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So much focuses on what God will do now, but the greatest rewards come when believers complete the journey as overcomers from the power of God. Pain and suffering occur in life even if they believe in Jesus Christ. Humankind confronts obstacles from the first cry during birth to the parting breath at death. Christ followers can do things that may stop some situations from happening, but cannot end them all. God does deliver and give strength to go through challenges with trust and reliance on Him. By trusting God, believers can overcome a problem. Although God provides great blessings and rewards, He also gives seven promises to His beloved who overcome all situations to the end of their physical journey.

Phil Bradley/September 15, 2014

Background

The Lord Jesus directed John the Revelator to write to the angel[1] of seven churches in Asia Minor, namely Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea (Rev 2-3). When the Lord addressed each of these churches, He either commended or rebuked them for their actions. He told five out of the seven to repent.[2] After Jesus had addressed each church, He provided guidelines to overcome for every member in the community of believers.

The phrase “he or (him) that overcometh” occurs seven times in Rev two and three after the Lord Jesus gave instructions to the Asia Minor churches (2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, and 21). These form the overcoming statements. With each, He gave something great in return for the person who overcomes. This article discusses these seven overcoming statements.

Before examining the actual statements, one should look at the various aspects of overcoming. First, what does it mean to overcome (Greek: nikaō; νικάω)? The term means “properly, conquer (overcome), to carry off the victory, come off victorious” (Thayer, pp. 425-446) Moreover, the verb implies a battle (Pulpit Commentary, 1985). Next, what does a believer overcome? Though the overcome statements do not answer this, anything that might destroy a believer’s relationship with Jesus Christ gives the best response. Finally, how do believers overcome? Revelation 12:11 tells how to overcome the devil: “And they overcame by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death” (KJV).

Another dimension of overcoming begs attention. Revelation 12:11 uncovered additional information about overcoming according to three main parts. One part related, “And they overcame by the blood of the Lamb” (12:11a). No one can defeat the devil or overcome the stain and grip of sin without the blood of Jesus, which He shed on the cross at Calvary. Without the blood of Jesus, the other two parts cannot happen. A second indicated, “and by the word of their testimony” (v. 11b). This part referred to more than giving a testimony at church. God gave humans the opportunity for forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ, but everyone needs to receive this gift of forgiveness. A true testimony comes when people put their faith in Jesus and experience what He does for others and them. Psalm 66:16 stressed these facts, “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.” The last reads, “and they did not love their lives unto the death” (Rev 12:11c). A critical passage, it emphasizes that believers should examine their hearts and ask, “Do I love Jesus this much?” Believers increasingly face ridicule in the U.S. Professing your faith holds life and death decisions in many countries like Iran, North Korea, and Nigeria. Regardless of where believers live, they must love Jesus this much. They will not get to where they need in relationship with God consumed by the worries and cares of life. Leaders in the body of Christ have an additional burden. They not only need to persevere and overcome themselves, but remember that what they do greatly affects what other believers will do during their persecution.

Overcomers

Overcoming Statement 1

“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Rev 2:7b).

When reading the account of Adam and Eve (especially Gen 3:22), it seems the two never ate from the tree of life. It begs the question, “Why?” At first glance, it seems that Adam and Eve only made one decision in relation to eating from this tree. Since they probably knew of it, consequently, they made two decisions. Therefore, another decision Adam and Eve considered was should they eat from the tree of life. God did not forbid them. Then, why did they not eat from it? The Bible does not say. Pursuing this question, people might ponder these thoughts. First, since Adam and Eve never experienced death, they did not know the fear and pain it brings. As a result, they had no motivation to act. Second, Adam and Eve probably just put it off for another day because they did not comprehend death. When people put off or make no decision (like giving their heart to God), this means they made a decision. Leaders in the Body of Christ need to convey the message never to wait to make a decision for Christ.

What does this mean for those who overcome? When experiencing the fear and pain of death, God will restore the human race to paradise. When believers see the tree of life, “which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (a literal place; cf. Rev 22:2), they will not have to be told twice to eat of it. What Adam and Eve did not take advantage of in the garden, God will offer to those who overcome.

Overcoming Statement 2

“He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death” (Rev 2:11b).

To understand the second death, the first warrants discussion. With respect to the first death, this generation will die if the rapture does not come. The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has the promise of eternal life, while the non-believer does not. Scripture in Rev 20:11-15, explained the second death. Simply stated, people who do not have their name in the Book of Life will go to the lake of fire.

Many do not want to talk about hell. Its reality still exists and necessitates a topic for discussion. Jesus talked quite a bit about hell. So too, must believers. Some people view God as cruel because they believe that He sends humans to hell. God loves us, and He does not want to see anyone go there (2 Pet 3:9). To prevent this, God manifested Himself in the flesh (Jesus), and then died on the cross to redeem humankind. When people repent and turn to Him, they need not worry about the second death. Humans send themselves to the lake of fire when they reject Him, not God.

Overcoming Statement 3

“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it” (Rev 2:17).

Hidden Manna

Jesus will give the hidden manna to those who overcome. God gave manna to the children of Israel to eat while in the wilderness for 40 years during Moses’ leadership. Moses spoke of manna in Exod 16:15, “This is bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.” Now connecting this to Jesus, He said, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:48), and similarly, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat this bread, he shall live for ever” (6:51). The manna that Jesus will give is Himself, and thus, believers can live forever with Him.

The Book of Revelation taught about the hidden manna. God knew humankind would fall into sin, and He already planned the remedy. Revelation 13:8b supports this idea referring to “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” The New Testament described God’s action as a mystery (Greek: mystērion, μυστήριον), meaning “hidden thing, secret, mystery” (Thayer, 2009, p. 420). Paul discussed the mystery in Eph 3:9. He wrote, “And to make men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.” He also addressed it in Col 1:26, “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is manifest to his saints.”

With this information, the work of God through Jesus Christ was hidden from humankind with glimpse given to the prophets. For many people, the truth of Jesus Christ remains hidden because their minds are void of the truth (2 Cor 4:4). A person cannot say, “Jesus is Lord” without the Holy Spirit revealing it (1 Cor 12:3). All believers, especially leaders, need to tell people Jesus is Lord, but only the Holy Spirit can truly make someone believe. Those who overcome get to partake of the hidden manna and have eternal life.

White Stone

The next thing Jesus talked about in this verse was the white stone. He “will give him (overcomers) a white stone” (Rev 2:17b). One explanation of the white stone argued, “The white stone speaks of the custom of casting such a stone into a voter’s urn with the name of a candidate, indicating the approval of the one who cast it” (Feinberg, 1994, p. 2662). Jesus chooses people who overcome. It does not get any better than the Lord Jesus selecting His people!

New Name

The third part in this verse reads “in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it” (v. 17c). God changed the names of various individuals in both testaments, such as Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, and Simon to Peter. The changes regarded things God did and was going to do in the lives of these individuals. God has a new name for believers, which will reflect specifically what He did in each of the overcomer’s lives. Every name (other than Jesus) has baggage of past wrongs attached to it. The new name comes from a clean slate, and gloriously connects to the Savior.

Overcoming Statement Four

“And he that overcometh, and keepeth my words unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations; And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as received of the Father. And I will give him the morning star” (Rev 2:26-28).

Power Over the Nations

It seems many Christians have the idea that when they pass from this life into the next, heaven just will function as an eternal church service or chill time. All believers have a purpose, an important job God wants them to do. When Adam was in the Garden of Eden, he had jobs to do. God commanded Adam to “replenish the earth and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Gen 1:28). Additionally, Adam had to dress and keep the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:15). Just as God gave Adam responsibilities, He will give overcomers the same. The Lord will give responsibilities to overcomers based on the faithfulness of their assignments in this life (Matt 25:14-30). All believers, but especially leaders in the Body of Christ must remember that labor for the Lord effects not just this life, but that to come.

What will overcomers do? When Jesus returns, He will reign a thousand years. During that time, He will bind the devil in the bottomless pit (Rev 20:2-3). Upon the Lord Jesus’ return, believers will return with Him (Rev 19:15 and Jude 14). Just as He will return bodily form, likewise believers will the same. Physical bodies need a physical earth. As Christ reigns on earth, believers will reign with Him (2 Tim 2:12; Rev 1:5; 5:9; 20:6).

Rule With a Rod of Iron

People may ask over whom overcomers will reign. Simply stated, Jesus will reign over the physically alive who did not take the mark of the beast (Rev 13:16-18). These overcomers will reign with the Lord Jesus over forthcoming generations of offspring. After a thousand years, the devil will return (released from the bottomless pit) to deceive the earth’s inhabitants. Perhaps, God lets it happen to test the people of the earth’s faith in Him because most (at least) never experienced the devil’s influence. In the end, God has the victory (Rev 20:9-10).

Give Him the Morning Star

Now, what does it mean when Jesus stated, “And I will give him the morning star” (2:28)? Feinberg noted, “The morning star is the promise of being with Christ before the day breaks; it is the promise of the rapture. Israel awaits the Sun of righteousness (1994, p. 2662; cf. Mal 4:2); the church looks for the Morning Star (cf. Rev 22:16). Believers need to desire the Morning Star to rise in their hearts (2 Pet 1:19 NKJV).

Overcoming Statement 5

“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (Rev 3:5).

Clothed in White Raiment

First, this passage tells that God will clothe overcomers “in white raiment” (3:5b KJV). The color white symbolizes purity and righteousness in Scripture (Bible Basic, n.d.). Only the blood of Jesus makes them pure and righteous. In regards to righteousness, 2 Cor 6:21 stated, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” The Lord will clothe overcomers (bride of Christ) in a special wardrobe. Revelation 19:8 stated, “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” Other versions, such as the NASB, translate righteousness as righteous acts.

Name in the Book of Life

The Lord further promises that He will not “blot out his name out of the book of life” (Rev 3:5b). Having one’s name in the Book of Life holds great importance for the believer and only occurs through the blood of Jesus. God will cast those names not in the Book of Life, into the lake of fire at the Great White Throne of Judgment (20:15). Leaders must have the focus of leading people to salvation, so others have their name in the Book of Life.

I Will Confess His Name

In the last part of the verse Jesus said, “but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (3:5c). Jesus communicated this in the Gospels with, “him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Matt 10:32). Further, He said, “him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8). In both these statements, Jesus will confess only after a person confesses before men about Him (Matt 10:32, Father and Luke 12:8, angels). The word confess (Greek: homologeō; ὁμολογέω) means, “properly, to voice the same conclusion; i.e.,  agree (“confess”); to profess (confess) because in full agreement; to align with (endorse)” (HELPS Word-Studies, n.d.). A person who overcomes will confess Jesus before men. In fact, Rom 10:9 tells that believers have to confess Him for their salvation. How wonderful that the Lord Jesus supports people upon confessing Him!

Overcoming Statement 6

“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name” (Rev 3:12).

A Pillar in the Temple

What does it mean when Jesus said, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God?” This statement does not suggest that person will stand in place holding up a building for eternity. “A pillar is constantly used as a figure of strength and durability” (Feinberg, 1994, p. 2664; cf., Jer 1:18; Gal 2:9). A robustly constructed pillar holds up a building. When believers overcome in this life, God rewards them with a position of prominence build upon the foundation, which is Jesus Christ.

Go No More Out

The Lord Jesus told the overcomer “he shall go no more out” (Rev 3:12a). Most believers (if not all) at some point feel that God is far away. Leaders especially can feel this way because of personal and ministry issues. Sadly, far too many stories of pastors committing suicide exist. Overcomes will not experience the feeling of not being in God’s presence anymore because they will be with Him forevermore. They never encounter loneliness again for, “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain (21:4).

Name of the City of My God

Now, looking at the Lord writing the name of God and the name of the city of God on those who overcomes points to another aspect (3:12 b). Though the context of this passage remains unknown, it will identify the person as an overcomer of God. The devil has a counterfeit to it with the mark of the beast (13:16-18). Some will choose the mark of the beast, showing their alliance to the anti-Christ.

Write Upon Him a New Name

Jesus stated that He, “will write upon him my new name” (3:12d) In Scripture, God revealed names and titles of Himself, such as I AM THAT I AM and YHWH (or YHVH). In the New Testament, revealed Himself as Yeshua (or Jesus), which indicates, “name which is above every name” (Phil 2:9). God hid His name (Jesus) throughout history until Gabriel revealed it to Mary and then Joseph. Some Christians might believe they know all about God, but they do not. God will disclose a new name, which He will make known something else about Him that they do not know.

Overcoming Statement 7

“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and sit down with my Father in his throne” (Rev 3:21).

Sit With Me on the Throne

Christians must understand the importance of the promise of sitting with the Lord Jesus on His throne (3:21), rather than how they all fit on it. People who sit on thrones might hold positions of royalty and honor. First Peter 2:9 named believers a “royal priesthood.” Further, God made us kings (Rev 1:6). Moreover, Scripture calls us “joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:17). Through God’s grace, overcomers gain the great honor of sitting on the throne with Him!

An interesting point: Some people, including this writer, believe the 24 elders will consist of the raptured believers (Rev 4). First, the term “church” or “churches” does not appear between Rev 3 to 22:16. The believers in chapter seven will come out of the tribulation. Then, the 24 elders will wear white raiment and have crowns (Rev 4:4), the very same items given to believers. Additionally, Rev 11:16 stated that the 24 elders “sat before God on their seats.” To have a seat that close to the throne of God shows great honor. The closeness of God and His people here truly fulfills what Jesus prayed in John 17:21b, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.”

Close

Some concluding thoughts about overcoming come to mind with, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev 4:20). Some people believe that this verse only pertains to believers since chapters two and three deal with seven different churches. This thought does not hold true because this verse specified, “if any man” and “any man” means all (believers and non-believers). If people read this article and have not given their life to God, they should repent and turn to Him. This article told of the great rewards for believers, who overcome and finished their journey. The rewards that God has for overcomers cannot be comprehended because of their greatness (1 Cor 2:9).

All believers (both individuals and churches) need to examine their hearts (2 Cor 13:5). Of the seven churches from Rev 2 and 3, Jesus told five to repent. Today, Jesus knocks on the hearts of believers and churches. Too often believers and churches do not open the door for Him. We need a great repentance for the sins in the Body of Christ. It is only after repentance that a great revival in the Body of Christ will occur.

Of utmost importance to ministry, leaders in the Body of Christ must open the door when Jesus knocks. When the leaders do not, it affects others who do not open the door in their hearts. God will judge the leaders for leading the flock astray (Matt 23).

After the instructions Jesus gave each church in Revelation two and three, even after telling five of those churches to repent, He gave a promise for overcomers. If believers sin and fall away from God, they have a promise from God. In 1 John 1:9 Scripture said, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Ending this article, a very important event will happen whether people think it will or not–the return of Jesus. The Lord said in Rev 22:12, “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” The last part of Rev 22:20 stated, “Even so, come, Lord.

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Rev 22:21).

Endnotes

[1]Thayer’s Lexicon defines an angel as a minister, presiding presbyter, or bishop.
[2]Many people (including this writer) believe these churches and the order of mention indicate the seven periods of the Church Age. The article will not focus on this subject.

References

  • Bible Basic. (n.d.) Colours in the Bible. Retrieved http://www.biblebasic.co.uk/colours/col15
  • Bible Hub. (n.d.). Confess. HELPS word-studies. Retrieved from http:///www.biblehub.com/greek/3670htm
  • Bible Hub. (2014). Revelation 12:17 commentary. Retrieved from http://biblehub.com/commentaries/revelation/2-17.htm
  • Feinberg, C. (1994). Revelation. The KJV parallel Bible commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
  • Plummer, A. (1985). Peter I-III, John, Jude, Revelation, XXII: Vol. 2. The Pulpit Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers: Peabody MA.
  • Thayer, J. (2009). Thayer’s Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.