8:37 We are more than conquerors not by our ability but because God loved us.
8:37 more than conquerors. The strength shown in enduring the hostility of persecutors and the pain of circumstances is astonishing.
8:37 Christians are more than conquerors, because God turns everything—even suffering and death—into good.
8:37 overwhelmingly conquer. A compound Gr. word, which means to over-conquer, to conquer completely, without any real threat to personal life or health.
8:37 The trials and difficulties listed in v. 35 not only do not separate us from Christ’s love; they make us more than conquerors by forcing us to depend even more on God.
8:37 Instead of separating us from Christ’s love, these things only succeed in drawing us closer to Him. We are not only conquerors, but more than conquerors. It is not simply that we triumph over these formidable forces, but that in doing so we bring glory to God, blessing to others, and good to ourselves. We make slaves out of our enemies and stepping stones out of our roadblocks.
But all of this is not through our own strength, but only through Him who loved us. Only the power of Christ can bring sweetness out of bitterness, strength out of weakness, triumph out of tragedy, and blessing out of heartbreak.
|NASB||“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer”|
|NKJV||“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors”|
|NRSV||“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors”|
|TEV||“No, in all these things we have complete victory through him”|
|JB||“these are the trials through which we triumph”|
This was an intensified form of the term “conquer.” Paul must have coined this term (hyper + nikaō). This is a wonderful mixed metaphor, “conquering sheep.” Believers are conquerors through Christ (cf. John 16:33; 1 John 2:13–14; 4:4; 5:4). See Special Topic: Paul’s Use of Huper Compounds at 1:30.
© “through Him who loved us” This PRONOUN can refer to the Father or the Son.
37. In all these things. Possibly a Hebraism, meaning ‘despite all these things’, ‘for all that’.
We are more than conquerors. Greek hypernikōmen, ‘we are super-conquerors.’
37. We do more than conquer, &c.; that is, we always struggle and emerge. I have retained the word used by Paul, though not commonly used by the Latins. It indeed sometimes happens that the faithful seem to succumb and to lie forlorn; and thus the Lord not only tries, but also humbles them. This issue is however given to them,—that they obtain the victory.
That they might at the same time remember whence this invincible power proceeds, he again repeats what he had said before: for he not only teaches us that God, because he loves us, supports us by his hand; but he also confirms the same truth by mentioning the love of Christ. And this one sentence sufficiently proves, that the Apostle speaks not here of the fervency of that love which we have towards God, but of the paternal kindness of God and of Christ towards us, the assurance of which, being thoroughly fixed in our hearts, will always draw us from the gates of hell into the light of life, and will sufficiently avail for our support.
8:37 in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Paul assures the believer of future victory with his choice of words “more than conquerors” (hypernikaō). Nikaō is a favorite word of Revelation for the victorious destiny of believers who are faithful to Christ despite being persecuted for their faith (e.g., 2:7, 17, 26; 3:5).
37 The “but” (Gk. alla) connects this verse with v. 35. Paul assumes a negative answer to the question of v. 35 and here proceeds to go even further: not only are such things as enumerated in that verse unable to separate us from Christ’s love, but, on the contrary, we are “more than conquerors” with respect to them. “More than conquerors” is a felicitous rendering, going back to the Geneva Bible, of the intensive verb Paul uses. If more than simple emphasis is intended, perhaps Paul wants to emphasize that believers not only “conquer” such adversities; under the providential hand of God, they even work toward our “good” (v. 28). But the victory is not ours, for it is only “through the one who loved us”1265 that it happens.
38 The assurance expressed in v. 37 is now grounded in a more
37 There are three observations. (1) “More than conquerors” is a felicitous rendering. What is stressed is the superlative of victory. Appearance to the contrary places the reality and completeness of the victory in bolder relief. Martyrdom seems to be defeat; so it is regarded by the perpetrators. Too often we look upon the outcome of conflict with the forces of iniquity as mere escape, perhaps by the skin of our teeth. In truth it is victory and that not merely but completely and gloriously. The designs of adversaries are wholly overthrown and we come off as conquerors with all the laurels of conquest. (2) This victory is always the case—“in all these things”. In every encounter with adversity, even with the hostility that is unto death, the victory is unqualified. Unbelievable! Yes, indeed, were it not for the transcendent factors perceived only by faith. (3) “Through him that loved us”—this must refer to Christ specifically, in view of verse 34 and the reference to the love of Christ in verse 35. The tense of the verb “loved” points to the love exercised in and exhibited by the death upon the cross. This is not to suggest in the least that the love of Christ is in the past. Verse 35 conceives of this love as abiding and, as such, insuring the security of the believer. But it is the love exercised towards us when we were alienated from God, sinners and without strength (cf. 5:6–10), that certifies the reality and intensity of Christ’s love. We may well have staggered at the superlative terms in which the victory had been described. Here we have the explanation and validation—it is only “through him that loved us”. This is the transcendent factor which contradicts all appearance and turns apparent defeat into victory. Without question the constant activity of Christ as risen and at the right hand of God (vs. 34) is contemplated in the mediation reflected on here. But we cannot but think also of the conquest secured once for all by Christ himself in that cross which exhibited his love. It was then that he “despoiled the principalities and the powers and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:15).
37 Here Paul bursts into a magnificent piece of eloquence, as he will do on occasion (e.g., 1 Co 3:21–23; 1 Co 13). This passage (vv. 37–39) is especially notable for its largeness of conception and majesty of expression: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (cf. NASB, “we overwhelmingly conquer,” which some find puzzling; it could mean that believers turn their enemies into helpers, as 5:3–5 suggests, but this is rather conjectural). BDAG, 1034, affirms that the verb hypernikaō (GK 5664) used here is a heightened form of “conquer” and suggests the translation, “we are winning a most glorious victory.” Bauernfeind (TDNT 4:945) renders it, “we win the supreme victory through him who loved us.”
By saying “loved us,” Paul does not intend to restrict Christ’s love to the past; rather, he is emphasizing the historic demonstration of this love on the cross that gives assurance of its continuing under all circumstances. Nothing in all of life, with its allurements and dangers and trials, can separate the believer from that love. Not even the last and great enemy, death, can separate him or her from that love (cf. 2 Co 5:8; Php 1:21). Death has lost its sting and victory (1 Co 15:54–55).
More Than Conquerors
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
There are passages of the Bible that are so familiar that we often pass over truths that would be startling if we were coming to them for the first time. Romans 8:37 is an example. We have just been reminded in the previous verse, by a quotation from the Old Testament, that the people of God “face death all day long” and are “considered as sheep to be slaughtered” (Ps. 44:22). But now, in verse 37, we are told that nevertheless we are all “more than conquerors.”
Sheep that conquer? We can think of lions that conquer, or wolves or polar bears or wild buffalo. Edgar Allan Poe even spoke of “the conquering worm,” meaning that at last death comes to all. But sheep? The very idea of sheep as conquerors seems ludicrous.
This is figurative language, of course. But the image is not meaningless, nor is it as ludicrous as it seems. In contrast to the world and its power, Christians are indeed weak and despised. They are as helpless as a flock of sheep. But they are in fact conquerors, because they have been loved by the Lord Jesus Christ and have been made conquerors “through him.”
Yet even that is not the most startling thing about this verse, for the victory of Christians is described as being more than an ordinary victory. In the Greek text a single compound verb, hypernikōmen, lies behind the five English words “we are more than conquerors.” The middle part of the word is the simple verb nikaō, meaning “to overcome” or “to conquer.” (The famous statue “Winged Victory” in the Louvre in Paris is called a Nike, which means “victory” and was the name given to the goddess of victory in Ancient Greece.) The first part of the verb, hyper, means “in place of,” “over and above,” or “more than.” From it we get our word super, which means almost the same thing. When we put the two parts of the word together we find Paul saying that believers are all “super-conquerors,” or “more than conquerors” in Jesus Christ.
But how can that be? How can those who are despised and rejected—troubled, persecuted, exposed to famine and nakedness, danger and sword—how can such people be thought of as overcomers, superovercomers at that?
It is a question worth pondering—and answering. Let me suggest a few reasons we may think like this.
Against Supernatural Forces
The first reason why the victory given to Christians by Jesus Christ is a superlative victory and why we are “more than conquerors” is that we are fighting against an enemy who is more than human.
This is the note on which Paul ends his letter to the Ephesians, reminding the Christians at Ephesus that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12). In this passage Paul is thinking of the devil and his hosts, and he is saying that our battle, however human it may seem, is actually supernatural. It is a spiritual battle. If our enemies were mere human beings or mere natural forces, our victory, if we achieved it, would be a natural victory. But, as it is, our foes are supernatural, and therefore our victories are supernatural, too. We are more than conquerors.
The devil is the embodiment of these hostile spiritual forces, and he is a cunning foe. I have often said that we must not overrate Satan’s strength, as if he were the evil equivalent of God. Satan is a creature. Therefore he is not omnipresent, omniscient, or omnipotent. Only God is that.
However, Satan is very dangerous.
And crafty! The devil devises more schemes in a minute than we can conceive in a lifetime, and all of them are directed toward our destruction. How can we stand against such an evil, crafty foe, let alone be a “superconqueror” of him and his forces? It is not in our own strength, of course. It is as the text says: “through him who loved us.” Martin Luther stood against these spiritual forces, prevailed over them through Christ, and wrote about it in the hymn we know as “A Mighty Fortress”:
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth his Name,
From age to age the same,
And he must win the battle.
None of us could stand against Satan’s hostile forces even for a moment, but in Jesus Christ we can stand firm and fight on to victory.
Second, Christians are “more than conquerors” because the warfare we are engaged in requires us to fight lifelong battles.
In his excellent study of this verse Donald Grey Barnhouse sharply contrasts our battles as Christians with the limited battles other soldiers fight: “In earthly battles soldiers are sometimes called upon to fight day and night. But there comes a moment when flesh and blood cannot take more and the struggle comes to an end through the utter exhaustion of the soldier. But in the spiritual warfare there is no armistice, no truce, no interval. The text is in the present tense … in the Greek: ‘For thy sake we are being killed all the day long’ (rsv). From the moment we are made partakers of the divine nature, we are the targets of the world, the flesh and the devil. There is never a moment’s reprieve. It follows, then, that our conquest is more than a conquest, and thus we are more than conquerors.”
The third reason why Christians are more than conquerors is that the spiritual victories achieved by God’s people are eternal. This is a very important point and one we need to remind ourselves of constantly.
We are creatures of time, and we live in a perishing world. Apart from spiritual battles and spiritual victories, everything we accomplish will pass away, no matter how great an earthly “victory” may seem in the world’s eyes or our own. How can it be otherwise when even “heaven and earth will pass away” (Matt. 24:35)? Great monuments will crumble. Works of art will decay. Fortunes will be dissipated. Heroes will die. Even great triumphs of the human intellect or emotion will be forgotten. Not so with spiritual victories, for our spiritual victories impart meaning to the very history of the cosmos.
I am convinced that this is what our earthly struggles are about and that this is how we are to view them. When Satan rebelled against God sometime in eternity past, God was faced with a choice, humanly speaking. He could have annihilated Satan and those fallen angels, now demons, who rebelled with Satan against God. But that would not have proved that God’s way of running the universe is right. It would only have proved that God is more powerful than Satan. So, instead of punishing Satan immediately, God allowed Satan’s rebellion to run its course. In the meantime God created a universe and a new race of beings, mankind, in which the rebellion of Satan would be tested. Satan could have his way for a while. He could try to order things according to his will rather than God’s. He would even be allowed to seduce the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, into following him in his rebellion.
But God would reserve the right to call out a new people to himself, the very people Paul has been writing about in Romans 8. These individuals would be foreknown, predestined, called, justified, and glorified—all according to God’s sovereign will. And when they were called they would be thrust into the spiritual struggle that Satan and his demons had brought upon the race. Satan would be allowed to attack, persecute, and even kill God’s people. But for them, for those who have been brought to know the love of God in Christ Jesus, these sufferings would not be an intolerable hardship but would instead be a privilege that they would count themselves happy to endure for Jesus.
I am convinced that in his supreme wisdom God has ordered history in such a way that for every child of Satan who is suffering, a child of God is suffering in exactly the same circumstances. And for every child of Satan who enjoys the fullness of this world’s pleasures, there is a child of God who is denied those pleasures.
The unbeliever curses his or her lot if deprived and made to suffer. The believer trusts and praises God and looks to him for ultimate deliverance. Unbelievers boast of their superiority if they are fortunate in securing this world’s success or treasure. Believers acknowledge God as the source of whatever good fortune they enjoy, and if deprived of these things, as is frequently the case, they say, as Job did, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21b).
And the angels look on, as they also did in Job’s case. “Is Satan’s way best?” they ask. “Does the way of the evil one produce joy? Does it make him and God’s other creatures happy? Or is the way of God best? Are believers the truly happy ones, in spite of their suffering?”
We, too, may pose such questions, and even wonder about the truth of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount:
Blessed are the poor in spirit.…
Blessed are those who mourn.…
Blessed are the meek.…
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.…
Blessed are the merciful.…
Blessed are the pure in heart.…
Blessed are the peacemakers.…
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness.…
Those words are indeed true! They are profoundly true. They are what God’s people are proving every day of their lives as they suffer and in some cases are put to death, being literally counted “as sheep to be slaughtered.”
“But the poor in spirit are despised,” someone says.
True enough, but “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“But those who mourn, mourn alone,” says another.
They often do, in human terms. But when they mourn an unseen presence stands beside them, Jesus himself, and they are truly “comforted.” They know “the peace of God, which transcends all [human] understanding” (Phil 4:7).
“But the meek are crushed and beaten down.”
In this world they are. Indeed, for God’s sake “we face death all day long.” But our kingdom is not here, any more than Jesus’ kingdom was here, though in the end we will “inherit [even] the earth.”
“But those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are strange, odd. Most people don’t want to have anything to do with them.”
True, but their longings will be satisfied by God himself, while those who seek earthly pleasures will fall short of joys here and in the end will be cast into the lake of fire, where thirst is never quenched.
“But the pure in heart have no welcome here, no secure place.”
True enough, but they will see God. They have a home in heaven.
“Why do we need peacemakers?” asks another person. “We need strong armies to fight the world’s conflicts.” Peacemakers are despised. The strong and powerful are favored.
But those who make peace “will be called sons of God.”
“Who would want to be persecuted, especially for righteousness’ sake?”
No one, of course. But when Christians are persecuted, they count it a privilege, for it shows that they are standing with Jesus, belong to his kingdom, and have a reward laid up for them in “the kingdom of heaven.”
Victories in such sufferings are eternal in the same way that the victory of our Lord upon the cross is eternal. Our sufferings endure for a moment, but they achieve an eternal victory. They point to the truth and grace of God forever. I am convinced that in the farthest reaches of heaven, in what we would call billions of years from now, there will be angels who will look on everyone who has been redeemed by Jesus Christ and thrust into spiritual warfare by him, and they will say, “Look, there is another of God’s saints, one who triumphed over evil by the Lord’s power!” Revelation 12:11–12 describes how they will exclaim of our great victories over Satan:
“They overcame him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!”
In achieving those eternal victories, we who love the Lord Jesus Christ will have indeed been more than conquerors.
The fourth reason why we are more than conquerors in the struggles of life is that the rewards of our victory will surpass anything ever attained by earthly conquerors.
The kings of this world generally fight for three things: territory, wealth, and glory, often all three. And they reward their soldiers with a proportionate share of these attainments. The Romans settled their soldiers on land won from their enemies, though chiefly to consolidate their territorial holdings. Armies have usually been allowed to share in war’s spoils. Napoleon said that men are led by “trinkets,” meaning titles, medals, and other such glory symbols. The world’s soldiers have their rewards, but they are earthly rewards. The people of God look for rewards in heaven. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “… Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Cor. 9:24–25).
In this life, like our Master, we may wear nothing but a crown of thorns. But in heaven we will wear crowns that are incorruptible and will possess an inheritance that will never slip away.
No Greater Cause
The final reason why we are more than conquerors is that the goal of our warfare is the glory of God, and that is an infinitely worthy and utterly superior thing.
A few lines back I wrote of our reward as being imperishable crowns, using the image the Bible itself gives us. With that in mind I call your attention to a scene in Revelation 4:1–11. The setting is the throne room of heaven, and there, before the throne of Almighty God, are twenty-four elders who represent the people of God saved from all nations and all ages. They, too, are seated on thrones and wear crowns, because the saints reign with Jesus. In the center, immediately surrounding the throne, are four living creatures who cry out day and night, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come” (v. 8).
Whenever the four living creatures worship God with these words, the twenty-four elders rise from their thrones, fall before God, and worship him. Then—and this is the point for which I recall this picture—they lay their crowns before the throne, saying,
“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being” [v. 11].
This picture is extremely beautiful, for it shows that the crowns of victory won by God’s people are won by God’s grace and therefore rightly belong to him. They are our crowns, but they are laid at the Lord’s feet to show that they were won for his honor and by his strength. In this, as well as in all the other things I mentioned, we are more than conquerors.
But there is one more thing to say: The way to victory is not by “going up” to any self-achieved glory but rather by “stooping down” in suffering.
Remember the picture of Satan given in Isaiah 14? Satan said, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (vv. 13–14). But God tells Satan, “You [will be] brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit” (v. 15).
Where Satan aimed to sit is in some measure where the saints of the ages are raised, for they sit on the “mount of assembly,” higher than anything except the throne of God, as we have just seen. But notice how they get there. Not by trying to dislodge the Almighty from his throne. Rather, they are exalted because they have followed in the steps of their Master, who
… did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus was the prototype—the true sheep fit only “to be slaughtered.” He was “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). But he was also a super-conqueror, and we are more than conquerors through him.
 Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1628). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ro 8:37). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1714). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (p. 329). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 Moo, D. J. (2018). The Letter to the Romans. (N. B. Stonehouse, F. F. Bruce, G. D. Fee, & J. B. Green, Eds.) (Second Edition, pp. 565–566). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
 Harrison, E. F., & Hagner, D. A. (2008). Romans. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 144). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.