Revelation 2:6 "But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. "
Revelation 2:15 "So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate."
1. NICOLAITANS - TRADITIONAL EXPLANATION by John Gill derived from the Writings of Irenaeus and Hippolytus
"I know that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate." The Nicolaitans were a sect of base antinomians which had arisen in those early days of Christianity. They contended that since we are saved by grace and are free from the law, nothing is evil. They made every excuse for lewdness and licentiousness. John Gill tells us that the Nicolaitans "committed fornication, adultery, and all uncleanness, and had their wives in common." All this evil was practiced and promoted in the name of Christian liberty! All true believers, like these Ephesians and like Christ himself, despise those who promote ungodliness in the name of grace.
These seems somewhat unlikely for two reasons.
a. Nicholas, one of the original deacons is mentioned as the founder only by Irenaeus, however his report is refuted by Clement of Alexandria who states that Nicholas was a godly man and taught the way he lived.
b. The traditional explanation simply provides us with a type of Gnosticism. In spite of the fact that we know the names of some Gnostic leaders such as Valentinius and Simon Magus, their movements never assumed the names of their teachers. They were simply referred to as "Gnostics". If these men were "antinomian" (against any law for Christians allowing Christians to live in sexual immorality supported with spiritual doctrine), the followers would have been classified as Gnostics.
The alternative explanation is that Nicolaitans refers to those teachers in the Body of Christ who began to elevate the clergy above the laity, a distinction that did not exist in the Christian Church until the end of the second century. This teaching did not simply recognize that elders (presbuteros and episcopas) along with deacons (diakanos) are valid biblical offices in the church. Although these church offices required the men in leadership to be servants of those to whom they minister, the Nicolaitans began ruling over the laity in a manner condemned by Jesus.