ESV - 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
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As I understand it, the Nicolaitans were a heretical sect who possibly derived their name from the deacon Nicolas (Acts 6:5), or from the Greek word "nicolah" (meaning "Let us eat"). This group had deviated from orthodox Christian teaching over time by interpreting the freedom from having to obey the commands of the Mosaic Law in order to be saved that they had gained through their faith in Christ as a license to commit sexual immorality; to eat food that had been sacrificed to pagan idols; and to generally engage in a lifestyle of self-indulgence. This was similar to the error into which the Moabites (apparently at the instigation of the prophet Balaam) had led the Israelites of the Old Testament during their time in the wilderness (Numbers 22-25), as pointed out in passages such as 2 Peter 2:15, 19; and Jude 1:4.
The letter rebuked the church of Pergamos for fraternizing with those who held the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. It was Balaam who led Israel to moral corruption, just before they were due to cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land. The Nicolaitans, a group who compromised with the pagan cults, had been rejected by the Ephesian church but were courted by the church of Pergamos. They taught that what one does in body had no bearing on one's salvation. Therefore, one could do all sorts of immoral things without fear of consequence with God.
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