The Teachings of

Zane Hodges, Joseph Dillow, Robert Wilkin
(The Grace Evangelical Society)

and the extreme teachings of J. D. Faust

The Overcomers in Revelation Chapters 2-3


"To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God….He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death….To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it….And he that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron….He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels….Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God: and I will write upon him My new name….To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne" (Revelation 2:7,11,17,26-27; 3:5,12,21).

The Teaching of Zane Hodges and Joseph Dillow

The fruitful believer

The partaker or heir

The believing believer

The overcomer

The barren believer

The carnal one (non-heir)

The saved person who stops believing

The non-overcomer

This is the faithful and fruitful believer and it is to him and to him alone that the "overcomer" promises apply. This is the saved person who conquers and who is victorious!  He will not taste of the second death!

This is the saved person who is not an overcomer. The sevenfold promises given to the overcomer in Revelation 2-3 do not apply to this fleshly believer. This is the defeated Christian who, though saved, will pay dearly at the judgment seat of Christ.


An excellent study to refute this view is the article by James E. Rosscup entitled, "The Overcomer of the Apocalypse" found in the Grace Theological Journal 3.2 (1982) pages 261-286. If you would like a copy of this article, send $2.00.

Who is the overcomer? This is answered in 1 John 5:4,5— "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" According to these verses every born again believer is an overcomer. Why is this true? It is because the Lord Jesus is THE OVERCOMER and we are trusting and resting in His perfect victory (compare John 16:33).   How can a person be joined to Jesus Christ and be in perfect union with Him, and not be a victor?

Hodges goes so far as to say that it is "totally illicit" (illegal!) to appeal to 1 John 5:4-5 in order to understand who the "overcomer" really is (Grace in Eclipse, p.108). Is it illegal to let God’s Word explain its own terms?  Is it illegal to compare Scripture with Scripture?

1 John 4:4 also teaches that every believer is an overcomer. Revelation 21:7 refers to every saved person: "He that overcometh shall inherit all things." This latter passage distinguishes between only two broad classes, the saved (see verses 3-5) and the unsaved (verse 8). The contrast is not between believers who overcome and believers who do not overcome. The contrast is between believers who overcome (verse 7) and the unsaved who are in the lake of fire (verse 8).

Consider one of the promises given to the overcomer as found in Revelation 2:11— "He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." This implies that the non-overcomer will be hurt of the second death. If the non-overcomer is a saved person (carnal, etc.), then does this mean that the carnal believer will be hurt of the second death which is the lake of fire (compare Rev. 20:14-15; 21:8)? It is obvious that every saved person, regardless of his degree or level of faithfulness in this life, can claim the promise that he will not be hurt of the second death.

John, the author of Revelation, carefully defines who the overcomer is. It should be noted that 1 John 5:4-5 is the only passage in the New Testament that specifically asks the question, “Who is the overcomer?” and then answers that question: "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God" (v.5).  In Revelation chapter 2-3 John records seven promises to the overcomer.  In Revelation 21, verses 7-8, there are two and only two groups mentioned:   1) the overcomers (the heirs!), and 2) the wicked unbelievers who have their part in the lake of fire.  No mention is made of a supposed third group made up of saved people who are defeated failures.  There are only two groups, and there is a heaven and hell difference between the two. We must conclude, therefore, that all the saved are overcomers and are exempt from the second death.   It is very interesting to note the similarities between Revelation 21:8 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.  Hodges and Dillow say that these unrighteous ones (1 Cor. 6:9-10) will be excluded from millennial joys and blessings.  John the Apostle says that these unrighteous ones (Rev. 21:8) will have their part in the lake of fire.  It's safer to side with the Apostle John!

Romans 8:37 is an excellent "overcomer" verse because it teaches that every believer is "more than an overcomer," indeed he is a "super-overcomer" (literal rendering of Greek).  The "we" of verse 37 refers to every true believer (those who have been predestinated, called, justified, glorified--v.29-30). "We are (v.37)"--right now this is true! "In all these things"-in the midst of all the difficulties we triumph! "More than conquerors" = hyper-conquerors, super-conquerors, super-victors, super-overcomers. It refers to one who gains a surpassing or an overwhelming victory, the one who wins a most glorious victory.  It is the Greek word hupernikao (from "huper"--compare the English words "hyper" and "super" and the verb "nikao"--to overcome, to have the victory (same word used for overcomers in Revelation 2-3). We are not just overcomers, we are more than overcomers! We are not just victors, we are more than victors! How could anyone say, in light of this, that some believers are not overcomers? No believer is less than an overcomer, all believers are "more than overcomers"!  Ours is an overwhelming victory!

J.D. Faust, in his book The Rod--Will God Spare It?, bases his theology of punishment for believers primarily on Revelation 2:11, the passage that implies that non-overcomers will be hurt of the second death.  He agrees with Hodges, Dillow and Wilkin that only faithful, victorious Christians are overcomers.  Since the overcomers are told they will not be hurt of the second death, Faust concludes that the non-overcomers (the defeated Christians or the apostate Christians) will indeed be hurt of the second death.  His theory says that at the judgment seat of Christ a great multitude of believers will be hurt of the second death (temporarily experience hell!) and then will be tortured in the fires of Hades for a thousand years.  Hodges, Dillow and Wilkin strongly repudiate such teaching, and yet, isn't Faust being consistent with what he believes?  Faust interprets Revelation 2:11 in a simple and straightforward way (based on his erroneous presuppositions). Hodges, Dillow and Wilkin are forced into doing exegetical gymnastics with Revelation 2:11 in order to avoid having a whole host of saved people taste of the second death!   All four of them are wrong, but Faust is the more consistent of the four, even though his conclusions are the more heretical! But Faust squarely faces the clear implication of the text:  the person who does not overcome will be hurt of the second death.  His error is that he says that this person is a believer.

For further study:  Who Is the Overcomer in Revelation 2-3?

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