Nic'olas (Νικόλαος, conqueror of the people; comp. Nicodemus), a native of Antioch, and a proselyte to the Jewish faith, who, when the Church was still confined to Jerusalem, became a convert; and being a man of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and of wisdom, he was chosen by the whole multitude of the disciples to be one of the first seven deacons, and he was ordained by the apostles (Ac 6:5), A.D. 29. The name Balaam is perhaps (but see Gesenius, Thesaur. p. 210) capable of being interpreted as a Hebrew equivalent of the Greek Nicolas. Some commentators think that this is alluded to by John in Re 2:14; and Vitringa (Obs, Sacr. 4:9) argues forcibly in support of this opinion. SEE BALAAM. "A sect of Nicolaitans is mentioned in Re 2:6,15; and it has been questioned whether this Nicolas was connected with them, and, if so, how closely. The Nicolaitans themselves, at least as early as the time of Irenaeus (Contr. Her. 1:26, § 3), seem to have claimed him as their founder. Epiphanius, an inaccurate writer, relates (Adv. Hear. 1:2, § 25, p. 76) some details of the life of Nicolas the deacon, and describes him as gradually sinking into the grossest impurity, and becoming the originator of the Nicolaitans and other immoral sects. Stephen Gobar (Photii Biblioth. § 232, p. 291, ed. 1824) states — and the statement is corroborated by the recently discovered Philosophumena, bk. vii, § 36) . — that Hippolytus agreed with Epiphanius in his unfavorable view of Nicolas. The same account was believed, at least to some extent, by Jerome (Ep. 147, vol. i, p. 1082, ed. Vallars, etc.) and other writers in the 4th century. But it is irreconcilable with the traditionary account of the character of Nicolas, given by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. iii 4, p. 187, Sylb. and apud Euseb. H. E. 3:29; see also Hammond, Annot. ol Re 2:4), an earlier and more discriminating writer than Epiphanius. He states that Nicolas led a chaste life, and brought up his children in purity; that on a certain occasion, having been sharply reproved by the apostles as a jealous husband, he repelled the charge by offering to allow his wife to become the wife of any other person, and that he was in the habit of repeating a saying which is ascribed to the apostle Matthias also that it is our duty to fight against the flesh and to abuse (παραχρῆσθαι) it. His words were perversely interpreted by the Nicolaitans as an authority for their immoral practices. Theodoret (Haeret. 'ab. 3:1), in his account of the sect, repeats the foregoing statement of Clement, and charges the Nicolaitans with false dealing in borrowing the name of the deacon. Ignatius, who was contemporary with Nicolas, is said by Stephen Gobar to have given the same account as Clement, Eusebius, and Theodoret, touching the personal claracter of Nicolas. Among modern critics Coteleriu:, in a note on Constit. Apost. 6:8, after reciting the various authorities, seems to lean towards the favorable view of the character of Nicolas. Professor Burton (Lectures on Ecclesiastical History, lect. 12, p. 364, ed. 1833) is of opinion that the origin of the term Nicolaitans is uncertain, and that 'though Nicolas the deacon has been mentioned as their founder, the evidence is extremely slight which would convict that person himself of any immoralities.' Tillemont (H. E. 2:47), possibly influenced by the fact that no honor is paid to the memory of Nicolas by any branch of the Church, allows perhaps too much weight to the testimony against him; rejects peremptorily Cassian's statement — to which Neander (Planting of the Church, bk. v, p. 390, ed. Bohn) gives his adhesion — that some other Nicolas was the founder of the sect; and concludes that if not the actual founder, he was so unfortunate as to give occasion to the formation of the sect by his indiscreet speaking. Grotius's view, as given in a note on Re 2:6, is substantially the same as that of Tillemont." For monographs, see Volbeding, Index Programmatum, p. 46, 74, 77. SEE NICOLAITANS.

Bible concordance for NICOLAS.

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