There is a concept in the English language known as “onomatopoeia” which is where a word sounds like the thing it represents. Consider words like buzz, crackle, hiss, or even hiccup.
The apostle Paul uses a great word in Romans 8:37 that I believe fits well in the family of onomatopoetic terms. The Greek word ὑπερνικῶμεν is hupernikkomen (hoo-purr-NIK-oh-men). It’s a great word, and fun to say, but translators have difficulty fully conveying its meaning.
Attempts to translate hupernikkomen have resulted in phrases like:
- more than conquerors
- overwhelmingly conquer
- overwhelming victory
- complete victory
My Romans instructor at the university aptly translated it, “super-conquerors!” Hupernikkomen! It sounds like a word of conquest, doesn’t it? We don’t just conquer. We super-conquer!
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
– Romans 8:35-39, ESV
Why We Conquer
We are super-conquerors, not because we are so powerful and mighty. Neither is it that we are smart, or fantastically obedient. No, the reason we conquer overwhelmingly has nothing to do with us.
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
– 1 John 4:2b-4, ESV
That is a powerful assurance from John. We are from God. We overcome, and we do so because God is in us!1 This is one of the most reassuring promises in the Bible for the believer. And note John’s statement of certainty; we have already overcome. It’s done!
There are no false promises in the Bible, and these promises have nothing to do with how we feel about a certain situation. You already are a super-conqueror.
John’s Revelation speaks of Jesus, the Lamb, taking the throne and opening the scroll no one else can open to bring about the end of the age. John had been weeping rather loudly because no one had been found worthy to open the scroll.
And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
– Revelation 5:5, ESV
Jesus is a conqueror, and we are conquerors because Jesus is a conqueror. The apostle Paul says we receive an abundance of grace, the free gift of righteousness, and that we “reign in life” through Jesus Christ.2 We don’t have to overcome the world. Jesus already overcame the world3 and subsequent to that, we overcome the world in and through him.4
Who We Conquer
But what is this assurance from John promising us? If I am prevailing, conquering, overcoming, what or who is the “them” I am having victory over?
I believe John tells us.
They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
– 1 John 4:5-6, ESV
The “them” are those who the Spirit expressly says will depart from the faith, devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.5 It is those who are enemies of God through embracing world philosophies.6 It is those who “love” the world and chase after the lust of the flesh and eyes, and the pride of life.7 And all of these, seek to take you captive through their philosophy, deceit, and tradition.8
But you will prevail over all of it. You are a super-conqueror! You will overcome evil with good.9
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.
– 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, ESV
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
– 1 John 5:4-5, ESV
1. 1 Corinthians 3:16 8:44
2. Romans 5:17
3. John 16:33
4. 1 John 5:5
5. 1 Timothy 4:1
6. James 4:4
7. 1 John 2:15-16
8. Colossians 2:8
9. Romans 12:21