The football season is about to end. High school state champions for various size schools have been recognized. The colleges have crowned division champions and conference champions. This year there were 40 winners in the bowl games. Next week the national collegiate team will receive its trophy. Then, next month there will be the Super Bowl trophy.
The awarding of trophies and crowns is not a recent practice. The victors in the ancient Olympic-like contests were awarded a wreath, a garland of leaves (the Greek word is stephanos). They used another word (diadema) to describe crowns of gold worn by rulers. This word is found only in Revelation. It was first worn by the dragon and beast, then by the victorious King of kings who triumphs over all evil rulers and wears many crowns (Rev. 12:3; 13:1; 19:12).
It is remarkable how often our life and its eternal rewards are described using the garland crowns of ancient times. It is ironic (or is it providential) that the same concept is still found in sports around the world in the 21st century. The garland trophy given to us is so different from the ancient ones.
That crown given to the ancients is described as a perishable one. “Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown” (1 Cor. 9:25). Those crowns made of woven olive branches would soon dry out and become brittle. Ours is so different. It is eternal. Paul continues by describing how he ran to become victorious.
The Bible mentions at least four aspects of our eternal crown. It is so different from all other crowns.
What is our crown made of? That dragon and that beast may have a golden diadem made by a man, but our garland crown is made by God. “Be faithful until death and I will give you a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). Our crown is eternal, it is a garland crown of eternal life.
It is a crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8). Paul came to the end of his life. He had finished the race and approached the finish line. He had overcome the power of sin and Satan, and God declares him righteous. His life’s choices were vindicated. Our righteous God awards a righteous crown.
It is a crown of glory. “When the Chief Shepherd appears, then you will receive the crown of glory which does not fade away” (1 Pet. 5:4). Our glorious God will reward us with His glory. What an amazing crown.
Finally, we are not given a crown, but we become a crown. Isaiah described us when he said, “You shall be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord” (Isa. 62:30). We honor Him by faithful service, and He honors us by making us His crown!