Topic: The Fear of the Lord & Healing
Series – And He Healed them all:
To the church of Philadelphia write…
We began where we left off on Sunday in the letter to the church of Philadelphia:
Crowns in the New Testament…
There are two different words for “crown” used in the NT and only one of them is used in reference to Christians. It is the word stéphanos (4735)- In classical Greek it is not used of the kingly crowns even though it was the word used for the “crown of thorns” in the Gospels. This was a crown given the victors in the Roman games, They also indicated civic worth, military valor, nuptial joy, festival gladness. They were woven of oak, ivy, myrtle, olive leaves or flowers so that in appearance they looked like a wreath or garland.
Their are five of these wreaths or “crowns” mentioned in the NT as relating to Christians, they are…
- 1Cor. 9:25, “The incorruptible crown”
- 1Thess. 2:19, “The crown of rejoicing”
- 2Tim. 4:8, “The crown of righteousness”
- Js.1:12, “The crown of life”
- 1Pet. 5:4, “The crown of glory”
First, the incorruptible crown of 1 Cor. 9:16-27, let’s read it…
Here the example is clearly metaphorical and means to obtain the prize who is Christ. To lay hold on eternal life through a union with Him that is everlasting and never ending. To avoid being a cast away – or one who is disqualified.
Secondly lets examine the crown of rejoicing mentioned in 1Thess. 2:14-20.
In its usage here Paul has in mind the custom wearing or throwing wreaths in the streets in honor of visiting dignitaries. They were emblems of joy and expressions of devotion given by the people to the visiting official. As such, the Thessalonian converts are analogous to these wreaths and represent not what Christ will give to Paul, but what Paul will offer to Christ in joyous tribute to Him at His return.
Then there are the crowns of life and righteousness mentioned in James 1:12 & 2Tim. 4:1-8.
These are promised respectively to those who love Christ and His appearing. Such persons are not a special class of believers, but represent all true Christians.
The expression “those who love him” is just descriptive name for believers commonly used in Scripture.
- “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Rom 8:28
- “But as it is written: “EYE HAS NOT SEEN, NOR EAR HEARD, NOR HAVE ENTERED INTO THE HEART OF MAN THE THINGS WHICH GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” 1Cor. 2:9
- “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,” 1Pet. 1:5-8
The expression “those who love His appearing” serves to distinguish the saved from the unsaved as is also seen in Heb. 9:28, “He shall appear a second time for salvation, apart from sin, for those who eagerly await Him”
Finally there is the crown of glory mentioned in 1Pet. 5:1-4, let’s read it.
The word glory here is Doxa. The basic biblical meaning of this word refers to the recognition, honor or renown belonging to a person. When we read in Rom.3:23 that they “come short of [or lack] the glory of God,” it means they are not what God intended them to be. They lack His image and character.
The predominant meaning of the noun dóxa in Scripture is recognition. As such it may denote an external appearance which catches the eye, attracts the attention, or commands recognition. Thus it is equivalent to splendor, brilliance, glory which attracts the gaze.
This is in keeping with God’s command to the churches concerning their elders & the Apostles, Prophets and Teachers,
“Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.” 1Thess 5:12-13
The only other word for crown in the scriptures does not apply to us but to the Lord, the devil, the beast and as the constellation which represented Mary at the birth of Jesus.
It is the word Diadema 1238. This is not a crown but a filament of silk, linen, or some such thing tied around the head as a symbol of royal dignity. It is used in
Rev. 12:1 “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.”
Rev. 12:3 “And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.”
Rev. 13:1 “Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.”
Rev. 19:12 “His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.”
A promise of reward
He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar: Overcomers are told that they will be as a pillar in the temple of My God. Pillars were pictures of strength, stability, and dignified beauty.
The ancient city of Philadelphia suffered from frequent earthquakes. When a building collapsed in an earthquake often all that remained were the huge pillars. Jesus offers us this same strength, to remain standing in Him when everything around us crumbles.
The pillar holds up the building. The only thing supporting the pillar is the foundation. True pillars in the church support the church, and they look to Jesus as their support foundation.
He shall go out no more: The overcomer will have a place of permanence and stability with God, in contrast to an uncertain place in this world.
“The citizens of Philadelphia lived an unsettled and tremulous life. Whenever the earthquake tremors came, and they came often, the people of Philadelphia fled from the city out into the open country, to escape the falling masonry and the flying stones which accompanied a severe earthquake shock. Then, when the earth was quiet again, they returned. In their fear the people of Philadelphia were always going out and coming in; they were always fleeing from the city and then returning to it.” (Barclay)
I will write on him the name of My God . . . I will write on him My new name: The overcomer also receives many names – of God, the New Jerusalem, and the new name of Jesus. These names are marks of identification because they show who we belong to. They are marks of intimacy, because it shows we are privileged to know Him in ways others are not.
This works together well with the image of a pillar. In the ancient world, having a special inscribed pillar added to one of the temples sometimes honored a faithful city servant or distinguished priest. “Philadelphia honored its illustrious sons by putting their names on the pillars of its temples, so that all who came to worship might see and remember.” (Barclay)
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
He who has an ear, let him hear: We all want to hear the praise and encouragement Jesus gives to the church at Philadelphia. If we would be like this church, we must stay on their foundation, which was Jesus’ name and Jesus’ word. We must also depend on their source of strength which was Jesus, not themselves.
For much more depth concerning this teaching please listen to the recording.
*NOTE: I draw heavily from the writings of David Guzik, a fabulous commentator from Germany. You may obtain his commentary through e-Sword for free.