Crowns in Heaven
Passages speak of these rewards as being crowns. The Greek language has two words meaning “crown.” One is the word diadem, which is a king’s crown, the crown of a sovereign, a person who is royal by his nature and by his position. This is the kind of crown that Jesus wears. The second Greek word translated “crown” is stephanos, a crown given to an overcomer, a victor, one who has won a race. This kind of crown is available to believers because they overcame in the spiritual warfare and are now crowned at the Judgment Seat of the Messiah.
There are five such crowns mentioned in the Scriptures:
The first crown is called the incorruptible crown in I Corinthians 9:24- 25: Know ye not that they that run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? Even so run; that ye may attain. And every man that strives in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
This crown is given to those who exercise self-control and gain the mastery and victory in the spiritual life. It is for those who have gained the victory over the “old man” or the sin-nature. It is for those who have learned to live a Spirit-controlled life.
The second crown is called the crown of rejoicing in I Thessalonians 2:19: For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of glorying? Are not even ye, before our Lord Jesus at his coming?
This crown is given to those who win souls for Yeshua the Messiah. It is a crown available to all those who do the work of evangelism and the fruit of their labors is seen in people coming to the Lord through them.
The third crown is called the crown of righteousness in II Timothy 4:7 8: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing.
This is a crown for those who have kept the faith both doctrinally and morally in spite of adverse circumstances. It is a crown given to those who have loved his appearing, those who look longingly for the return of the Messiah. Looking for His return is the result of sound doctrine and keeping the faith. A life lived in conformity with the New Testament will include the expectation of the soon return of the Lord. For such, there is a crown of righteousness.
The fourth crown, called the crown of life, is mentioned in two passages.
First, it is a crown for those who endure trials in James 1:12: Blessed is the man that endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to them that love him.
Secondly, it is given to those who suffer martyrdom for their faith in Revelation 2:10: Fear not the things which you are about to suffer: behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days. Be you faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Finally, the fifth crown is the crown of glory, mentioned in I Peter 5:24: Tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not of constraint, but willingly, according to the will of God; nor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making yourselves ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall be manifested, ye shall receive the crown of glory that fades not away.
This crown is for faithfully feeding the flock of God. It is available to those pastors, elders, and others who feed the sheep with the “milk” and “meat” of the Word of God.
There may be other crowns available, but these are the only ones referred to in the Scriptures. At least these five are available to those whose works remain; those works built of gold, silver, and precious stones.
The purpose of these rewards of crowns is to determine the degree of authority in the Messianic Kingdom, not for the Eternal Order. In eternity, all believers will be equal, but this is not so in the Messianic Kingdom, where believers may have different positions of authority. This truth is found in the parabolic form in Luke 19:11-27.
Source: Rapture of the Church: Pages 17-18. By Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum