Revelation 3:11 “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”
There are times when reading a scripture such as this where I am forced to take a step back and look beyond what seems obvious.
If I read something in an isolated verse that seems to conflict with the rest of God’s Word, I need to use extra caution before I adopt a change in my theological position. This form of error is one of the ways people have instituted practices within the church that became destructive and caused people to deviate from God’s Truth.
This verse in Revelation is one of those verses that makes me pause. If I were to approach this scripture skeptically I would draw questions such as:
- It’s been 2000+ years…when God gave this revelation to John, what exactly did He mean by the term “quickly”?
- How can someone take my crown? When I was a kid I used to think my crown represented my salvation so it was scriptures like these that made me uneasy and a bit fearful.
- Hold fast to what I have? This seems to be an encouragement to be greedy or get what I can and hold on to it for dear life, someone may come and take it away from me. Who would try to take it away, what is it I might lose?
Biblical exegesis is simply the critical interpretation or explanation of text, particularly of scripture. If I am going to understand God’s Truth, there are times I have to take a deeper approach in considering it’s meaning.
Since I know that Jesus has not come quickly like the text implies, I must look closer at the term ‘quickly’ and try to understand what the original greek means.
‘Quickly’ in the greek is the term (taxý), it does not mean “immediately” or necessarily “in a very short time” but rather “without any delay.” When reflecting on this promise of Jesus I can now understand it by what Jesus revealed to John. When Jesus promised to return ‘without any delay’, He was saying that God’s timing and purpose would occur in the timeframe by which He has ordained. We need not worry about whether God shows up on time, only that He has everything set in the order of His purpose, the day Jesus returns will be the day that He had planned from the beginning.
For me, to know that God’s purposes will be fulfilled in His perfect order gives me comfort in knowing that no matter how uncertain this world becomes, the Lord remains sovereign over His creation. Sin and darkness may look like it has the upper hand but God has a purpose for the manner of His timing.
The term ‘quickly’ is used in many other places, if I look at them with a similar thought in mind, it causes me to consider it’s meaning with greater depth of insight.
Matthew 5:25 “Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.”
If we consider reconciling with someone as Jesus instructed then we don’t think about it for a while or consider how we might look foolish, we move without delay in settling our differences.
The crown that we receive is one that is given by God, it is representative of authority and honor. You don’t rule without a crown and it remains a symbol of God’s rule over us.
Now, no one can change the power and authority of God’s rule but they could incite fear and coax us into sin. The honor we are called to live by is diminished when we walk in a way that takes our eyes off the Lord and places them on our circumstances. The authoritative position we have as ambassadors of God is altered when we allow ourselves to be defeated by the enemy.
What we have is the position God has placed us in as His people. We cannot lose the grace God has given us, only He could take that away. The Lord has given us His Spirit as a guarantee of our salvation and that Spirit is a seal upon us for eternity. There is no place in scripture that indicates that seal can be broken.
1 Peter 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, reserved in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power for the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Belief in Christ is not just an acknowledgement of who He is but is a concerted and active commitment for Him. Salvation is the inheritance of God’s redeeming grace, by His power, and nothing on this earth has the authority to usurp anything God ordains.
A plaited wreath acted as a crown for those who were victorious in the ancient athletic games. It is this crown of victory that is being referenced in God’s revelation to John. The crown of life is one that is imperishable and cannot be lost.
James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
When considering the perishable wreath as a sign of how victoriously you lived out your christian faith, we must remember that we can be saved and yet live defeated.
1 Corinthians 9:25 “Everyone who competes in the games trains with strict discipline. They do it for a crown that is perishable, but we do it for a crown that is imperishable.”
The final victor is the one who endures until the end. The Lord knows our end, His plans will come to their perfect conclusion at the perfect time and we will see the enemy for what he is, completely defeated. We can’t let the enemy gain the upper hand in our lives before that time comes, we must live with purpose and with power.
We have it offered to us, all we must do is walk in it.