Not much is known concerning the famous Gnostic sect called the Nicolaitans. They are only mentioned in the Bible in the book of Revelation. As with almost all Gnostic groups, the various historical accounts that have been passed down to us are based on either biblical accounts and or by the testimony of several Church Fathers such as Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Epiphanius, Isidore of Seville, and Theodoret, stating that deacon Nicolas was the author of the heresy and the sect.
In this article, I would like to prove that the Nicolaitans were, in fact, ancient Cretans.
Isidore of Seville who is considered last of the Church Fathers had written, “The Church and sects (De ecclesia et sects)” and says, “The Nicolaites (Nicolaita) are so-called from Nicolas, deacon of the church of Jerusalem, who, along with Stephen and the others, was ordained by Peter.” (Etymologies, or the Origins, in the year 636 A.D. In Book VIII)
The Nicolaitans were the same Gnostics that St. John had opposed in the Apocalypse (2:6-15). The church at Ephesus had gone to war against these powerful Gnostics in “hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate” and the church in Pergamos is blamed “So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.”
These Gnostics who were causing the problems in Ephesus were characterized in three ways by the apostle John. They were false prophets (4:1), they were deceivers (2 Jn. 7), and lastly, they are antichrists (2:18,22; 4:3, 2 Jn. 7). These false teachers had broken with the true church and had “gone out into the world” (4:1). This break showed that they were not really of the truth (2:19).
One of the most learned and expert writers on Christianity, Eusebius of Caesarea had stated that Satan, AKA Simon Magus was shut off from using persecution against Christians “he devised all sorts of plans, and employed other methods in his conflict with the Church, using base and deceitful men as instruments for the ruin of souls and as ministers of destruction.
Instigated by him, impostors and deceivers, assuming the name of our religion, brought to the depth of ruin such of the believers as they could win over, and at the same time, by means of the deeds which they practiced, turned away from the path which leads to the word of salvation those who were ignorant of the faith.”
He traces heresy from the Biblical figure of Simon Magus (Acts 8:9-29) through Menander to both Saturnius of Antioch and Basilides of Alexandria. Following Irenaeus, Eusebius says “Basilides, under the pretext of unspeakable mysteries, invented monstrous fables, and carried the fictions of his impious heresy quite beyond bounds.”(wikipedia)
They were said by some authors to be the followers of Nicolas. However, my research connects this group to a Gnostic arch-heretic named Cerinthus (Nicholas) and his followers, the Cherethims (Also called Nicolaitans, Nicolaites, Simoniacs, Phoenicians, Jews, Corinthians or Cretans) who were in reality just Gnostics from the Holy Island of Crete.
These various names of Gnostic Sects as I have explained before were used by various Church Fathers to actually designate their own people and race into specific groups who we can safely say they were all also primarily of Cretan ancestry. These Gnostics of Cretan (Phoenician, Minoan, Greek Hellene or Jewish) ancestry, just like the Church founders were an Israelite priest cast whose ancestors originally came to Crete from Egypt with their Phoenician Prince Cadmus. The difference is that the Gnostics of the Church had secretly called themselves Sethians which is a name derived from Kittim or Chittim which is another name for the Romans which I explain in detail in my article, “The Gnostic Sethians.”
Most of the information and history about this mysterious Gnostic sect known as the Nicolaitans, AKA the Cherethims or Cretans who were led by a man named Ceristinthus or Nicholas comes down to us from the Church Fathers and Doctors who most of us know were at war with other Gnostic sects and schools of the early church.
In order to place the church doctrine and philosophies in the best of light in order for it to reign supreme, they had to condemn and dismantle all other forms of Gnostic philosophies. It was a war of ancient knowledge and magical control in which words, history, and accusations in the form of Ad Hominem attacks would be used as propaganda tools by the church to ensure their victory.
We all know that the victors write history. Hence, the reason why most of our historical accounts on the Gnostics and groups such as the Cherethims (Also called Nicolaitans) that we might as well call the “Cretans” tell the tales that they hey lead lives of unrestrained indulgence or that all Cretans are liars.
This was the time known as what Plutarch called “Cretan against Cretan.”
To win the battle of Gnostic knowledge, they had to what we call today “criticize or crete-cize” one another, and use rhetoric such as all Cretans are liars. To Cre- tanize was to be a liar, as to Corinthian- ize was to be a debauchee. The church fathers created these words and debated on Gnosticism to tell us exactly what they were doing and what they were about.
After all, they were of Cretan (Phoenician) ancestry and as they said, “All Cretans were liars!” Crete is, by Ovid (s), called “mendax Creta”, lying Crete. With the Grecians, to “cretize”, is proverbially used for to lie; this is a sin – ie; to talk like a Cretan, was a proverb for lying, as to live like a Corinthian, was for a luxurious; liar against liar, AKA Cretan against Cretan.”
In understanding this simple fact, we know that their historical accounts we have now were most biased in favor of the church and its teachings. Therefore they cannot be entirely relied upon for their accuracy.
To be modern Gnostics, we must help fill in the historical gaps and heresies with true history, logic and reason. We must understand that this was a war of knowledge and souls in which the winner not only got to write history but to bring their religion to the world. Part of this battle had used deception in the form of knowledge, history and yes, even lies because to them, the Ends Justifies the Means.
The earliest historical account of Cerinthus is from Irenaeus’ refutation of Gnosticism, Adversus haereses (Against Heresies I.26.3 and III.11.1), which was written about 170 CE. According to Irenæus, Cerinthus, a man educated in the wisdom of the Egyptians, claimed angelic inspiration, but that they lead lives of unrestrained indulgence.”
Irenaeus had written, “The Nicolaitanes are the followers of that Nicolas who was one of the seven first ordained to the diaconate by the apostles. They lead lives of unrestrained indulgence. The character of these men is very plainly pointed out in the Apocalypse of John, [when they are represented] as teaching that it is a matter of indifference to practice adultery and to eat things sacrificed to idols.(Irenaeus, Adversus haereses, i. 26, §3)
Cerinthus was said to have been trained in the Gnostic philosophy of Philo. Hippolytus said that the deacon Nicholas was the author of the heresy and the sect (Philosph., VII, xxvi). St. Austin says, that they have women in common, and make no scruple to conform to all the pagan superstitions. They always maintained that marriage was allowed them. Clement of Alexandria (Stromata III.4) 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.
He says, they had a certain book on the authority of which they relied upon, and by which they imputed to God himself the infamous actions they committed. This book I believe to be a form of the Old Testament. Cassian says that some distinguish Nicolas the founder of the sect of the Nicolaites, from Nicolas one of the seven deacons.
The general biblical history of this race is told in the New Testament which depicts Cerinthus as a leader of a Gnostic group who had propagated the ancient teachings of Gnosticism during the first years of Christianity. His Gnostic followers were known as the Kerethi or Kerethim (Cherethim or Cerinthians), and later by the code name of the Nicolaitans and Simoniacs from the ancient island of Crete. They are a people who are said to be in South Palestine whose territory bordered upon that of Judah (1 Samuel 30:14). In 1 Samuel 30:16 this land is almost identical with that of the Philistines.
In Ezekiel 25:16 the Philistines and the Cherethites are threatened together; while in Zephaniah 2:5 the Cherethites are evidently the dwellers in “the land of the Philistines,” “the inhabitants of the seacoast.” The name of the circle of the Cerinthians (Kerethim), would later change in the bible to the Corinthians from the city of Corinth on Crete. Paul the Apostle and “Sosthenes our brother” wrote this epistle to “the church of God which is at Corinth”, in Greece. Paul founded the church in Corinth (Acts 18:1–17), then spent approximately three years in Ephesus (Acts 19:8, 19:10, 20:31). (Wikipedia)
The Greek Septuagint rendering of these verses substitutes the term “Cretans” for “Cherethites in both Ezekiel and Zephaniah. The name ‘Kerethim’ is an Arab name for the people of Crete which they had called the island Kerith or Keritha (ker-eetha). Hence, the church of God which is at Corinth (Kerethim) is really the church of God which is at Crete. The ancient Egyptians had called the island of Crete by the name of Keiftu, the Greeks by the name of Phoenicia and the Latins, Cappadocia. In the chapter dedicated to the history of the Gnostics, I go in detail about the importance and history of the Holy Gnostic Island of Crete.
The Kerethim from Palestine were well-known to be great in the art of archery which we can easily connect to the ancient Cretans who were world renown for their skills in archery and producing the finest bows and arrows. These same Cretan warriors were employed by King David as his life guards. These mercenary soldiers are also named as Philistines and Cretans being mentioned together with the Philistines are said to have come from Kaftor (Caphtor). The name Kaftor is the biblical name for the island of Crete which is derived from the Egyptian texts that refer to the Myceneans as the Keftui.
There is a famous myth told of St. John had entered into the bath in the City of Eusebius, and Cerinthus was there. Irenaeus says, that St. Jerome, in his treatise against the Luciferians, affirms that immediately after the retreat of St. John, the bath actually fell down and crushed Cerinthus to death.
NICOPOLIS OR NICOMEDIA
The Nicolaitans come from the city known as Nicopolis or Nicomedia. Nicopolis in Greek: Νικόπολις Nikópolis, means “City of Victory” or Actia Nicopolis. Strabo states that it was founded by Augustus Caesar.
The city was built by Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar and was the capital of Epirus in northwestern Greece. It was called Nicopolis of Macedonia by Augustus, to commemorate his 31 BC victory over Mark Anthony and Cleopatra at Actium. It was written to Titus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Cretans, from Nicopolis of Macedonia. This was known as Macedonia – home of the Macedonians who are also known today as Macedonian Slavs, Slavic Macedonians or Slavo-Macedonians, are a South Slavic ethnic group native to the region of Macedonia.
A World Heritage City, Nicopolis is described by the Permanent Delegation of Greece to UNESCO as the following:
“Augustus Caesar granted the city substantial political and economic privileges and adorned it with magnificent monuments, while also reviving the Actium Games. The name of King Herod I of Judea and those of many Roman officials such as Germanicus, Nero and Hadrian are associated with donations to Nikopolis. Nikopolis was the capital of Epirus and Acarnania during the first three centuries of the Roman Empire. Built at the crossroads of commercial land and sea routes, it was the centre of Greek culture and a meeting point between the eastern and western worlds.
It was the seat of Epictetus’ school of philosophy, while a Jewish community lived within the city. Between the 3rd and 5th century AD the city underwent a period of relative decline and stagnation, while from the mid-5th century AD Nikopolis became the administrative, artistic, spiritual and religious centre of the area with a Christian character. According to tradition, the Church of Nikopolis was founded by Paul the Apostle.
During the early Christian period the city experienced a major economic and spiritual boom, a fact demonstrated by the fortification programme instigated by Justinian and the plethora of monuments which adorned the city. The administrative reorganization of the Byzantine Empire in the 9th century and the transfer of the capital of the Theme of Nikopolis from Nikopolis to Nafpaktos led to the city’s decline and abandonment, which was completed during the 13th century.”
In the Scripture, Nikopolis is a city in Palestine, half-way between Jaffa and Jerusalem, now called Ammas, mentioned in 1 Maccabees 3:40, 57 and 9:50. The earlier city (Emmaus) was burnt by Quintilius Varus, but was rebuilt in 223 A.D. as Nicopolis.
The connection of the Nicolaitans to Nicomedia and Old Jerusalem which I believe to be on Crete, I explain in my article, The First Jews of Crete and The Siege of Jerusalem and the Destruction of the Second Temple in Crete.
Cornelius Tacitus (110 A.D.) had stated that the Jews often traveled to Crete to celebrate the festival of Pentecost in Jerusalem and that they eventually were exiled from the island when Saturn was driven from his throne by the violence of Jupiter. The Cretans are called Idaeans, and then Judeans who eventually became fugitives from the island and who then settled on the nearest coast of Africa in the remotest corner of Libya.
In, The Works of Tacitus, he explains the relationship with Crete, the Jewish people and the exodus from the island of Crete to the coast of Africa in Libya. Tacitus had written;
“The Jews, we are told, escaping from the island of Crete, at the time when Saturn was driven from his throne by the violence of Jupiter, settled in the extreme parts of Libya. Their name is adduced as – a proof. Ida, it is alleged, is a well-known mountain in Crete: the neighboring Idaeans, by an addition to the name to adapt it to the language of barbarians, are ordinarily called Judieans.
Some say that the population, overflowing throughout Egypt, in the reign of Isis, was relieved by emigration into the neighboring countries, under the conduct of Hierosolymus and Juda. Many state that they are the progeny of the Ethiopians) who were impelled by fear and detestation to change their abode in the reign of King Cepheus.”
It is interesting that Tacitus says that the Jews traveled to Crete in order to celebrate the festival of Pentecost in Jerusalem because he appears to simply allude to the fact that Old Jerusalem is on the island of Crete. This exile of the Cretan Jews, I had written about in my previous articles such as Crete: The Lost Island of Atlantis and Crete: The Land of Milk and Honey in Canaan.
In 2 Tim. iv, 20 St. Paul states that Erastus remained at Corinth; and it is probable, from the connection in which Erastus stands with Trophimus, that the apostle left him in Corinth. In the Epistle to Titus the apostle states he left him in Crete, from which it appears that Paul was in that island after his release from imprisonment. He requests Titus to meet him in Nicopolis, where he has determined to winter (chap, iii, 12).
This Nicopolis was in the southern part of Epirus, on the coast of the Ionian sea, a little north of the entrance to the Ambraciot gulf. Paul’s journey to Crete and his wintering in Nicopolis must be referred, also, to a time subsequent to his release from imprisonment.
During the rule of Roman Emperor Constantine, the Cretans and the Tribe of Samaritans containing approximately 300,000 slaves had revolted against his government. The Samaritans were eventually defeated and banished under Roman law from their original homeland where they were shipped as slaves around the world in the Roman Empire.
By taking the Holy Island of Crete, it was said that at this time Constantine the Great had then taken possession of the Royal Purple in the East from the Pagan King and Christian persecutor, Licinius. It was in Crete at the city of Nicomedia in the year 324 A.D. where Constantine then had the famous vision of Saint Nicholas and a vision of the letter of death in the form of the Greek letter Theta which then becomes the Christian Cross and standard for warfare.
What is interesting is that on the northeast coastal area of the island of Crete lying east of the island’s capital Heraklion, and north of the town of Ierapetra, you will find the most ancient “The Holy Village of Ayios Nikolaos (Saint Nicholas)“, which is also known by the names Agios Nik or Ag Nik – Greek: Άγιος Νικόλαος [ˈaʝos niˈkolaos]) and in English – Saint Nicholas. At the northern end of the harbor of the village on a small headland, there is a famous old Church of Hagios Nikolaos – St. Nicholas, which gave its name to the town.
Today we know St. Nicholas as the patron saint of fishermen, sailors and of all of Greece and patron protector Saint of Holy Russia who according to the Russian Orthodox Church, has saved Russia many times from catastrophe. In fact, it is said that almost every church in Russia has at least one St. Nicholas icon and his image has always received the greatest reverence from the Russians who we can say are of Macedonian Slavic descent.
Where are the Nicolaitans (Nicolaites) or the Gnostic Cretans today?
As I mentioned above, the standard historical accounts of this Gnostic sect are derived mainly from Church Fathers, Saint John, and the Bible. However, their history is much more fascinating and much longer than what we have been told. Many historians and scholars are unaware that this secret Gnostic group was the ancient Cretans who had actually operated secretly underground for approximately two thousand years or more. In fact, they were condemned by law at the dictation of Pope Urban VIII the Church Council of Piacenza in the year 1095.(1) Canons were passed against the Simoniacs, AKA Nicolaitans and the married clergy.
In the book, “Nordenskiöld’s Voyage Round Asia and Europe: A Popular Account of the North by Andreas Peter Hovgaard, he places the Nicolaitans in Russia under the name of the Russian Laps (or Saami) of the Lappish race who inhabit Russian Lapland. (2)
The history of these Gnostic Judean Cretans of the North has been one of subjugation as “The lost tribe of the Russian empire.”(3)
Today, we know it as Holy Russia which is also known by the select few as the Third Rome (ie: Last Rome). One of the largest and most powerful nations in the world.
1. Calmet’s Great Dictionary of the Holy Bible: Calmet’s great dictionary … K-Z By Augustin Calmet, Charles Taylor
2. Nordenskiöld’s Voyage Round Asia and Europe: A Popular Account of the North … By Andreas Peter Hovgaard
APPENDIX OF RESEARCH:
From Calmet’s Great Dictionary of the Holy Bible: Calmet’s great dictionary … K-Z By Augustin Calmet, Charles Taylor –
NICOLAITES. or Nicolaitans. The Nicolaites – were frequent in Asia from the end of the first century : since Jesus Christ expressly condemns them himself. in the Revelations. St. lrencus says, that adulteries. and the use of meats ofl’ered to idols, were held as indifl‘erent things among them. Tictorinus l’etaviensis says. that they ate these meats after having cxorciscd them, and forgave fornicators eight days after their ofl’ence. Theodoret says,that the two distinguishingeharaetcrs of this heresy were libertinism and folly. St. Epiphanius gives a long account. both of their infamous actions, and their extravagant opinions concerning God and the creation. St. Austin says, that they have women in common, and make no scruple to conform to all the pagan superstitions. They tell a number ot’l’ables about the creation and disposition of the world. intermingling many barbarous names of angels and princes, to amaze their auditors; though to people of understanding they are rather subjects of mirth than of terror.
Through all their disguises it is easy to perceive, that they hold, the world was not created by God, but was the work of certain powers whom they feign with an insupvoL. II. 26 says, it was against them St. John wrote his gospcl. Clemens Alcxandrinus says, they had a certain book on the authority of which they relied, and by which they imputed to God himself the infamous actions they committed.
They continued but a very little time, according to Eusebi~ us; at least the name of Nicolaites did not continue long; but their errors were adopted by other sects, and Tertullian says, that the (jaiuites espoused them. The Nicolaitcs were revived under the reign of Lewis the Debonaire, about x.n. 852, as Sigebcrt ofGcmblours says, in his Chronicon; and again in the eleventh century, under pope Urban II. The Nicolaites were certain priests, deacons, and subdeacons, who maintained that marriage was allowed them. They were condemned by the council of Placentia in the year 1095.
From Nordenskiöld’s Voyage Round Asia and Europe: A Popular Account of the North by Andreas Peter Hovgaard –
While their ship was under repair they crossed the Murman Sea to the land of the Keliopesand to Russian Lapland for the purpose of trading with the natives, and returned afterwards by way of Kola to Varanger. The inhabitants of the coast by the Murman Sea had, according to De Lamartiniere, a different language to those by the Varanger Fjord. The Keliopes he declares to be of Lappish race, but more wild than the Lapps. They all drove with reindeer, in the ears of which they only whispered certain words, when the reindeer would set off with the speed of an arrow for their destination. The Russian Lapps, he says, are “Nicolaites” (” Nicolaites de Religion”) like the Russian themselves. The Danish* Lapps in the north of Norway are Lutherans, but at the same time they are all known to be sorcerers and keep “family-devils,” somewhat like black cats. In Lapland all game is white, not only the bears, wolves, foxes, and hares, but also the crows, which ” are as white as swans, their beaks and claws alone are black.”
From The Telegraph Article March 2003 –
One of the shadows which falls from time to time on our world is cast by the marginal peoples who are either out of step with the countries in which they live or find themselves by quirks of history spread across several countries. In Africa, for example, the Bushmen and the Masai belong in both categories: their preferred lifestyle is out of favor with the government, and they have no nation state of their own. There are many more examples, and of these the Kurds are likely to be making the news very soon.
Up in the Arctic Circle, living across Norway, Sweden, Finland and northwestern Russia, are the Lapps or Saami. Their history has been one of subjugation. Until the mid-1940s, even the Swedes had laws which forbade the Lapps from building permanent homes. The Lapps, it was thought, would perish if they moved indoors; they were better off in their turf-covered huts or conical tents.
For many centuries, however, the Lapps had been in contact with societies to the South (all societies are to the south of Lapland), trading furs, seal oil and salt fish. Even Tacitus mentions them, with that frisson that invariably accompanies classical authors writing about terra incognita. Reindeer have, for thousands of years, furnished the means by which the Lapps are able to survive. In life, reindeer provide transport; in death there is no part of the animal which is not pressed into service.
The Russian Lapps seem to have had a particularly hard time; 60 years ago they were forced off their grazing lands and fishing grounds and into collectives. Under the Bolsheviks it was an article of faith that everyone was better off working together under the direction of the Communist party. Of course, in order to survive at all, Lapps had always worked together.
North of the White Sea in what is now the Kola Peninsula, they had long traded with Russian merchants while maintaining their traditional beliefs and practices (a reminder of their pantheism remains in the form of stone carvings, often featuring reindeer). But in the 20th century Russia’s Lapps lost their identity.
Among the descendants of the slave laborers who built the railway to Murmansk, and in the former collectives, Roger Took does find people who still speak some Saami, but Lapps, as depicted on his book’s cover – in colorful knitted hats herding reindeer – seem to have passed into history.
CHAP. XXVI.–DOCTRINES OF CERINTHUS, THE EBIONITES, AND NICOLAITANES BY SAINT IRENAEUS
1. Cerinthus, again, a man who was educated(8) in the wisdom of the Egyptians, taught that the world was not made by the primary God, but by a certain Power far separated from him, and at a distance from that Principality who is supreme over the universe, and ignorant of him who is above all. He represented Jesus as having not been born of a virgin, but as being the son of Joseph and Mary according to the ordinary course of human generation, while he nevertheless was more righteous, prudent, and wise than other men. Moreover, after his baptism, Christ descended upon him in the form of a dove from the Supreme Ruler, and that then he proclaimed the unknown Father, and performed miracles. But at last Christ departed from Jesus, and that then Jesus suffered and rose again, while Christ remained impassible, inasmuch as he was a spiritual being.
2. Those who are called Ebionites agree that the world was made by God; but their opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates. They use the Gospel according to Matthew only, and repudiate the Apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the law. As to the prophetical writings, they endeavour to expound them in a somewhat singular manner: they practise circumcision, persevere in the observance of those customs which are enjoined by the law, and are so Judaic in their style of life, that they even adore Jerusalem as if it were the house of God.
3. The Nicolaitanes are the followers of that Nicolas who was one of the seven first ordained to the diaconate by the apostles.(1) They lead lives of unrestrained indulgence. The character of these men is very plainly pointed out in the Apocalypse of John, [when they are represented] as teaching that it is a matter of indifference to practise adultery, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. Wherefore the Word has also spoken of them thus: “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.”(2)
Moe is the founder of GnosticWarrior.com. A website dedicated to both the ancient and modern teachings of Gnosticism.