Bible Question:

Revelation 2:7 and Revelation 3:5 both use the phrase “he who overcomes. ” Our Bible study group is searching for answers to the “once saved always saved” belief. What does “overcome” mean in the Greek language?

Bible Answer:

The word “overcomes” occurs several times in the New Testament. The Greek word is NIKAO which means “to overpower,” “to overcome,” or “to be victorious.”


The phrase “who overcomes” occurs nine times in only two books: 1 John and Revelation.

PassageWording (NASB)
Rev. 2:7. . . To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.’
Rev. 2:11 . . . He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.’
Rev. 2:17. . . 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 . . .
Rev. 2:26 And he who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS . . .
Rev. 3:5He who overcomes shall 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.
Rev. 3:12He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God . . .
Rev. 3:21He 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.
Rev. 21:7He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.

These passages are promises to those who are real Christians – to those who continue in the faith and do not leave as the result of persecution or for any other reason. Real Christians will remain, and those who leave were never real Christians.

Meaning of “Overcome”

How do we know that “who overcomes” refers to Christians? The definition is given in 1 John.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (NASB) 1 John 5:4-5

True Christians will be victorious, not in the sense of a war but in terms of eternal life.


There is a special study related to your discussion entitled “Saved Only Once” that you may want to read. It is the Christian who overcomes, not the “overcomer” who becomes a Christian. The forgiveness of our sins does not depend on our performance. Jesus made it clear that we cannot earn His favor when He said,

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. (NASB) Luke 18:19

Our forgiveness depends on Jesus’ mercy and love. He asks only that we believe in Him. Find out how you can be forgiven on the page “Searching for God.”

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Saved Only Once