By Charles H. Welch

Overcomer. Three Greek words are translated overcome in the N.T., hettaomai (2 Pet. 2:19,20), katakurieuo (Acts 19:16) and nikao. The only word which is of dispensational consequence is nikao. Nikao "to conquer, overcome, get the victory" occurs twenty-eight times; "conquer" twice, "get the victory" once, "prevail" once and "overcome" twenty-four times. Nikos and nike are translated "victory"; the believer is said to be "more than conqueror" (Rom. 8:37), and the word enters into eight names in the N.T. Nicopolis, Nicanor, Nicolas, Nicolaitan, Nicodemus, Bernice, Eunice and Andronicus. Seventeen of the twenty-eight occurrences of nikao are found in the book of the Revelation and it is the association of the overcomer with that book that we are to consider.

Although the range of the Apocalypse is from heaven above to the bottomless pit, although it takes in its prophetic embrace, Satan, Archangel and demon, kings, armies and the habitable earth; although it speaks of the four living creatures, Apollyon, the great white throne, the day of judgment, the millennial kingdom, the new Jerusalem and the new heaven and the new earth, we shall fail to appreciate its message and understand its method if we forget that these vast and overwhelming subjects form after all a background against which the little band of overcomers :light the good :light and "overcome because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony" (Rev. 12:11).

Each of these seven churches, to which this book is addressed, is given a special promise to the overcomer:

Ephesus The promise
"To eat of the tree of life" (Rev. 2:7).
Smyrna The promise
"Not to be hurt of the second death" (Rev. 2:11).
Pergamos The promise
"To eat of the hidden manna" (Rev. 2:17).
Thyatira The promise
"Power over the nations" (Rev. 2:26).
Sardis The promise
"Clothed in white raiment" (Rev. 3 :5).
Philadelphia The promise
"Made a pillar in the temple" (Rev. 3:12).
Laodicea The promise
"To sit with Christ in His throne" (Rev. 3:21).

In the last reference, Revelation 3:21, Christ Himself is set forth as the Great Overcomer. "Even as I also overcame".

The remaining references to the overcomer, divide into two groups.

(1) The True Overcomer.
This includes both the Lord and His people.
       (a) The Lord.
"The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book" (Rev. 5:5).
"The Lamb shall overcome them" (Rev. 17: 14).
      (b) His People.
"They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 12:11).
"Them that had gotten the victory over the beast" (Rev. 15:2).
"He that overcometh shall inherit all things" (Rev. 21 :7).
(2) The False Overcomer.
"He went forth conquering and to conquer" (Rev. 6:2).
"The Beast . . . shall overcome them" (Rev. 11:7).
"To make war with the saints, and to overcome them" (Rev. 13:7)

There are many things that one might have expected to find in the Revelation which are not there; that expectation arises out of a false conception of the scope of the book. It is not written to explain universal history, it was sent as a message of encouragement to seven churches, and with particular regard to the "overcomer".

For a fuller analysis of the Revelation, and the relation of the seven churches with the book as a whole, see THE LORD's DAY and REVELATION and MILLENNIAL STUDIES in Part nine.

An Alphabetical Analysis

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