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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary
1 Corinthians 9



Other Authors
Verses 24-27

The Seven Crowns

1 Corinthians 9:24-27


1. The possibility of winning a crown. There are two classes of Christians: one is the carnal, the other is the spiritual. There are some who imagine that such distinctions as we have just noted are true enough upon earth, but, that when Christ comes again, distinctions will cease.

We believe the Bible teaches quite to the contrary. Believers are not alike on earth in their service, their life, or in their fidelity to the Faith. For this very cause believers will not be alike in their rewards, beyond this life.

2 Corinthians 5:6-10 shows that there is a Judgment Seat of Christ, before which all must appear. The day of that Judgment Seat shall declare whether earth's service will be burned with fire, or whether it shall remain; whether the believer himself shall suffer loss, or receive a reward.

Revelation 22:12 shows that when Christ comes He will bring His rewards with Him. In view of that fact, we have the admonition that we should "so run that we may obtain." The prize is set before us. What we want to do is to live day by day, stretching every nerve to obtain. Moses was willing to forsake Egypt with her treasures, and to choose the suffering of affliction with the children of God, because he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

The possibility of a crown lies before us. If there is a possibility, there must be an effort to attain. Believers are in the school of Christ. They enter when they are born again. The day of rewards (you may call it graduation if you wish), lies ahead of us. Some vainly imagine that all will wear "crowns" in the Glory.

We wish to ask, "Where will you get the crown?" Crowns are rewards, and they will be given only to those who have won them. You cannot demand a crown. You cannot grab another's crown.

2. The possibility of losing a crown. God has said, "Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." You may have a crown as a reward for service and for holy living up-to-date, but if you fail to continue, and you fall by the way, you may lose your crown; even that crown which you have thus far been sure to obtain. You cannot lose eternal life. You can lose and you may lose the rewards which should be yours.

God has said, "In due season we shall reap, if we faint not." There are some who run well for a season. However, when the cares of life come upon them, and the pleasures of the world seek to ensnare them, or when the lure for gold enthralls them, they fall away. These will lose their crown. We read of one who once walked with Paul, "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world."

3. Paying the price of a crown. The Spirit said, "If we suffer, we shall also reign." However, if we deny Him, He will also deny us. We are "joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together."

People who prospect for gold are willing to pay the price of deprivation, and of toil that they may obtain.

The ones who run a race are willing to bring their body into subjection, and to so run that they may win. Let us, also, pay the price.

I. THE CROWN OF THORNS (Matthew 27:29 )

When Christ was delivered by Pilate to be crucified, the soldiers took Jesus into the common hall and robed Him with a scarlet robe. Then, they plaited a crown of thorns and put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand. Then they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews"! Afterward they spat upon Him, and smote Him on the head.

As we view our Lord thus crowned, we are stirred with indignation, and with grief. We wonder, however, if we are willing to share the ignominy and the shame of this mock-crowning? We were told by the Lord that if we would come after Him, we should take up our cross and follow Him. Should we not also take up our crown of thorns? If His brow was pierced, should we not be willing to have ours pierced?

The fact is, the world holds no brief for saints. It conserves the same attitude toward the Christly Christian, that it held toward Christ. The Lord said, "If they have hated Me, they will also hate you." If the wicked called Him, Beelzebub, they will also call us Beelzebub.

We know, therefore, that it is given unto us, not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His sake. In the world we shall have tribulation. We need not think it strange if men cast out our names as evil, for so did they with the Name of our Lord, who went before us.

As the study proceeds we will consider other kinds of crowns. There will be the crown of righteousness, of glory, of rejoicing, of life, and the many crowns. We wonder, however, if all of these crowns are not contingent, more or less, upon our bearing the crown of thorns.

II. THE CROWN OF REJOICING (1 Thessalonians 2:19 )

1. Paul's entrance to Thessalonica. The seventeenth chapter, of Acts tells how Paul in the city of Thessalonica preached three Sabbath days, opening and alleging that Jesus was the Christ. Paul entered the city of Thessalonica, with a heart burning for the salvation of souls. The result was that many turned to God from their idols to serve the True and the Living God, and to wait for His Son from Heaven. His entrance was not in vain. Without use of flattering words, without the spirit of covetousness, he labored and travailed night and day, being affectionately desirous of them. He was ready to impart not the Gospel of God alone, but his own soul also.

2. How the heart of Paul longed after the Thessalonians. His only joy seemed to be that they should stand fast in the Lord. He wanted them to be worthy of the high calling to which they were called in Christ Jesus. He sought to establish them in the Faith. After he had gone from Thessalonica, he sent Timothy back to inquire as to their welfare. Then he gave thanks to God, in their behalf, as he heard the story of their faith and love. Night and day Paul prayed that he might see their faces, in. order that he might impart unto them whatever might be lacking in their faith.

3. Paul's crown of rejoicing. Paul looked beyond his entrance into the city of Thessalonica, and beyond his heart's concern for souls, he looked into the future, and saw the Lord coming in the clouds of Heaven. He saw the dead raised up and the living in Christ raptured. It was in view of all this that Paul wrote, "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?"

We call this the soul-winner's crown. Each of us should, in our personal work and preaching, hold before us this glorious sparkling victor's crown.

III. THE CROWN OF GLORY (1 Peter 5:3-4 )

1. The service of the under-shepherds. Our verse begins with the story of the Chief Shepherd. This suggests to us the fact of under-shepherds over which Christ is chief. These shepherds are the elders who are called of God to feed His flock. There are many under-shepherds who are untrue to the sheep, and unfaithful to the Chief Shepherd.

Ezekiel gives us God's message to all such. "Woe be to the shepherds * * that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?"

There are some shepherds who eat the fat, and clothe themselves with the wool, but they feed not the flock. They neither visit the sick nor strengthen the diseased, nor bind up the broken; neither do they bring back the sheep that is driven away. God pity such shepherds as these.

The Lord admonishes the under-shepherds to feed the flock of God, and to take oversight thereof, "Not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind."

2. The rewards of the under-shepherds. Our key text says, "And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." Here is a crown that lies in the reach of every faithful shepherd of the sheep. There are some who love to He down, and who are forever looking to their own gain from their own quarter; to these the Lord will say, "Ye have your reward." There are others who shepherd the flock, and are faithful in serving them. These shall receive a crown of glory.

The idle shepherd, when he seeth the wolf coming, forsakes his sheep. The true and faithful shepherd is willing to lay down his life for the sheep.

The false shepherd destroys and scatters the sheep. They prophesy from their own head, and prophesy peace, when there is no peace. They stand not in the counsel of the Lord, nor do they cause His people to hear His Word. All such shepherds perish. True shepherds may have less here, but over there they will wear the crown of glory.


1. Fighting the good fight. Paul in the Spirit wrote Timothy that, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, he should endure hardness. He also wrote that a wrestler in the games striving for mastery should not entangle himself with the affairs of this life, but that he should strive lawfully, if he expected the victor's crown.

What Paul wrote to Timothy, he himself practiced. He said, "I have fought a good fight." Paul had lived a life above reproach. He had separated himself from everything that would hinder him in the great contest of his ministry.

2. Finishing the course. The Apostle had no greater desire than to finish his course with joy, in all sincerity and completeness. He said. "Having obtained help of God, I continue unto this day." He believed, moreover, that God would help him unto the perfect day.

He had been "in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft." He had been thrice beaten with rods, once had he been stoned, thrice had he been shipwrecked, a night and a day had he been in the deep. In speaking of his travails, he said, "In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of mine own countrymen * * in weariness and painfulness, * * in hunger and thirst * * in cold and nakedness."

As the Apostle comes to the end of the journey he now is able to say, "I have finished my course."

3. Keeping the Faith. The Apostle Paul contended earnestly for the Faith "once delivered." He would not turn to the right hand nor to the left. He preached Christ crucified, raised and coming again with unswerving fidelity. He not only knew the Faith, but he kept it.

4. The happy prospect. The Apostle Paul, as he viewed his life's ministry, said, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give me at that day."

This crown is a victor's crown, and it cannot be given to men who have failed to win it. Let us so fight, so finish our course, and so keep the Faith that we, along with Paul, and with those who love His Appearing, may receive the victor's crown.

V. THE CROWN OF LIFE (James 1:12 ; Revelation 2:9-10 )

1. The day of temptation and of testing. James is writing to the brethren that they should count it all joy when they fall into divers temptations (testings). John, in Revelation, in writing to the Church at Smyrna, says: "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." It is given to all saints, not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His sake.

As the days of the end come to a close, the day of increasing persecutions also draws near. The believer has always had tribulation in this world, but the days of Tribulation and of darkness will deepen as the shades of the Great Tribulation, spoken of by Daniel the Prophet, and emphasized by the Lord Jesus come. The Holy Spirit, through Paul, and in Revelation speaks of these days.

2. The day of rejoicing and rewards. The Holy Spirit, through James, said: "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."

The Holy Spirit, through John, in addressing the Church at Smyrna, said: "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."

Once more our crown is a victor's crown. It is only for those who win it. As we think of this crown of life, we are reminded of a gracious promise: "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him." So it is, that we reckon that the suffering of this present time is nothing comparable to the glory that shall be revealed in us. Indeed, we are joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, "If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together."

VI. THE INCORRUPTIBLE CROWN (1 Corinthians 9:25 )

1. Running the race. The context, which surrounds the "incorruptible crown," describes all of the saved as running in a race. The race-runners are also set forth in Hebrews where the Spirit says, "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us."

2. The rules of the race. The man who was running in the race, striving for mastery, was temperate in all things. In view of this the Apostle said: "I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."

In Hebrews we read, "Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." Surely no one can obtain success in running, unless he obeys the laws of the game.

3. The incorruptible crown: Those who run in the races of men do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we, an incorruptible. God will give us no mere wreath of flowers or ferns with which to deck our brow: "The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away."

Our crown will never wither, and never fade. Our crown, like our inheritance, is incorruptible, undefiled, and it fadeth not away; reserved in Heaven for us. Let us seek to obtain that crown.

VII. THE MANY CROWNS (Revelation 19:12 )

1. The vision of Jesus Christ coming again. The Lord Jesus is described, in the context which surrounds our verse, as coming down from an open Heaven, riding upon a white horse. The battle of Armageddon is before us. The nations have set themselves together against the Lord and against His Christ. In spite of their array, the Lord is coming to judge, and to make war. He is coming to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. The armies of Heaven are following Him, arrayed in fine linen, white and clean. A sword goeth forth out of His mouth. He is about to tread the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God.

An angel is crying unto the fowls that fly in the midst of the heavens to gather themselves together unto the supper of the great God. The beast is taken, the false prophet who wrought miracles before him is also taken, and they are both cast alive into the lake of fire.

2. The vision of the many crowns. As the Lord descends to the earth, there is seen upon His head many crowns. These crowns are regal crowns, they are glittering diadems.

The One who wore the crown of thorns, in His first coming, will, in His Second Coming, wear the crowns of royalty.

There are some who may fail to see any connection that saints may claim a part in this vista of Heavenly diadems. We are sure, however, that, as we began this study and considered the crown of thorns, all of us saw that saints bore a relationship to that crown. We knew that we were called to suffer with Him, and to go with Him outside the camp bearing His reproach. Shall we not also reign with Him? If we share with Him His crown of thorns, He will surely share with us the glory and dominion which His diadems declare. When He reigns, we will reign with Him. The Lord, Himself, said, "The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them."

If you desire that crown of glory,

You must the crown of thorns, now wear;

If you desire to share His glory,

You must His suff'rings also share;

So bear your cross in full endeavor,

And to His Name be ever true;

Then from His lips, in God's forever,

You'll hear your name confessed anew.



"A man will venture a knock that is in reach of a crown." "The ambitious will run all risks of cruel wounds, and death itself, to reach a throne; the prize hardens them against all hazards. Even so will every wise man encounter all difficulties for the crown of life; and when, by faith, he sees it within reach, he will count all afflictions light through which he wades to glory. 'If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.' "


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:4". "Living Water".

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Sunday, December 15th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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