The Five Crowns
There are five different crowns that are to be given when our Lord comes, each for a special service, just as we read, “…Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor” (1 Cor. 3:8).
The Crown of Joy
The crown of joy is the soul-winner’s reward. “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?” (1 Thes. 2:19).
Paul went to Thessalonica and preached there three sabbath days. At the end of that time, he was chased out by the tremendous persecution that took place. But many were saved. When he wrote back he told them that they would be his crown of joy at the Coming of the Lord.
Next to the joy of our own salvation is the joy of leading others to Christ. This is a joy that does not end here but goes on into eternity.
The Crown of Righteousness
“For I am ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 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. 4:6-8).
The crown of righteousness is a reward to lovers of His appearing. Paul had not turned either to the right or the left in following the whole body of truth contained in God’s Word. He uses the words “the faith” in the sense of the things believed. For keeping the right course, Paul is to have a crown of righteousness. But let it be remembered that he says, “Not to me only, but to all them also that love His appearing.”
The Crown of Glory
“And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Pet. 5:4).
The crown of glory is for the pastor or elder who oversees the flock, with a real shepherd’s heart. There may be some reward here, but the great reward will be when the Chief Shepherd will appear. This is a humble service and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. An appropriate crown for such a service.
The Incorruptible Crown
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 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. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor. 9:24-27).
The apostle compared himself with those running in the races. He could have led an easy life eating and drinking. Paul denied himself many things. He looked for a reward, but not from men. His reward is an incorruptible crown at the end of the race.
The Crown of Life
This crown is mentioned twice, and under varying circumstances. To the church at Smyrna in a time of great persecution, John is told to write, “…Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). The crown of life is given for another condition. “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” (Jas. 1:12). It was temptation that brought sin into the world. So for resisting temptation there is to be a crown of life.
What is to be done with these crowns? “The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:10-11). It is even now our joyful privilege to cast our crowns at His feet and crown Him Lord of all.