July 6, 2011
Crown of Righteousness
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Today we will look at the crown of righteousness. We know that every believer has the full righteousness of Christ imputed to the believer at the moment of salvation by faith in Christ alone. Yesterday, we reviewed the crown. This crown apparently refers to the special blessing of having a crown bestowed upon believers who love the appearing of Christ.
In the Future. The big word “eschatology” means the study of last things, and often means the study of prophecy and the end of the world. Paul refers to the future very often in his works, and always draws commands for daily living directly related to the future. In other words, Paul emphasized how the future impacted the present. In the context of 2 Timothy 4:8, we know that Paul has been describing the end of his human life. He looks forward to seeing Jesus Christ after he departs from this earthly life. He longs to see Jesus in person and receive the crown of righteousness. As we have seen, Christ will evaluate all the works of believers by fire, and then each believer will receive his praise from God (1 Corinthians 4:5).
The Crown of Righteousness. We know that every born-again believer has received the gift of righteousness by faith in Christ Jesus (Romans 5:17-18). In this sense, every believer will receive a crown which is righteousness (ὁ τῆς δικαιοσύνης στέφανος–genitive of apposition). Other scholars teach that the crown is the reward of the virtues of the righteous man (genitive of possession). In either event, the word “crown” (στέφανος) refers to a wreath for victors, and not the crown of ruling, diadem (διαδήματα–see Revelation 19:12). Personally, I also notice that the crown not not only awaits Paul for his service to Christ, but relates to his particular longing for Christ to return. In this context, while every true believer certainly has the righteousness of Christ imputed to him at salvation, some believers look forward with eagerness for the return of Christ, and other believers do not. For those believers who look forward to seeing Christ, then the crown of righteousness awaits them. We should all long to see Jesus, and expect to receive this crown of righteousness.
The Righteous Judge. We understand that the Bible teaches that the Father has delivered all judgment to Jesus Christ (John 5:22; Acts 17:30-31). Jesus will not judge by appearance, by with righteous judgment (John 7:24). In this case, Paul associates the coming of Jesus with the time for judgment, and looks forward to the judgment, because he has worked hard and long for Jesus. He longs to see his beloved Savior.
All Believers Who Love His Appearing. Jesus Christ, the Righteous Judge, will give a crown of righteousness to everyone who loves the appearing of Christ. If you do not long to see Jesus, you may be walking away from Jesus or walking away from fellowship with other believers (1 John 1:6-7). You may know something has gone wrong in your spiritual life, but you may not be sure how to fix it. Keep in mind one thing: if you desire to repent of your sinful behavior, and draw near to God, He always desires to draw near to you (James 4:6-10). God wants you to come home to heaven, where you will live with Him forever. When we leave this earth through physical death, as believers we know we will be at home with the Lord Jesus. Not only does the Word of God comfort us regarding the death of beloved believers in Christ, but it also allows us to avoid grieving as those unbelievers who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). We love His appearing because we walk in the light of Jesus Christ, and have no fear of condemnation when we see Him (Romans 8:1).
So we learn more about Judgment and Decrees today.
● As believers in Christ, we expect to be rewarded for our service to Christ, although we serve Christ by the grace of God.
● When we see Jesus, we should expect a crown of righteousness because we have been longing for His appearance.
● If you do not expect to receive the crown of righteousness, because you are afraid to see Christ in person, then you need to repent, change your ways by faith in Christ, and draw near to God by seeking Him.
Application for Today
As I live today, I intend to work for Jesus Christ, and long to see Him soon. I would like to encourage other believers today to long for His appearing. As believers who long to see Jesus, we also know that Christ will give to each one of us the crown of righteousness. Are you longing to see Jesus today?