"Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the victorious one, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God." (Revelation 2.5-7)✞
God hates Revelation heretics, otherwise called "Nicolaitans" because they encourage sexual immorality and participate in pagan practices. No one knows precisely who the "Nicolaitans heretics" are, except for their actions. Samuel Taylor Marshall (1812-1895), one of the founders of "The Beta Theta Pi" in Miami University whose mission was "To develop men of principle for a principled life" believes, "the name "Nicolaitan" means 'conqueror of the people.'" The American reformed author and scholar, David Chilton (1951-1997) adds that "The Greek term corresponds to the Hebrew 'Balaam' and means 'lord or destroyer of the people.'" Balaam is presented to us as a diviner in the Old Testament writings. He is reviled as a "wicked man" in 2 Peter 2.15, "They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam, son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey — an animal without speech — who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet's madness." The Biblical scholar M. G. Easton in the "Illustrated Bible Dictionary" notes that "Bezer" means "Bosor," which is the Aramaic or Chaldee form of the name Beor, the father of Balaam. Balaam refuses to curse Israel and instead blesses them even though an angry King Balak of Moab offers him a bribe for doing so!✞
"Nicolaitans" and those "who hold the teaching of Balaam" in Revelation 2.14 all seem to be the same people. They are heretics intent on destroying the people of God. They are the same people that "tolerated the woman Jezebel." In Revelation 2.20, we read that "they are described as Gnostic heretics who encourage sexual immorality and eat food sacrificed to demons' idols." Perhaps they are heretical sects who mixed Christianity with pagan practices like idol worship with sexual immorality. We don't know for sure, but we know God and the Church at Ephesus hate them!✞
In Jewish thought, the "Tree of Life" comes to mean something that gives humans fullness of life. It appears in Paradise alongside the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil." Those who gather around it in Heaven enjoy lives free from any need, hunger, corruption, or pain. Proverbs 13.12 explains, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a 'tree of life.'" The Tree of Life is the longing fulfilled in the Christian life. Water flows through "Paradise," and the trees flourish on either side of the "River of Life." The leaves of the "Tree of Life" are reputed to have a healing quality, and many types of fruit feed the faithful.✞
The Paradise Tree of Life is the source of the perfect life for all humans. The Jews believe that when the Messiah, who is the expected "anointed one," comes from God and the new age dawns, the "Tree of Paradise" will grow in their midst, and the faithful will eat from it. The Rabbis say that the boughs of the "Tree of Life" overshadow the whole of Paradise. It has five hundred thousand fragrances and fruit with as many pleasant tastes, and every one of them is different.✞
The word "Paradise" has a Persian origin and means "a beautiful garden with pleasant meadows, stately trees, and many flowers." "Paradise," therefore, is a place of serene beauty. The paradise of the Book of Revelation's garden has direct links to the Book of Genesis. Archibald Geikie Brown (1844-1922), a Baptist Minister and Biblical scholar, writes eloquently of this connection.
"In Genesis, we see the earth created.
In Revelation, we see it passing away.
In Genesis, there is a garden, which is a home for human beings.
In Revelation, there is a city, a home for the nations.
In Genesis, we see humans driven out from the garden and away from the "Tree of Life."
In Revelation, we see them welcomed back, with the "Tree of Life" at their disposal."
How wonderful that will be!✞