I was in the process of doing a word study in the New Testament and I came upon something unexpected. I already knew that there were two words in the Greek for crown:
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, G1238), literally or figuratively: - crown.
G1238 - διάδημα - diadēma - dee-ad'-ay-mah
From a compound of G1223 and G1210; a “diadem” (as bound about the head): - crown.
What I didn't expect was to have the word "stephanos" associated with the crown that Jesus is currently wearing. This is not the crown (diadema) of a King, but a woven crown of a Victor or Champion. Of course, my curiosity got the better of me, so I had to dig deeper.
The first mention of a "stephanos" in the New Testament is at Jesus' crucifixion (Matt. 27:29, Mark 15:17 and John 19:2). The crown of thorns is actually a "stephanos" of thorns; a woven crown of thorny branches placed on Jesus' head.
The word "stephanos" is used almost exclusively throughout the New Testament when describing a crown. It is even used to describe the crowns that the 24 elders are wearing in Heaven:
Rev 4:4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns (stephanos) of gold.
Rev 4:10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns (stephanos) before the throne, saying...
I'm sure most of us are used to thinking that the 24 elders around the throne of God are wearing actual crowns (diadema) but in actuality, they are wearing "stephanos" (woven crowns) of gold.
Again, Jesus is described as wearing a "stephanos:"
Rev 14:14-16 And I looked, and behold, a white cloud. And on the cloud sat one like the Son of man, having a golden crown (stephanos) on His head, and a sharp sickle in His hand. 15And another angel came out of the temple, crying in a great voice to Him sitting on the cloud, Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth was dried. 16And He sitting on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.
Who else is wearing a "stephanos?"
Rev 9:7 And the shapes of the locusts were like horses prepared for battle. And on their heads were as it were crowns (stephanos) like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men.
Rev 12:1 And there appeared a great sign in the heavens, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon was under her feet, and a crown (stephanos) of twelve stars on her head...
So what's all the fuss about? Why am I getting hung up on this "stephanos" thing? Here's why:
It isn't until Revelation 12:3 that the word "diadema" is used. First it's to describe the power and authority that Satan has on the earth during the tribulation:
Rev 12:3 And another sign was seen in the heavens. And behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns (diadema) on his heads!
Rev 13:1 And I stood on the sand of the sea, and I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns. And on its horns were ten crowns (diadema), and on its heads was the name of blasphemy.
Then it's used once more when John describes Jesus' return to earth:
Rev 19:12 And His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head many crowns (diadema). And He had a name written, one that no one knew except Himself.
So we come to the point of this entire thought process. In all the pictures that we see of Jesus, he's wearing a solid gold crown (diadema). I know that in MY head I picture Him wearing a diadema. Through scripture we can see that as of this moment, Jesus is wearing a golden stephanos. Why would this be? He is King of kings and Lord of lords. Our Father has placed everything under Jesus authority.
The only explanation I have is that Jesus is still seen specifically as the Lamb of God and He wears His golden stephanos as a sign of His victory on the cross; His victory over death and the grave. His victory over Satan.
It's not until He returns that He is seen as the Lion of Judah, the conquering King, coming in power and authority to reign over the earth for a thousand years. When He returns to defeat the enemy at the end of the Tribulation, He no longer wears a single stephanos, but many diademas.
Oh, I almost forgot. In case you were wondering, the crowns that we'll be wearing in heaven... those will be stephanos:
Rev 2:10 Do not at all fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the Devil will cast some of you into prison, so that you may be tried. And you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown (stephanos) of life.