2009-07-03

The Meaning of "More than Conquerors"

Most people define 'more than conqueror' as conquering completely and absolutely.  They said it was Paul emphasising the extend of conquering. But, if will look at the verse within its context, it means much more.  More than Conquerors are "Transformers of lives and circumstances to glorify God even through suffering of love" resulting in converting enemy into friend and threats into opportunities.
A few weeks ago, an invited speaker to our church preached 2 weeks on the topic of "More Than Conquerors". I was much encouraged but felt I did not grasp the topic fully. So I went to do more digging into the Bible and was finally satisfied with the answer I found about the real meaning of "More than Conqueror".

A respected pastor first gave me an illustration of what the meaning of "More than Conqueror" was. A boxer fought hard and won a prize in a boxing match. He went home and gave the prize to his wife. His wife was the "more than conqueror" - she got all the benefits and did none of the painful work. In a way, this is a great truth of the Gospel of Salvation- Jesus suffered and died on the cross and then resurrected for our redemption. We are unable and did nothing to gain the inheritance of Son-ship. It was freely given by Jesus. However, this illustration is not correct from the context of the verse where the phase is found. It actually distorts the meaning in the context. Let examine this further.

The phrase is found in Rom 8:37 .....
Romans 8:37 (KJV) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

What are these things of v37? They are found in v35 tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword.

A key word in v37 is "IN" and not out of it. When we are in the midst of tribulations and hardships, we are more than conqueror. We are to be IN the suffering with Christ in us.

I was at first puzzled by the reference in v36, "As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. " But it is the key verse to explain the meaning of more-than-conqueror.

More-than-conqueror should be very different from just conqueror. v36 gives us the cue to the differences. Conqueror overcomes the enemy by confrontation, by force, by elimination, by killing, and by fear to get them into submission. The victory is as lasting as the victor has the force and power.

'More-than' is entirely different in method and motivation.
  1. It is not by force but by love to draw you. It is about suffering for the enemy sake to draw them out to be willing to choose your kingdom life & lifestyle for themselves. 
  2. Conqueror is about benefits of the Conqueror - Me. 'More-than" is about the benefits of the others and not ourselves.

The Speaker cited Jim Elliot's story to illustrate the point. He had a gun with them. He could use the gun to kill his attackers. But he did not. The reasoning was that if he should die he would go to heaven whereas his attackers, without knowing the gospel yet, will go to hell. He chose to be killed (more-than-conqueror) instead of killing (Conqueror).

The final outcome, after his death, was the conversion of his attackers and their whole tribe. This is the meaning of "more than conqueror". It is not about overcoming the enemy but about converting the enemy to become friends by acts of sufferings of love.

This is the way of the cross that Jesus has gone through before us and Paul's motto of life in  
  • Philippians 3:10 (KJV) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; and 
  • Col 1:24 [ALT] Now I rejoice in my sufferings on your behalf, and I am filling up [or, completing] the [things] lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body, which is the Assembly.

In studying the whole passage of Rom 8 and related verses in the Bible, I come out with the following definitions of "More than Conquerors".
More than Conquerors are "Transformers of lives and circumstances to glorify God even through suffering of love" resulting in converting enemy into friend and threats into opportunities.

It is the attitude of
  • Rom 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good and
  • 1Th 5:15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
  • Romans 8:28 (KJV) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. [even in adverse circumstances ---- added by me]
We can find many illustrations in the Bible that show forth the acts of "more than conquerors"
  • Jesus on the cross for sinners
  • Joseph forgiving his brothers for the greater good of the people
  • Paul's shipwreck resulting in salvation of islanders
  • .....
Beyond Conqueror
In our Life Group discussion, the term "Beyond Conqueror" was suggested. Paul was not talking about more of the conqueror but an entirely different dimension of winning over the adversity of circumstances and people - transforming to convert the hearts of opposition to reception and breaking free from the stifling circumstances to greater success beyond expectation.

Following this understanding with living it out in "Living the More-than-Conqueror's Life".


5 comments:

Abbi said...

Good thoughts! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Great analogy, the boxer comparison. I think I first heard it from Loran Livingston years and years ago.

Anonymous said...

someone was just asking me what "more than conquerors means" last week and I happened to chance it here! talk about divine intervention Zhang Lao.... :)
Thanks much and I enjoyed reading this post....
SHalom

Chris_Ian-Banz said...

What this will imply is that, whenever, there is a conflict of earning versus value, you will always naturally lean towards value.

lifestyle definition

Anonymous said...

I have heard this for yrs Im More than a conqueror and in GOD'S timing relevation is her thank you