The persecution of Dioclesian began in the year of Christ 302, and lasted ten years in the Eastern Empire and two years in the Western. To this state of the Church the second Epistle, to the Church of Smyrna, agrees. I know, saith Christ, thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, but thou art rich; and I know the blasphemy of them, which say they are Jews and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: Behold, the Devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. The tribulation of ten days can agree to no other persecution than that of Dioclesian, it being the only persecution which lasted ten years. By the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan, I understand the Idolatry of the Nicolaitans, who falsely said they were Christians.
The Nicolaitans are complained of also in the third Epistle, as men that held the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to Idols, and to commit spiritual fornication. For Balaam taught the Moabites and Midianites to tempt and invite Israel by their women to commit fornication, and to feast with them at the sacrifices of their Gods. The Dragon therefore began now to come down among the inhabitants of the earth and sea.
The Nicolaitans are also complained of in the fourth Epistle, under the name of the woman Jezebel, who calleth herself a Prophetess, to teach and to seduce the servants of Christ to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to Idols. The woman therefore began now to fly into the wilderness.