What are the crowns a believer can receive in heaven? What are the heavenly crowns?
The Bible mentions five different crowns a person can receive in heaven. These include an imperishable crown, the crown of righteousness, the crown of life, the crown of rejoicing, and the crown of glory. The notion of crowns in the New Testament period was associated with a wreath of leaves awarded to the victor of an athletic competition. Therefore, some suggest these rewards may potentially be something other than literal crowns, though there is no reason to doubt God would use actual crowns in heaven.
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The imperishable crown is described in 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable." In contrast with earthly crowns of leaves that do not last, the imperishable crown will last throughout all eternity.
The crown of righteousness is described by Paul in his last letter written to Timothy. Second Timothy 4:8 explains, "Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing." Here Paul was clear to indicate that this crown was not only for him, but was also available to any believer who longs for the appearing of Christ. His focus on the return of Christ indicates the importance of longing for Christ's return.
The crown of life is mentioned in Revelation 2:10 where we read, "Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life." This has sometimes been called a martyr's crown, something reserved for those who die as a result of their faith in Christ. While this crown would certainly include martyrdom, it may apply more broadly to those who persevere through difficulties and persecution of many kinds. James 1:12 adds, "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him."
The crown of rejoicing is mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 2:19 by Paul: "For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?" Based on the context, it is unclear whether this crown is related to a heavenly crown or simply an attitude of joy that will be experienced at Christ's return. In either case, it is clear that that other believers we have invested in will be a source of great joy in eternity.
Finally, the crown of glory is described by Peter in 1 Peter 5:4, saying, "And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory." In this context, Peter was writing to elders or local church leaders. Those who serve well as leaders in the church, according to God's standards and qualifications, will receive an eternal crown of glory.
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