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The crown is an ornament of glory given to another and prominently displayed on his/her head. It represents the glory adorning the holy gospel and person of Jesus, and given to all who believe the gospel. This glorious gospel is that man, who disgracefully corrupted the glory of his original creation, is crowned with righteousness and life incorruptible by Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, and is now crowned with glory and honor, that He by grace should rule over the works of God’s hands (Heb. 2:7-9).

Besides the crown that is our head itself (II Sam. 14:25; Is. 3:17), Scripture refers to several kinds of crowns, each representing a different aspect of the glory given to and by Jesus. As expected of an ornament, one glory of a crown is its beauty. Thus, those being married were often adorned with a crown, or garland of beauty (Song 3:11). And in the Great Marriage, the Bride made beautiful by Christ’s blood, and the Bridegroom beautiful in His grace, are both crowns to each other (Is. 28:5; Is. 62:3). There is also a crown of wisdom. All who believe in Jesus, who is Wisdom, wear such a crown (Prov. 4:9). While the simple possess folly, the prudent are crowned with knowledge (Prov. 14:18). The wise wife is a crown to her husband (Prov. 12:4). Children of children reared in wisdom’s ways are the crown of old men (Prov. 17:6). And since wisdom comes progressively through life, gray hair should even be to us a crown of glory (Prov. 16:31).

Another crown is the glory of authority and power by anointing of the Spirit to office (Lev. 21:12). In the Old Testament, two kinds of officers were crowned. The high priest was endowed with the glory of holiness to the Lord, as indicated by an engraved gold plate attached to a linen crown (Lev. 8:9). The king represented the glory of powerful and righteous judgment by wearing a massive, jewel-encrusted, gold crown taken as spoil from the enemy (I Chr. 20:2). Prophets had no such crown, but had to be content with beautiful feet bearing the glorious gospel (Is. 52:7)—indeed, the gospel of a glorious crown made for Jesus from the gems of His people, whom as both King and Priest He would redeem victoriously from wickedness (Zech. 6:11-14; Zech. 9:15).

Fitting that in this gospel that includes Gentile gems, the Spirit would also lift a crown from Greek culture and repurpose it. This crown is called a stephanos, or the laurel wreath given athletes who completed or won events. As the Christian martyr of the same name (Stephen), this particular crown represents glorious victory by perseverance of faith unto death. So Paul summarizes his life as fighting a good fight, finishing the race, and keeping the faith with a view to “a crown of righteousness” that the Lord “shall give me…and…all them also that love his appearing” (II Tim. 4:7-8). Victory in this contest requires spiritual preparation, motivation, and endurance. The spiritual man (literally athlete) is not crowned except he strive lawfully (II Tim. 2:5). He must have discipline and temperance in all things (I Cor. 9:25) and hold fast to what he has, lest someone take his crown (Rev. 3:11). To be crowned, he must be faithful unto death (Rev. 2:10).

And yet, although requiring preparation, motivation, and endurance, both perseverance of faith and the crown of victory are gifts of grace. Striking that the first crown mentioned in the New Testament is the one of thorns pressed into the head of Jesus (Matt. 27:29). His royal crown was defiled for our sakes (Ps. 89:39). Therefore, the heavenly church gladly casts their crowns at the feet of Jesus saying, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power” (Rev. 4:10-11). We are given a crown, but He has many (Rev. 5:20). We have a crown, but He it is who made us kings and priests (Rev. 19:2). Our crown is glorious, but it is His glory (Is. 28:5). It will not fade away, because it is the crown of His incorruptible righteousness (I Pet. 5:4). The faithful unto death certainly receive a crown of life, but it is His life. And He it is who crowns us with loving kindness and tender mercies (Ps. 103:4). Christ indeed rewards our good works, but it is through His grace that He crowns His gifts (B.C., Art. 24). What a crown!