“So then, my dear friends, stand firm in the Lord. You are so dear to me and I miss you so; you’re my joy and my crown.”
Paul’s deep affection for the Christian converts in Philippi stands out so clearly as he moves from theology in chapter 3 to application in chapter 4. Note the “So then” that alerts the reader that Paul is is about to list the practical implications of what has just taught. Since the readers are citizens of heaven and look forward to being transformed into Christ’s glorious likeness, they are to live accordingly. Paul uses six words or phrases in the one verse to describe his remarkably close relationship. The two I would like to consider refer to them as Paul’s “joy” and “crown.”
One can picture the apostle, a converted Jew, going to Philippi to tell the people about a Galilean itinerant preacher by the name of Jesus who, after being crucified, came back to life, walked and talked with his friends for 40 days and then went back to heaven. Who would believe that? The Jewish priests are the experts in that field and they were the ones who had him crucified. But some of the men and women listened, believed and became devoted followers. Imagine the joy of these new converts as they gathering to learn more and more about this life-changing event. Paul speaks from his heart when he tells them, “You are my joy.”
But they are also his “crown.” The Greek stephanos was a wreath awarded to the winners in athletic contests and a number of civic affairs. A gold crown served to honor kings. For Paul, the Philippian converts themselves were his crown. He, as it were, worn them proudly in honor of their accepting the message and becoming one with him in the case of Christ. They were what he had accomplished in their midst. Paul wore the crown proudly but not ostentatiously. It was evidence of the power of the Spirit to change life.
A question for each of us, “What does my crown look like?"