“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?” (1 John 5:4-5)
The favorite hymn titled “Faith Is the Victory” contains many allusions to scriptural concepts and passages. The theme, as is repeated in the chorus, is “faith is the victory, . . . O glorious victory, that overcomes the world.”
The primary passage used for the source of this hymn is in our text, where we see that it is the Christian—the one “born of God”—who “believeth that Jesus is the Son of God” who “overcomes the world.” The victory comes through faith.
Encamped along the hills of light, Ye Christian soldiers rise,
And press the battle ere the night, Shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below Let all our strength be hurled;
Faith is the victory, we know, That overcomes the world.
This first verse harks back to several battles in the Old Testament where Israel, through faith in God, conquered many foes greater in number and better equipped than they. But the symbolism goes further. The word for “world” is the Greek word kosmos, implying, in context, the world system of thought arrayed in opposition to God. “We know that we are of God, and the whole world [i.e., kosmos] lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19).
Strangely enough, Scripture here does not say that through faith we will overcome and gain the victory. Rather, it explains that faith itself is the victory. Evidently, with victorious faith, the overcoming is automatic.
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). JDM