate to lower its standards. It does not hesitate to indulge in unvarnished sin. Society has no sense of shame or rebuke of such sin. Christians move in this society. If we buy into the values of our society, we compromise Christ and Christianity. Christians must differentiate themselves from this society and its values.
It is not enough to dislike the sins of society. We must “hate” those sins. We hate that which distorts and counterfeits the truth.
This principle flies in the face of the central value of North American society — tolerance. Jesus bears no compromise with the values of this world. Our society is rigorously non-judgmental, but Jesus asserts that we are to be judgmental (not in the sense of judging motives). “Live-and-let-live” is no biblical value.
We all make judgments; we are just afraid to admit that we do. Jesus calls for open criticism of the behavior of this world. Even more, He calls for us to “hate” the values of this world. Yet, Christians watch bizarre tabloid TV shows with no sense of “hate” at all.
How is your “hate” doing? Are you exercising it?