The Crown of Righteousness (2 Ti. 4:8), the Crown of Glory (1 Pe. 5:4), and the Crown of Life (Re. 2:10): would you please give a little explanation since there was not enough time to cover it at the recent Young Peoples Conference in Wayne, NJ? Joe Y.
The crowns in the references above and in 1 Co. 9:25, Ph. 4:1 and Ja. 1:12, all refer to the crown (or laurel wreath) of a victor, one who has overcome in a race or in combat; it is different from the crown of a king or ruler - a diadem (see Re. 19:12, the Lord Jesus crowned with many crowns, King of Kings).
The crown of righteousness is awarded by the Judge (umpire), who alone can righteously evaluate the contestant in the fight against the powers of evil, who has fought strenuously to display a beauty of skill and spiritual strength that will glorify the Lord Jesus. The award for faithfulness will be given for the day of display, in the world to come, at the appearing of our blessed Lord and Saviour.
The crown of glory is the reward for faithfulness in the time of suffering. Identification with the One who, as the Christ of God when here on earth, was despised and rejected will result in suffering. However, just as the Lord Jesus will be displayed on this earth in glory, we too, who endure suffering for Him faithfully, will also receive the crown of glory with Him.
In Revelation 2, the victors’ crown of life, relates to assurance of eternal life for those martyred for the faith. (The name of Stephen, the first recorded Christian martyr, is derived from the word for crown). In James 1, where the crown of life is also recorded, it is given in recognition of the believers’ victory over sin in the tests of life. The victory is gained by the use of the energy of eternal life which the believer has in Christ Jesus.
May we all be encouraged to contend strongly for the faith once delivered, in view of the day when the crowns will be awarded by the Lord, who alone gives us the will and the power to earn them, that they may be cast at His feet, who only is worthy (Re. 4:10).