The Bible specifically talks about 5 different crowns that will be given to some of God’s people when they enter into heaven. If you look very closely at what these crowns are going to be for, they will be for work that is done for God that is beyond the normal scope of what the average Christian may attempt to do.
This is for work that goes far, above, and beyond what the average Christian may actually strive for.
Just like trophies, rings, and plaques are given to sports heroes or winning teams in sports, God apparently is going to be doing the same thing in heaven.
He will be giving out certain types of crowns for the people who were willing to go that extra mile, who were willing to give that extra special effort in whatever God had called them to do.
These crowns will be a special reward that will be rewarding excellence and maximum effort.
These crowns will also be incorruptible and will last for all of eternity. They will be a special mark and a special token given by our Lord to honor and reward all of those who have faithfully served Him in this life – way above and beyond what the average Christian would have considered doing for Him.
Now here are the five specific crowns mentioned in the Bible.
The Crown of Righteousness
This crown will be given to those who have lived a good and righteous life for God while living down here on this earth.
I believe there are two definitions of the word righteousness in the Bible. The first definition is that we have now all been made righteous before God the Father as a result of Jesus dying on the cross for all of our sins. The righteousness of Jesus has now been imputed to us.
However, the second definition of the word righteousness refers to us living a good and righteous life for God the Father with what time we still have left down here.
There are Christians who are righteous before God the Father as a result of being saved through the blood of Jesus Christ, but they are not living righteous lives in their actions, words, and behaviors.
They are out committing adultery, scamming people through their jobs, abusing their spouses and children, doing drugs and abusing alcohol. These people may be saved in God’s eyes, but God is not too happy with the way they are living their lives.
We all know Christians who are like this. No one is perfect. We all have our character flaws, weaknesses, and certain temptations that we have a hard time in dealing with. God is not looking for total God-perfection.
The Bible says that all men have sinned and have fallen way short of the glory of our God. But what God does want from each one of us is at least some kind of concerted effort to try and live our lives “right.” To stay out of the heavier sins like adultery, stealing, cheating, and the abuse of alcohol or drugs. This is what is meant in Scripture in trying to live a good and righteous life. In other words – just do the right thing as best as you can and as often as you can.
We all know right from wrong! God just wants each one of us to choose to do the right thing when faced with certain temptations or choices to do something bad. And when we are having a hard time in trying to do the right thing, we have the power of the Holy Spirit Himself on the inside of us to help us out.
We also know Christians who are “righteous” down to the very cores of their personalities. These are the people who never have anything bad to say about anyone else. They hardly ever lose their tempers, they are totally selfless, and they would give you the shirt off their backs if they had to. We refer to them as being “saints, angels, or angelic.” The world refers to them as “goody two shoes.” The world has always made fun of these types of people.
They never joined the crowds in high school or college in trying out drugs or the abuse of alcohol because it just never felt “right” to them.
They were willing to be laughed at and ridiculed by others for not joining in with the rest of the crowd. They have always stayed true to themselves and to their basic convictions and would never go against their basic sense of right versus wrong.
These are the people you will be seeing wearing “crowns of righteousness” in heaven. These are the people that God is going to be rewarding big-time when they get into heaven because of the godly and righteous lives they have lived down here on this earth.
These types of righteous people just make the world we live in that much of a better place to live and work in because they are just so pleasant to be around and work with.
For those of you who may think being righteous is too corny and not being cool – just remember what the Bible has to say about this issue, and how highly God the Father values this quality in His people!
And when it is all finally said and done, these types of Christians will probably be receiving some of the greatest and biggest rewards that God can hand out once they enter into heaven.
These people will end up having the last laugh on all of those who have made fun of them in this lifetime for always wanting to do the right thing.
The Bible says that many of the first will be last once we all enter into heaven and receive our final rewards from God based upon the earthly works we did for Him.
To live a good and righteous life for God will really be worth your while, as you will definitely be given this crown by God Himself once you enter into heaven and who knows what else from His bag of goodies! Here is the verse. This is the apostle Paul talking:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
I believe this verse is literal interpretation – that the crown of righteousness Paul is talking about is real, and that it will be given to those who will be deserving of it.
The Incorruptible Crown
Bible scholars feel this next verse implies that some will be given what could be considered a “victor’s crown.” And this crown is called incorruptible. The New King James Version calls it an “imperishable” crown – the Original King James Version calls it an “incorruptible” crown. Either way, it will be a crown that will last for all of eternity.
The subtitle of this passage in the New King James Version is called “Striving for a Crown.” The apostle Paul goes on to state that those who run in any kind of a race, all run with the goal of obtaining some kind of prize.
He then goes on to state that those who run a race in order to win the prize are temperate in all things. In other words, there is a lot they have to give up in order to be in proper condition to run that race.
Professional athletes are a good example. They have to go through training camp to get ready for the season. They have to watch their diets and weight in order to be able to successfully compete in the sport they are in.
They have to give up a lot of their social life in order to stay in good shape. In other words, they do not live normal lives like the rest of us do. They sometimes lose time away from their families.
Paul then goes on to state that the people who run in these types of races and are forced to be temperate in the way they live their lives, all do it to obtain a perishable crown. Paul then tells us that we should all run the race of this life to receive what will be an incorruptible or imperishable crown that obviously can only be given by God the Father in heaven.
The point to get is that God calls some of His people to do things that will require some sacrifice and temperance in the way they will live and conduct their lives.
Some people may be called to be a Bible teacher in a far off and poor country. They will literally be working for pennies a day. They will have to sacrifice the bigger money they could have made had they stayed home in America and taught in the states.
I believe God is telling us in this passage that if He does put this kind of special call on your life that will require you to give up many of the normal things of this life, that you will be greatly rewarded for this sacrifice once you enter into heaven.
This verse also seems to be implying that these people will also receive this imperishable crown for the sacrifices they were willing to make for God in order to successfully complete the call and mission that God had called them to do.
Most people would not want to go through the rigors of trying to be a professional athlete, much less be willing to give up and sacrifice what athletes have to give up in order to be able to successfully compete in a professional sport.
This is why professional athletes are so highly admired and respected in our society. Most people realize the time, commitment, and sacrifice made by our athletes and they are thus well paid for their efforts and sacrifice.
Just as we respect, honor, and pay these athletes for performing for us, God the Father will also be rewarding some of His own spiritual athletes if they are willing to go that extra mile for Him to complete what may be a difficult mission or call. Here is the verse:
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.
Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an IMPERISHABLE CROWN. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
Bottom line – run whatever race or call that God has set out for you. Run that race with certainty, purpose, and intensity. Run that race to win. Run that race to be the best you can be for God at the position that He has called you to be on His team. Be willing to make whatever sacrifices it may take to successfully complete the mission and call God has set out for you.
If you are willing to do this for the Lord, you just may receive an “incorruptible victor’s crown” for going the extra mile for God and accomplishing for Him what many Christians would be to lazy to shoot for.
The Crown of Life
This next crown has been called by many the “martyr’s crown.” Jesus Himself says that He will give this crown to those who undergo severe hardship, testing, tribulation, and/or physical death on His behalf.
The Bible does not say anything about whether or not these 5 crowns are ranked in any way as to which is greater.
However, if they are ranked in any way by God the Father in heaven, then I believe there is a very good chance that this next crown will be ranked #1 out of the 5 crowns available to all believers for special service.
I do not think there is any question that being willing to die for your faith in God and Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice! It is the greatest act of bravery and courage that you can show God the Father.
And I believe that all of the Christians who have been martyred for their faith in God and Jesus throughout history will not only be given this crown of life, but will also be given some real special rewards once they enter into heaven.
I also wonder if this verse may be applying to all of the soldiers, policeman, and firemen who have lost their lives in a combat situation for either our country, fighting to save someone from a burning fire, or a policeman trying to save someone else’s life.
I believe there is a very good chance that this verse also applies to all Christian men and women who have lost their lives trying to save someone else.
Jesus says that when you are trying to do something to help out the least of your brethren, that you are really doing it for Him! If that is the case, then I believe God the Father will be honoring each of these men and women’s death as a true martyr’s death, and He will thus be rewarding them accordingly once they enter into heaven. Here is the verse:
“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the CROWN OF LIFE.” (Revelation 2:10)
The Crown of Rejoicing
This next crown has been called the “soul winner’s crown.” The apostle Paul is calling those he has saved his “joy” and his “crown of rejoicing.”
The word “crown” seems to be implying that God will be giving out a crown to those who have been instrumental in getting other people saved and led to Him through the blood of His Son Jesus.
If you compare this level of service with some of the other levels that will be rewarded with crowns, there is no doubt in my mind that God will be rewarding those who will try and get others saved with this special crown.
As I have said numerous times in my other articles, working for God to try and get other people saved is the greatest thing that you can do for another person while living down here on this earth.
When you get someone else saved and brought home to the Lord, you have just been the vessel used by God to give that person eternal salvation and eternal life.
The Bible does not say how many people you actually have to be instrumental in getting saved in order to be able to receive this crown. My guess is that it will be relative. God will simply be judging you by your willingness and desire to be used by Him to witness to others.
In our fast paced, materialistic, self-centered society, there are many Christians who are simply too busy to be willing to be used by God to try and get other people saved.
This is a whole another article, so I will not go any deeper. Just suffice to say that God can fit into your daily and weekly activities the opportunities for you to be able to witness and work with others to get them saved.
This could be some of your unsaved friends, family members, or co-workers – people who are right there in your own backyard.
God is a master in being able to organize and structure your everyday activities, and still have enough time left over in the course of a day, week, or month in which to continue to build you up in His Word, and at the same time, arrange for you to be able to help others out on a one-on-one basis for either witnessing to them get them saved, or teaching others about God and the Bible in order to help properly disciple them after they have been saved.
Here is the verse from Paul about this soul winner’s crown:
“For what is our hope, or joy, or CROWN OF REJOICING? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.” (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)
Notice Paul calls those who are in the presence of Jesus at His second coming his “crown of rejoicing.” You cannot be in the presence of Jesus at His second coming unless you have already been saved.
People believe that Paul is thus implying that a crown will be given to those who are instrumental in getting others saved and into the presence of Jesus. I agree with that interpretation. I believe the words being used by Paul are again literal interpretation.
The Crown of Glory
This next verse is telling the elders of the church to “shepherd” the flock of God. Shepherds lead the flock into the ways and knowledge of God. They are teachers.
These could be the Sunday school teachers, the pastors and ministers who teach the Word of God in their ministries, or people who are appointed by God into the office of a teacher like a Joyce Meyer.
I believe God will be giving His teachers and shepherds this crown due to the extreme importance of bringing up others into the knowledge and ways of God.
Once you get saved, this is just the beginning. God wants you to grow in His knowledge and grace by reading from the Bible and learning as much as you can about Him, His Son, and His Holy Spirit.
However, part of the problem is that the Bible is hard for many people to understand when they first try and read it on their own. They do not understand half of what they are reading.
This is why teachers and shepherds are needed.
Most newborns cannot understand the Bible the first time or two they read it. They need immediate help after they are saved and are trying to learn more about God and all of His ways.
The dropout rate for newborns is over 50% after the first year. I believe the main reason for such a high dropout rate is due to the lack of quality teaching and coaching from other Christians.
I believe God is always looking for teachers and shepherds to help teach and educate His flock. However, you have to spend some good quality time in the Bible and have a good understanding of the basics before He can really use you to teach and educate others.
For those of you who have been in the Word for quite some time and have a real good understanding and grasp of all the basics – I really believe that God can use you to help teach and shepherd other people.
It does not mean you have to sign up to be a Sunday school teacher or be promoted to the office of a teacher.
God can lead just a few people for you work with on a one-on-one basis at a time and pace that is convenient for the both of you to work at. The fact that God will be giving out a crown for this type of special service shows you the extreme importance that He is placing on it!
Getting someone saved is obviously the greatest thing you can do for another person, because with the gift of salvation comes the gift of eternal life.
However, being willing to teach and educate others into the ways and knowledge of God after they have been saved just might be the second greatest thing you can do for them this side of heaven. Here is the verse:
“The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed.
SHEPHERD THE FLOCK OF GOD which is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the CROWN OF GLORY that does not fade away.” (1 Peter 5:1-4)
Again, I believe this verse is literal interpretation. A crown will be given that will not fade away. The only way a crown could be given that will not fade away is if the crown is given up in heaven where nothing perishes or fades away.
All of these crowns will be permanent, incorruptible, and will never fade away. They will be eternal rewards bestowed upon those deemed to be deserving of them by God the Father for extra-ordinary service rendered on His behalf while living down here on this earth.
One last thought on all of the above:
Though all of the above Scripture verses are implying crowns and rewards for those who will be deserving of them once we all enter into heaven – I personally feel that the greatest reward you can have down here is just simply the “good feeling” and “sense of approval” that you get knowing that you are in God’s perfect will for your life – and that you are doing the best you can with whatever He is asking you to do for Him on a daily basis.