Summary: This message has a theme verse of 1 Cor. 9 25 and focuses on 4 different kinds of crowns mentioned in the New Testament.
The Crowns of the Bible
Sometimes when I preach, I mention other topics which would be worthy of study, and on one occasion I mentioned that it would be good to take time to study the crowns of the New Testament. It took a while, but I finally took the time to do that study and I will share the results with you today. The apostles Paul and John were the ones who wrote the most about the subject of crowns so we will focus on what they wrote in this message.
I found out that the Bible contains two words for crown, and they represent different kinds of crowns: The word “diadem” (“diadema” in Greek) refers to the kind of crown a king would wear. It is one of the symbols of power (along with the scepter the king would hold). Although a king’s crown is honorable, it is not so much an honor (like a reward), as much as it is a matter of destiny. Most kings are born into their positions.
On the other hand, the victors crown, (“stephanos” in the Greek) represents something which encircles for the purpose of honoring. Most crowns of this type were given for winning an athletic event, distinguished service, military prowess, nuptial joy, or to celebrate certain holidays. The typical crown was a garland of oak, ivy, parsley, myrtle, or olive which was placed around the neck or woven into a wreath and placed on the head of the honoree. In time they substituted gold in place of the leaves.
Referring to this type of crown, Paul wrote, (1 Cor 9:25 NIV) "Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” Paul compared the fading glory of a crown made of leaves to the crown of glory which the Christian enjoys forever in Heaven. With that in mind let me point out the first thing I want you to know about Biblical Crowns:
1. The Nature of the crown: “incorruptible”
These crowns will last forever. That is even more important when you look at how earthly things tarnish and wear out. Have you ever seen a trophy case of old trophies? The older they are the less shiny and impressive they get. I’ve seen old trophies that were downright embarrassing to look at.
The same thing is certainly true of old crowns made of ivy leaves, or garlands made of flowers. In India, whenever I preached I would get a garland made of carnations or roses or some other kind of flower. (This was done as a gesture of honor.) They smelled nice at first, but they were bulky and awkward (most of them would hang down almost to your knees), and after your fourth or fifth garland, let’s face it, the thrill was gone. Add to that fact that I was the one who often paid for the garland which was given to honor me, and you can see why I got tired of them. The real trial came when, after several days, the closet in my hotel room was full of garlands in various stages of decay.
How much better to know that the crowns of heaven do not fade, tarnish, rot, go out of style, or in any way lose their glory. They are incorruptible and everlasting.
The second thing to know about the nature of these crowns, is that they, like us, are there to glorify Christ. We will look at the kinds of crowns and to whom they are granted, and for what purpose, in a minute, but right now we need to see that all crowns will be cast at the feet of Christ to honor Him. We read in (Rev 4:10 NIV) the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne...
The same thing the 24 elders do before the throne, we will also do, as we join the heavenly choir, and cast our crowns before the feet of Christ in adoration. The crowns represent our earthly deeds which were done for Christ’s glory as His servants. It is only fitting, then, that the representation of those deeds be given to our master as gifts. We will not wear those crowns on our heads, as though we needed any glory of our own, but we will give them as loving presents to our savior and Lord. Imagine the joy of being able to present, at the feet of Christ, a crown of glory representing your ministry on earth. Could anything be more delightful than that moment?
2. The Kinds of Crowns given: