More Than Conquerors- Romans 8:37

In this verse, Paul creates a word in Greek to describe our position as believers relative to the difficulties and obstacles of life. This word is hupernikao, a compound word formed from huper (above or beyond) and nikao (victory or conquest), and is translated “more than conquerors” by the NIV. Just what does Pàul mean by this? Some conclude that this means that all mountains or obstacles will be magically removed from our paths if we just “have enough faith”, that God desires us to live lives of ease, comfort and pleasure, and any life not characterized by this is somehow due to a defect in the believer. Is that actually the case, is that what Paul means here? We will look at the life of Jesus (who certainly had no sort of defect in His life or faith) and see what happened with Him. We will look in Matthew 26:36-44, at Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. In verse 36, Jesus tells His disciples to sit outside the garden while He prays. He then takes His inner three (Peter, James and John) farther in and tells them to stay and keep watch with Him for His soul is “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”. Jesus then goes further into the garden and falls prostrate on the ground and prays, “Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me”. The cup He refers to here is the cross of Calvary, which He knows is the only way to deal with the sin of humanity. He would really like not to have to go to the cross, and He is asking here that the mountain in His life be magically removed, that the obstacle or difficulty He faces be taken out of His way. He then goes back to His disciples without an answer. He finds them sleeping (so much for their “great faith”), and chastens them to watch and pray, to stay awake and in prayer. He then returns to the garden and prays a second time, but this time we see a prayer of resignation. He now understands that this cup cannot be taken from Him, that the mountain He faces will not be magically removed and the obstacle will not be taken out of His path. I guess Jesus must just not have had “enough faith”, so God didn’t move the obstacle from His path (that was sarcasm there). What we find here is that God does not remove the mountain from the path of Jesus. His “mountain” was Calvary, and God didn’t deliver Him from it, but rather delivered Him through it and out of it. Jesus prayed for the mountain to be removed, and it was not. We can therefore conclude that Paul’s meaning for “more than conquerors” is not that all obstacles and difficulties will magically disappear if we pray with “enough faith”. If that is in fact the case, then what does Paul mean in Romans 8:38? Our next post will examine another Pauline usage of nikao, in which he fills in the missing pieces of the puzzle, and shows us what he means when he calls believers “more than conquerors”.

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