The Journal of Biblical Accuracy

Download for free the PDF version of the study, optimized for your e-book reader / table / desktop / smartphone PDF version

"To the one who overcomes"

There are some Bibles that have the words of Jesus marked in red. If you have one of these Bibles, you will observe that after the gospels you see very little in red color in the Acts and the epistles, perhaps all in all a dozen verses. Though the Acts and the epistles have as their author the same Holy Spirit as the gospels, Jesus is not speaking in the first person there. This however changes in Revelation, the last book of the Bible. There Jesus speaks again in the first person and in this section I would like to point out certain things from the second and the third chapter of Revelation. These chapters contain letters addressed to seven churches of Minor Asia. Jesus Himself dictated these letters to the apostle John, commanding him to write them down and send them to these churches, together with the whole book. It is surprising however how little attention these epistles of Jesus receive. One theory I have heard is that these epistles of Jesus together with the whole book of Revelation do not really refer to us but to future believers and that they are going to understand it, implying implicitly that we can safely ignore this book or consider it as something "just for our information". In the third appendix of this book I am giving the reasons why I believe this view is wrong.

Now going on to the letters themselves, what I want to point out here and I believe is relevant for this study, is the following fact: in all seven letters the Lord ends with a promise to the one who overcomes. Let’s read these promises:

Revelation 2:7
"To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.

Revelation 2:11
"He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death."

Revelation 2:17
"To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it."

Revelation 2:26-28
"And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations– ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’ – as I also have received from My Father; "and I will give him the morning star."

Revelation 3:5
"He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels."

Revelation 3:12
"He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name."

And Revelation 3:21
"To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne."

It is amazing all that is promised to the one who overcomes; to the one who perseveres to the end, who keeps the works and the words of Jesus even unto the point of death. However, many today believe that they do not need to overcome anything. They believe that all was done and dusted for them in time past, at that one moment of faith. Essentially and according to their view the race of faith not only started at the moment we believed, but also finished at that moment. But if this was really so then there would be no reason for Jesus to speak about those who overcome. For speaking about it not only means that there is a need to overcome but also that there will be some who will not overcome and to them the above promises will not apply.

Just to take the promise of Revelation 3:5 as an example:

"He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels."

If we overcome our names will not be blotted out from the Book of Life, Jesus promised. But this also means that if we do not overcome our names will indeed be blotted out. The Book of life is a register of those who are to live forever (see Philippians 4:3). Those in it will have eternal life and enter into the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:27) but those who will not be in it will end up in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). To say it in another way: eternal life have those and only those who are in the book of life. And as is obvious from what Jesus says, the book of life does not only accept new entries. It also accepts removals of entries, for those who do not overcome i.e. those who retreat, stepping back. Therefore, being in the book of life, does not guarantee that we will be in that book forever. Whoever draws back, falling away from the faith without repentance (wherever this repentance is still available – see later our discussion on Hebrews 6), whoever does not overcome, he will not be found at the end in the book of life. I know that many people are not used to hear such things but this is the simple truth which I see in the Word and personally I am not willing to ignore it nor am I willing to device ways to explain it away.

Next section: A straight look at some of the "hard sayings" of Jesus: Conclusion


Author: Anastasios Kioulachoglou