Sunday, 6 May 2018
Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Timothy 4:8
The word “Finally” here gives the sense of “henceforth.” Paul isn’t so much summing up his thoughts as he is saying, “From this point on, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness.” He is acknowledging that what he has worked for has been attained. His work is complete, and the Lord has the crown of righteousness set aside for him. His words look to the thought of the Grecian games. For the one who successfully worked through the games, there was a crown kept in hand for him. The same is true for the believer. A crown is laid up for him. Charles Ellicott says, “It is called ‘the crown of righteousness,’ it being the crown to which righteousness can lay claim—that is, the crown awarded to righteousness.”
Paul then says, “which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me.” He ties the righteous nature of Christ in with the bestowal of this crown of righteousness. Only one who is righteous can truly determine who has conducted life’s affairs righteously. Being God, His character is one of absolute righteousness, and thus He can and will judge righteously. For Paul, he is certain that he has conducted his affairs in a manner which will lead to his receiving this crown of righteousness “on that Day.”
The term, “on that Day,” is speaking of the day when the saints stand before Christ Jesus’ bema seat for judgment. It is not a judgment for salvation or condemnation, but one for rewards and losses. The judgment for salvation of believers was accomplished at the cross. The judgment for rewards and loss will be at this bema seat. It will be a judgment which is completely impartial, and perfectly fair.
From there, Paul says that the reception of this crown of righteousness is not limited to him alone. Rather, it is “not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” This is an important addition because the word “crown” has a definite article in front of it. It is “the crown of righteousness.” Because of this, one might say, “Gee, Paul got the only crown of righteousness.” But such is not the case. It is for “all who have loved his appearing.” It is a crown to be bestowed upon everyone who falls into this category. It is not “a crown of righteousness” (see incorrect KJV), but “the crown of righteousness.”
It is the same crown of honor to be bestowed upon all who love the appearing of Christ. It is His righteousness, once and forever bestowed upon the faithful soul who has trusted in Him, and anticipated His return. A taste of this is seen in the taking of the Lord’s Supper. There Paul writes, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” We take the Lord’s supper in anticipation of His coming. We do not worship a dead Savior, we remember the death of the Savior. From there, we anticipate the return of this resurrected and forever-alive Savior when He comes for His people. This is what is worthy of the bestowal of this crown of righteousness.
Life application: Have you called on Jesus, but let go of the eager anticipation of His return? If so, you should reconsider what it meant to you to have trusted Him and been saved by Him. Re-nourish your early faith in Christ, remind yourself of the depths from which He pulled you. Remember the difference between your life before that day and after that day. And then look forward to a change which will outshine that first change by a million-fold. What has happened in you was glorious. What is yet to come for you is exceedingly so. Re-ignite within you the fire of anticipation in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord God, I once was lost, but then was saved by You. The change from who I was to who I am now was immeasurable. Once we were enemies, but through Christ, we are reconciled. And yet, the change which has taken place is only a glimpse of the glory which lies ahead. O! May we eagerly anticipate that Day when we come before You in the crown of righteousness which is to be granted to all who have loved Christ’s appearing. Amen.