Sermon Prepared by James McCullen
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The Five Crowns
1Thes 2:19;  1 Cor 9:25;  2 Tim 4:8;  James 1:12;  1 Pet 5:4

The Bible talks about five different crowns that are rewards to the faithful Christian.    I had a deacon one time that said  "I don't like talk about rewards, crowns and the like;  I am not serving the Lord for rewards."   I responded  "good you will probably have many then."   This is God's Word and he tells us it is possible to receive rewards.

The song the  Old Rugged Cross  says "my trophies at last I lay down."    In the book of Revelation it says . . . And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, 10  the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,   Rev 4:9-10   NAS.     So let us look at the verses that speak of the crowns.

I.    Soul Winners Crown

1Thes 2:19 
19  For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? (NAS) 
1Thes 2:19 
19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? (KJV) 
1Thes 2:19 
19   For what is it we live for, that gives us hope and joy and is our proud reward and crown? It is you! Yes, you will bring us much joy as we stand together before our Lord Jesus Christ when he comes back again. (TLB)


II.    Crown of Self Denial

1 Cor 9:25 
25 And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then {do it} to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. (NAS) 
1 Cor 9:25 
25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. (KJV) 
1 Cor 9:25 
25 To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears. (TLB)


III.    Crown of Righteousness

2 Tim 4:8 
8  in the future there is laid up 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 loved His appearing. (NAS)
2 Tim 4:8
8  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing
2 Tim 4:8
8  In heaven a crown is waiting for me, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And not just to me but to all those whose lives show that they are eagerly looking forward to his coming back again.   TLB


IV,    Crown of Life 

James 1:12 
12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which {the Lord} has promised to those who love Him. (NAS)
James 1:12
12  Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
James 1:12
12  Happy is the man who doesn't give in and do wrong when he is tempted, for afterwards he will get as his reward the crown of life that God has promised those who love him.  TLB


V.    Crown of the Under Shepherd

1 Pet 5:4 
4  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (NAS) 
1 Pet 5:4 
4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (KJV) 
1 Pet 5:4 
4  and when the Head Shepherd comes, your reward will be a never- ending share in his glory and honor. (TLB) 

(kroun): The word crown in the Old Testament is a translation of five different Hebrew words, and in the New Testament of two Greek words. These express the several meanings, and must be examined to ascertain the same.

1. In Hebrew: The five Hebrew words are as follows: (1) qodhqodh, from qadhadh; (2) zer, from zarar; (3) nezer, or nezer, both from nazar; (4) aTarah, from `atar; (5) kether, from kathar.

(1) Qodhqodh means "the crown of the head," and is also rendered in the King James Version "top of the head," "scalp," "pate." It comes from qadhadh, meaning "to shrivel up," "contract," or bend the body or neck through courtesy. Both the Revised Version (British and American) and the American Standard Revised Version, in <Deut 28:35> and <33:16>, translation it "crown" instead of "top" as in the King James Version. Jacob in his prophecy concerning his sons says: "The blessings of thy father .... shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that is prince among his brethren" (<Gen 49:26> the American Revised Version, margin). Other references are: <Deut 33:20; 2 Sam 14:25; Job 2:7; Isa 3:17; Jer 2:16; 48:45>. Translated "scalp" in <Ps 68:21> and "pate" in <Ps 7:16>. (2) Zer means a "chaplet," something spread around the top as a molding about the border, and because of its wreath-like appearance called a crown. "That which presses, binds" (Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Lexicon). Comes from zarar, meaning "to diffuse" or "scatter." It is used in <Exo 25:11,24-25; 30:3-4; 37:2,11-12,26-27>.

(3) Nezer means something "set apart"; i.e. a dedication to the priesthood or the dedication of a Nazarite, hence, a chaplet or fillet as a symbol of such consecration. The word in the King James Version is rendered "crown," "consecration," "separation," "hair." Comes from nazar, meaning "to hold aloof" from impurity, even from drink and food, more definitely, "to set apart" for sacred purposes, i.e. "to separate," "devote," "consecrate." It is found in <Exo 29:6; 39:30; Lev 8:9; 21:12; 2 Sam 1:10; 2 Kin 11:12; 2 Chr 23:11; Ps 89:39; 132:18; Prov 27:24; Zec 9:16>. (4) `ATarah means a crown in the usual sense. Comes from `aTar, meaning "to encircle," as in war for offence or defense; also actually and figuratively "to crown." Rendered sometimes "to compass." It is used in <2 Sam 12:30; 1 Chr 20:2; Esth 8:15; Job 19:9; 31:36; Ps 21:3; Prov 4:9; 12:4; 14:24; 16:31; 17:6; Cant 3:11; Isa 28:1,3,5; 62:3; Jer 13:18; Lam 5,16; Ezek 16:12; 21:26; 23:42; Zec 6:11,14>; "crowned," <Cant 3:11>; "crownest," <Ps 65:11>; "crowneth," <Ps 103:4>. the Revised Version (British and American) translations "crowned," of <Ps 8:5> "hast crowned." The American Standard Revised Version prefers to translation "crowning," in <Isa 23:8>, "the bestower of crowns."

(5) Kether means a "circlet" or "a diadem." From kathar, meaning "to enclose": as a friend, "to crown"; as an enemy, "to besiege." Variously translated "beset round," "inclose round," "suffer," "compass about." Found in <Esth 1:11; 2:17, 6:8>; "crowned," in <Prov 14:18>.

2. In Greek: The two Greek words of the New Testament translated crown are: (1) stephanos, from stepho, and (2) diadema, from diadeo, "to bind round." (1) Stephanos means a chaplet (wreath) made of leaves or leaf- like gold, used for marriage and festive occasions, and expressing public recognition of victory in races, games and war; also figuratively as a reward for efficient Christian life and service (see GAMES). This symbol was more noticeable and intricate than the plain fillet. Only in the Rev of John is stephanos called "golden." The "crown of thorns" which Jesus wore was a stephanos (woven wreath) of thorns; the kind is not known <Mt 27:29; Mk 15:17; Jn 19:2,5>. Luke makes no mention of it. Whether intended to represent royalty or victory, it was caricature crown. Stephanos is found in <1 Cor 9:25; Phil 4:1; 1 Thes 2:19; 2 Tim 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Pet 5:4; Rev 2:10; 3:11; 6:2; 12:1; 14:14>; plural in <Rev 4:4,10; 9:7>; "crowned" in <2 Tim 2:5; Heb 2:9>; "crownedst" in <He 2:7>.

(2) Diadema is the word for "diadem," from dia (about) and deo (bound), i.e. something bound about the head. In the three places where it occurs (<Rev 12:3; 13:1> and <19:12>) both the Revised Version (British and American) and the American Standard Revised Version translation it not "crowns" but "diadems," thus making the proper distinction between stephanos and diadema, such as is not done either in the King James Version or the Septuagint (see Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament). According to Thayer the distinction was not observed in Hellenic Greek "Diadems" are on the dragon <Rev 12:3>, the beast <Rev 13:1> and on the Rider of the White Horse, "the Faithful and True" <Rev 19:12>. In each case the "diadems" are symbolic of power to rule.

3. Use and Significance: There are five uses of the crown as seen in the Scripture references studied, namely, decoration, consecration, coronation, exaltation, and remuneration.

(1) Decoration.-- The zer of Ex, as far as it was a crown at all, was for ornamentation, its position not seeming to indicate any utility purpose. These wavelet, gold moldings, used in the furnishings of the tabernacle of Moses, were placed about (a) the table of shewbread <Exo 25:24; 37:11>; (b) the ark of the covenant <Exo 25:11; 37:2>; (c) the altar of incense <Exo 30:3-4; 37:26-27>. The position of these crowns is a debated question among archaeologists. Their purpose other than decoration is not known. The encircling gold might signify gratitude, parity and enduring worth. (2) Consecration.-- The nezer had a twofold use as the crown of consecration: (a) It was placed as a frontlet on the miter of the high priest, being tied with a blue lace <Exo 39:30>. The priestly crown was a flat piece of pure gold, bearing the inscription, "Holy to Yahweh," signifying the consecration of the priest as the representative of the people <Exo 29:6; Lev 8:9>. (b) Likewise the Hebrew king <2 Kin 11:12> was set apart by God in wearing on his head a royal nezer, whether of silk or gold we do not know. It was set with jewels <Zec 9:16> and was light enough to be taken into battle <2 Sam 1:10>.

(3) Coronation.-- The ordinary use of the crown. There were three kinds of kingly crowns used in coronation services: (a) The nezer or consecration crown, above referred to, was the only one used in crowning Hebrew kings. What seems to be an exception is in the case of Joshua, who represented both priest and king (<Zec 6:11> the American Revised Version, margin). (b) The `aTarah, and (c) the kether were used in crowning foreign monarchs. No king but a Hebrew could wear a nezer-- a "Holy to Yahweh" crown. It is recorded that David presumed to put on his own head the `atarah of King Malcam (<2 Sam 12:30> the American Revised Version, margin). The kether or jeweled turban was the crown of the Persian king and queen <Esth 1:11; 2:17; 6:8>.

(4) Exaltation.-- The `atarah, the stephanos and the diadema were used as crowns of exaltation. Stephanos was the usual crown of exaltation for victors of games, achievement in war and places of honor at feasts. The `atarah was worn at banquets <Cant 3:11; Isa 28:1,3>, probably taking the form of a wreath of flowers; also as a crown of honor and victory <Ezek 16:12; 21:26; 23:42>. Stephanos is the crown of exaltation bestowed upon Christ <Rev 6:2; 14:14; Heb 2:9>. "Exaltation was the logical result of Christ's humiliation" (Vincent). The Apocalyptic woman and locusts receive this emblem of exaltation <Rev 12:1; 9:7>. The symbolic dragon and beast are elevated, wearing diadema, <Rev 12:3; 13:1>. The conquering Christ has "upon his head .... many diadems" <Rev 19:12>. See further Tertullian, De corona.

(5) Remuneration.-- Paul, witnessing the races and games, caught the vision of wreath-crowned victors flush with the reward of earnest endeavor. See GAMES. He also saw the persistent, faithful Christian at the end of his hard-won race wearing the symbolic stephanos of rejoicing (<1 Thes 2:19> the King James Version), of righteousness <2 Tim 4:8>, of glory <1 Pet 5:4>, of life <James 1:12; Rev 2:10>. Paul's fellow Christians were his joy and stephanos <Phil 4:1>, "of which Paul might justly make his boast" (Ellicott). Long before Paul, his Hebrew ancestors saw the `aTarah of glory <Prov 4:9> and the `aTarah of a good wife, chilclren's children, riches and a peaceful old age <Prov 12:4; 14:24; 16:31; 17:6>. For Apocrypha references see 1 Macc 10:29; 11:35; 13:39.

(from International Standard Bible Encylopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (C) 1996 by Biblesoft)

Special headgear used to symbolize a person's high status and authority. Several different words in the original Hebrew and Greek languages of the Bible are translated as crown. Persons in the Bible who are described as wearing crowns include Vashti <Esth. 1:11> and Esther <Esth. 2:17>. The high priest and the king in the early history of the nation of Israel also apparently wore crowns as a mark of their office and authority <Lev. 8:9; 2 Sam. 1:10>.

The wreath of leaves awarded the winner of an athletic competition in the Grecian games was also described by the apostle Paul as a crown <1 Cor. 9 25; 2 Tim. 4:8>. The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus on the cross by placing a crown of thorns on His head, taunting Him as "King of the Jews" <Matt. 27:29>; (also <Mark 15:17; John 19:2,5>).

The Book of Revelation portrays Christ with many crowns on His head, signifying His kingly authority <Rev. 19:12>. Our inheritance as Christians who follow the will of our Lord is also described symbolically as a crown. As a reward for our faithfulness, we will receive an imperishable crown <1 Cor. 9:25>, one that will not wither or fade away, and a crown of eternal life <James 1:12>. (from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary) (Copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

CROWN. This ornament, which is both ancient and universal, probably originated from the headbands used to prevent the hair from being disheveled by the wind. Such headbands are still common, and they may be seen on the sculpture of Persepolis, Nineveh, and Egypt; they gradually developed into turbans, which by the addition of ornamental or precious materials assumed the dignity of miters or crowns. The use of them as ornaments probably was suggested by the natural custom of encircling the head with flowers in token of joy and triumph (Wisd. of Sol. 2:8; Judith 15:13).

Several words in Scripture are rendered "crown":

Nezer (lit, something "set apart," "consecration"; hence consecrated hair, as of a Nazirite) is supposed to mean a "diadem." It was applied to the plate of gold in front of the high priest's miter <Exo. 29:6; 39:30>; also to the diadem that Saul wore in battle and which was brought to David <2 Sam. 1:10>, and that which was used at the coronation of Joash <2 Kin. 11:12>. The crown was in universal use by priests and in religious services. Egyptian crowns such as that worn by Tutankhamen were elaborate and richly adorned with royal emblems. The crown worn by the kings of Assyria was a high turban frequently adorned with flowers, etc., and arranged in bands of linen or silk. Originally there was only one band, but later there were two, and the ornaments were richer.

`Atara, "circlet"; (Gk. stephanos). A more general word for crown and used for crowns and head ornaments of various sorts. When applied to the crowns of kings it appears to denote the state crown as distinguished from the diadem, as, probably, the crown taken by David from the king of Ammon at Rabbah and used as the state crown of Judah <2 Sam. 12:30>. As to the shape of this Hebrew crown we can form an idea only by reference to ancient crowns. The diadem of two or three headbands may have signified dominion over two or three countries. In <Rev. 12:3; 13:1; 19:12>, allusion is made to many "crowns" (KJV; NASB, "diadems") worn in token of extended dominion.

Kether, "diadem," refers to the ancient Persian crown <Esther 1:11; 2:17; 6:8>, which was, doubtless, the high cap or tiara so often mentioned by Greek historians.

Other Heb. terms rendered "crown" are zer, a wreath or border of gold around the edge of the Ark of the Covenant (<Exo. 25:11>, KJV, etc.; NIV, "molding"); and qodqod, the crown of the human head (<Gen. 49:26>; etc.). The Gk. word stemma is used only once in the NT <Acts 14:13> for the "garlands" (NIV, "wreaths") used with victims.

Figurative. The crown was a symbol of victory and reward, victors being crowned in the Grecian games. These crowns were usually made of leaves that soon began to wither. In opposition to these is the incorruptible crown (<1 Cor. 9:25>, NASB, "wreath," cf. <2 Tim. 2:5>), a crown of life or of glory <James 1:12; 1 Pet. 5:4; Rev. 2:10>. The meaning of the crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus <Matt. 27:29> was to insult Him under the character of the king of the Jews. The crown is also used as an emblem of an exalted state (<Prov. 12:4; 17:6; Isa. 28:5; Phil. 4:1>; etc.). (from New Unger's Bible Dictionary)
(originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (C) 1988.)