14 Examples of Overcomers in the Bible

What does it mean to be an overcomer? Let’s look at some examples of overcomers in the Bible, and see what God says about how to overcome.

examples of overcomers in the Bible

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Everybody loves an overcomer, right? We love seeing stories of people who battled back from illness, who overcame poverty, became the first in their family to graduate from college, or achieved a seemingly impossible feat.

And, we love to BE overcomers too! Even if you feel like a failure much of the time (speaking from experience here), you still long to overcome whatever obstacles are standing in your way. Like, “someday, I’ll overcome that addiction”. Or, “one day, I’ll finally be successful in my career”.

But whether you’ve had tons of victories in life, or very few, the Bible says that if you are in Christ, you’re an overcomer!

What does it mean to be an overcomer in the Bible?

But, what exactly does that mean, to be an overcomer in Christ? What does the Bible say about overcomers?

The answer may surprise you! Overcoming in God’s eyes, is not just about achieving goals… it’s about keeping your faith in Christ, and persevering through trials. It’s about staying true to God, even when it’s not easy!

If I could summarize the overcomer definition in the Bible in just a few words, it would be TO STAY TRUE TO YOUR FAITH IN CHRIST, NO MATTER WHAT! See what Jesus says about it, in Revelation…

He who overcomes [the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God] will accordingly be dressed in white clothing; and I will never blot out his name from the Book of Life, and I will confess and openly acknowledge his name before My Father and before His angels [saying that he is one of Mine].
Revelation 3:5 (AMP)

The one who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne.
Revelation 3:21 (NASB)

So, again, the biggest way for how to be an overcomer as a Christian, is through your FAITH! Like the verses below state, it is through our continuing, persistent FAITH that we overcome the world.

For everyone born of God is victorious and overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has conquered and overcome the world—our [continuing, persistent] faith [in Jesus the Son of God].
Who is the one who is victorious and overcomes the world? It is the one who believes and recognizes the fact that Jesus is the Son of God.

1 John 5:4-5 (AMP)

And, any other ‘overcoming’ that we do—whether in spiritual victory over sin, or just reaching a goal in life—we do through Christ, who gave His life so we could be reconciled to God. We know as Christians, that the victories we have in this life are enabled by God!

Were you victorious in landing that new job? Praise God! Did you manage to tweak your budget, just enough to squeak by and pay your bills? Thank the Lord! Are you still waiting to see victory in some area of your life? Keep praying, and be persistent in your faith! Don’t just knock on the door once, and go away sad because God didn’t answer right away! Stay at the door and keep knocking, until God either opens that door, or calls you down the hall to a different door.

you're an overcomer

14 Examples of Overcomers in the Bible

Okay now, enough about you and me! Who are the overcomers in the Bible? And, what can we learn from their examples?

There are so many great stories of overcoming, both in the Old and New Testaments. And while all of these people exemplified that all-important characteristic of FAITH, several of these stories are also simply about overcoming obstacles. I’ve listed them in order of their appearance in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation…

1) Joseph: he stayed true to God, even through great injustice and hardship

And who better to kick off these examples of overcomers in the Bible, than Joseph?! Seriously, if you’ve read my Bible stories about patience, you know that Joseph is one of my favorite Bible characters.

His story in Genesis 37-50 is filled with trouble. His own brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt, where Joseph encountered many hardships. He was unjustly accused, imprisoned, and finally, after many years, he became second-in-command to Pharaoh.

So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, “Make way!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.
Genesis 41:41-43 (NIV)

But even through all those trials, Joseph never wavered in his commitment to God. And in the end, he gave God all the glory!

“For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.”
Genesis 45:6-8 (NIV)

2) Moses: God went with him

Have you ever felt like God called you to do something, and you’re like, “surely you have the wrong person?!”. Yeah, me too. And that’s exactly how Moses felt about the situation, when God picked him to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.

Moses’ story is one of my favorite examples of overcomers in the Bible, because I can SO relate to his being ‘slow of speech’. Talking is not my strong suit, and on top of that I’m shy and introverted. Even in writing, sometimes it’s hard to find the right words to express my thoughts. But, God still called me to be a Christian blogger (and, to start a YouTube channel too!). And somehow, He’s with me every step of the way, just as He was with Moses…

“Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
Exodus 3:10-12 (NIV)

But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”
Exodus 4:10-12 (NIV)

sword and shield

3) Gideon: God gave him the victory

Have you ever felt inadequate, and wondered how or why in the world God would use you for anything? If so, you might relate to this next example!

Gideon was sure that God had the wrong person. God wanted him to defeat the Midianites, but he thought he was too ‘weak’ for the job. But, God!

The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

Judges 6:14-16 (NIV)

And that’s exactly what Gideon did! (Read about his overwhelming victory in Judges 7). So, what’s the moral of this story? If God tells you that “you’re an overcomer!”, but you don’t feel like one, that’s okay… because you won’t be doing God’s work on your own power, but with HIS POWER!

4) Samson: he finished strong, even after so many mistakes

This next person in our examples of overcomers in the Bible is kind of a mixed bag. We read in Judges 13-16 that Samson’s life was plagued by trouble and mistakes. He had many problems with women, and in the end, he gullibly trusted a woman he shouldn’t have (Delilah). She sold him out to the Philistines, and in the end he even lost his eyesight because of it.

But, Samson wasn’t going to fade away quietly. He sought the Lord, and gave his life to achieve one last victory over the Philistines:

Then Samson prayed to the LORD, “Sovereign LORD, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.
Judges 16:28-30 (NIV)

So, what we can we learn from Samson? First of all, it’s best to avoid such costly mistakes like selling oneself out to a random lover you barely know, LOL. But, even if you’ve made a thousand mistakes, and you’re standing on your last leg, you can still give your life back to God, and finish strong. It’s not too late!

5) Ruth: she persevered through a difficult season

Sometimes, the best overcomers attitude you can have is to stay the course, even if there’s an easier or more appealing path you could take. Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, had just lost their husbands. And Ruth could’ve stayed behind in her native Moab, and easily found a new husband. But, she refused to abandon Naomi! In the face of an uncertain future in an unfamiliar country, Ruth bravely followed Naomi.

“Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.” But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
Ruth 1:15-17 (NIV)

And, in the end, Ruth’s decision to stick by her mother-in-law was rewarded! And not only that, but Naomi was blessed by her daughter-in-law as well. Doing the right thing may not be easy or yield instant results, but God sees you, and He will reward your faithfulness.

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”
Ruth 4:13-15 (NIV)

Bible warrior armor of God

6) David: he had tremendous faith in God

David is definitely one of the best examples of overcomers in the Bible! Of course, his life is full of great examples (and a few bad ones), but none shines quite like the story of his victory over Goliath.

If you want to know how to be an overcomer as a Christian, remember that it comes down to your faith in God! Take a page from David’s book, and place your absolute trust and faith in God’s sovereign power to deliver you (not your own ability).

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

1 Samuel 17:45-50 (NIV)

7) Elijah: God lifted him up in his time of need

Like the stories of Gideon and of David, this story from Elijah’s life is one of those ‘God gets all the glory’ situations. And I love it, because it so beautifully illustrates how God cares for us when we’re completely weary and feel like we’re out of options.

Elijah (who was a true prophet of the Lord) had just killed a bunch of false prophets, and evil Queen Jezebel was determined to get revenge by killing Elijah in return. So…

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

1 Kings 19:3-8 (NIV)

Just goes to show, that if God has a purpose for you to fulfill, even if you feel like you can’t continue on any further, He will provide the strength you need.

8) Job: kept his faith in God, despite terrible suffering

Next up in our examples of overcomers in the Bible, is Job. And what a man of faith Job was! I think so often in life, we think we’re entitled to have only good things, and when bad things happen, it can be tempting to give up on God. Like, “well, I guess maybe God doesn’t exist after all”, or “God’s abandoning me, so I’m just going to abandon my faith in Him”. But, Jobs’ example shows what it looks like to stay true to God, even when life is difficult or painful.

Job lost his animals, his children, and even his health, and yet Job didn’t curse God. Sure, he lamented (quite a lot, in fact!), but he still gave God praise.

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.”
In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Job 1:20-22 (NIV)

Remember what we’ve talked about thus far—that keeping FAITH in God is the biggest measure of overcoming. Job provides such a great example of holding onto faith in God, even when life doesn’t make sense.

lion photo

9) Daniel: he did what was right, even at the risk of death

Daniel is one of those noble overcomers like Joseph… he was so diligent in doing what was right, even at great personal risk! Case in point, is the time when King Darius decreed that anyone who prayed to any other god or human besides the king, would be thrown into the lion’s den. Ouch!

So, what did Daniel do? He continued to pray to the Lord, just like normal. He wasn’t going to let the king’s threat keep him from communing with the One True God!

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.
Daniel 6:10 (NIV)

And even though that earned him a one-way trip to the lion’s den, God had other plans! When King Darius went to check on Daniel the next morning, he found quite the surprise, as Daniel explained to him how he was still alive…

“My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”
Daniel 6:22 (NIV)

Once again, the overcoming didn’t happen because of human strength or ability, but because God made it so!

Jesus Christ overcame sin and death, to bring salvation to the whole world

10) Jesus: overcame sin and death, to bring salvation to the whole world!

Of course, you know I couldn’t write about examples of overcomers in the Bible, without mentioning the King of Kings, the Chief Overcomer, our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Jesus was the ultimate overcomer, conquering sin and death through his sacrifice on the cross, and his resurrection three days later.

And one moment where that overcoming is particularly noticeable, is in the garden of Gethsemane. We must remember, even though Jesus is God, he was also fully human as he walked among us on earth. As such, he surely felt the weight of his impending crucifixion, imposing heavily on his mind. And yet, he overcame, by surrendering to the will of the Father.

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Matthew 26:36-39 (NIV)

Jesus overcame, and as this more than an overcomer Scripture attests, through Him we can too:

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
Romans 8:35-37 (NLT)

11) Zacchaeus: he did whatever it took, to seek Jesus

It was such a simple act, yet it speaks volumes: Zacchaeus, who was a very short man, climbed a tree so he could get above the crowd and see Jesus! It makes me wonder, what sort of ‘trees’ should we climb, to get a better glimpse of Jesus? As if to say, “Here I am Lord!” There’s the ‘tree’ of finding time for Bible study in a busy schedule. Or the ‘tree’ of slowing down and being still in the midst of a crazy life, to hear God’s still, small voice. Is Jesus not worth climbing the tree for?

And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.
Luke 19:2-6 (NIV)

woman reading under tree sunseet

12) Peter: he disowned Jesus, and yet Jesus still used him mightily

In these examples of overcomers in the Bible, Peter’s story is the best illustration of bouncing back from a major mistake. And when I say ‘mistake’, I mean, like, a huge sin, the kind that a person regrets for the rest of their life. You probably know the one I’m talking about…

Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Matthew 26:69-75 (NIV)

Obviously, Peter was devastated when he realized what he’d done. And he could’ve easily let that blunder disqualify him from any future service to Jesus. But, Jesus wasn’t going to let that happen! He had already told Peter earlier, about the purpose he would fulfill:

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be. bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Matthew 16:18-19 (NIV)

Indeed, Peter went on to become instrumental in building the early Christian church! (You can read more about this in the book of Acts). If there was hope for Peter, there is hope for you and for me too—no matter what mistakes we’ve made.

13) Paul: became a great apostle, in spite of his checkered past

Oh, boy… speaking of mistakes! If you ever wonder if a sin is forgivable, or if a wayward person can be redeemed, just read and reflect on Paul’s conversion story in Acts 9:1-30. Here was a man “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples” (Acts 9:1). And yet, after a dramatic encounter with the risen Christ, mere days later Paul was preaching the gospel!

Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
Acts 9:19-22 (NIV)

And in many of his New Testament letters, Paul (formerly known as Saul), wrote about the source of his ‘overcoming’. He wanted to make it clear that his transformation was not solely from his own effort, but first and foremost it was God’s doing.

But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.
1 Corinthians 15:10 (NLT)

As Paul neared the end of his life, he reflected on having kept the faith, and the reward he (and each of us) anticipate:

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NIV)

14) Timothy: preached the gospel, even at a young age

And last among these examples of overcomers in the Bible, is Timothy. We don’t think much about it in our modern age of 30-year-old millionaires, and bosses that are often 20 years younger than the employees they manage. But in Biblical times, a young person such as Timothy would’ve been looked down upon or even disrespected, because they supposedly weren’t old enough or wise enough to be leading the people.

So, in that context, Timothy was up against a lot of opposition from those who thought he wasn’t qualified to lead. Which is why Paul encouraged him to lead by example…

Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
1 Timothy 4;11-12 (NIV)

And, what good advice this is for all of us! If you’ve ever thought you’re too young, too old, too weak, or not good enough to serve the Lord or fulfill a dream He laid on your heart, just throw all that out the window. Just DO IT, and don’t worry about what other people think… do a great job, set a great example, and ultimately you’ll gain respect for that.

hold onto faith in Jesus - Revelation 3 Bible journaling

So, having explored these examples of overcomers in the Bible, let’s revisit the earlier question of “How to be an overcomer as a Christian?” I’ve noticed two main themes throughout these stories: tremendous FAITH in God, and utmost DEPENDENCE on God. True overcoming (of sin, of challenges, of trials and tribulations), can’t happen without those two essentials.

Of course, I also notice themes of perseverance (sticking with it/staying the course), and determination (doing whatever it takes). But it’s our FAITH and complete reliance on GOD and HIS POWER that makes overcoming possible.

In the end, whether it be the end of each of our earthly lives, or Jesus’ return (whichever comes first), our ultimate job as overcomers will be to hold onto faith in Christ. Who are the overcomers in Revelation? They are you and me, having persevered through life, and held tightly to our faith!

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.
Revelation 3:11-12 (NLT)

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