Do Rewards Exist?   

Points to Consider              

The Issue of Salvation           

Discerning Between Salvation and Rewards

False Teachings                     

The Protestant Problem    

Services That Result in Rewards   

Study of Good Works       

Eschatology of Rewards       

Judgments in Scripture          

Time of Judgment for the Church Age         

Romans 14:10-12                  

1 Corinthians 3:10-15               

2 Corinthians 5:10                  

1 Corinthians 4:1-5                 

Luke 19:11-27

Rewards of the Seven Churches in Revelation                    

Who are the “Overcomers”?             

Promises to All Believers                   

Crowns in Scripture               

Ranking of the Crowns                      

Individual Capacity for Glory


Do Rewards Exist?

Some question the existence of rewards for the believer.

Some feel it is selfish or materialistic to work for or expect rewards.

Does rewards mean some people will have them and others will not?

Does rewards set levels or graduations in heaven where one believer will outrank another?

Are there qualities to eternal life?  Can someone have a better standing and position in eternity?

Isn’t the kingdom of God all about equality?

Isn’t heaven suppose to be perfect?  If someone else has something I want, won’t I  be miserable.  If I don’t get any rewards I will feel like a second-rate believer for all of eternity?

What are the rewards?

How do I get rewards?

How do rewards compare with grace?

Aren’t rewards simply a way of God, or men, bribing us to do good?

Are not all our righteous deeds were like filthy rags before God?

Some people consider it humble not to seek rewards from God.

There are the thoughts that believers will never be judged by God or that we will be judged after death for our sins and properly punished.


The Foundational Principles

Rewards are available to the believer from God as recognition of that believer being faithful in service to the Lord.


Points To Consider

The believer who has been saved for many years and lives a faithful life will have more opportunity to build up rewards in heaven than one who was saved at the last minute or one who was saved early but never walked in obedience.

Rewards are not given out when you die but after the rapture at the reward seat of Christ.  The reason for this is that a person’s work is not completed at their death.  The apostle Paul is dead but his rewards are still building as his work in the earth continues through his writings and the deposit he made here.  The same as Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary.  He has passed on into eternity but the work he established, the people he influenced, and the books that he wrote are still being used in the church today.

It is possible to spend your life thinking you are serving the Lord but to get no rewards. (1 Cor.3:15; 9:27)  Receiving rewards is based on actions with:      

a.  Pure or sincere motivation                                                            

                        i.  To do the right thing for the wrong reason is zero 

            b.  Serving God in the truth                                                                

                        i.  To be sincere and pure in motives but to do the wrong      thing is zero.                                                   

                        ii.  Rewards are a matter of the heart and the head.                         

                        iii.  Rewards are based on knowledge of God’s will   and a heart committed to that will.                             


The Issue of Salvation

Obtaining salvation and obtaining rewards are two different avenues.

The believer will go through judgment at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor.5:10), but this will not be a judgment for sin.  This is stated in:

John 3:18- “Whoever believes is not condemned.”

John 5:24— “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believers him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned;  he has crossed over from death to life.”

John 6:37- “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Romans 8:1— “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

1 Corinthians 11:32- “When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.”

The judgment seat of Christ of  deals entirely with service and has nothing to do with sin.  Jesus has paid for our sins on the cross. 

1 Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.”


Discerning Between Salvation and Rewards

If you are alert it is easy to distinguish between verses teaching about salvation and verses discussing rewards for works after salvation.

1a.  Salvation is described in the scripture as a free gift:

John 4:10, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

Romans 6:23, “. . .the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. . .”

Ephesians 2:8, 9

1b.  Rewards are earned by works:

Matthew 10:42, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”

1 Corinthians 9:24,25, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize.  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

2 Timothy 4:7, 8; Revelation 2:10; Revelation 22:12; Luke 19:17

2a. Salvation is a present possession now in time:

Luke 7:50. “Your faith has saved you, go in peace.”

John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son of God has eternal life.”

John 5:24; John 6:47

2b.  Rewards are possessed in the future, given at Lord returns.

Matthew 16:27, “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.”

2 Timothy 4:8; Revelation 22:12

3a.  Salvation can not be lost.

3b.  Rewards can be lost.

1 Corinthians 9:27, “No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”        

            disqualified” is the word “adokimos”.  You may remember  the word “dokimos” or “dokimozo” from James 1.         It means to test to approve as one tests metal in a fire.  The             prefix “a-” in the Greek means the opposite or “anti-”.  To             be “adokimos” is to be the opposite of one approved or        accepted after the testing.  It means to be rejected after the                     testing.

Revelation 3:11,  I am coming soon.  Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take you crown.”

2 John 8  They should have received more rewards but error caused                     them to lose much of what they had worked for.

4a.  God offers the lost salvation through faith in Christ.

4b.  God offers the believer rewards for faithful service.


False Teachings

You can see the confusion in doctrine and life application if any of the above four get turned around by confusing salvation and rewards.

Salvation is worked for and rewards in heaven are distributed equally.

We get rewards on earth and our salvation is only obtained in eternity.

We can lose our salvation that we worked for.  Rewards can’t be lost since God would never give rewards to us for our works.

God offers salvation to the faithful believer.


The Protestant Problem

The Protestant Reformation in the 1500’s resulted in a rebellion against the Roman Catholic church.  The Protestants emphasized salvation by faith in Christ.  Rightly so.  This doctrine has been stressed and still needs to be stressed since many still do not understand that salvation is not achieved by works of man.  As always the pendulum swings to the extreme before it heads back to the middle.  In this case the focus on works and the rewards that come with it resulted in them being ignored.  When a truth is ignored ignorance occurs.  Where there is ignorance people’s lives are destroyed in that area.  (Hosea 4:6)


Services That Result in Rewards

Persevering under trial  James 1:12

Diligently seeking God  Hebrews 11:6

Martyrdom (Rev. 2:10)

Faithfully doing God’s will  (2 Timothy 4:8)

Looking forward to Christ’s return (2 Timothy 4:8)

Faithfully serving as a Pastor (1 Peter 5:4)

Leading people to a saving faith in Christ (1 Thes. 2:19-20)

Faithful stewardship (1 Cor. 4:1-5)

Acts of kindness (Gal. 6:10)

Hospitality (Matt. 10:40-42)

A Study of Good Works

Men have a sin nature and produce sin.       

All their works (from that sin nature) are filthy rags.

The saved man receives:                                                                  

a.  A new nature                                                                     

b.  A plan from God                                                   

c.  The Holy Spirit                                                      

d.  Good works to do                                     

When the saved man walks in the Spirit he will be led into the plan God has for him.  During his life he will come across and be led into the “good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  (Ep. 2:10)  That man will execute those good works from the new nature  he received at the point of salvation.

This born again man, who is walking in obedience, will receive rewards from God for having done the things God created him and re-created him, to do.   Only a born again man can achieve these rewards.  Only the good deeds done by the power of the Spirit will be rewarded.

If the “good works” have been prepared  in eternity then the rewards have also been prepared.  They are ready.  Are you?

Eschatology of Rewards

            Numbered on the timeline below are:

            1.  Judgment of believers in the Church Age                        

            2.  Judgment of Old Testament Saints                                              

            3.  Judgment of Saints from the Tribulation Period                           

            4.  Judgment of Jewish survivors from the Tribulation                     

            5.  Judgment of Gentile Survivors from the Tribulation.                   

            6.  Judgment of Satan and fallen angels.                                          

            7.  Judgment of unsaved (lost) of all time.



Judgments in Scripture

Judgment of believers in the Church Age (“bema” seat )                 

      a.  1 Cor. 3:10-15                                                             

      b. 2 Cor. 5:10                                                                               

      c. Romans 14:10                                                                         

      d.  1 Cor. 4:1-5                                                                             

      e.  1 Cor. 9:24-27                                                             

      f.  1Thes. 2:19                                                                              

      g.  2 Tim. 4:8                                                                                

      h.  James 1:12                                                                             

      i.  1 Peter. 5:4                                                                               

      j.  Rev. 2:10                                                                                  

      k.  Rev. 3:11                                                                                

      l.  Rev. 4:4                                                                        

      m.  Rev. 4:10

Judgment of Old Testament Saints                                                   

      a.  Daniel 12:1-3                                                                           

      b.  Rev. 20:11-15

Judgment of the Saints of the Tribulation Period                              

      a.  Rev. 20:4-6

Judgment of Jewish survivors of the Tribulation                               

      a.  Ezekiel 20:34-38                                                                     

      b.  Matthew 25:1-30                                                                     

      c.  Lev. 27:32—pass under the rod to purge out the rebels

Judgment of Gentile Survivors of the Tribulation                              

      a.  Matthew 25:31-46                                                                   

      b.  Joel 3:2

Judgment of Satan and fallen angels                                                

      a.  Matthew 25:41                                                            

      b.  Revelation 20:10                                                                     

      c.  Jude 6-7

Judgment of unsaved (lost) of all time (Great White Throne)                       

      a.  Revelation 20:11-15                                                                

      b.  John5:29


Time of Judgment for Church Age

Rewards are given when Jesus returns for his church.                  

“Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes.  He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.  At that time each will receive his praise from God.”                     1 Corinthians 4:5

“Now there is in store 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 longed for his       appearing.”                                                   2 Timothy 4:8

“Behold, I am coming soon!  My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”   Revelation 22:12

“Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”                           Luke 14:14

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that yo may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.”                                             Philippians 2:15,16

“For what is our hope, l our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in  the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes?  Is it not you?”                                              1 Thessalonians 2:19


Romans 14:10-12

“You, then, why do you judge your brother?  Or, why do you look down on your brother?  For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.  It is written: ‘As surely as I live’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’  So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”

14:10  For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat” 

The context is the brother of weak-faith who condemns the brother who is not legalistic (“judge your brother”).  This is followed by the brother of stronger-faith who condemns and looks down on the pathetic doctrine of the weak-faith believer. (“look down on your brother”) 

We do not need to hand out the judgment and rewards because God will take care of it.  The point is it is wrong to assume for ourselves the task of evaluating each others work.  It is a sin of taking Christ’s position for yourself.  There is great freedom in this to live and let live.  You are occupied with the knowledge that the judge from eternity is observing you and preparing his verdict.  Are you preoccupied with preparing a pre-season evaluation of others?

(MSS note:  “God’s  judgment seat  is found in many manuscripts and is believed to be original.  Many other manuscripts have “Christ’s” judgment seat in the Greek text.  This appears to have been brought over from 2 Corinthians5:10.  “God’s” appears to be the correct translation, and even the theology of God’s judgment teaches that it has been handed to the Son and will be executed by Christ.  John 5:22, 27)

stand before” is “paristami” and means “to place beside, to stand beside.”  The technical meaning is to stand before a judge as in Acts 27:24.

judgment seat” is “bema” and refers to a raised place that is mounted by steps or a platform.  It is the technical term for the official seat for a judge who is handing down judgments.

This judgment helps put in perspective the seriousness of the Lord’s return.  We comfort ourselves in the thought of joy at the Lord’s return, but here we are directed to consider that we will be judged at the Lord’s return.  Our current lives will be placed beside the manifested glory and holiness of God on that day.  Joy may be the last thing we experience on this occasion.  

This judgment is for believers and is not to evaluate them for the category of lost or saved.  Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus

Some extent of loss will occur. . . . .1 Cor. 3:12-15

Whatever is not loss will result in reward. . .1 Cor. 4:4-5

14:12    “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”

In context the emphasis is on the fact that on that day we will give an account of OURSELVES.   We will not be held accountable to give an account, or even a testimony against, some of our brothers.  Jesus has that under control.   Application:  Today we should be constantly evaluating and judging our own actions, thoughts, and motives.  If this consumed us there would be no time to worry about others.

“Account” is the word “logos” which means “word, or a rational expression.”  We will not just stand there and duck.  We will be required to speak before the God and judge of the universe.  (The option of speaking through an attorney at this judgment is not said to be available in scripture.)  You will speak to the king on your own behalf.

Matthew 18:23 and Matthew 25:14


1 Corinthians 3:10-15

“By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it.  But each one should be careful how he builds.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.  If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.  If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”

This passage of scripture is discussing the building of the church and is in reference to the individual teachers and pastors building the church by building into people’s lives. 

Foundation” is Jesus Christ.

We build on this foundation which becomes our life’s work.  The context is in reference to the teachers and pastors.  The application can be made to each of our individual lives.

Gold, silver and costly stones where used to adorn the ancient temples.  These building materials refer to the pure doctrine and the precious word of God. 

Wood, hay and straw were used to build the average person’s residence.  They may be nice but you did not find royalty or the priesthood of the ancient world living in this basic type of building.


            Proverbs 30:6— “Do not add to words”                                             

            Isaiah 8:20                                                                              

            Jeremiah 23:25-29                                                                 

            Matthew 15:5-9

The “Day” refers to Jesus Christ return.                                                       

            1 Thes. 5:2-9                                                                          

            2 Thes. 2:2

Fire” speaks of judgment.  Judgment works two directions:                      

            1)  Fire is a purifying agent                                                    

            2)  Fire destroys or consumes

Both are true of God’s judgment.  See fire in:                                               

            Jeremiah 23:25-29                                                                 

            Isaiah 8:20                                                                              

            Isaiah 28:17                                                                            

            Ezekiel 13:10-16                                                                                

            Zechariah 13:9                                                                       

Judgment by the Word of God:                                                                 

            John 12:42                                                                             

            Hebrews 4:12                                                             

The winners:                                                                                    

            1 Peter 1:7                                                                 

Those who suffer loss:                                                                               

            Matthew 16:23-28                                                                  

            Ezekiel 44:10-16—Some believing Levites will have a lesser position in Millennium due to their unfaithfulness.  They did not serve the truth but instead failed morally and in responsibility. 

The faithful Levites will have privileges because they did not fail to perform their assignments.                             

Consider Luke 9:25


2 Corinthians 5:10

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body whether good or bad.”

appearis the Greek word “ fanerwqhnaior “phanerothanai”.  The meaning of this word is “to make clear, to manifest.”  The meaning of this word is not “they will need to show up”, or “you will need to be there”.  This word means your life and character will be crystal clear.  Everything you did and the motives will be made obvious.  Maybe for the first time we will see the motives we had while we were serving the Lord.               The motive will be clear as it says in 1 Corinthians 4:5:

                        “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes.  He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.  At that time each will receive his praise from God.”  

                        “All a man’s ways (or, his actions) seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart (or, motive).”              Proverbs 21:2

                        “If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it?                                Will he not repay each person according to   what he has done?” Proverbs 24:12          

Also notice what is judged.  It says “we” not our works.         

Our service is an extension of ourselves.  What is in our hearts manifest itself in our works. (Though the works are said to be judged in 1 Cor. 3:13, it indicates the “quality” of the works will be judged.)

Of course,  two people may do the same good service for two different reasons.  Consider those who were preaching Christ in an attempt to out preach Paul and do it for envy and competition:                                                                                           

"It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of good will.  The latter do so in love, knowing that    I am put here for the defense of the gospel.  The former  preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter?  The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.”                                                                                             Philippians 1:15,16

Notice above that both were doing the same work: Preaching Christ.  The difference was in there motives:                                                        

            1)  Out of envy and rivalry, out of selfish ambition.              

            2)  Out of good will, in love, in knowledge, sincerely.

Jesus warned of wasting our lives in service to honor ourselves:

            “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have o reward from your Father in heaven.”             . . . “I tell you the truth, they have  received their reward in full.”              Matthew 6:1, 5

Judgment seat” the word is “bema” and is the place of judgment and reward.  Called here the “judgment seat of Christ” and in Romans 14:10 the “judgment seat of God.”

Due” is from the word “komizw” or “komizo” and it means “to bring”.  It is in the middle voice here giving it the meaning of “to carry off, to get for oneself, to receive, to receive as recompense.”  It is referring to receiving what belongs to you.

Things done” pictures the whole life of the believer as a single unit. 

In the body” this is the position for the basis of your operation.  Notice, your body is not judged.  You, the one living in the body, will be judged.

Bad” means “worthless, bad, of not account, good-for nothing.  The word indicates the impossibility of any true gain ever coming forth; worthlessness is the central notion.”  It is not sin or evil.  This is the wood, hay and straw of 1 Cor. 3.  The things that may have earthly value but are worthless in the light of eternity.


1 Corinthians 4:1-5

“So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God.  Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.  I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.  My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent.  It is the Lord who judges me.  Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time;  wait till the Lord comes.  He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.  At that time each will receive his praise from God.”

“Entrusted” refers to someone such as a steward given the responsibility of managing a household for a master.

“Faithful” is the key concept.  The master has given you an assignment and the master will evaluate your performance.  What if some other evaluation comes along that judges your performance on a different criteria than the original responsibilities assigned by the master? 

            1)  “I care little if I am judged by you”, an individual on earth

            2)  “I care little if I am judged . . .by any human court”, a group or establishment on earth.                                    

            3)  “I do not even judge myself”, in other words Paul is saying he does not even have the freedom to set his own life goals nor to establish the                               criteria for self-evaluation.

He can only do what he was assigned to do.  If someone, even himself, wants to change the assignment or the evaluation process, Paul must stay focused on the original assignment.


Jesus Parable of the Coins Teaches Rewards See Jesus parable in Luke 19:11-27:                                               

verse 13 “Put this money to work” is one Greek word and it means “to gain by trading” and “to do business with.”  They were given something that belonged to “a man of noble birth.”  They were suppose to work for the man in his place while he was gone.

verse 14, another group is introduced as “his subjects” who “hated him”.  Apparently, in the noble man’s absence there are  two groups:

            1)  His servants, who had been given a portion to be responsible for and to do business with.                               

            2)  Subjects of his domain, but not his servants.  These subjects were against the noble man and so they would have been opposed to his                                servants carrying on   his business.

Cities for coins.  The servants who were faithful to their assignments and carried on business in a potentially dangerous environment were rewarded cities for their increase in coins.  (A “mina” was a coin worth 100 drachmas or 100 days of pay.)

Each servant started with one mina.  Ten servants turned in results.  We only have three of them.  One produced 10, another 5.

The unproductive servant had his information about the noble man confused.  He did not live in the way the master told him to.  The noble man said “put this money to work” but instead he hid the coin.  He suffered loss upon the return and judgment of the noble man.

The evaluation of the two groups (servants and subjects):               

      1)  Servants (Believers)                                                                           

            i)  Productive:  Coins turned into cities                                              

            ii) Unproductive:  Loss  Even what he has will be taken away”                                                   

      2)  Subjects who hated him (unbelievers)                                                           

            i) “But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and   kill them in front of me.”                     


                                                                                                                        Promises to Seven Churches in Revelation

Ephesus- “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life which is in the paradise of God.”(2:7)

Smyrna- “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (2:10) “He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.” (2:11, as in “the fiery lake of burning sulfur” from 21:8)

Pergamum- “To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna.  I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” (2:17)

Thyatira- “To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—’He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery.’  just as I have received authority from my Father.  I will also give him the morning star.” (2:26-28)

Sardis- “He who overcomes will like them be dressed in white.  I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.” (3:5)

Philadelphia- “Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God.  Never again will he leave it.  I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God, and I will also write on him my new name.” (3:12)

Laodicea- “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (3:21)



Who are those who “Overcome”?

“To him who overcomes. . .” Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21

“Overcomes” is from the Greek word developed from nikh nika” which means “conquest, victory” and is used once in the NT in 1 Jn. 5:4.  The word in Revelation for “overcome” is the word nikaw nikao” and means “to subdue.”  It is translated 24x as “overcome”, 2x as “conquer”, 1x as “prevail” and 1x as “get the victory,”  It is used in reference to God in Romans 3:4 and to Christ in John 16:33, Rev. 3:21, 5:5 and 17:4.  In reference to the believer it is used in Romans 12:21; 1 John 2:13-14; 4:4; 5:4-5; and Rev. 12:11; 15:2; 21:7.  In Rev. 2:7 “overcome” means “to be the victor, to gain a victory, to be victorious.”  This seems to be a term applicable to all believers rather than to a limited or special group When we study John’s use of it and the promises here in Revelation 2 and 3. 

John uses it 7x in John and First John and 16x in Revelation.  To John faith manifested itself in victory.  The Believer/Conqueror prevails over evil through his faithfulness to Christ.  In Revelation the victor is the martyr. 

“To him who overcomes. . .” could then be translated “To the victor. . .” or “To the conqueror. . .”

1 John 5:1, 4,  Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. . .Everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

To believe in Christ means you have overcome the unbelief and sin of the world.

The overcomers are not a special group of believers who surpass others in performance.  This is a general description of normal believers. 

John uses the word “overcomes” for the believer/conqueror because he expects a believer in Christ to have victory  over the world.

The victory we achieve is like the victory Jesus achieved: “Just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Rev. 3:21)

In the use of “overcome” in John’s writing there is a tension between positional truth and achieved rewards.  Even the white clothes are:                                                                                         

            a)  a result of being washed in the blood of the lamb, (Rev. 7:13,14)                                                                                               

            b)  described as being “the righteous acts of the saints.” (Rev. 19:8)   So, all believers have all the rewards mentioned to the seven   churches, though some believers will expand and increase the victory from this position as an overcomer.

Those who do not overcome:  “He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  This will be the second death.”


The Promises from Revelation 2 and 3:

Each promise:                                                                                                                  

                a)  Is the victors reward                                                                                     

                b)  Are spoke metaphorically and symbolically                                                           

                c)  Are difficult to clearly interpret                                                                    

                d)  Correlate with the last two chapters of Revelation 

                                - tree of life in 2:7 and 22:2              

                                -second death 2:11 and 21:4

 Tree of Life     One of many trees given to Adam and Eve in Paradise. (Gn.2:9)  Made off limits to man after fall (Gn.3:22,24)  The age of Messiah will restore this tree and Paradise to man (Is.51:3; Ez.36:35; Rev.22:1-4,14)  Man will eat of this tree and live forever.  Consider John 5:51, “If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever.”    Right to eat of this tree is removed in Rev.22:19.

Second Death     No promise of deliverance from natural death or martyrdom.  The overcomer will not face the second death.  Rev. 21:8 says, “Their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  This is the second death.  Rev. 20:6, “Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection.  The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”   Rev. 20:14, “the lake of fire is the second death.”

Hidden Manna     The emphasis is on “hidden.”  Legend records that Jeremiah hid the jar of manna and it will be restored to mankind in the millennium.  This is probably referring to our eternal relation with Jesus who is the manna from heaven.  He will be the source that sustains us for all time in his kingdom.

White Stone         Possibly a brilliant diamond.  In courts of law the accused received a white stone on acquittal and a black tone if guilty.  Special stones were used as invitations to social events to the select guests.  Stones with inscriptions were used which may mean the value of the stone was the name inscribed on it.


New Name           Their new eternal world and society includes a new name.  To know a person’s or a god’s  name meant to have power and authority over them.  These overcomes have an eternal source, an honored position and are above dominion.

Authority over the nations               “to the end” means “completely”, not to the end of life.   A place of responsibility in His kingdom.  “Rule” is “poimanei”, “to shepherd.”  It is not just judging, but leadership and guidance.  “Iron scepter” is wooden staff of shepherd with an iron point.  “Dashing pottery” refers to ancient kings smashing clay vessels with enemies names inscribed on them.  This means absolute, sovereign power from God.

The Morning Star                Jesus is the morning star in Rev. 22:16.  This refers to the rulership that arrives at the dawning of a new age just like a morning star arrives before a new day.

Dressed in White                White garments are the attire appropriate for the heavenly society.  Rev. 3:18, 6:11; 4:4; 7:9, 13; 19:14.  Where do the white garments come from?  Rev. 7:13-14 says, “ ‘These in white robes—who are they. . . ?  They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.’   These are believers.  A believer has the acceptable clothing for the New Jerusalem.  An inscription found in Asia Minor says: “Soiled clothes disqualifies the worshipper and dishonors the god.”  Rev. 19:8 says, “Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.  Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.”   Believers will have unpolluted glory.

Never Blot Out His Name                The ancient world had the custom of keeping a list of citizens but striking out the names of people who had died.  To be blotted out meant to forfeit the privileges of the kingdom.  The believers of this time period risked losing their earthly citizenship by confessing Christ.  What counts is our acceptance in the courts of heaven and the society there.  This world’s registry of the living is passing away.  Verses concerning the Book of Life:  Ps.69:28; Ex. 32:33; Ps. 109:13; Dn. 12:1; Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20:15; 21:27; Phil.4:3; Isaiah 4:3; Ezekiel 13:9; Lk.10:20; Heb.12:22-23.  Believers will never lose their heavenly citizenship.

Confess His Name            Matthew 10:32,33 says, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.  But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”  The word “acknowledge” in Mt. 19:32 is the same as “confess” here in Rev. 3:5 (also Luke 12:8)  It is “homologeo” in Greek from two words “homo” meaning “same” and “lego” meaning “to speak.”  Homolegeo” means “to speak the same thing.”  In the Greek it appears like this:

                omoleghsei            en                   emoi                                                          shall confess    (untranslated “in”)   me (dative case of this personal                                                                             pronoun indicates the one to or for who                                                                         an action occurs.  In this case the                                                                    confessing occurs for the personal                                                                                 interest of “me” (Jesus)

Matt. 10:32 literally says, “Everyone who shall confess in Me for my case, or for me before men, in him for his case, or for him, will I confess before my Father.”  The confession will be determined by the context of the circumstances we find ourselves in.  It appears to be in reference to a public confession of some sort.  We confess allegiance to Christ in what we say, in what we do and in the choices we make.  He will acknowledge us as his faithful servants.  If you have placed faith in Christ you have confessed him in this world and are called an overcomer by John.

Pillar in the Temple            Pillars are for structural support and a picture of stability.  We will not simply be in the kingdom taking up space, but will be useful, even necessary, for we will be part of the structural security of the kingdom.  Peter writes, “You also, as living stones are being built up as a spiritual house. .  .” (1 Peter 2:5)

Will write on him Three things are written on each believer. 1—The name of God which will indicate ownership and sworn allegiance of a two way covenant.  2—The name of the city of God, “New Jerusalem.”  This indicates citizenship at a very committed level.  Your address, or proof of citizenship in this incredible city, will be tattooed on your resurrection body.  3—Jesus’ new name which is known only to him (Rv.19:12) shows the depth of relationship we have with him as a member of his royal family.

Sit on Jesus throne                Even Ephesians 2:6 says we are seated with him in heavenly realms. 

Many of these promises are found in Jesus’ teachings and the NT epistles.  None of these teachings are radically new here.  They are identified here in these seven letters from Jesus to the churches to encourage the believer/conqueror to fight the good fight and continue to overcome the world.   We are to know that we are already eternal citizens of an eternal society.  Our names will never be removed.  Do not allow yourself to misrepresent your eternal home.


Crowns in Scripture

The “stephanos” (stefanoV)  the victors crown.  It is the symbol of victory given to the winners in the Greek games or a contest.  It is a reward or a prize.  It is used in these verses:

            1 Corinthians 9:25; 2 Timothy 2:5

The “stephanos” is also used as a ornament for festivities and celebrations in these verses:

             Proverbs 1:9; Proverbs 4:9; Song of Solomon 3:11; Isaiah 28:1

The “stephanos” was also used to honor  someone publicly who had distinguished themselves in service or given to someone for their worthiness.  These were worn at the parousia (advent or return) of kings.

The “diadema” (“diadema”) was the kingly crown.  It is the crown worn by nobility who were possessor of a royal position.

Ranking of the Crowns

There are five crowns mentioned in scripture.  They deal with different aspects of the Christian life.  The crowns reflect levels of maturity in regards to a believers growth and accomplishments of service to the Lord.  They are placed here in a possible list in the order that they could be obtained by the believer.

Incorruptible Crown (1 Cor. 9:25) - this crown would be the first level a believer would attain to.  This crown indicates mastery over the sin nature. The Corinthians are being urged to run the Christian life in such a way as to receive the reward in the end.  Here the emphasis is in self-control.                                                              “They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. . . I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”      a)  Paul is focusing the believers on running the race or living the life God has given them to compete in.                                                       b)  Just as each life has a race, each life has a reward available.               c)  Only those who run the race and run it according to the rules will get a prize.                                                                                   d)  The crown or stephanos would wither and sometimes was withered (either of pine or celery see “1 Cor., NICNT, Fee”) at the time of the victory but it meant fame, prestige and fortune.  The symbol of victory would fade but the fame was more enduring.                      e)  Paul does not run aimlessly (9:26), meaning he does not life his Christian life with out purpose or direction.  Nor should we if we want to achieve what has been made available to us.  Consider someone who enters a race not knowing the distance or direction.            f)  The boxer failing to land a blow is ridiculous and pointless.  It is an analogy of the undisciplined believer missing his purpose. 

Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:7-8) - The second level of crowns goes to those who live righteously in this world while they look forward to Christ’s return.  They are those who are not captivated by this world, but hunger and thirst after righteousness.              “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing.”                                        

       a)  This is a crown for righteous behavior and an upright life      .      

      b)   “have longed” is in the perfect tense suggests those who greatly anticipated Christ’s return in the past and continued to do so up until the moment                of the rewarding.                                                    

       c)  This life is describe by Paul to Titus in Titus 2:12,13: “[The grace] teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-                         controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and                        Savior, Jesus Christ.”                                                  

      d)  fought” is the word “agonizomai” and though it can refer to a military fight, it is clearly a reference to training and competing in athletics:                                   -It is the same word translated “competes in the games” in 1 Corinthians 9:25                                                   

                        - “make every effort  in Luke 13:24                                     

                        - “struggling” in Colossians 1:29                                                         

                        - “wrestling” in Colossians 4:12                                                          

                        - “strive” in 1 Timothy 4:10                                                     

                        - “fight” in 1 Timothy 6:12                                                      

                        - “race” is the noun form in Hebrews 12:1                          

      e)  Notice: The same awards awaits all who qualify.                           

      f)  Notice the “fight” (or, the agony of training and competing comes first, and then the successful “finish” of the race.  The believer can think they will achieve victory with out the struggle of preparing for and demonstrating righteousness.

Crown of Life ( James 1:12; Revelation 2:10) - The third level to attain to is to proceed in God’s plan for your life while enduring  trials.  The believer who moves forward in God’s call and assignment in the face of difficulty, even martyrdom, will receive this crown. 

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”                                                                               

 “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.  I tell you the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days.  Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”                                                                                    

            a)  Testing and trials are part of the Christian life.  It should be understood that when faced with test and trials many Christians turn back and do not continue on the path God has called them to run on.      

            b) Jesus said we would have trouble: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)            

            c)  “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18)                                                                                  

            d)  Paul writes to Timothy, “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith , patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured  Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.  In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  2 Timothy 3:10,11,12)                                                                            

            e)  The doorway to the next level towards fulfilling God’s plan is to endure hardships and persecution.                                          

            f)  The reward is for  persevering” and remaining “faithful”.  The reward is not given for having great faith and getting delivered from the trial or test.                                                                              

            g)  We are faithful to the Lord in the trial.  The Lord is faithful to reward us for enduring the trial.               

Crown of Joy (Philippians 4:1; 1 Thess.2:19) - This crown is for those who lead others to Christ or demonstrate fruitfulness by  influencing others towards righteousness.                                    

“Therefore, my brother, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!”             

“For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes?  Is it not you?  Indeed, you are our glory and joy.”                                                                           

             a) Rewards are not just for how we live and what we do, they are also for the influence we have on how others live and what they do.             

            b)  It was being said in Thessalonica that Paul did not really care for the Thessalonicans, but Paul said he did, and it should be obvious, since they                     will result in a crown for him if they succeed.                  

            c)  Gabriel tells Daniel in Daniel 12:3, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens and those who lead many to                                        righteousness,  like the stars for ever and ever.”

Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:4) - The greatest achievement is to fulfill your calling and finish the work God gave you to do.  The scripture reference is speaking to pastors who finish their work faithfully, but this crown is not only for pastors.  It is for anyone who finds and fulfills their assignment God has given them.                   


“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder. . . One who will share in the glory to be revealed:  Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care. . .and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”                                           

      a)  Again we see the rewards being given upon Christ’s return.  Here Christ is seen as the Chief Shepherd paying his workers that he contracted out labor to shepherd for him.                                     

      b)   Earthly crowns or stephanos wee made of vines, etc.  This crown is made out of Glory!  (Isaiah 28:5)                                           

      c)  Just like Paul’s crown in 2 Timothy 4:7,8 was available to “ALL who long for Christ’s appearing,” this crown is also available to all who serve at the position and with the capacity they were given.  It is not just the office of pastor, although that is the context of the verse.  The application extends to all believers who become what God has created them to be and they serve him in that position.

Review of Crowns:

Incorruptible Crown for mastery over the sin nature.

Crown of Righteousness for living righteously in this world.

Crown of Live for enduring trials while proceeding in God’s plan.

Crown of Joy for leading others to Christ and in righteousness.

Crown of Glory for fulfilling your calling and finishing the work assigned.

Individual Capacity For Glory

It appears that part of our reward will be how we appear in eternity. The amount  of God’s glory shining through us will be based on our faithful service to God.

“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”                                                               Daniel 12:3

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”                                    

                                                            Matthew 5:6

“Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”                                                  

                                                            Matthew 13:43

“There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor the he heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.  The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another, and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.  So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. . . .And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.”                                                                  1 Corinthians 15:40-41,49


God himself will receive glory for our capacity for a Christ like image.  Some would wonder if we might feel left out or insufficient if we are shinning like a 60 watt bulb and we are standing by a super-nova.  I think that is answered by realizing that our level of capacity will be filled.  As Jesus said, “Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness they will be filled.”  The desire you have for God will be filled.  There will be different capacities, but each will be filled to capacity.  In that way all will be filled.   



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Galyn Wiemers