We commonly consider conquerors to be those who wield swords, plot military strategy, and display powerful and aggressive personalities. Conquerors like Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, and Genghis Khan used daring, might, and intelligence to forge large and imposing kingdoms.
But Christians, who are called to be meek, loving, and submissive to authority, are said by God to be conquerors. Consider this statement: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). Not only are we conquerors, but we are “more than conquerors.” What is it that we conquer and how can we be conquerors?
Jesus promised his disciples that in the world they would have tribulation, but he had overcome the world (John 16:33). The promise of tribulation, persecution, and general hardship for followers of the Way was certain. But just as certain was the assurance of overcoming.
In what respect has Jesus overcome the world? John tells us the “whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). In overcoming the world, Jesus has overcome the evil one. Christians can also overcome the evil one (1 John 2:14), and those who do his bidding (1 John 4:4).
We overcome the world when we are born again. “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4a), and we continually overcome as we live lives of faith (1 John 5:4b). We do not answer evil with evil, but we overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
Those who conquer have the right to reign over their conquest. Because Jesus has conquered, Christians are reigning. In the throne scene of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the heavenly host sing, “Worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and madest them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests; and they reign upon the earth (Revelation 5:9, 10 ASV).
Christians reign? Certainly not in any earthly way, for the kingdom of Christ is spiritual in nature. Beginning with Adam, sin reigned in death (Romans 5:21), but through the grace of God, the power of the cross, and the gift of righteousness, Christians reign in life (Romans 5:17). We reign over sin and over self. Our temporary reign here foreshadows a permanent one that is to come. “If we endure, we will also reign with him” (2 Timothy 2:12).
Those Roman Christians to whom Paul writes were suffering and would continue to suffer greatly. Does suffering mean subjugation? Does death mean defeat? No! In all of this we are “more than conquerors through him who loved us.” What does suffering mean for the faithful, but an opportunity to demonstrate Christ living in us? What does death mean for the faithful, but ultimate victory?
And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death (Revelation 12:11).