Small words, big problem

From: Tony Prete (
Date: Wed Apr 09 1997 - 22:26:55 EDT

In Rev 2:14-15, there are two simple words that are causing me considerable
trouble. The words are “hOUTWS” and “KAI”; I'm trying to determine whether
they continue the previous idea or introduce a new one.

The text reads:


(“So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.” NRSV)

The context is that the church of Pergamum is being faulted for having some
members who “hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a
stumbling block before the people of Israel, so that they would eat food
sacrificed to idols and practice fornication” (v. 14). Most scholars seem
to assume that the next verse (v. 15), cited above in Greek and English,
connects the teaching of Balaam with the teaching of the Nicolaitans (about
whom we know practically nothing). But could “hOUTWS. . .KAI” mean that
just as there are those who follow Balaam/Balak, there are others who
follow the Nicolaitans? In other words, the Nicolaitans don’t necessarily
advocate eating food sacrificed to idols and practicing fornication.

The English seems to be open to this interpretation, as does my own
baby-Greek translation of the words. But with no one even suggesting such
an interpretation, I wondering if I’m missing some nuance in the Greek.

Anthony Prete
Haddonfield, NJ USA

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