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What does it mean to 'overcome' in Revelation chapters 2 and 3?

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Question:  I have been studying what is means to be an overcomer. In Revelation it talks about this subject, and also how the Lord blesses the overcomer. I feel like I would like to be an overcomer. I would like you to discuss what this means. Thank you for any info on this subject.

Response:  You are certainly correct that in His messages to the seven churches of Revelation chapters two and three, our Lord includes in every message a remark about what the "victor" (i.e., the "overcomer") will receive. The study I am currently working on, The Coming Tribulation, Part 2, covers, among other things, this entire section of Revelation - I will let you know by e-mail when that is available. Since it'll be a while, let me try and respond to your question now. The "victor" promised the rewards is, in all cases, the one who believes in Jesus Christ. The Greek word nikao (we get "Nike" from this) means to be victorious in a struggle (be it a battle, athletic competition or what have you). If we compare these promises given to this "one who wins" (the literal translation of the participle phrases you mention from Revelation) to what John, the author of Revelation, says in 1st John, we see that it is only by faith in Jesus that we can "overcome" the world:

For everyone who is born of God overcomes [= nikao's] the world. This is the victory [= nike] that overcomes [= nikao's] the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes [= nikao's] the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
1st John 5:4-5 NIV

To "overcome" in this world is no minor matter, because it requires us to truly believe in Jesus and to follow Him faithful to the end, keeping that faith and that belief intact in spite of all the trials and temptations of this world (see SR#4, "Satan's World System"). This is hard enough in normal times, the pressures of the world being what they are. Many are they who fall away from the faith, who are enthusiastic for a time, like the seed that sprouts up quickly but has no roots (Matt.13:5-6; 13:20-21). Persecution and trouble, the worries of the world and the deceptiveness of wealth (among just a few notable causes) have led many to abandon their good intentions, their good walk with Jesus, and, eventually, their faith (see Peter lesson #27)..

So how does one become (and stay) an "overcomer"? Only by putting Jesus Christ, our walk with Him, first in our lives can we be assured of keeping our faith secure. To "overcome", we need to continue doing all the good things we know we should do, the things the Bible and the Spirit tell us to do: keep praying consistently, keep reading the Bible regularly, keep learning about the word from a solid source of teaching unfailingly, and keep believing and applying to our lives the truth God has given us to learn as if our lives depended on it - for our eternal lives do. The only way to secure our victory, is to continue to move forward spiritually, deepening as far as we are able every day our relationship with our Savior (2Pet.1:10). If we are truly consistent in all this (and continue to pursue sanctification: Heb.12:14), then our victory will not only be secured, but also bountifully and wonderfully provided. For the outcome of all these things will be an abundant crop of production for our Lord, 100, 60 and 30-fold, with which He will be well-pleased when we stand before Him on that day (2Cor.5:10). And if we take this route, we can rest assured that all these promises of Revelation will fall to our lot (cf. Rev.21:7):

      "to the one who overcomes, to him will I give ..." (Rev.2:7; 2:11; 2:17; 2:26; 3:5; 3:12; 3:21)

Please see also  the following links:

The Victory of Faith

The Seven Churches of Revelation

May He grant you to persevere and to bountifully overcome,

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

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