There are many references in Scripture about being an overcomer. There are also promises given to those who overcome. In this study, we shall look into what it means to be an overcomer in the eternal sense. We will also look into what is required of us and what was promised to those who overcome. Life is like a race and we are to run with endurance and finish.
1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
Before we continue, we need to know what the word â€œovercomeâ€ means in Biblical context.
When you do a search of the English word “overcome,” the first reference found is in Numbers 13:30. This is indeed a splendid example. You will understand later why.
30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, â€œWe should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.â€
The Hebrew word “yakol” was translated as overcome.
3523 ×™Ö¸×›Ö¹×œ (yÄÂ·á¸µÅl): v.; â‰¡ Str 3201; TWOT 866â€”
1. LN 74 (qal) be able, be capable, attain, succeed, not fail, i.e., have the ability or capacity to experience something (Ge 13:6);
2. LN 39.52â€“39.61 (qal) overcome, prevail, have victory, i.e., conquer a foe or opponent and so have victory, as an extension of being able or capable to actually accomplish something (Ge 32:26[EB 25]);
3. LN 25.156â€“25.166 dare, be bold, i.e., have an attitude or confidence that one can do something (Dt 12:17);
4. LN 32.1â€“32.10 understand, i.e., be able to grasp the meaning of something by processing information about a subject (Ps 139:6), note: NIV translates â€œattainâ€2
Here is a breakdown of how the word “yakol” is used in Scripture.
From the use of the word, we learn that to overcome is to have victory, be ableÂ to prevail, to be bold and to have understanding. We can be overcomers every day of unrighteousness, sin, fear and many more. However, we will study this in the eternal context to see what we are to do to be overcomers at the end. Looking at overcoming from this perspective, necessitates us looking at the book of Revelation. The word “overcome” is used a few times in Revelation and every time a promise is given to those who overcome. Let’s look at what was said to the seven assemblies to see how we can apply this in our lives.
Promises to overcomers
Each of the seven assemblies in Revelation is facing some kind of challenge. We can learn a great deal from this. I believe this was not just written as a historical account of what was happening in Asia Minor, it was written for each of us. YHVH said “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” I believe YHVH is speaking to us here. We are the ones who have to have an ear to hear. Each of the assemblies was also given a promise of what they will receive if they overcome. Let us break it down per assembly to see what we can learn from this.
The assembly of Ephesus was commended on a number of things, yet it is said that they have left their first love (Rev 2:4.)
What or who is this first love?
You have lost the love you had at firstâ€”not the strong emotions, which cannot be expected to last, but the zeal for God, which can be renewed by repentance and rededication.
Stern, D. H. (1996). Jewish New Testament Commentary : a companion volume to the Jewish New Testament (electronic ed., Re 2:4). Clarksville: Jewish New Testament Publications.
To him who wins the victory (or: â€œto him who overcomesâ€). The victory is over evil, temptation and apathy. According to 3:21&N Yeshua himself is our role-model. 3
Matthew 24:12 confirms this interpretation.
12 â€œBecause lawlessness is increased, most peopleâ€™s love will grow cold. 13 â€œBut the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.
To love YHVH is to place Him first, not just part of a routine or lip service. We can each ask ourselves this question: do we place YHVH first or has our relationship with YHVH become part of a routine or dead religion?
There is still hope. We can overcome this.
5 â€˜Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its placeâ€”unless you repent.
We are to remember what YHVH has done for us, repent and have the zeal we had when we first became believers.
The promise if we overcome.
7 â€˜He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of Elohim.â€™
The next assembly is Smyrna.
Smyrna did not receive a rebuke. They were being persecuted.
How are they to overcome this?
10 â€˜Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
When we carefully read the book of Revelation, we learn that there will be persecution of believers in the end times. In fact, when you follow what is going on in the world, you would understand that it has started. Persecution is a test and when persecuted, we must remain faithful.
We often suffer a form of persecution because we are different. People want to categorize us as fanatical, just because we choose to be obedient to YHVH’s Word. Those who think that we are fanatical extrimists are so far removed from YHVH’s truth and his ways that those of us who do His ways seem strange or fanatical. They may even feel threatened by our dedication.
We are to remain faithful when this happens. It seems easier in such circumstances to laugh with the scoffer, or make as if we agree with them. This is wrong, we are to be faithful and bold. To overcome means to be bold. He who denies Y’shua before people will be denied before the Father.
33 â€œBut whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.
The promise to the one who overcomes.
11 â€˜He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.â€™
The next assembly is Pergamum.
Perganum was a center of pagan worship. It is written that Satan dwelled there. Pergamum was rebuked for holding to the teaching of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. In order to understand this, we need to know what this means. Balaam was sent to curse Israel, when he could not succeed and stood to lose the reward, he told Balak of a way to conquer Israel. The men of Israel were led astray by the women of Moab.
The Nicolaitans, on the other hand, is said to have originated from the deacon Nicolas spoken of in Acts 6:5. He was a proselyte from Antioch. It is said that he converted to Judaism from paganism and became a deacon as written in Acts 6. Some historical manuscripts describe Nicolas as a heretic who did not find fault in compromise. 4
Looking at what is said about Pergamum, being a center of pagan worship, it is understandable that people could easily compromise. We also live in a world that has chosen to reject YHVH and His ways and are daily confronted with immorality and many forms of idolatry and pagan practices. Yoga is a good example. Yoga originated as a religious practice within Buddhism and Hinduism. It has been popularized to such an extend that it now forms part of many people’s religious practice in the form of Torah-yoga. There are many other such practices that has infiltrated. YHVH commanded Do not learn the way of the nations nor do what they do. YHVH knows that it will lead us astray. Compromise always leads to more compromise. It is defined as follows:
Â· a way of reaching agreement in which each person or group gives up something that was wanted in order to end an argument or dispute
Â· something that combines the qualities of two different things
Â· a change that makes something worse and that is not done for a good reason5
YHVH does not want us to mix the set apart and the profane (Lev 10:10) and when we compromise, we do. He also said in Revelation 2:6 that he hates the deeds of the Nicolaitans.
This can be remedied by repentance, asking YHVH’s forgiveness and turning away from evil. If we succeed in overcoming this, this is what is promised:
17 â€˜He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.â€™
Thiatira was rebuked because they tolerated Jezebel. Jezebel does openly what Balaam indirectly did. In her case she has personally led YHVH’s bond servants astray. She is called a prophetess, which means she may have been in a position of authority. She used this position to lead people into idolatry, sexual immorality and sorcery. Here is David Stern’s commentary about this passage.
Often, when we tolerate certain things, we may be drawn into it. None of us can claim that we will not fall. It would otherwise not be necessary for YHVH to give a promise to those who overcome.
So, these people are rebuked for their tolerance. Jezebel, because of her leading the people astray, will be cast upon a sickbed and her children (or followers) will be killed with pestilence. This sin described here, obviously goes deeper than openly committing sexual immorality. YHVH said here that He searches the minds and the hearts and will give to each according to their deeds. It means that even if these sins of sexual immorality and sorcery are not physically committed, but remains in our mind and heart, it will be seen by YHVH and punished accordingly.
Y’shua also said that whoever looks upon a woman with lust, has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Job said that he made a covenant with his eyes not to let them lust after any girl. Good advice, I would say.
1 â€œI made a covenant with my eyes not to let them lust after any girl. (Complete Jewish Bible)
You wouldn’t think that someone as righteous as Job would even mention this… He may have said this because he knew that anybody can fall. Job had it easy compared to what we face with all the advertising and modern technology available to us. You don’t have to go out to buy pornography, you can easily have access to it and nobody would ever know. It is so easy to get trapped in this.
The problem starts with tolerance. We may tolerate the scenes shown to us in movies, television on the internet. It may seem interesting and we may click through to see what it is about and very soon you find yourself totally entrapped by it. There is no such thing as soft or safe porn. Pornography destroys marriages, it destroys people’s lives. The same is true for any form of witchcraft, whether black or white. It is from satan and YHVH hates it.
Even if you don’t participate in this yourself, make sure your children are protected against both. They usually get ensnared at a very young age. Usually, when we think they many not even notice it, or we may think it is harmless fantasy in the case of books about witchcraft. That is when it all begins. Be careful even of the books you read to your children or allow them to read. Many people think Harry Potter and similar books are harmless fantasy, but children get enticed by sorcery when they read this. You, being the person of authority in their lives becomes Jezebel to them if you give them this to read or allow it. You cause them to be ensnared in sorcery. These are harsh words, but think about it. We as parents have a responsibility towards our children. We are to raise them for YHVH’s kingdom, not introduce them to sorcery or immorality.
This includes films, the internet and even music. Children can be exposed to porn at a magazine stand and believe me this is not harmless. Pornography is addictive and being involved in the occult has a similar effect. You get drawn into this and it is difficult to escape. You as a believer may want to stop, knowing that it is wrong, but your self-restraint may often fail you. It is a secret sin and causes guilt and self-hatred. This constant guilt and self-hatred will lead to auto-immune diseases. We will write more on this in a future series of articles about sickness and healing.
Vigilantly protect them from this as it can eventually destroy them or render them ineffective for YHVH’s kingdom. Music is another medium that is used by satan. Just listen to the words of the songs. How often don’t we find modern love songs being about adulterous relationships and the like.
This is so dangerous that this assembly is rebuked for even tolerating this. Not tolerating any of this will remove the temptation. You can learn more about this is the article Self-discipline and Self-control.
The only way out is repentance.
To those who overcome authority will be given over the nations.
26 â€˜He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations;
Of Sardis is is said that they have a name that they are alive but are dead. Here is David Stern’s commentary on this passage. Quite sobering…
Are we not all guilty of this in some way or form? The question is what is the fruit we produce like? Are we full of knowledge, but empty on deeds? Or do we fulfill the two most important commandments, loving YHVH with all our heart, soul and mind and our neighbor as ourselves? If we don’t, we are those dead people referred to here. Having a reputation that we are alive, but dead inside. If we are like this, we are backslidden and asleep like the five virgins who were not ready. The coming of the bridegroom will take us by surprise, like a thief in the night. We are to be prepared and being prepared means living those two greatest commandments to the full. Loving YHVH and our neighbor.
Repentance is the only way back and he who overcomes will be clothed in white garments and his/her name will not be erased from the book of life and Y’shua will confess his/her name before the Father and His angels.
5 â€˜He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
The assembly of Philadelphia is not rebuked in any way, they are commended for keeping YHVH’s Word and not denying His name. There is another reference in Revelation about keeping the commandments and having faith in Y’shua.
12 Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of Elohim and their faith in Y’shua.
Here is the promise to those who do this.
12 â€˜He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My Elohim, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My Elohim, and the name of the city of My Elohim, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My Elohim, and My new name.
The assembly of Laodicea was rebuked because they were lukewarm. They were not cold or hot. It was going well with them, they were wealthy and in need of nothing, or so they thought. YHVH saw them differently, He said that they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. When you look at each of these words in the lexicon, you can see how this refers to their spiritual state. They are miserable, pitiable, poor in spirit, not able to understand and poorly clothed. Clothing often refers to righteousness, so being poorly clothed means not living righteously. That is why Y’shua advises them to buy gold from Him, and white garments of righteousness and eye salve to give them understanding.
It is so typical of us humans, when it goes well with us, we tend to forget about YHVH. We don’t work on our relationship with Him. We focus more on ourselves and what we have. We then slowly drift away from Him. We become miserable, poor in spirit, we lose understanding and do unrighteousness.
YHVH said if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.
8 Draw near to Elohim and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
He does not just leave us in this state, He is standing at the door knocking. He is calling us to return to Him. We can repent and be overcomers. This is the promise to him who overcomes.
21 â€˜He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
There are a few other, more general, references in Scripture about overcoming.
Overcome the world
There are two references about overcoming the world. We read in 1 John 5:4 that we are to overcome the world and in John 16:33 we learn that Y’shua has overcome the world.
1 John 5:4â€“5
4 For whatever is born of Elohim overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the worldâ€”our faith. 5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of Elohim?
33 â€œThese things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.â€
What does this mean? We need to understand what is meant by “the world”, before we can really understand this. 1 John 5:19 explains it well.
1 John 5:19
19 We know that we are of Elohim, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
“ The world” is used metaphorically for evil or the kingdom of satan. In the epistle to the Corinthians, satan is called the god of this world.
2 Corinthians 4:4
4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Messiah, who is the image of Elohim.
So, when we overcome the world, it means we overcome evil or the evil one, satan. The following passage gives us a bit more detail and explanation.
1 John 2:15â€“16
15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.
From these passages we understand that overcoming the world means to overcome evil or the evil one.
1 John 2:13â€“14
13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of Elohim abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
The young men in 1 John 2:34-14 are commended for overcoming the evil one. In verse 14 we learn how they overcame, they are strong and the word of YHVH abides in them. Being strong may refer to their faith in Y’shua.
How do we do this?
How do we do this? When we read through these Scriptures carefully, we find the answers. In 1 John 5:4, it is written “whatever is born of Elohim overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the worldâ€”our faith” We are to be born of Elohim and our victory is in our faith. To be born of Elohim means the following.
1 John 2:29
29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.
To practice righteousness is to keep YHVH’s commandments. This, and our faith in Y’shua Messiah is how we overcome.
At the end
2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from Elohim, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, â€œBehold, the tabernacle of Elohim is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and Elohim Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.â€ 5 And He who sits on the throne said, â€œBehold, I am making all things new.â€ And He said, â€œWrite, for these words are faithful and true.â€ 6 Then He said to me, â€œIt is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. 7 â€œHe who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his Elohim and he will be My son.
As opposed to the unrighteous who will be thrown into the lake of fire.
8 â€œBut for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable, and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters, and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.â€
From this study, we have learned what is required of us to be called overcomers. Each of the assemblies in Revelation teaches us something that we need to overcome. With each of these a special promise is given. Here are the promises:
- We will eat of the tree of life which is in the paradise of YHVH
- We shall not be hurt by the second death
- We will receive hidden manna, and a white stone with a new name on it
- We will have authority over nations
- We will be clothed in white garments and our name will not be erased from the book of life and Y’shua will confess our name before the Father and His angels
- We will be made a pillar in the temple of YHVH and He will write His name, the name of the new Jerusalem and Y’shua’s new name on us
- We will be granted to sit down with Y’shua on His throne
- We will be called children of YHVH and will receive the reward of inheritance (Rev 21:2-7)
7 â€œHe who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his Elohim and he will be My son.
We have a choice and how we spend eternity will depend on this choice. We can chose YHVH and have all these or we can choose the world and the things of the world and experience the second death or the lake of fire. We can still repent of all our unrighteousness and do the will of our Father. We may be persecuted for doing so. We may be called extremists and cast out by society, but we will spend eternity with our Heavenly Father. We only live on earth for a short while compared to eternity. We are to choose wisely…
Remember what Caleb said in the first verse we quoted “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.â€
Faith and obedience is what is required of us, then we too, will be overcomers and we will inherit the land.
- All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD and Yâ€™shua for Jesus.
- Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
- Stern, D. H. (1996). Jewish New Testament Commentary : a companion volume to the Jewish New Testament (electronic ed., Re 2:7). Clarksville: Jewish New Testament Publications.
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