BibleAsk Team

How did the early church get corrupted?

Jesus and His apostle Peter warned of corruption coming into the early church in Revelation chapter 2 and in 2 Peter chapter 2.

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” (2 Peter 2:1).

Jesus Himself gave messages of warning and admonition to every stage of His church from the early church to those just before His appearing in Revelation 2 and 3. He lists seven churches by name to represent each phase of the church’s history.

To the first church He addresses, He states, “thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:” (Revelation 2:2).  It goes on to say that they “hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.” (Vs. 6). Note that it doesn’t say they or Jesus hate these people, just their deeds or actions. This was when the church first began, they were watchful falsehoods coming into the church and were commended for keeping out false doctrines.

Jesus goes on to address His church in a later time in their history, “So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.” (Revelation 2:15).  Again we see the Nicolaitanes name appear, only this time it appears that the church is allowing this doctrine into the church. The question next is, who are the Nicolaitanes and what is their doctrine?

According to Bible commentators, the Nicolaitanes’ doctrine was basically that they abused the grace of God and preached that they could do whatever they wanted and yet still consider themselves Christians.

This is congruent with the context of the chapter in the previous verse, “ But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” (Revelation 2:14).

The apostle Peter warned of this very thing in the early church.  “Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;” (2 Peter 2:15).

Clearly, the corruption in the church came from those who brought in the doctrine of cheap grace. This is an unbiblical doctrine that says they can knowingly continue in sin and yet still be saved by grace. God forbids such a thing (Romans 6:1-2). These early corrupting people of influence did so by appealing to people’s selfish desires of wanting the blessings of God without obeying His law. “For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” (2 Peter 2: 18-19).

Praise God we have the promise that when Christ comes, He will “make all things new” and will not allow any more deceit ever again (Revelation 21:5, 27).

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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