Read Time: 3 Minutes 54 Seconds
Nowhere in the Bible are we called losers, failures or underdogs. Rather, God’s people are described as victorious winners! “The Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath,” (Deut. 28:13).
Second Corinthians 2:14 declares, “Now thanks be unto God, which always leads us in triumph in Christ.” The apostle Paul called us “more than conquerors” and the apostle John used the term “overcomers” repeatedly. So, there’s a champion in all of us that needs to be developed and released.
Surprisingly, the word “champion” is only used three times in Scripture, all in reference to Goliath, the Philistine giant from Gath (1 Sam. 17:4, 23, 51). Goliath means “exile” and is a fitting type of Satan, who was exiled from heaven. A champion is “a person who has defeated all opponents in a competition so as to hold first place.” To be the best you have to beat the best. To be a champion you have to beat the champion. David defeated this pagan champion and became God’s champion. David is a type of Christ who defeated Satan, the champion of evil.
Just as every Israelite became winners when David slew Goliath, all Christians share in Christ’s victory over Satan on the cross. Even as David killed Goliath with his own sword, Jesus took the devil’s biggest weapon (death) and defeated him with it—“That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14-15, KJV). God is raising up an army of spiritual champions of faith in these last days.
The New Testament writers used a familiar word to describe God’s people—nike (pronounced nee-kay). Centuries before the Nike swoosh symbol became one of the most recognizable fashion brands in the world, Paul and John used that term to describe victorious Christians. Different forms of the root word that nike comes from mean “victory, victorious, to subdue, to conquer, overcome, prevail or to get the victory.” In Greek mythology, Nike is the goddess of victory. She supposedly gave victory in battle or sports competitions. When the Greeks won their battles, they thanked Ares (their god of war) and Nike (their goddess of victory). When we win our spiritual battles, we give thanks to the one, true, Almighty God—Jehovah/Yahweh.
The New Testament uses the Greek word nike over 30 times. Even Jesus used it. For example, He said, “In the world you will have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome [nikao] the world” (John 16:33). Nikao, the verb form of the same root word nike comes from, means “to vanquish beyond, to gain a decisive victory or to conquer.”
The apostle John used nike many times in his writings. Wherever you see the words “overcome(s)” or “overcame” (or “overcometh” in the KJV), it is translated from the Greek word nikao. For instance, “I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one . . . I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one” (1 John 2:13-14).
Here are some other examples: “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5)
In the book of Revelation, Jesus issued eight promises to the overcomers (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:7). In each instance, as John recorded it, he used the Greek word nikao which is translated “overcomes.” Then John wrote of the saints’ ultimate triumph over the great red dragon (Satan), “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Rev. 12:11). Notice it is in the past tense instead of the future tense. Why? Because we are not fighting to obtain the victory; we are fighting to maintain the victory! Jesus won the victory for us 2,000 years ago on the cross when He conquered sin, Satan, death and hell. Victory for the child of God is not just a future hope, it is an established fact, a present-day reality! Because Christ overcame, we are overcomers too.
Paul also used another form of nike in his writings. Concerning the resurrection and the believer’s triumph over death, he used the Greek word nikos (pronounced nee-kos), translated “victory” three times in one passage. He wrote, “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ … But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:54-55, 57). God has made us victorious overcomers through Christ. We can now live in nike (victory) in every area of life because Christ has won the nike (victory).
Then Paul raised the bar even higher by using another Greek word to describe us despite all the dangers we face. “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37, KJV). One Greek word (hypernikaō, pronounced hoop-er-nik-ah-o) is translated into the phrase “more than conquerors.” Paul was basically saying we are super champions!
Hypernikaō was a term used for Caesar. The foot soldiers in his army would fight his battles and win the victory. They were conquerors. Caesar gave the orders and the victory was brought back to him. He was more than a conqueror. To use a modern illustration, a heavy weight boxer who fights for 12 rounds and is declared the winner is a conqueror. His wife, who doesn’t even break a sweat watching the bout on TV, greets him at the door with a kiss, and takes the prize check, is more than a conqueror. You see, Jesus won the battle and gave us (His bride) the prize!
As an old song says, “We’ve been made more than conquerors, overcomers in this life. We’ve been made victorious, through the blood of Jesus Christ.” Jesus conquered sin, Satan and self. He defeated death, hell and the grave for us by His nike (victory) on the cross.
So, whenever you see a Nike swoosh symbol, don’t just think of trendy sportswear. Let it be a reminder of the nike (victory) Jesus won on the cross and gave to us. Besides, we don’t need a pair of expensive athletic shoes to be a champion. We are all champions by faith in Christ—the ultimate champion.
Ben Godwin is the author of six books and pastors the Goodsprings Full Gospel Church. You can read more articles or order his books at bengodwin.org.