What is the real world meaning of the word?
In its native tongue and its ecclesiastical setting, Nicolaitans means the bishops and prelates of the Church have gained a triumphal victory or conquest over the LAITON, the laity. Members are compelled and forced to submit to the arbitrary dominion of men who have become that thing which God hates:
"The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; NOR AS BEING LORDS OVER THOSE ENTRUSTED TO YOU, but being examples to the flock" (1Peter 5:1-3).
The teachings and preaching of the Nicolaitans are in religious and secular dictionaries. When we look for the definition of the term we find it is a "hierarchy: the power of dominion, government by ecclesiastical rulers" we find the following, which is offered as evidence:
"If anyone shall say that there is not in the Catholic Church a hierarchy established by the divine ordination, consisting of bishops, presbyters and ministers, let him be anathema, Council of Trent (translation) XXIII 6." (Century Dictionary)
In other words, let anyone who has the audacity to say there is not a hierarchy, not a collection of human beings who try to exercise authority over others, as ecclesiastical rulers over churchmen, let that man be ACCURSED --- let death and hell and the devil get him. Surely, the thing in which that ecclesiastical company is glorying is their shame!
Webster's dictionary defines the word "episcopal" as "the power of government, belonging to, or invested in, bishops or prelates. Government of the church by bishops." It also says, "in episcopacy, the order of bishops is superior to the other clergy, and has exclusive power to confer orders."
The above definition affirms that a certain portion of presbyters (elders) were "in apostolic times superior in authority to ordinary presbyters." It also mentions the fact that episcopacy recognizes "episcopal rank," which is created by the institution thus governed. It all of which affirms that any church in which episcopal government obtains is practicing the very carnal and fleshly iniquity of creating "superiors" in what should be a holy brotherhood. The use of this appellation makes INFERIORS out of brethren who are in the selfsame clergy.
How can RANK and HIERARCHY destroy a church?
The approbation of "ordinary elders" demands a set of elders who are extra special, thus creating "rank" (caste) in the otherwise Divine brotherhood, all of which DESTROYS holy fellowship, creates division and strife, and fosters envy. It is no marvel that Jesus hates this, condemns it, and demands the guilty repent.
The question is will those who follow the ways of the Nicolaitans repent? Yes, some will when the tribulation is on. Others, however, will stick to their ecclesiastical crowd, vainly imagining that their boasted "superiority" will carry them through that time of the greatest trouble the world has ever known, or will know. They must go down with the rest of the hosts of Antichrist.