We Shall Overcome

1 John 5:5, Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

When John wrote this epistle to his recipients, perhaps he was recalling what he heard Jesus speak and thus recorded in his gospel, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b). Jesus told His disciples to take heart—not to be discouraged—because He has overcome the world. Yet how exactly should this encourage them and us? If Jesus had said that to me, I probably would’ve said, “So You overcame the world. So what, Jesus? Good for You. What does that mean for me? You overcame the world, but how can I?” Here, therefore, we see the hermeneutical principle of Scripture interprets Scripture. John tells us how: we who believe in Him will also overcome the world. That is, because Christ has overcome the world—has overcome death, sin, and the Devil on our behalf—in His resurrection, so we, too, shall overcome the world by faith in Him. 

We do not know how familiar John was with Paul’s teachings, but perhaps he read or heard from Paul, “For if we have been united with Him in a death like His [in Baptism], we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His” (Romans 6:5). To say John had this in mind when he wrote this sentence is mere speculation. Nevertheless, we see the continuity of the Scriptures among the apostles. Therefore, in all our suffering and endurance of trials, we must never be discouraged, for just as Christ overcame sin, death, and the Devil (the world) in His resurrection, so we, too, shall overcome the world when our Baptisms are actuated in the bodily resurrection to come.


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