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Greek Speak: Nikaō

In the Greek Word Devotional series we will discuss some of our favorite passages in the Bible, focusing on the specific use of certain Greek words. Today, we look at Revelation 2:7, and what it takes for one to be victorious over or conquer (nikaō) our sin.

“Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”

The following is an excerpt from the CSB Study Bible:


Greek pronunciation: nih KAH oh

CSB translation: be victorious, conquer

Uses in Revelation: 17

Uses in the NT: 24

Focus passage: Revelation 2:7

Nikaō means to be victorious, to conquer, to triumph; the related noun nikē means victory. Outside of John’s writings, nikaō occurs only four times (Lk 11:22; Rm 3:4: 12:21, 2x). In John’s theology, Christ has already conquered the forces of evil (Jn 16:33; Rv 5:5). Even though these forces may gain temporary, provisional victories over the saints (Rv 11:7; 13:7), it is Christ who has won the definitive victory over evil, and those whom he has enlisted in the fight will conquer with him (Rv 3:21; 15:2; 17:14). Each of the messages to the Asia Minor churches ends with a promise to the victor, the one who conquers (Rv 2:7,11,17,26-27; 3:5,12,21), to those who overcome evil not through human effort but through solidarity with Christ (1Jn 4:4-5; 5:5; Rv 12:11). The one who conquers will inherit the new heaven and new earth (Rv 21:7).

I don’t know about you, but oftentimes I find myself trying to conquer my own worries and sins, as if that’s a prerequisite for talking to God; I feel as if I must cleanse myself before coming to the one who does the cleansing. Ultimately, of course, the battles I fight are fruitless.

There are two ways I look at this. I’m not sure which one is true, or if either one is true. Maybe they both are.

The first way I look at it is this: I cannot win these battles, and ultimately I run myself into the ground. Then I turn to the Conqueror and rely on him to be victorious for me.

The other way I look at it is this: I cannot defeat what has already been defeated. Why do I keep fighting battles that were won at the cross?

I’m sure some of you reading this know what I mean. We even understand the fruitlessness of the fight while we throw the punches. I pray that Jesus’s words can be an encouragement as we continue to struggle with the idea that we have to be victorious before we come to God, who gave us victory so long ago. We can only win when we turn and rely on God. Only then will we get the right to eat the fruit from the tree of life in his paradise. That allowance comes when we surrender to the Victor, not when we try to paint ourselves as something we aren’t—namely, strong.