Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
(Philippians 4:1 ESV)
Paul calls the Philippians his “crown”. This word is very interesting. There are two words for “crown” in Greek. The first is διάδημα (pronounced: dee-ad’-ay-mah). This was a crown worn by royalty. It signified power, authority, and dominion over others. This is not the word Paul uses.
Instead he uses the word στεπηανοσ (pronounced: stef’-an-os) which refers to the crown given to victors in athletic events. In our day we give gold medals or a trophy. In ancient Greece winners received a laurel wreath which was worn on their heads to signify they were the champion of their event.
Paul is calling the Philippians his crowning achievement. He wore their spiritual strength like a crown. Paul was proud of what they had become and was willing to “wear them” for all to see. Reading this would have given the Philippians great encouragement as he was telling them that they were on the right track with their lives.
The Christian life is one of victory. Victory over sin [Romans 6:14; 1 John 5:4]. Victory over death [1 Corinthians 15:55]. We are victors not because of our own efforts but because of the work of Jesus [1 Corinthians 15:57]. Jesus, who was God, defeated our enemy – an enemy that was much too strong for us to defeat on our own.
One theme that runs through the entire Bible is God’s willingness to fight for His people. In the Old Testament He did this repeatedly [Deuteronomy 20:4].
Israel was too weak to rise up against the mighty Egyptians who were enslaving them. So God came to their rescue. When Israel entered the Promised Land they were surrounded by strong enemies who were defeated by God [Joshua 6].
Modern-day Israel is still surrounded by hostile enemies who want to destroy them. God came to their rescue when they were attacked the very day after declaring Independence and then again during the 6-Day War in 1967.
Of course, God’s greatest victory for His people was conquering sin and opening up heaven for all who believe. This victory is not limited to the Jews. It is available to all who believe [John 3:3; John 3:16; John 5:24 et. al].
The greatest enemy of mankind is sin. Sin separates us from God and that is a terrible place to be. But God came to our rescue by conquering sin and death for us [2 Timothy 1:10]. Now we are victorious.
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