Is the original text of the words “overcome” and “conquer” the same word in Greek? Why would they translate the word in 1 John differently than in Revelation as Jesus makes His promises to those who “overcome” in the ESV. My NASB uses “overcome” in both instances.
If we compare 1 John 5:5 and Revelation 2:7, we discover that different English words are used in these verses for “overcome, overcomer and conquer in various Bible versions.” Therefore, our question is, “Are overcomes and conquers the same Greek word in the Bible?
Bible Versions Compared
Here are four examples for 1 John 5:5 from various Bible versions. We have italicized the words that are in question.
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:5 (KJV)
Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:5 (NASB)
Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:5 (ESV)
Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 5:5 (NIV)
It is important to notice that the King James Version (KJV) says “overcome” in this verse while the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the English Standard Version (ESV), and the New International Version (NIV) says “overcomes.” The wording is essentially identical.
Here are four examples for Revelation 2:7 from various Bible versions. We have italicized the words that are in question.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Revelation 2:7 (KJV)
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 God. Revelation 2:7 (NASB)
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ Revelation 2:7 (ESV)
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Revelation 2:7 (NIV)
Notice that in Revelation 2:7 all four Bible versions use a different word. Now for our question.
Is The Same Greek Word Used?
The Greek word that is translated as “overcometh” and “overcomes” in 1 John 5:5 in all four Bible versions is the same word nikao. Also, the Greek word that is translated as “overcometh,” “overcometh,” “conquers,” and “victorious” in Revelation 2:7 in all four Bible versions is the same word nikao.
The Greek word nikao has the meaning “to win a victory over.” It was used to refer to a military or legal victory. It could also refer to victory in an athletic event or game.
1 John 5:5 teaches us that Christians are those who are victorious over the world system. The Greek word for world in 1 John 5:5 is kosmos which refers to the world system. This helps us understand in what sense Christians are victorious. They are victorious over the world system which is controlled by Satan. 1 John 5:18-19 tells us that Christians are kept by God (never lose their salvation), the devil cannot touch them and they are no longer part of this world. Then Revelation 2:7 gives Christians the promise that they will eat from the tree of life in paradise. Since paradise refers to heaven, this verse promises Christians eternal life. Christians are victors by having placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.
1. Colin Brown. Dictionary of New Testament Theology. Regency Publishers. 1975. vol. 1., p. 650-651.
2. Kittel. Theological Dictionary of the new Testament. Eerdmans. 1968. vol. vi., p. 942-945.