Saturday, November 5, 2016

Revelation 7:9-17 - The Great Multitude

Many Bible Students believe that the "great multitude" will receive spiritual bodies in heaven in the resurrection. We do not agree with them on this, since we believe the scriptural evidence is overwhelming that the great multitude is depicted as being on earth, not in heaven. The symbolic temple (tabernacle, dwelling) of God comes down to earth and dwells with mankind (Revelation 7:15; 21:1-4), thus the "great multitude", having come out of the great tribulation, are symbolized as serving God in that symbolic temple day and night. The tears are wiped from their eyes, which takes place on the earth, not in heaven. (Revelation 7:17; 21:1-4; Isaiah 25:7,8) Before the throne of God is the earth, God's footstool. -- Isaiah 66:1.
Revelation 19:1
Some point to Revelation 19:1 as proof that the "great multitude" go to heaven. The Bible refers many times to a great multitude, but not every time does it mean the same great multitude mentioned in Revelation 7. However, we have no reason to believe that the great multitude spoken of here does not refer in a general way to the same "great multitude" that eventually comes out of the great tribulation.
Nevertheless, "heaven" itself is most often figurative in the book of Revelation. Bible Students should note that C.T. Russell applied the "great multitude" of Revelation 19:1 as speaking of when Babylon the Great falls, thus he applies the "great multitude" as being on the earth at that time. His words: "We think there is good reason to believe that a considerable number who have made a consecration are still in Babylon. We do not know this, however. We are near to the battle of Armageddon, near the time of the overthrow of Babylon; and we are seeking to give the Message of the truth as wide a circulation as possible, to the intent that this class may hear and come out, even though too late to win the great prize. That they are considerable in number is intimated in the 19th chapter of Revelation, where we are told that when Babylon falls, the number of those released at the time will be a great multitude, that the voices of these will be 'as the voice of many waters'." (Reprints 5411:6) We do not necessarily agree with all of his conclusions, as we do not expect the great multitude to be made manifest until after Satan is abyssed, nor before.
See our study:
The context of Revelation 19:1 shows that this "great multitude", whoever they are, are in this "heaven" when Babylon the Great is destroyed, thus before or at the full end of this age. If "heaven" here refers to the heavens where God's throne is, then to fit this scenario the great multitude would need to be resurrected to a spirit life sometime before the destruction of Babylon the Great, before Satan is abyssed, and Babylon the Great would also evidently have to be in heaven where God's throne is before the end of the age, and where the angels see the face of Yahweh. We find no scriptural support for such ideas. Therefore we conclude that the words "in heaven" refer to their religious standing in the symbolic ecclesiastical heavens, not the heavens where God's throne is.
We conclude that this "great multitude" is pictured as being in the ecclesiastical heavens attributing salvation to their God. This figurative "heaven" -- the religous elements of this world that now is, however, is to pass away. (Revelation 21:1; 2 Peter 3:7,12) Brother Russell also said, referring to the great multitude as the "great company": "In the 19th of Revelation this company are spoken of as rejoicing in the fall of Babylon and saying, 'Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him; for the Marriage of the Lamb is come, and His Wife hath made Herself ready.' (Vs.7.)" (The Watch Tower, January 15, 1914, page 19) Nevertheless, these are not being depicted as being in the heavenly realm where God's angels always see the face of God; they are depicted as being here on earth.
Brother Russell did, however, believe that the "great multitude"  (the JWs refer to the great multitude as the "great crowd") would eventually go to heaven, being a "left over" class who did not make it as one of the 144,000. He believed they would be taken to heaven early after or during the great tribulation.
But Brother Russell also believed in a another group that would be consecrating, as he put it, "between the ages", for whom there would be no hope of being of the 144,000. This group he identified with those spoken of in Psalm 107:23-31. Yet, he also believed that there was a possibility that this group would go to heaven after the 1,000-year reign.
This last elect group, however, we believe, is identified as being the same group as the "great multitude" of Revelation 7.  While we believe it may be that they may go to heaven after the 1,000 years rulership, we don't see any scripture, however, that gives any real reason to believe this. Brother Russell presented the possibility that the "camp of the saints" spoken of in Revelation 20:9 represents a last group that will go to heaven after the 1,000 years. The idea is that this "camp" means that they do not have permanent residence on earth, so they must be taken to heaven. While we will say this is a possibility, we don't see enough there to actually say that they will be taken to heaven.
Before the Throne - Revelation 7:9
Some claim that since the "great multitude" are pictured "before the throne", that this means that they will go to heaven. Their being before the throne of God is the picture of their reward. The throne of God is pictured in heaven (Psalm 11:4; 66:1; 103:19; Matthew 5:34; 23:22; Acts 7:49; Hebrews 8:1), but being before the throne does not necessarily mean that those before the throne are in heaven. In Revelation 20:12, we read of dead, great and small standing before the throne; these dead are on the earth, not in heaven. "Before", however, often signifies loyal/disloyal service, in harmony/disharmony with, in the sight of the One on the throne, in a place of judgment by the One on the throne, not an actual physical position. -- Genesis 6:11; 17:1; Exodus 10:3; 23:17; Joshua 24:1; 1 Kings 8:25; 1 Chronicles 13:8; 16:1; 2 Chronicles 6:16; 1 Samuel 2:30; 2 Chronicles 7:17; Psalm 50:8; 68:3; Isaiah 66:2,23; Luke 1:6,8; 24:19; 8:21; Acts 10:4; Romans 14:22; 1 Corinthians 1:29; 2 Corinthians 10:4; Revelation 8:4; 11:4.
We need to remember that the book of Revelation is given in signs -- symbolism. "Heaven" in the book of Revelation is not necessarily speaking of being in the spirit realm, or of having what Paul speaks of as "spiritual bodies". Thus, the great multitude are in the figurative religious heavens as depicted in the book of Revelation. Being "before the throne" does not mean that they have been raised from death with spiritual bodies as opposed to earthly bodies.We believe that the great multitude are indeed those spoken of in the symbolic heaven in Revelation 19:1,6. This "heaven" has been styled the "ecclesiastical" heavens as present here on earth. Thus, the great multitude, having become justified in the blood of Christ, are heard speaking from this heaven, but they are actually here on earth, in physical, not spiritual, bodies. Likewise, being 'before the throne' of God does not signify being with spiritual bodies in the spirit realm or celestial realm. Westcott & Hort's Interlinear gives the expression of Revelation 7:9 in its word-for-word translation as: "having stood in sight [Strong's #1799] of the throne and in sight of the Lamb." Revelation 7:14,15 tells us that the reason they have such a standing before the throne and the Lamb is because they have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.
One should note how Strong's #1799 is used throughout the the New Testament.
That "before" or "in the sight of" is depicting a symbolic standing can be seen from Revelation 3:2:
I have found no works of yours perfected before [in the sight of, Strong's #1799] my God.
Was Jesus saying that those members of the church of Sardis had been rasied from the dead and standing in the presence of God in spirit realm? Absolutely not! Indeed, no one will attain the reward of the spiritual body in whom Jesus has "found no works ... perfected."
Revelation 16:19 -  The great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered in the sight of [Strong's #1799] God, to give to her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
What can be said about this verse? Is Babylon the Great in heaven in the sight of God; it should be apparent that the usage is not speaking of a physical location.
Further, let us look at Luke 1:6:
They were both righteous before (Strong's #1799) God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and ordinances of [Yahweh].
Obviously, this is not saying that Zechariah and Elizabeth were in heaven in the sight of God, but that "in the sight of God" -- from the perspective of God, who call things that are not as though they were -- they were reckoned as "righteous."
If one is still not satisfied, perhaps a study of the verses all through the New Testament might be beneficial.
The Greek word corresponds with the Hebrew Strong's #6440, which also see:
In Revelation 20:12, the worldly are spoken of as being "before" God. Most Bible Students will tell you that these ones who stand before [in sight of] God in Revelation 20:12 are actually on earth, not before God in heaven.  Likewise, we believe the same is true of the "great multitude".
We, therefore, believe the standing of the great multitude before the throne and before the Lamb signifies their standing as having become justified in the blood of the Lamb. (1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 10:22; 1 Peter 1:18,19; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5) Being typified by the mixed multitude that joined with Israel at the last moment, so to speak, the great multitude are depicted as coming out of the great tribulation at the end of this age. Being justified, they are sons of God as was Adam before Adam disobeyed (Luke 3:38), heirs of God (Romans 8:16,17), as Adam was to inherit the dominion given to him, that is, the earth. In Hebrews, we learn that man has not yet obtained this dominion; Paul tells us why in Romans 5:12-19. -- Genesis 1:26,28; Psalm 8:4-8; Hebrews 2:6-8.
In the Temple - Revelation 7:15
Nor does their service "in the temple" signify that they are in heaven anymore than Paul's reference to the church as the "temple of God" (1 Corinthians 3:16,17; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 5:16) signifies that the first century believers were in heaven. (See also 2 Thessalonians 2:4.) Those worshiping in the temple in Revelation 11 are not generally thought to be "in heaven", nor does the service of the great multitude "in the temple" give any reason to think that the great multitude are in heaven.
He who sits on the throne, Yahweh, dwells amongst them (Greek: skeenwsei ep autous, literally, tent upon them). This is similar to what is said in Revelation 21:1-4, which speaks of God's dwelling with men on the earth. In Revelation 21:4, however, the Greek phrase is not completely the same as in Revelation 7:15. The phrase in Revelation 21:4, is "skeenwsei met autwn", literally, he will tent with them. The Greek word "ep", however, is sometimes used to mean among/with, as "in" or "into", not upon, and this is probably what is meant in Revelation 7:15. It could be that the phrase in in Revelation 7:15 shows a closer relationship with Yahweh than the world of mankind in general as expressed in Revelation 21:4, and so they are indeed in closer relationship, since the "great multitude", having been justified and consecrated during the days  the great tribulation, deserve greater recognition than the world of mankind in general.
* See the King James Version at Matthew 13:7; Luke 18:7; Acts 1:21; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; Hebrews 1:8; Revelation 12:7.
Revelation 7:16
They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore. This will be true of all who serve God, whether on earth, or in heaven. However, this is obviously a reference to Isaiah 49:10, which refers to the Millennial kingdom, and of conditions on earth, not in heaven.
Nevertheless, in this life, in this present evil age, it is true that he who fully believes on Jesus will never spiritually hunger or thirst, and yet each one's hunger and thirst for truth is filled in varying degrees, according as he has grown in faith. -- John 6:35.
For the great multitude, however, it implies that before their coming out of the great tribulation, and although they had washed their robes in the Lamb's blood (Revelation 7:14), they will still have things to learn in the age to come, for they had not yet been fully led by the Lamb to the living waters  (Revelation 7:17) -- full knowledge which fully quenches the thirst and hunger for truth. Before Satan's empire is destroyed, indicates that they were still blinded to a great extent by the "sun" of this world, and the vain pursuits of the world. (Ecclesiastes 1:14; 2:11; 4:7; Romans 8:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Timothy 4:10) Such appear to be of the two classes spoken of in Luke 12:47,48.
The sun shall not strike them, nor any heat. The sun of this world is the vain false hope that the crooked condition of man offers in this present evil age. (Ecclesiastes 1:2,3, 13-17; Galatians 1:4) Satan, of course, seeks to attract the consecrated with the cares of this world, and with the false glory of the world, even as he sought to attract Jesus. (Matthew 4:18; 13:22; Mark 4:19;  Luke 21:34; Colossians 2:8; James 4:4; 2 Peter 2:20) After Satan is abyssed so that he cannot deceive the heathen (Revelation 20:1-3), this symbolic sun of vanity is darkened, and taken away, so that the great multitude (and also the world in general) is no longer struck by its symbolic rays and symbolic heat.
The Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. This is similar to Revelation 21:6, which refers to those on the earth in the Millennial age. The shepherding of this great multitude after the great tribulation indicates that they did not completely come to the full perfection of faith before the end of Satan's empire was accomplished. (1 Thessalonians 3:10; Hebrews 12:1,2) They will still need to be guided further into truth and perfection.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. This is a reference to Isaiah 25:8: The Lord Yahweh will wipe away tears from off all faces. Isaiah 25:8 is speaking of conditions on earth, not in heaven, for "the reproach of his people will he take away from off all the earth: for Yahweh has spoken it." Likewise, this expression is also found in Revelation 21:4: "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes", which is also speaking of on the earth, not in heaven.
We have been asked the question: "Are you suggesting that the 144,000  are not in heaven as spirit creatures, but on earth?"
If this is meant to ask if we believe that the 144,000 do not receive spiritual bodies in the resurrection, we do indeed believe that they will receive spiritual bodies in the resurrection. If it is meant to ask if we believe that the 144,000 are in heaven when they are sealed out of the twelve tribes, no we do not believe that they are heaven when they are sealed, but rather, that they are still on the earth, and do not receive spiritual bodies until they are raised in the first resurrection.
The question has been asked:
If the great multitude come out of the nations during this present evil age and are an earthly class, in what manner would they be then "called out?" in light of Ephesians 4:4-5?
First, let us note that the scripture does not state that the great multitude are "called out" of the great tribulation. Their calling is the of the same calling as all during the Gospel Age. Those who are called out are called out of, separated from, the world reckonenedly, being justified, and no longer reckoned with the world as "sons of disobedience", "children of wrath." (Ephesians 2:2,3) The initial calling out, separation from the world, does not designate the one called out as already having attained the prize of joint-heirship with Jesus. All who are called out of the world are first placed on the level of being earthly, on the same plane of life as Adam had as a son of God before Adam sinned; afterwards, if they attain the mark of the prize of the high calling, then they are reckoned as being joint-heirs with Christ, and to receive a heavenly, spiritual body, in the resurrection.
There is nothing in Ephesians 4:4,5 that says that all who are called out will receive heavenly, spiritual bodies in the resurrection. Of course, all in this age are called in the one hope of the high calling, but not all attain that reward. It should be self-evident that not many of those who are called out will attain the "prize of our high calling," that is, joint-heirship with Jesus. Paul surely did not intend for this to be read as to meaning that all will have the same reward. Nevertheless, all are being called to reach out for the mark of prize of our high calling, and in this sense one might say that we all have that one hope, regardless of which class they actually end up in. Nor do we mean that all will reach that mark so as to attain that hope; the hope is there, but only a few actually attain the highest reward. Strictly speaking, however, the "one hope of our calling" is in God through Jesus, and Jesus' return, regardless of reward. -- 1 Timothy 1:1; Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 1:3,13.
We have been asked:
Would you be saying that the "church" would then be made up of both "spirit begotten" and also nominal believers?
Our understanding is that no one is of the church class except that they be spirit begotten. Those who are spirit-begotten in general during the centuries of Gospel Age are first made part of the Israel of faith, represented in Revelation 7 as the twelve tribes of Israel. Out of these twelve tribes of the Israel of faith are selected the joint-heirs, represented in Revelation 7 as the 144,000 who stand on the heavenly Zion with the Lamb. (Revelation 14:1) Added to the church toward the end of the age are the great multitude who eventually come out of the great tribulation, and finish their overcoming after the great tribulation. All three classes are the church; all three classes are spirit-begotten.
As far as "nominal" is concerned, it depends on what meaning one gives to the word. If by nominal one means "in name only," none who are Christians "in name only" are part of the church. Such are tares, weeds, that have been planted amongst the wheat, the true Christians, by Satan. However, if by nominal one means "minimal," then all the spirit-begotten who fail to attain the prize of the high calling can be called "nominal" Christians in this sense, in that they maintain a minimal acceptance, but do not "overcome" in this age.
How is that they can be spirit-begotten, if they do not receive spiritual bodies in the resurrection? It has been often assumed that spirit-begotten means to be begotten again as a spirit being rather than as a human being. To begotten again, however, signifies that, in this life, a "seed" has been planted by God, as spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:35-37. God give (assigns) that seed a body according to what is sown, whether it be a celestial, spiritual body, or whether it be a terrestrial, physical body. However, that which is assigned to seed is first earthly, terrestrial, and only if the sowing reaches the point of being proven incorruptible in this age, is it assigned the celestial, or spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:45) All must eventually put on incorrution (1 Corinthians 15:53), whether in this age, or in the next age, but only a very few do so in this age. Too many are stuck on the idea that to be spirit-begotten means that one has been begotten to spiritual bodies; the Bible never says this. Indeed, when Jesus was spirit-begotten in the womb of Mary, he was not begotten into a spiritual body, but rather into a physical body. (Matthew 1:20) Jesus, of course, sacrificed his glorious physical body for our sins; he now no longer has a physical body, but is now with a glorious spiritual body.
No one becomes of the church class without being called and begotten of the spirit; such "begettal" does indeed give a new life to a new creation equal to what Adam lost, that is, on the earthly plane. The new creature in this life, however, is not the body that is to be, but rather a bare grain, a seed, that has to die. (1 Corinthians 15:36-38) It will be given a body in the resurrection according to what has been sown. It is up to the new creature then to be cultivated as the grain, so as to attain the prize. One only attains the resurrection of Jesus, attaining the mark, through full sacrifice of what has been initially reckoned, that is, the sinless earthly life, as reckoned through faith in the blood of Jesus. Such demands a full development of perfect love, faith and hope amidst a world of sin. If one does not complete that sacrifice before death, the scriptures seem to indicate that such a new creature simply remains on the earthly plane.
The following studies might be helpful:

Revelation 7:14,15 - The Great Multitude in the Temple

Therefore are they before the throne of God, they serve him day and night in his temple (Greek transliterated, NAOS). He who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. - (Revelation 7:15, World English)
Some have claimed that the great multitude are are pictured as being in heaven in Revelation 7:15 since it depicts them as being "in his temple". It is claimed that the Greek word used is NAOS, which refers to the inner temple or temple sanctuary, rather than HIERON which is the outer courtyard of the temple. Based on this, it is then claimed that the great multitude are not on the earth, but that they are in NAOS, the center of the temple, the temple sanctuary; that is, they are in heaven itself with the 144,000.
The assumption appears to be that in the book of Revelation, the Greek word transliterated as NAOS means to be in the literal heaven where God is, and where the angels always see the face of God. -- Matthew 6:9; 18:10.
First, often in the book of Revelation, "heaven" represents the religious elements on earth, which, before Satan is abyssed, is not necessarily all made up of saints.
Second, as best as we have been able to determine NAOS includes all three areas as originally represented by the tabernacle. Solomon's temple had an outer and inner courtyard. The inner courtyard corresponds to the courtyard of the tabernacle. Additionally, Herod's temple had several added courtyards, even one for the Gentiles. It is possible that the court outside the temple that is referenced for symbolic purposes in Revelation 11:2. Regardless, the word "NAOS" evidently sometimes refers to the temple proper, but it appears to also be used of all of Herod's temple. -- John 2:19,20; Matthew 27:5*
Nevertheless, we believe that the great multitude do serve as priests in the temple inner courtyard, and are thus typified by the tribe of Levi; we do not, however, agree with Brother Russell that the great multitude, nor any of the sanctified who fail to sealed as one of the 144,000, will receive celestial bodies in the resurrection. Having been justified and sanctified (consecrated) by the blood of the new covenant (Matthew 6:28; Mark 14:28; Luke 22:20; Romans 5:9; 1 Corinthians 11:25; Hebrews 10:29), which gives life on the earthly, not the heavenly plane, they simply remain on the earthly plane since they fail to attain the prize of joint-heirship with Christ. Brother Russell suggested that the "ancient worthies" could receive spiritual bodies after the thousand years, based on the idea that they would be represented as the camp of Revelation 20:9, which camp Russell interpreted to mean a temporary earthly life as opposed to a heavenly celestial life. Some would apply this also to those "consecrating between the ages". We cannot say that Russell is either right or wrong on this, but we can only say that this would seem to read a lot into the scripture that is not actually supported by scripture.
Revelation 7:15 "For this reason, they are before the throne of God ; and they serve Him day and night in His temple (NAOS); and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle (Skenoo) over them.
One can check the usage of the following words online:
Revelation 1:1 Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff ; and someone said, "Get up and measure the temple (NAOS) of God and the altar, and those who worship in it.
Revelation 1:2 "Leave out the court which is outside the temple (NAOS) and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months."
Outside the temple proper of Solomon's temple was the outer courtyard. Outside Herod's temple were several other "courtyards" that were even beyond the courtyard that corresponds to the "outer courtyard" of Solomon's temple, including one called the courtyard of the Gentiles.
Should we, however, conclude that NAOS in Revelation 1:2 literally means "in heaven" where the angels see the face of God? Was John told to measure the place where the angels see the face of God?
Of course, the usage of NAOS in the book of Revelation depends on what one would see as the fulfillment of these verses, etc.
Whatever is meant by the symbolic NAOS of Revelation 7:15, it does not necessarily mean that one who is serving there is in heaven where the angels see the face of God.
A quote is given from Brother Charles Taze Russell regarding the "great multitude":
They will have everlasting spirit life, as angels have it; but will lose the prize of immortality. They will serve God in his temple, and stand before the throne, having palms in their hands (Revelation 7:9-17); but though that will be glorious, it will not be so glorious as the position of the “little flock” of over-comers, who will be kings and priests unto God, seated with Jesus in the throne as his bride and joint heir, and with him crowned with immortality. --Studies in the Scriptures Volume 1 Study XI page 214.
We are aware of what Brother Russell believed concerning this. His idea was based on the assumption that to be consecrated meant that one had already sacrificed all right to human life. We disagree with Brother Russell regarding this. To become a new creature, a son of God, means that one is accounted as being on the same plane as a sinless son of god as Adam before Adam sinned. -- Luke 3:38.
The old creation is the generation through Adam, which creation was subjected to vanity and a bondage of corruption due to the sin of Adam (Ecclesiastes 1:1; Romans 5:12-19: 8:20-22; Ephesians 1:1:1-3); the new creation is the re-generation through Jesus (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; Matthew 19:28; John 3:3-5; Acts 3:21; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:17: Ephesians 2:1-10; Titus 3:5; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1-5), which makes one a son of God as was Adam before Adam sinned. -- Luke 3:38.
One becomes a new creature in Christ through regeneration; being a new creature in Christ, does not mean that one has attained the prize to which one has been called, nor does it mean that one has given up all earthly rights. The sanctification through the blood of the new covenant does not place one as having life in heaven, but one is reckoned as justified to earthly life. The prize is not first given and then taken away if one fails to attain; the prize is given only if one attains to the perfection that is spoken of, one who is not just made alive in Christ, but who completes his agreement to sacrifice through joint-suffering with Christ. -- Romans 8:16,17; Philippians 3:12-14.
All of the new creatures in Christ are included in the temple (NAOS) of God in 1 Corinthians 3:16, whether they have attained the mark of the prize or not. The first step in consecration is justification, regeneration to a new life; justification/sanctification (consecration) by the new covenant blood/body/offering of Jesus, however, only gives life on the earthly plane, since that is what Adam lost.
Thus, we read: "Whom he called, them he also justified. Whom he justified, them he also glorified." (Romans 8:30) Those justified are glorified, not with the celestial glory, but the terrestrial glory that God gave to Adam before Adam sinned.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17, the regeneration as new creatures by means of Christ is based on the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, not on our own sacrifice; nevertheless, without that blood of the new covenant that gives justification and consecration, one cannot enter into the either the Holy or Most Holy. (Luke 22:20; Romans 3:24; 5:9; 1 Corinthians 11:25; 12:24; Hebrews 10:10,20,29; One is regenerated through faith in the blood of Jesus, and is thus a son of God, a new creature in Christ, accounted as belonging to the age to come.
Brother Russell himself acknowledged that the ransom sacrifice of Jesus does not give one life in heaven, but rather it reckons one as justified on the plane of life on earth, that which Adam lost. Nevertheless, the application of the blood of the covenant belongs to the age to come. Nevertheless, the scriptures, however, speak of regeneration in two time periods: that which takes place in this age (Titus 3:5), and that which is yet to take place in the age to come, when the whole creation now under subjection to vanity and corruption "will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God." -- Matthew 19:28; John 12:47,48; Romans 8:21.
Some have place a lot of emphasis on the Greek word transliterated as "EK" in Revelation 7:14. The claim is that the word "EK" classifies the great multitude as having come "out" of the great tribulation, lifted up to receive life in the heavens. This is thought to exclude the great multitude from being of those who survive the transition into the age to come.
Revelation 7:14
kai eireeka autw kurie mou su oidas kai
2532 2064_5 0846_5 2962 1473_2 4771 1492_5 2532
eipen moi houtoi eisin hoi erchomenoi ek tees
1511_7 1473_4 3778_91 1510_5 3588 2064 1537 3588
thlipsews tees megalees kai eplunan tas stolas
2347 3588 3173 2532 4150 3588 4749
autwn kai eleukanan autas en tw haimati tou
0846_92 2532 3021 0846_96 1722 3588 0129 3588
The word "EK" (Strong's #1537) does not, of itself, designate that those who come "out of" the great tribulation are given life in heaven.
The word "EK" is used in the Bible, and even in the book of Revelation, in many different ways:
Coming out of an experience such as the great multitude can mean that they have lived through that experience. Having come out of the great tribulation does not, of itself, designate that the great multitude will be given celestial bodies, or that such are "lifted up to receive" life in heaven where the angels see the face of God. Nevertheless, the word "EK" in Revelation 7:14 could refer to their consecration while still in the time period of the great tribulation, but it would not follow that such consecration would mean that they are "lifted up" to receive celestial bodies in their resurrection.
As we have shown elsewhere, Revelation 7 is not dealing with Israel after flesh, but rather the Israel of faith. In Revelation 7:9, the great multitude is depicted as having come "out of" all tribes, tongues and nations. This is in contrast with Revelation 7:4-8, in which the 144,000 are said to be sealed "out of" each of the twelve tribes listed. Corresponding this with Israel when they came "out of" Egypt would mean that the 12 tribes correspond to the twelve tribes of Israel, the 144,000 correspond to the firstborn of Israel, and the "great multitude" corresponds to the "mixed multitude" (Exodus 12:38) that came "out of" Egypt and joined themselves to, and became part of the tribes of Israel. And thus, there are three classes that make up the Israel of faith, often referred to as "spiritual" Israel.
See the studies:
The 144,000 and the Twelve Tribes
The Great Multitude
With What Kind of Body Will We Be Raised?
The Manner of the Resurrection
Jesus Died a Human Being - Raised a Spirit Being

Comment from old site:

3 points of interest with regards to “The great multitude”
1) they have palm branches in their hands, this reminds me of the festival of Booths or Tabernacles and also the scripture found at Zech 14:16-18
Zec 14:16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
Also Rev 7:17 no more tears, suffering or death and this of course goes hand in hand with Rev 21:4 KJV And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.and Isaiah
Also Isa 25:8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.
Not to mention they are standing before the throne just as is recorded in Revelation 20 of those resurrected during the mellinial age.
They have washed their robes! This reminds us of those who do so in Revelation 22:14
King James Version Re 22:14 Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have the right to come to the tree of life, and my enter in by the gates into the city.
I believe these are those spoken of who recognize that Jehovah is with Israel and after Armegeddon join themselves to that nation the are the ones who learn War no more according to Isaiah chp 2 and Micah 4
American Standard Version Zec 8:23 Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, they shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.
These do not wash their robes before Armegeddon nor do they go up and celebrate the festival of booths but they do this during the mellinium

The 144,000 and the Twelve Tribes

Revelation 7:1 After this, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth, or on the sea, or on any tree.
Revelation 7:2 I saw another angel ascend from the sunrise, having the seal of the living God. He cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to harm the earth and the sea,
Revelation 7:3 saying, "Don't harm the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, until we have sealed the bondservants of our God on their foreheads!"
Revelation 7:4 I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the children of Israel:
Revelation 7:5 Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand, Of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, Of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand,
Revelatio 7:6 Of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, Of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, Of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand,
Revelation 7:7 Of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, Of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, Of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand,
Revelation 7:8 Of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, Of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand. -- World English.
It is claimed by many that the twelve tribes of Revelation refer to the natural Jews, the children of Israel. These overlook the symbolism being employed in the verses, and look at the words "tribe" as speaking, not symbolically, but literally, reference to tribes of natural Israel, and thus they claim that the 144,000 are all natural Jews.
However, we need to remember that the visions that John saw are highly symbolic. The four corners of the earth are symbolic; the four winds are symbolic; the earth, sea and trees spoken of are all symbolic. The four angels are also probably symbolic of the influences of the destructive forces that are to come upon the symbolic earth, the sea and the trees.
Additionally, we should note that the twelves tribes that John saw are no where listed as such in the Old Testament. Each tribe listed in Revelation 7, we believe, has symbolic meaning. Revelation 7 and 14 is not speaking of the twelve tribes after the flesh (1 Corinthians 10:18), but rather these tribes are symbolic of the various parts of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-26), the Israel of faith. Those sealed out of the twelve tribes stand [rule as kings] on Mt. Zion in heaven with the Lamb. --- Revelation 14:1.
We will note that there are some Bible Students who believe that the number 144,000 is not to be taken literally; that it is only symbolic. We cannot be dogmatic that there will be literally only 144,000 to be sealed out of the twelve tribes, but we believe that, since this is spoken of in relation to two other groups, the twelve tribes and the great multitude, that this number is indeed literal, and yet it is also symbolic.
Nevertheless, Romans 11:25 speaks of the blindness to Israel continuing until the "fullness [Greek, pleroma, plenitude] of the Gentiles has come in." "Fullness" does not mean that absolutely all Gentiles must be converted before the blindness is removed from Israel. "Fullness" means the full amount related to filling up what is being spoken of; it refers to all that is needed for the purpose being spoken of. In this connection, it is speaking of filling "the election" (Romans 11:7), the symbolic grafting of Gentiles (symbolic wild olive branches) into the symbolic olive tree of God. (Romans 11:17) The olive tree of God does not mean the Law Covenant, as some have assumed. If it were the Law Covenant that the Gentiles were being drafted into, then this would mean that the Gentiles would become cursed with the Jew under the Law. "For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse. For it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who doesn't continue in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them.'" (Galatians 3:10) Rather, Paul speaks in Galatians 3:16 of the promises spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The covenant made with Abraham is often referred to as the Abrahamic Covenant. The Law Covenant came 430 years later (Galatians 3:17), but does not annul the earlier covenant with Abraham. Jesus claimed this covenant for himself, as he spoke to his disciples: " I, covenant unto you - as my Father hath covenanted unto me - a kingdom." (Luke 22:29) From Galatians 3:16, we can see that the covenant that Jesus refers to, and which he extends to his followers, is the covenant as the seed of Abraham. This agrees with what Paul wrote in Galatians 3:29: "If you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to promise." All who belong to Christ are God's sons, and are thus heirs. (Galatians 3:26) However, not all the heirs as the seed of Abraham become joint-heirs with Christ. It is out of this antitypical twelve tribes that the joint-heirs are sealed. If Romans 11:25 is speaking a limited number, it would have be related, not to the antitypical twelve tribes as a whole, but rather to the sealing of the 144,000 out those twelve tribes. In other words, the purpose of the "election" is to obtain the joint-heirs with Christ; when that purpose is fulfilled, once the 144,000 are sealed, then some time after that the blindness of Israel would be lifted. This would take us into the age to come, after Satan is abyssed so that he will not be able to deceive the heathen. (Revelation 20:1-3) We do not believe that Israel will be enlightened until after Satan -- the god of this age -- is will no longer be around bring blindness. (2 Corinthians 4:4) Yahweh says concerning Israel in that age to come: "I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish to you an everlasting covenant. Then shall you remember your ways, and be ashamed, when you shall receive your sisters, your elder [sisters] and your younger; and I will give them to you for daughters, but not by your [Law] covenant. I will establish my [new] covenant with you; and you shall know that I am Yahweh; that you may remember, and be confounded, and never open your mouth any more, because of your shame, when I have forgiven you all that you have done, says the Lord Yahweh." -- Ezekiel 16:60-63.
The sealing out of the twelve symbolic tribes is not the same sealing that is spoken of in 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30. All of the sons of God receive the sealing of the holy spirit, the promise related to the day of redemption that is yet to come. All the sons of God are thus heirs of God, and, except for those of the great multitude*, all are of the antitypical twelve tribes of Israel, but not all who make up the twelve tribes become joint-heirs with Christ. One can be a joint-heir with Christ, only "if" indeed one "suffers with him." (Romans 8:17) The word "suffer" in Romans 8:17 is rendered from the Greek, "Sumpascho," Strong's #4841. Three words in Romans 8:17 all begin with forms of the the Greek prefix "Sun," meaning "jointly with." The first is usually translated as "joint-heirs," the second is rendered "suffer with," and the third is rendered "glorified with." Nevertheless, in the Greek, Paul lines the three words, using the same prefix for all, evidently to show a parallel in their meanings. All who are led by God's spirit are sons and heirs of God. However, to become heirs jointly with Christ, one must jointly suffer, in order to be jointly glorified.
And thus, the 144,000 sealed out the twelve tribes are said to stand with Jesus on Mt. Zion. (Revelation 14:1) The typical Mt. Zion came to used representatively of the holy city Jerusalem, the capital of the whole of Israel, especially Moriah and the temple. -- Psalm 2:6; 9:11; 74:2; Isaiah 1:8; Joel 2:23.
*We should note that in the type, the mixed multitude (Exodus 12:13) who came out of Egypt with Israel also blended in with and became counted as part of the twelve tribes; they did not continue to remain separate from the twelve tribes.
Much that we read in the Old Testament is used as shadows, types, of that which was to come. (Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 10:6,11; Galatians 4:24; Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 9:24; Hebrews 10:1) In the New Testament, we come to the realities -- the antitypes -- represented by the typical of the Old Testament. Mt. Zion and the New Jerusalem represent the capital of God's kingdom, as though coming down out of heaven, cut out without hands, to extend its rule over the whole earth. -- Daniel 2:34,44,45; Revelation 21:1-5.
Thus seen, while many Bible Students only see two classes in Revelation 7, we see three classes: (1) The twelve tribes (2) those sealed out of the twelve tribes, and (3) the great multitude.
We will also say that most often when Bible Students speak of the "seed of Abraham," they seem to limit that seed to the 144,000, as they usually do with the word "church." Many seem to fail to distinguish between the "heirs" and the "joint-heirs." We might hear someone declare himself or others to be "joint-heirs" with Christ,  evidently without realizing that such a declaration would be the same as saying, "I/We have obtained the perfection -- the mark of the prize of the high calling," or "I have overcome, and can no longer be harmed by the second death." -- Philippians 2:12-14; Revelation 2:11.
Many Bible Students, by tradition, seem to take the view that one is first counted as being of the 144,000 and then, if they fail to retain (rather than obtain or attain) the prize, then they become of the "great company" class, and thus lose the prize they once had. (Philippians 3:11-14) This, we believe, is almost the opposite of what the scriptures actually say.
Our conclusions is that, in general, throughout the gospel age, those who believe are first placed in the general "Israel" class, as being of one of the symbolic twelve tribes, and then, if he "attains" the mark of the prize, he becomes of the 144,000 joint-heirs. The "great company" class, we believe, are those who consecrate as what Brother Russell called those who 'consecrate between the ages'*, and thus they are pictured as coming "out of" the great tribulation, entering into the age to come when Satan will have been abyssed.
Brother Russell assumed that those consecrating between the ages would not be spirit-begotten, since he still retained the idea that spirit-begotten meant that one had sacrificed his humanity, and had become begotten to the spiritual body in the resurrection. We disagree with Russell's understanding of what it means to be spirit-begotten, since, among other things, the scriptures state that Jesus was begotten of the spirit when he became flesh, a human, not a spirit being. -- Matthew 1:20; See our study: "Born of the Spirit"..
The claim of many is that when one is spirit-begotten, he is no longer on the earthly plane, but, as a new creation, he is a son of God on the heavenly plane of life. Actually, the expression "spirit-begotten" does not appear in the scriptures, but we do find the expression "born of spirit", which can also be rendered "begotten of the spirit". We also find the expressions "born of water" and "born again (anew)". (John 3:3-8; 1 Peter 1:3) Does being "born of the spirit" mean that one is born/begotten to the level of being a spirit being? If so, does being born of water mean that one is born/begotten to being a water being? When Jesus was begotten of spirit in the womb of Mary, was he begotten as a spirit being, or a human being? (Matthew 1:20) Why is there an emphasis in the scriptures on "again/anew"? Why does one have to be born "again/anew"?
We believe that being begotten of the spirit simply means that one is begotten as a new creature, a seed, a grain, firstly reckoned on the earthly plane, being a new creation equal to what Adam was before Adam sinned. Adam was incorrupt morally, but he was corruptible. So with the new creation; the seed, the grain planted is sown incorrupt, but corruptible, morally speaking. Adam could have progressed from being corruptible to being incorruptible, morally speaking, had he developed a character that could not have been corrupted. Likewise, each new creature in Christ is incorrupt, yet corruptible, until he has developed an incorruptible character.
For the new creature there are two types of sin: sin that is attributable to the fallen condition of the mind and flesh, and the sin of the new creature himself. There is no ransom sacrifice to be offered if the new creature sins. If the new creature himself sins, then all that would be left would be second death for the new creature. Once the new creature has fully developed a crystalized will against sin, then he has fully overcome, he has proven himself incorruptible, and the second death can no longer harm that person. (Revelation 2:11) Such will have attained the goal of the prize of the high calling. And yet, it is obvious that very few Christians ever obtain the level of perfection that is expressed in that goal while living in this present age.
See our studies:
However, being a participant in the high calling does not mean that one has already received a crown of joint-heirship; being a participant in the high calling does not mean, that having been given joint-heirship, if he fails, he looses that crown of joint-heirship. The scriptures, taken together, tell us that one is counted first as a son, as was Adam (Luke 3:38), on the human level, and as a son, also as an heir of God, on the human level. The one consecrated is not first counted as a joint-heir. Such would mean that having already obtained the prize of the high calling, he would then stand the possibility of losing that prize. The scriptures do not present the matter in such a manner.
All who come to Christ are first made sons, as Adam was a son. (Luke 3:38)  The ransom sacrifice does not bring us to life in heaven, but rather it places us as Adam was before Adam sinned, with life on earth. Being made alive, they are sons, and if sons, they are also heirs, for "if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." The condition for heirship is to belong to Christ. (Galatians 3:29) "The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ if it so be that we joint-suffer [Strong's 4841, sumpascho, "to experience pain jointly or of the same kind (spec. persecution; to 'sympathize')"] with him, that we may be also joint-glorified [Strong's 4888, sunarmologeo, "to exalt to dignity in company with"] together." (See Note #12) The "joint-heirs" are first "heirs" before they become "joint-heirs." The condition for "joint-heirship" is (different than the condition for heirship) to be joint-sufferers with Christ: "if so be that we joint-suffer with him." (Romans 8:16,17) The heirs in general are reckoned alive, "new creatures" in Christ Jesus, but only on the human plane. This is the first plane of life for all the Israel after the spirit, the twelve tribes spoken of in Revelation 7. -- 1 Corinthians 10:18 ("Israel after the flesh" implies the existence of an Israel after the spirit); Galatians 6:15,16.
See our studies on The Ransom for All and  Born of the Spirit.
Thus, we believe that being begotten of the spirit first places one -- as a new creature -- on the plane of Adam, who was a son of God before Adam sinned -- and with the earthly heirship as a son as Adam would have had it had he remained faithful (Luke 3:38; Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:29), and after that, if one completes the sacrifice by attaining the mark of the prize, then he becomes placed on the level of joint-heirship with Christ. As a result, that which is first accounted to the seed -- the grain -- (1 Corinthians 15:36-38) begotten of the spirit is the earthy, the physical body, the glory of the sinless terrestrial body (1 Corinthians 15:40; Psalm 8:5; Romans 3:23; Hebrews 2:7), not the heavenly, the spiritual body, the glory of the celestial body. (1 Corinthians 15:45) If and when the new creature is brought to perfection, incorruptibility, as a human, then that humanity is at the point that it can be sacrificed, (just as Jesus sacrificed his incorruptible humanity*), and thus one is sealed out of the twelve tribes at large and counted as one of the 144,000.
*One should note that Jesus did not just sacrifice his sinless flesh, he sacrificed what he attained, incorruption on the human level. Unlike Adam, Jesus, as a human, brought himself to perfection, to the point of proving himself loyal beyond any shadow of a doubt. Thus, it is due to his being faithful while in the days of his flesh, that he brought life and incorruption (incorruptibility) to light. (2 Timothy 1:10) This he did by his continued, unfailing, obedience. It was this human life, wherein he had to put on incorruption, that he offered as a sacrifice. The sacrifice of the 144,000 would have to be of the same sort, that is, not just sinless human life, but human life that had proven itself incorruptible (counted as such due to perfection of the new creature's faith, love and hope, proving oneself steadfast, incorruptible, unshakable, immovable, in these -- 1 Corinthians 3:13; Ephesians 3:17; Philippians 3:12; Colossians 1:28; 1 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Timothy 1:5,6; Hebrews 6:1; James 1:3,4; 1 Peter 1:6,7; 5:9,10; 1 John 4:18).
Once one gets the proper setting of what being born of the spirit means, we can see that it is not related to being first assigned a joint-heirship and then the possibility of loosing that joint-heirship,  then we can see that there could be tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, today who are begotten of the spirit, who will never receive a heavenly body in the resurrection.
We, indeed, do believe that we have today tens of thousands of brothers and sisters who are called under the general call of the high calling, but who will never attain the goal of the prize of joint-heirship, and that many of them will indeed prove to be of the great multitude who "come out of the great tribulation". We do not believe that it will become evident exactly who the "great multitude" are until after the great tribulation is over and they are recognized as such after Satan's sun will no longer hinder them from the true light. It is not important for us to know whether this or that brother/sister is of the great multitude or not.
Will the great multitude be physically separated into a group or movement before the great tribulation is over? Probably not, although we believe a small number who will prove to be of the great multitude are probably now associating with the Bible Students. The problem we see with the idea of getting people out their churches to join with the Bible Students is that this very teaching has led to a sectarian view amongst the Bible Students. Thus, most the Bible Students movement itself has come to be viewed by many, even by many Bible Students as though it were a sectarian group or denomination (of a name, thus "nominal"). All sectarianism will eventually be done away with, whether it be amongst what many call the nominal church or amongst the Bible Students. On the other hand, with the destruction of the Babylonish systems, we believe that it is possible that those ones who are begotten of the spirit that were still in those systems may become more manifest, and could possibly, in a loose association, seek each other out even before the end of the great tribulation. But we do not expect the manifestation of who will be be represented as of the 144,000, the twelve tribes, or the great multitude to take place until after Satan is abyssed.
One prophecy we referred to above says that "Then they cry to Yahweh in their trouble." (Psalm 107:28) This is during, not after, the great tribulation. The scriptures do not reveal the details of how these prophecies will be fulfilled, so much of what we or anyone else might say is speculative, to say the least. We do know that God can cause great changes rather rapidly, or that He might consider to be a short time may seem to be a long time to us.
We should not, however, droop our hands with laxity so as to neglect preaching the Gospel (Good News) of the kingdom (Matthew 24:14), thinking that such work is over, etc., based on there being a limited number crowns for joint-heirship. There are, we believe, thousands of consecrated Christians in what many call the "nominal" churches who may yet wish to learn about the ransom for all, the coming blessings of the kingdom, etc. Such will not only need to be "witnessed" to, but their interest will have to be nurtured to produce growth, thus follow-up should be supplied. They will need to be taught -- step by step -- concerning who Jesus and his God are, the ransom, the resurrection hope for both the church and the world, the judgment day and God's kingdom, as well as nurturing in producing the fruit of the spirit, etc. Again, while the Studies in the Scriptures may be helpful along this line, at the same time we believe that the viewpoint concerning "born of the spirit" that is presented therein, which would limit the number who could be "born of the spirit", would be a hindrance, both to the teacher as well as to the student.  Additionally, the present views of the majority of the Bible Students would seem to hinder such a work. Therefore, the Restoration Light studies would probably be of greater benefit in reaching such ones than the more traditional writings often distributed by the Bible Students. Perhaps Yahweh will bring forth someone with the abilities and wisdom to take the lead in such a work, but we will have to wait and see.
Related Studies:

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Revelation 2:6,15 - The Teaching of the Nicolaitans

But this you have, that you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. -- Revelation 2:6

So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans in the same way. -- Revelation 2:15.
The word Nicolaitan is believed to be derived from two Greek words: nikao, to conquer or overcome, and laos, which means people and from which the word laity comes from.

Streeter states in his book "The Revelation of Jesus Christ":

There is quite a general agreement among expositors concerning what Nicolaitanism is. It is interesting to observe that it was a thing that started in Ephesus in practice, and afterwards embodied itself in theory; and finally in Pergamos it is mentioned as becoming a feature of doctrine, and the Savior thus again expresses Himself concerning it: "So in like manner thou hast also those holding the teaching [doctrine] of the Nicolaitans." (Rev. 2:15.) It has been forcefully described as "something which put down the people [of God], superseded them in their rights, and set them aside; for this is the plain import of the name, which Christ gives it, and the names which are divinely given are always exactly descriptive of the things or persons that receive them. We also know from the Scriptures and from the common representations of all ecclesiastical historians that the Church was hardly founded until it began to be troubled with the lordly pretensions and doings of arrogant men in violation of the common priesthood of believers, and settling upon ministers the attributes and prerogatives of a magisterial order against which Peter, Paul, and John were moved to declare their apostolic condemnation, but which grew nevertheless and presently became fixed upon the [professed] Church as a part of its essential system. We know that there is to this day a certain teaching and claim and practice in the largest part of the professed Church according to which a certain order severs itself entirely from the laity, assumes the right and titles of priesthood, asserts superiority and authority over the rest in spiritual matters, denies the right of any one, whatever his gifts or graces, to teach or preach in the Church, who has not been regularly initiated into the mysterious puissance of its own self-constituted circle, and puts forward its creatures (however glaringly deficient in those heavenly gifts which really make the minister), as Christ's only authorized heralds, before whom every one else must be mute and passive and whose words and administrations every one must receive, on pain of exclusion from the hope of salvation [or of losing their crown].

"We also know that this system of priestly clericalism and prelatical hierarchism claims to have come down from the earliest periods of the Church, and traces for itself a regular succession through the Christian centuries, and appeals to patristic practice as its chief basis, vindication, and boast. We know that it first came into effective sway in the period immediately succeeding the Pagan persecutions, reaching its fullest  embodiment in Popery, and has perpetuated itself in the same, and in Laudism, Tractarianism, and Highchurchism, even to our day, and to our very doors. And if we would know what the Lord Jesus thinks of it, we have only to recur to these epistles, in which He lays His hand right on it, and says: 'This Thing I Hate.'"

Charles T. Russell's views were in full accordance with the foregoing presentation; his clear statement was:

The 'doctrine of the Nicolaitans' seems to be the theory of lordship or headship in the Church. The strife as to who should be greatest existed amongst many of the patriarchs -- fathers -- of the prominent churches. At their councils there was a bitter fight for supremacy. The tendency was toward an earthly head, and of course many coveted the honor. The patriarchs of Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople, and Rome were the most prominent. The first two dropped out of the conflict, but the strife continued for several hundred years between Constantinople and Rome. It was settled only by a division of the Church: the Eastern, or Greek Church, accepting the Patriarch of Constantinople for its head; and the Western, or Papal Church, acknowledging the Bishop -- Pope or Father -- of Rome.

Many of the true followers of the Master in the churches denounced this attempt to disobey the direct command of Jesus, 'Call no man Father.' (Matt. 23:9.) Of course, they received the promised persecution. (2 Tim. 1:12.) This class in Pergamos is commended by our Lord under the symbol of 'Anti-pas, My faithful martyr.' In the Greek, anti means against, and papas signifies father. In this stage of the  development of the Church those who sought to be popular received the emoluments of the Church; but the promise to the overcomers is that of pleasure and honor that shall be eternal.

Nicolaitanism was only in its incipiency when mentioned in the message to Ephesus. It, as we have seen, became a doctrine in Pergamos. The evil of "Nicolaitanism" has always existed in the Church since shortly after its establishment. Every reform movement in the Church since the Apostles' day--every effort to get back to primitive simplicity of doctrine, of church order, and of methods of service, has, in the course of time, resulted again in sectarianism, and has left the faithful few (Protestants) in the "wilderness." Lording it over God's heritage, idolizing messengers and human organizations, symbolized by "Nicolaitanism," is responsible for these sad results. This evil has been repeated again and again in the Church's history. Even in the very closing hours of the Church's pilgrimage we are witnessing its repetition. Let him that readeth understand! How necessary, how significant, how timely the Savior's warning: "Take heed, let no man deceive you." The worshipping of fallible men, the worshipping of imperfect human systems--making idols of them, allowing them to occupy the place that Christ and Christ alone should occupy, has ever been Satan's method of taking away the liberty that is in Christ Jesus, and thus of marring the fellowship and destroying the unity of "the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the Truth."

Frank Shallieu, in his book on Revelation states:

The “doctrine of the Nicolaitans” is related to former Amazonic worship, which was designed to tempt one’s ego with power, influence, and leadership. The Nike goddess of victory is found amid the Pergamon statuary. This goddess invariably has one breast exposed not so much to denote femininity but to point her out as the provider of nutriment for overcoming strength and resultant victory.

First noticed in Ephesus, the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, the theory of lordship or headship in the Church, found its development in Pergamos and has been a burden ever since. In Ephesus it was designated “the deeds of the Nicolaitans,” that is, a tendency towards lordship in the Church; in Smyrna there emerged an organization of believers referred to as “the synagogue of Satan”; now in Pergamos that which should never have been tolerated — which the Ephesian Church abhorred — became an established and recognized doctrine: clericalism.
It seems they were conquering the people with pagan doctrine as Strongs also refers to them as heretics, as they were connected with worhsip of Greek gods and their customs that involved lordship, idolatry and sectarianism.