Isn’t it wonderful that people who have yielded their lives to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will go to heaven and be rewarded for things they’ve done for Jesus? Of course, this is subject to conditions only God knows, possibly because He knows our heart’s motivations. In some cases, intended rewards might be lost due to fears about the character of God, inattention, a greater love for worldly things, unbelief or sloth.
Nevertheless, crowns and rewards are promised in the Bible. In Matthew 6:19-21, Christ urged believers to “store up treasures in heaven,” not earthly treasures. In Galatians 6:9-10, the Apostle Paul discusses the harvest we’ll reap if we don’t give up doing good. So with all this doing good, at some point, people want to know what will happen when they stand before Jesus during the final judgment.
For believers, this judgment involves rewards, or lack thereof, in heaven for how they lived after they were saved. The Greek word is crown is stephanos, meaning “a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor.” It refers to a wreath or garland of leaves on a victor’s head as a reward for winning an athletic contest. As such, a crown is used figuratively in the New Testament of the heavenly rewards God promises those who are faithful. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, Paul’s passage best defines how these crowns are awarded.
What are the 5 heavenly crowns believers will receive in heaven?
There are five heavenly crowns revealed in the New Testament that believers will receive: the crown of rejoicing, the imperishable crown, the crown of glory, the crown of righteousness, and the crown of life.
The crown of rejoicing.
The crown of rejoicing is first mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 2:19. In Philippians 4:4, the apostle Paul tells us to rejoice always in the Lord for all the blessings he’s showered upon us. As Christians, we have more to rejoice about than anyone else. In Luke 15:7, Luke tells us there’s rejoicing, even in heaven. The crown of rejoicing will be our prize, where God will wipe away our tears, and there shall be no more death, sorrow, or crying. There will be no more pain, for the former life is gone, as described in Revelation 21:4.
The imperishable crown.
First Corinthians 9:24-25 gives us a description of the imperishable crown. All earthly things are subject to decay and will perish. Jesus encourages us not to store our treasures on earth where bandits break in and steal and where rust and moth destroy. This is similar to what Paul says about the wreath of leaves that would soon turn brittle and crumble, but not the heavenly crown. Faithful endurance wins a heavenly reward, an inheritance that doesn’t fade away and will be reserved for us in heaven, as described in 1 Peter 1:4.
The crown of glory.
The crown of glory is mentioned in 1 Peter 5:4. Peter may be addressing the elders, but we should also remember that this crown will be given to those who long for or love His appearance. The word “glory” is an interesting term referring to God’s nature and actions. It involves His great brightness and splendor. Remember Stephen, who could look into the heavens and see God’s glory while being stoned to death. This word also means that the praise and honor we give to God is due because of who He is. It also recognized that believers are blessed to enter into the kingdom, into the likeness of Jesus Himself. As Paul so powerfully put it, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time aren’t worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
The crown of righteousness.
We first learn about the crown of righteousness in 2 Timothy 4:8. We receive this crown through Christ’s righteousness, which gives us a right to it, and without which it cannot be acquired. Because it’s possessed and obtained in a righteous way, not by deceit and force as earthly crowns are, it’s an everlasting crown, promised to all who love God and eagerly await His return. Through our sufferings, persecutions, and even death, we know our reward is with Jesus in eternity. The crown of righteousness isn’t for those who depend on their sense of righteousness or works. This attitude breeds pride and arrogance, not a longing, sincere desire to be with the Lord.
The crown of life.
Revelation 2:10 gives us a description of the crown of life. This crown is for all believers, but it’s especially dear to those who endure suffering and bravely confront persecution from Jesus, even to death. In the Bible, the word life is typically used to show a relationship that’s right with God. Jesus said that He came so we could have life more abundantly in John 10:10. Just as things like food, air, and water are essential for our physical lives, Jesus gives us what we need for our spiritual lives. He’s the One who gives “living water.” John 4:10 describes Him as the “bread of life.” We know our earthly lives will end, but we have the fantastic promise that comes to those who come to know God through Jesus Christ.
In James 1:12, James tells us that the crown of life is for those who love God, but how do we show our love for God? The apostle John answers this question for us in 1 John 5:3. According to John, we show our love for God by keeping His commandments. As His children, we should keep His commandments, obey Him, and always remain faithful. As we endure the inevitable pains, heartaches, trials, and tribulations, as long as we live, may we always move forward, look toward Jesus, and receive the crown of life that awaits us.
Will we wear crowns in heaven?
Just like rings, trophies, and plaques are given to winning sports teams or heroes, God apparently will do the same in heaven. He’ll give out specific types of crowns for those willing to go the distance and give that special effort in whatever God calls them to do. These crowns will be a special prize for maximum effort and excellence.
These crowns will also be incorruptible, lasting for all of eternity. They will be a unique mark and token given by our Lord to reward and honor those who faithfully served Him in this life, above and beyond what the average Christian would’ve considered doing for Him.