Editor’s Note: This was written in 1976. 

The Holy Scriptures speak of the rewards that we shall receive at the coming of our Lord for His Church. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) In this passage, Paul says that the coming of the Lord in this phase is to be a comfort to the saints. I would like to consider, for a few minutes, the “Crown of Righteousness.”

First of all, let’s consider some important background material before we go any further. After his conversion in Damascus in Acts 9, the Apostle Paul was always ready to preach the Word of God to a world dying with the leprosy of sin. These travels or missionary journeys were to take him over much of the known world.

Paul had suffered much for the Gospel he loved. He had shared Jesus with all kinds of people in many different situations. But now we find him in Rome awaiting execution in the time of Nero. Has the apostle become discouraged? No, we see him with the assurance that he is ready to meet death and meet the Savior he loved and served. We find the “beloved physician” Luke with him in these last hours. Let’s now examine the effect that the assurance of the coming of the Lord for His own, had on the life off Paul.

In verse 7 he writes, “I have fought the good fight.” Paul had fought a battle throughout his life with the forces of Satan and had come out, with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit, a victor. He had never surrendered or failed to fight the battle. He said, I have finished the course.” Paul, like each Christian, had a definite course to follow. He did not detour the hard place, neither did he look back. He finished his course with his eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2). Can we say the same? Paul further wrote, “I have kept the faith.” He had preached the “whole counsel of God.” Jude writes in Jude 3, “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” He never compromised the Holy Word.

In verse 8 we see the results of living the Christian life; there is a crown awaiting those who are expecting the imminent coming of the Lord Jesus. We, in the premillennial wing of the Restoration Movement are among those who have this hope. Leroy Garrett, writing in “Restoration Review,” wrote the following, “We show no indication of having the Lord’s coming on our minds. An important exception to this is the premillennial congregations among us. Here, one finds the hope of His coming a glorious reality.”  One gets the impression that they are continually aware of the Lord’s coming. They are more like the primitive Christians than the rest of us.”

It is important that each Christian have in his or her soul the hope of the imminent coming of the “Blessed Hope” as Paul calls Christ in Titus 2:13. Can we say with the Apostle John in Revelation 22:21,” Even so, Come Lord Jesus?” If we can, we will, according to the promises of God, receive “The Crown of Righteousness.”

Larry Miles is Co-Editor of Word & Work and attends Cherry St. Church of Christ

in New Albany, IN.