The word translated “overcome” (nikao, G3528) derives from the word “victory” (nike, G3529). It means “to conquer, to get the victory, to prevail.”1 Therefore, overcomers are victorious. But how and over what?
Prior to the cross, knowing He would ultimately triumph, the Lord said: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).2 After completing the work of suffering for our sins, Christ shouted “finished!” from the cross, declaring victory before dismissing His spirit. On the third day, the Father substantiated His victory by raising Him from the dead. Then, forty days after His resurrection Christ led a victory parade in His ascension back to heaven, traveling through the air, the very domain of the evil one who is the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2; 4:8-10).
The Bible teaches that believers are overcomers in the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 John 5:4-5 says: “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” Through the channel of faith, Christ’s victory is the source of our victory.
There is a completed aspect to the believer’s triumph. Our faith in Christ to save us signaled a victory over the evil one, who seeks to blind people to the gospel, the good news about Christ’s glory (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:3-4). By faith, we now see Jesus crowned with glory and honor (Heb. 2:9). Our position in the glorified Christ, makes us conquerors over a world system that opposed Him and lost. Positionally, we are now seated in the heavenlies with Him, no longer of this world, but now citizens of heaven (John 17:16; Eph. 2:6; Phil. 3:20).
Yet, there is also a continuing battle in our daily experience. All that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life—tempts us to live for the visible, physical, temporary things of this Christ-rejecting world. Believers can either live a joyful, victorious Christian life or a discouraged, defeated one. This is not a battle that we should strive to win in our own strength.
Instead by faith, we must fight from a victory Christ has already won—He has overcome the world. Christ our High Priest, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and God’s Word are sufficient resources for victorious living in our daily experience. Living by faith is the victory that overcomes the world. Through Christ, our eyes can focus on eternal, spiritual, invisible realities (Col. 3:2). In Him we are more than conquerors (Rom. 8:37).
Finally, there is a conclusive victory for believers when they enter into the fullness of their inheritance in Christ. It is true that there are varying degrees of rewards that will be handed out by Christ at the judgment seat of Christ. However, the promises to the overcomers in the book of Revelation are part of the common inheritance for all believers in the eternal state.
For example, all believers will eat from the tree of life, experiencing the richness of eternal life for all eternity (Rev. 2:7; John 3:16; 1 John 5:11-12). Second, no believers will experience the second death, eternal spiritual death in the lake of fire (Rev. 2:11; 20:6, 14-15). Third, believers will reign with Christ (Rev. 2:26; 3:21; 20:6). Finally, no believer will have their name blotted out of the Book of Life, which is the fate of all unbelievers (Rev. 3:5; 20:15). Further, in the eternal state the overcomer is contrasted with the lost in Revelation 21:7-8.
Therefore, an overcomer is synonymous with being a believer. In Christ, all believers will ultimately be victors, forever free of battle, entering into our eternal rest of enjoying fellowship with God (Rev. 21:3).
1. Strong, James, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc. Publishers, 2010), e-Sword edition
2. All scriptural references are from the NKJV
by George Ferrier