Paul was very fond of using The Race as an analogy for the Christian Lifestyle. To the Corinthians, he espoused this theme pointing to the victorious receiving a crown of corruption. That was a wreath of leaves of laurel which would soon wither. It wasn’t the crown that the runner coveted, it was the victory.. The crown was the proof of victory, but lasted for such a short time. Paul immediately points out that our crowns are incorruptible, lasting forever, being the proof of victory of Christian living. With this in mind, we'll be studying the crowns we receive as Believers.
I have heard studies on “the five crowns” we receive, but there actually are seven crowns. Two of those crowns we have already received and we wear them daily.
In order to have a complete Biblical study on crowns, one must always include the Old Testament in the search. Also, in order to get the broad picture, we should use the lexicons (I use the ones located at Studylight.org.)
So we click on the Hebrew, and when that lexicon opens, we then type in the word “crown” under the search feature. Voila! All the words translated crown appear. Here is the point that can get tricky. It is very easy to get distracted when discovering the different ways the word is translated and where it is used that particular way. The first instance where it is used other than the physical crown, is in Numbers 6.
Crown of Separation – the word is actually translated separation and is the Hebrew word nezer which means consecration, crown, separation. Looking closely at Numbers 6:8 we see All the days of his separation he is holy to the LORD. It could also be termed our Crown of Holiness. We are of God. He has transformed us through Christ's blood sacrifice into a holy people.
I know, I can hear you saying, “But that says separation!” Yes, it does. In order to make the correlation, look at what the word nezer means. It is translated crown and is used in describing the Nazarite. When we correlate this verse with one written by Peter in the New Testament, we see something amazing. 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a special people, a holy nation, priests and kings, a people given up completely to God, so that you may make clear the virtues of him who took you out of the dark into the light of heaven. Peter is talking about God setting us aside as peculiar people, special by divine design as well as divine purpose. The next crown we discover is just as intriguing and hard to pick out unless we continue using the Hebrew lexicon.
Crown of Protection is found in Psalm 5:12 translated surround. The Hebrew word is âṭar and it is a primitive root meaning to encircle as for attack or protection, especially to crown either figuratively or literally. The verse reads, For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround him with favor as with a shield. This verse tells us many things, for one God is all powerful and it is He who is our protection which is a blessing reserved for the righteous person. How assuring that promise is.
Therefore, the first two crowns are ones that we receive immediately upon being transformed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Just as He is our engagement ring, our seal of betrothal, He is also our shield of protection and our crown of holiness, separation from this world. He is our worldly dirt repellant and shield of grace.
Crown of Incorruptibility – Is found in 1 Corinthians 9:25 And everyone who strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Then those truly that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. This could also be called the Crown of Victory. Just as the first two crowns, this crown is given to every Believer. It is the mark of finishing the race of Christian living which is victory over death and sin through Christ who achieved that victory for us. It is everlasting and will never tarnish eternally sparkling and shining reflecting the glory of Christ our king.
Crown of Rejoicing is found in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 – For what is our hope or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are you not even to be in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy. The victor of the race had a crown as proof of his victory, Paul had the churches he had established, then supported with his letters and visits which reflected God’s glory and is a matter of much rejoicing. This crown is reserved for evangelists, missionaries, seekers of lost souls and those who bring the lost to Jesus to be saved. These do not seek glory for themselves, but consistently reflect God's glory and constantly give Him glory.
Crown of Righteousness is found in 2 Timothy 4:8 Now there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that Day; and not to me only, but also to all those who love His appearing. The Crown of Righteousness is given strictly to all who are saved because all who love Jesus’ coming are saved. Those who fear His coming or despise Him are not saved and will get the Lake of Fire, not this crown. The Crown of Righteousness will be worn into the 1,000 years of peace. Each person who believes God's testimony concerning His Son will receive this crown.
Crown of Life James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation, because having been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. This is the crown that goes to those children of God who have endured the trials and temptations, learning the lessons God has set before them. Also see Rev 2:10 This is the crown that goes to those who endure many things and do not waver in their faith. Their faith has been tested and it has been proven Sincere. They love God, and they trust God. We all experience times when we suffer doubt or when we ask out loud, “Where is God?” That is not questioned here. The Crown of Life is the proof of surviving the trials, temptations and tribulations of life. Those that are common to man and those that are allowed by God in order to strengthen our Spiritual Muscles. If we did not suffer trials, our Spiritual muscles would be flabby and unable to support the skeleton of our faith. We must exercise our muscles for a healthy body and the same holds true for our souls.
Crown of Glory 1Peter 5:2 ...to the Elders... 2Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight, not by compulsion, but willingly; nor eagerly for base gain, but readily; 3 nor as exercising lordship over the ones allotted to you, but becoming examples of the flock. 4 And at the appearing of the Chief Shepherd, you will receive the never fading crown of glory. The Crown of Glory is reserved for those who are the backbone of the church, the elders, pastors, teachers and those who are above reproach in guiding the Bride of Christ. (See 1 Peter 5:1)
Here is the exhortation, that we should always be working, using our gifts toward the edification of the body. When we set on a pew hatching nothing, then we will never receive this crown. However, when we utilize the gifts the Holy Spirit bestows upon us at the very instant we are saved, then we can look forward to this crown.
What will we do with these crowns, all these rewards we receive? Rev 4:10 says that we will throw them at His feet and glorify Him. Our job here on earth is to labor and be ready for His glorious coming.