• Let Us Pray:  Lord Jesus, when the Apostle John used the word “conquered” in our text, he referred to You who conquered sin, death, and the devil. No matter what evil we face in our life, we have conquered it through the victory You won for us on that first Easter Day.  Because of this and by Your grace, let not evil overcome us, but conquer evil with good! We bring these petitions before You, Lord Jesus, who reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forevermore.  Amen.
  • Background: We haven’t had a sermon for a while which featured a word in the Greek, so it’s time to look into some Greek from our text for today. 😊  If you pull out your bulletin, on the back cover is the Greek word νενικήκατε (nǝ-nĭ-kā’-kă-tǝ).  This verb means, to subdue (literally or figuratively): to conquer, overcome, prevail, get the victory.  This is the Greek word in my translation of 1Jn 4:4 - Children, you are from out of God. And, you conquered them, because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. (CSRV)
    • What caught my eye when preparing the message for today is this verb is in the perfect form. We just learned some Greek vocabulary but now let’s recall our English grammar.
      • A verb in the perfect tense focuses “…on a current condition, the present result of a past action.[1]”  The past action is something that was completed in the past, hence the label, perfect, because all of the action was completed.  For example, we filed our 2021 taxes on April 11th.  That was an action done completely in the past. There is nothing more to be done. The present result is I met the deadline of May 17th, and I don’t have to worry about anything regarding filing of taxes.
      • In the context of our message for today, the Apostle John wrote by inspiration that we have already conquered “them”.  Who is the “them”? The “them” is the false prophets who are of the spirit of the antichrist.  John used a broad definition of “antichrist” in his writings, which we need to take note. So many people are looking for an antichrist to emerge right at the end of the Age.  In 1Jn 2:18, John did refer to an antichrist who is coming, but in his other three usages of this word, the antichrist is someone who is a denier of Jesus.  No other writer in the bible has written the word “antichrist”.  John’s definition of his usage of this word is found in the previous verse from our text -  and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and now it is already in the world[2].  This definition is very consistent with what Jesus said in Luke 11:23 - 23 The one who is not with Me is against Me; and the one who does not gather with Me scatters[3].  The way I see what Jesus said is everyone is either pro-Christ or anti-Christ.  With that definition, we can probably think of a few people who are anti-Christ, can’t we?  Hopefully, none of our actions should be interpreted by others as being anti-Christ.
    • Getting back to the Greek verb νικάω, which appears as a perfect verb in our text as νενικήκατε, Apostle John uses this verb 24 of the 28 times the word appears throughout the entire NT!  He apparently really liked this verb and so I want to spend time going through the usage of the various tenses of νικάω, to make the point that Jesus has indeed conquered sin, death, and the devil.  Along with conquering all of these, Jesus has conquered all of those who follow the devil.
      • There are demons and human followers of Satan on the loose even as we sit here in church this morning.  There are anti-Christs actively working against the Kingdom of God.  That is what John is referring to with regard to antichrists in v3.  That can be scary realization that evil is on the loose, not just working against Jesus, but also working against those who follow Jesus.  In his first Epistle from which we have drawn our text for today, John drove home the point that yes, there are anti-Christs out there, but he equally gives the comforting reassurance that we have conquered these anti-Christs.  Yes, little ole you and I have conquered these anti-Christs.
        • Listen to these other usages in this same Epistle.  From 1Jn 2:13-14 we read – 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome (conquered) the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God remains in you, and you have overcome (conquered) the evil one[4].  The NASB20 renders this exact same Greek verb, νενικήκατε, as “overcome”, but to overcome really isn’t the level of strength or intensity that the word “conquer” has.  This is why I have been using the verb conquer.  Jesus conquered, with His strength, His enemies who are our enemies. We therefore have no reason to fear them.
    • I quoted a moment ago from Luke Ch#11 where Jesus basically said you are either for Him or against Him.  It’s one of the two.  He said this after someone had accused Jesus of driving out demons by Beelzelbul, the ruler of demons (Luke 11:14).  Jesus responded to such a preposterous contention by saying, …“Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls. 18 And if Satan also has been divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you claim that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul.[5]”  Jesus then told a mini-parable about a strong man with many weapons has his possessions secured.  However, when someone stronger comes along and conquers the strong man, the attacker will take away the weapons and then the possessions.  Jesus was getting a lot of mileage out of the accusation He was using Satan to drive out Satan.  In this mini-parable, Jesus used the word conquer to point out that someone came along much stronger than Satan.  Jesus disarmed Satan and has taken away his possessions.
    • Besides John and Luke, the only other NT writer to use the verb νικάω was the Apostle Paul.  He kind of cheated though, because in Rom 3:4, Paul quoted from the Greek version of the OT a verse King David wrote in Ps 51:4b.  Whether you read from the NASB or the ESV, they pretty much have it wrong from what actually appeared in Ps 51:4b.  The incorrectly quoted of Ps 51:4b is - “So that You are justified in Your words, And prevail when You are judged.[6]” (emphasis mine)
      • Why is this wrong?  Let me ask you; who has ever been in a position to judge God? With what criteria would they judge the Almighty, Sovereign Lord?  The translators of the NASB20 would have been better off had they just copied Ps 51:4b from their own English version of the OT which goes like this - So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge[7]. (emphasis mine) It makes more sense that God would be doing the judging of King David after his little murder scheme to kill off the husband whose wife he got pregnant.  In Ps 51, David was confessing this sin with Bathsheba, and making it clear he understood God was justified in His words.
      • However, the best translation of Ps 51:4b goes like this – in order that You (God) might be righteous in your words and You will conquer when You judge[8].  In other words, Paul was quoting David as saying God is righteous in His judgement over sin.  God gave us His word so that we would be a royal priesthood of people living and doing His word throughout His creation.  When we break God’s word, God is righteous and convicts us of our sin. David wrote - 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit[9];
        But then, God also conquered that sin when He judged.  To this conquering over sin, David wrote - A broken and a contrite heart, God, You will not despise[10]. For those who look to God for justification of sins, Jesus conquered those sins from the cross.  We, being judged by God, are then found *not* guilty.  For those attempting to justify their own sins before God the Great Judge, there is no conquering of sin.  Self-justification of one’s own sins never works.  The guilt always remains.  So a person trying to justify themselves has to keep lying and lying to themselves, and others, about their sins.  It snowballs and there just continues to be sin after sin being piled up.  What good does that ever do?
  • Analysis: The opening hymn we sang on today is our confession as redeemed children of God – The strife of this Age is over!
    • That must make everything is fine then, right?  Actually it does, but while we are still in this sin-corrupted world, we have to deal with our own sin and the evil around us.  Remember, John wrote about anti-Christs; people and fallen angels who deny the one true Christ and His Word.  Recall something I said about the Apostle John in last week’s message.  John wrote the Gospel by his name, the three letters initially to churches in and around Ephasus, and also Revelation, the last book of the Bible.  It’s not strange then to see John use this same verb νικάω in his other inspired writings.
      • John gives us the bad news in Revelation that these anti-Christs are waging war against the saints who love Jesus and who have the mark of Baptism on their foreheads.  This evil propagated against the saints is and will be a temporary conquering over the saints.  For instance, in Rev 6:2 John saw a rider on a white horse who went out “…conquering and to conquer.[11]”  One usually thinks of a rider on a white horse being one of the good guys, but this rider is one of the four horsemen of the Apocolypse, masquerading as good[12].  This is in contrast to Rev 19:11, where John describes a rider on a white horse as being “…called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.[13]
      • The entire Book of Revelation is John writing about three different visions of the same events, and so it can be confusing to a reader if they think everything John wrote about happened one after the other.  No; John wrote about a vision he was given, and then comes back to that same vision and writes from a different viewpoint.  For instance, Rev 11:7 says - When [the two witnesses] have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome (conquer) them and kill them[14]. These two witnesses also appear in Zechariah. The Lutheran position is these two witnesses are the Law and Gospel doctrines of the Christian church.  The church will suffer so long as we live in this sinful, corrupted Age.   Later, in Rev 13:7, John wrote - It was also given to [the beast] to make war with the saints and to overcome (conquer) them, and authority was given to him over every tribe, people, language, and nation[15].  John is saying here that not only the Law & Gospel, which is the Word of God, will be attacked and conquered, the people of God will also be attacked and conquered.  It is a capital offense in North Korea to have the word of God in your possession.  We shouldn’t be surprised when we hear about governmental authorities wanting to take God’s word out the classrooms across our country.  We shouldn’t be surprised when politicians, teachers, coaches, et al. come under attack by the woke mob for praying, speaking, and believing in Jesus’ Name. John saw this happening and wrote about it at the end of the 1st century.  It’s been happening ever since.  It is believed the Apostle John is the only one out the twelve apostles to have died of natural causes.  All the rest died a violent death at the hands of evil.  The beast conquered them – temporarily.
      • That’s the bad news.  The good news is what Jesus said to those who have ears to hear.  John wrote down what Jesus instructed him to preach to the churches of Asia Minor, starting with Ephesus.  Jesus noted the good that each church had done or was doing on behalf of Him. There were calls to repentance that Jesus would speak to each of the seven churches.  And then He would say at the beginning of each blessing - The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who [conquers], fill in the blank.  (Rev 2:7, 2:11, 2,17, 2:26, 3:5, 3:12, 3:21)  For Jesus to say that to each of the churches implies that we who are of Him and He in us *will* conquer.  Yes, we have the bad news that there will be persecution against God’s church and its people.  However, there will also be victories over evil and evildoers.
    • These victories will occur because Jesus has conquered evil.  This May 13th is the celebration of the ascension of our Lord Jesus back into heaven from where He came.  Acts Ch#1 is the earth-bound view of Jesus’ ascension, but Rev Ch#5 is the heaven-bound view of the same event.  Souls in heaven were waiting for the scrolls that detailed the events of the end of the world. The problem is no one was worthy to open the scrolls.  That is, until Jesus came back into heaven as we pick up this vision John saw from Rev 5:5 - And one of the elders *said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome (conquered) so as to be able to open the scroll and its seven seals.[16]”  Jesus is the same person John described as the Lamb several chapters later in Revelation - 14 [The beasts] will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.[17]
      • It is scary to go up against the evil beasts of this Age and their followers.  However, because Jesus has conquered them, we the saints ultimately conquer.  I’m running short on time so I don’t want to read both Rev 12:11, 15:2, but you have the references on the back of your bulletin so you can read them at a later date. I encourage you to do so, because there is nothing but sweet Gospel when Jesus tells us through a vision given to John that - “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for Satan has been kicked out of heaven, never to return. 11 And the saints conquered Satan because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.[18]
  • Conclusion: The Apostle Paul is the only other NT writer besides Luke and John to use the word νικάω.  I mentioned earlier Paul quoted King David from Ps 51, so it was kind of cheating. But Paul also wrote much later in the Book of Romans – Do not be overcome (conquered) by evil, but overcome (conquer) evil with good[19]  Paul had given this counsel after reminding the saints that God said vengeance is His. We should not repay evil with evil. If our enemies are hungry, feed them; thirsty, give them a drink.  We conquer over evil by demonstrating the love of God.  We should therefore, so far as it depends upon us, to be at peace with everyone.
    • Jesus knew a thing or two about enduring through attacks made by evil throughout His 30-some years living as God in Man.  Just before He would endure the painful, humiliating walk to the cross, Jesus said - 33 These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome (conquered) the world.[20]
    • John had one more place in his inspired writing where he used the Greek verb νικάω.  We’ve covered just about all of them, but he saved the best for last.  It was something Jesus said to John in Rev 21:7 which I will paraphrase here - The one who conquers will inherit eternal life in heaven; Jesus will be our God and we His people.  We always try to quantify or measure things.  We want to think about whether we are doing enough in our life for the kingdom of our Lord.  As we mature in our walk with Jesus, the sins of omission are more plentiful than the sins we commit. Jesus did the work of salvation, so don’t sweat whether you did enough to get into heaven.  Through Christ, you already have your meal ticket to sit down at the Lamb’s high feast. You will ultimately know you conquered sin, death, and the devil when you sit down at that feast.  And Jesus will be positively delighted to seat you at that feast.  He literally went through hell, so you could put your fanny down into one of the chairs at His table.  When you do, you will have conquered sin, death, and the devil, because He conquered sin, death, and the devil for you and all believers in Him.  Amen!

[1] Voelz, James W, Fundamental Greek Grammar, 3rd Edition, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO, 2007, p.151

[2] 1Jn 4:3 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20John%204&version=NASB

[3] Luke 11:23 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2011&version=NASB

[4] 1Jn 2:13-14 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1jn+2&version=NASB

[5] Luke 11:17-18 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2011&version=NASB

[6] Rom 3:4b from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=rom+3&version=NASB

[7] Ps 51:4b from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ps+51&version=NASB

[8] Adaptation of translation of Rom 3:4b made by Middendorf, Michael P, Concordia Commentary on Roman 1-8, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO, 2013, p.232

[9] Ps 51:17a from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ps+51&version=NASB

[10] Ps 51:17b, IBID

[11] Latter portion of Rev 6:2 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=rev+6&version=NASB

[12] Line of thought from Brighton, Louis A, Concordia Popular Commentary on Revelation, Concordia Publishing House, St Louis, MO, 2009, p.115

[13] Latter portion of Rev 19:11 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=rev+19&version=NASB

[14] Rev 11:7 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=rev+11&version=NASB

[15] Rev 13:7 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=rev+13&version=NASB

[16] Rev 5:5 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=rev+5&version=NASB

[17] Rev 17:14 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=rev+17&version=NASB

[18] Rev 12:10-11 paraphrased from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=rev+12&version=NASB

[19] Rom 12:21 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=rom+12&version=NASB

[20] John 16:33 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john+16&version=NASB