Harry Whittaker
Word Studies



Out of nine different Greek words translated “obtain”, there is one — lambano — which has the specific meaning of “to obtain by lot”.

The Roman soldiers cast lots as to who should have the seamless robe of Jesus (John 19:24).

Zacharias, father of John the Baptist, found, as the result of the casting of lots, that to him would fall the honour of burning incense before the Lord at the time of the morning sacrifice (Luk 1:9). Apparently there were so many priests available for this coveted office that decision for each day was by lot.

The same word is used about Judas: “he obtained part of this (apostolic) ministry”, declared Peter (Acts 1:17). Here the word seems to imply that the office of treasurer was decided by lot.

Peter also implies, apparently, that the call of the gospel, which certainly does not come to all men, is decided likewise by the will and choice of God. There is nothing haphazard about the way the gospel comes into a man’s life. Hence Peter’s description of his fellow-believers as “them that have obtained like precious faith with us (apostles)” (2Pe 1:1).

Overcome (in victory)

Nikao means, quite simply, achieving a victory. In the NT almost all the 27 occurrences speak of a moral victory. “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21). And the repeated promise in Revelation, “To him that overcometh”, clearly has nothing to do with physical fighting. The same stands true in such OT passages as: “that Thou mightest be justified (LXX: might overcome) when thou judgest” (Psa 51:4; the Greek M.V in Rom 3:4 should not be read as a passive).

One reMarable exception presents itself — if indeed it is an exception. “These (the Beast and his ten kings) shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them” (Rev 17:14). Is it a moral victory that is spoken of here, achieved without any violence? And if so, how? Or does the context (“make war”) require that this be read as an exception to the general NT usage?

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