By Charles H. Welch
The first Christian martyr is named Stephen, and his name means ‘a crown’ (stephanos). This is no accidental association, for a crown in the New Testament is usually related to service in the nature of a reward. The great principle that underlies the teaching of the Scriptures regarding the crown, is discussed in the articles entitled HOPE and PRIZE , all that we intend to do here is to show the connection made by Scripture between the idea of a prize and that of a crown. ‘Prize’ is equated with ‘crown’ as we may see in the following passage:
In Philippians Paul expressed his willingness ‘to depart’ and to be ‘offered’ upon the sacrifice and service of faith (Phil. 1:23; 2:17). In this epistle he speaks of the ‘Prize’ of the high calling, and associates it with terms that take us back to the Greek games and the race-course (Phil. 3:13,14). In 2 Timothy Paul reveals that the time for his ‘departure’ had arrived, and that he was about to be ‘offered’. Here once more is a reference to the Greek games and the race-course, here is the holy calling, here is the warning that no man is crowned except he strive lawfully, and here, the prize of Philippians 3 becomes ‘the crown of righteousness’ (2 Tim. 4:6-8; 1:9; 2:5).
The word ‘prize’ is a genus, the word ‘crown’ is a species. When we use the word ‘dog’ we use a word that means a genus, but in that genus will be many species. So is it here. The prize of Philippians 3 is not defined. We discover that it is a crown by comparing Philippians with 2 Timothy. No competitor in a sports contest could possibly object when presented with a purse of gold, that he had expected a ‘prize’. The purse of gold would be the prize, and it is equally foolish to fail to see that the prize of Philippians 3, when it is defined is the crown of 2 Timothy 4. With this aspect of truth must be linked those Scriptures which speak of the believer ‘reigning’ particularly such passages as 2 Timothy 2:10-13. ‘So run that ye may obtain’. See article PRIZE .