By Steven Greene

pdfIcon - PDF | [Up]

“Crown Him With Many Crowns” is a beautiful hymn about Jesus Christ. Notice the beginning of each of the four verses:

  • Crown Him with many crowns…
  • Crown Him the Lord of life…
  • Crown Him the Lord of peace…
  • Crown Him the Lord of love…

After His resurrection, Jesus returned to God to receive a kingdom (Luke 19:12-15); He is now in heaven preparing a place for the saints in that kingdom (John 14:2-3). Soon, the Day of Trumpets will be realized with the return of Christ, now crowned as the King of Kings (I Tim. 6:15).

Crowns are always associated with kings and rulers, and various people in the Old Testament wore them: the high priest (Ex. 29:6; 39:30), Saul (II Sam. 1:10), the king of Rabbah (II Sam. 12:30), Joash (II Kings 11:12), Vashti (Esther 1:11), and Mordecai (Esther 8:15)—to name a few.

However, not all crowns are the same. There are several different Hebrew words that refer to crowns. The high priest and kings of Israel wore the nezer, which is a chaplet or wreath. In the case of the high priest, the chaplet was worn on top of the mitsnephethor miterDiadem was used exclusively of the crowns worn in the court of Ahasuerus, including Vashti and Esther. General references to crowns use atarah and tsephiyrah, both of which simply mean crown but are vague about the design.

This is not the case, however, in the New Testament. There are only two Greek words translated crown. The most common is stephanos, of which Strong’s says: “From an apparently primary ‘stepho’ (to twine  or wreathe); a chaplet (as a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor generally; but more conspicuous and elaborate than the simple fillet, literally or figuratively.”

Specifically, stephanos is not a diadem. The 24 elders sitting on thrones that encircle the throne of God wear stephanos or wreaths (Rev. 4:4, 10). Similarly, wreath is used exclusively of the crowns given to the saints. Notice these scriptures:

 II Timothy 4:8—“crown [wreath] of righteousness”

 James 1:12—“crown [wreath] of life”

 I Peter 5:4—“crown [wreath] of glory”

 Revelation 2:10—“crown [wreath] of life”

These are wreaths of honor or victory for overcoming. In other words, the saints do not receive diadems as are worn by regal kings. The saints will be kings in the Kingdom of God (Rev. 1:6), but they will be adorned with wreaths. This may be surprising, but the evidence is in the use of the other Greek word for crown—diadema.

Strong’s says diadema (diadem) refers to something “bound about the head.” A diadem is the crown of the king with supreme power (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of American English), whereas a wreath is given to honor the winner of a contest.

Diadema is only used three times. Notice, first, the description of Christ: “And His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns [diadema]; and He had a name written that no one knows except Him” (Rev. 19:12). Jesus returns wearing many diadems. This shouldn’t come as any surprise, because Jesus is the King above all other kings.

However, there are two others who also wear diadems: “And another sign was seen in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns [diadema] on his heads” (Rev. 12:3). “And I stood on the sand of the sea; and I saw beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns [diadema], and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, and his feet like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion; and the dragon gave him his power, and his throne and great authority” (Rev. 13:1-2).

Besides Christ, only Satan (the red dragon, Rev. 12:9) and the Beast wear “diadem” crowns. Satan once bragged, “I will be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:14). To fully understand Satan’s ambitions, notice the final temptation of Jesus: “After that, the devil took Him to an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and said to Him, ‘All these things will I give You, if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Begone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve.” ’ Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and ministered to Him” (Matt. 4:8-11).

For Satan to demand obeisance from his creator was utter blasphemy! In his arrogance, Satan elevates Himself above Christ, the Son of God! Wearing a crown is evidence that Satan wants to be equal with God; and the Beast, who receives his power from Satan, wants to be equal with Christ! It is no wonder that such a demand by Satan angered Jesus (note the tone when Jesus told Peter the same thing in Matthew 16:23).

There is no one worthy to wear a diadem except Jesus Christ—since only He has supreme power. This is the reason the saints will be given wreaths for their victory over death, not diadems. However, there is another reason that Jesus alone is the true bearer of the regal crown. Strong’s notes that diadema comes from a compound of dia and deo. Dia denotes the channel of an act and is often translated through. Deo means to bind.

Diadema, then, is a compound word meaning “through binding.” Of itself, binding has several meanings, and most Greek wordsmiths include: “to be betrothed, to pledge to give oneself in marriage.” In other words, Jesus wears a crown that is not just a symbol of royal authority, it also represents Christ as the Husband of the Church!

Jesus Christ is King of Kings, and the saints will be joined to Him through marriage. He is the only and true “King of saints” (Rev. 15:3)!