Guest Article: The Crown of Life

My friend Jim Nicolosi recently sent this article to me for my consideration. I find it more than a little intriguing and challenging, and want to share it with our visitors. It has some great thought in it!

Don K. Preston


Crown of Life

Jim Nicolosi


The Gospels writers, except for Luke, record the event of Jesus being given a crown of thorns.

Matthew 27:29 – And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! (KJV)

Mark 15:17– And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, (KJV)

John 19:2 – And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, (KJV)

John 19:5 – Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! (KJV)

Jesus Himself makes no mention of any other type of crown in the Gospels to His apostles or other disciples.  None of His apostles or disciples inquires about a crown during His earthly ministry.  Other than the four instances cited above, the Greek word for crown, stephanos, (Strong’s # 4735) does not appear elsewhere in the Gospels.

In the subsequent books of the New Testament other than the book of Revelation, it appears six times as follows:

1 Cor 9:25 – And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible (crown- mine added to complete the thought). (KJV)

Phil 4:1 – Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. (KJV)

1 Thess 2:19 – For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? (KJV)

2 Tim 4:8 – Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (KJV)

James 1:12 – Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (KJV)

1 Peter 5:4 – And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (KJV)

Now the obvious issue at hand is that Paul, James, and Peter are now using the term “crown” in their writings. This is in spite of the fact that Jesus made no such promise or use of the term during His earthly ministry.  In his letters to the Thessalonians and Timothy, Paul even goes so far as to associate the receiving of this crown with the “coming” or “appearing” of our Lord, which is a direct reference to His Parousia, or as more commonly called, the Second Coming.  Peter makes the same assertion.  James goes even further as he writes “the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised”.

It has been demonstrated that Jesus made no such promise about a crown in His earthly ministry as evidenced by the absence of any mention in the Gospels.  Yet Paul, James, and Peter speak freely of such a crown as has just been shown even though the Lord made no mention of such in the Gospels.

The remaining instances in the New Testament scripture where the Greek word stephanos is found are in the book of Revelation.  The first one is in second chapter of the book.  Here Jesus states the following to the church at Symrna as written by the Apostle John:

Rev 2:10-11 – Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. (KJV)

In examining this statement, it should be noted that the term “crown of life” is found only one other place in the Bible, that being the previously identified sentence in the book of James (Chapter 1:12…“the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised”).  The next instance is Jesus’ admonition to the church at Sardis as recorded by John.

Rev 3:11 – Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. (KJV)

It becomes intuitively obvious that Jesus’ mention of and promise of a “crown of life” as found only in the book of Revelation has implications as to when the book of Revelation was written.  As James used this term in his letter and it is generally accepted that James died circa 62 AD, it stands to reason that James read or heard of John’s teaching or writing concerning the Revelation of Jesus Christ.  This implies that the book of Revelation must have been written prior to James’ death circa 62 AD.  It should be remembered that this is the only place (Rev 2:10-11) that Jesus promised the “the crown of life” as it was conspicuous by its absence in the Gospels as has already been demonstrated.  Furthermore, Paul and Peter associated this receiving of the crown with the “coming” or “appearing” of our Lord, which is His Parousia.  For the same reason as James, the implication is that Paul and Peter must have read or heard about this “crown of life” from John’s teaching or writing on the Revelation.  As Paul and Peter are assumed to have died in the late 60s AD, it is concluded that the book of Revelation was at least taught, if not written prior to the deaths of these three Apostles (James, Paul, Peter).

NT:4735: stephanos (stef’-an-os); from an apparently primary stepho (to twine or wreathe); a chaplet (as a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor generally; but more conspicuous and elaborate
than the simple fillet, NT:1238), literally or figuratively: KJV – crown.  (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)