"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 Nicolaitans' practices, 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 in God's paradise." (Revelation 2.5-7)✞
No one knows precisely who the "Nicolaitans heretics" are, except for their actions. God hates Revelation's heretics, the "Nicolaitans," for encouraging sexual immorality and participation in pagan practices. 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" believed, "the name "Nicolaitan" meant 'people's conqueror.'" The American reformed author and scholar, David Chilton (1951-1997) added that "The Greek term for the Hebrew 'Balaam' means 'people destroyer.'" The Old Testament presents Balaam as a diviner. 2 Peter 2.15 reviles him as a "wicked man," "They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow Balaam's way, the son of Bezer, lover of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey — a speechless animal — who spoke in a human voice and restrained the prophet's madness." The Biblical scholar M. G. Easton (1823-1894) in the "Illustrated Bible Dictionary" noted that "Bezer" meant "Bosor," the Aramaic or Chaldean form of the name Beor, the father of Balaam. Balaam refused to curse Israel and instead blessed them even though an angry King Balak of Moab offered him a bribe!✞
"Nicolaitans" and those "who hold Balaam's teaching" in Revelation 2.14 seem to be the same people. They are heretics intent on destroying God's people. They are the same people that "tolerated the woman Jezebel." In Revelation 2.20, we read that "the Gnostic heretics encourage sexual immorality, eating food sacrificed to demons' idols." Perhaps they are heretical sects who mixed Christianity and pagan practices like idol worship and sexual immorality. We don't know for sure, but God and the Ephesian church hate them!✞
In Jewish thought, the "paradise tree of life" came to mean something that gives humans fullness. It appeared in paradise alongside the "tree of good and evil knowledge." 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 means a fulfilled Christian life. Water flows through "paradise," and the trees flourish on either side of the "river of life." "It's leaves" have a healing quality, and many fruit types feed the faithful.✞
The paradise life tree is human life's perfect source. The Jews believed that when the Messiah, the "expected anointed one," comes from God and the new age dawns, the "paradise tree of life" will grow in their midst, and the faithful will eat from it. The Rabbis said that the "tree of life's boughs" overshadow paradise. The tree of life has five hundred thousand fragrances and fruit with many pleasant tastes, and everyone is different.✞
The word "paradise" has a Persian origin as "a beautiful garden with pleasant meadows, stately trees, and many flowers." "Paradise," therefore, is a serene, beautiful place. The Revelation's garden paradise has direct links to Genesis. Archibald Geikie Brown (1844-1922), a Baptist Minister and Biblical scholar, wrote eloquently of this connection.
"In Genesis, we see the earth created.
In Revelation, we see it passing away.
In Genesis, there is a garden home for human beings.
In Revelation, there is a city, the nation's home.
In Genesis, we see humans driven out of 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!✞