Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 12, 1970
NUMBER 40, PAGE 8-9a

Our Hope, Joy And Crown

Walton Weaver

The Christian has no greater anticipation than the return of the Lord Jesus from heaven. Only then will his hope be realized, his joy made full, and his crown of glory received. But Paul speaks of the Thessalonians as his hope, joy and crown at the Lord's return (1 Thess. 2:19-20). When properly understood, no single passage will mean more to the soul-winner than this.


The real hope of Christians lies in Jesus Christ who as a forerunner has entered into that within the veil for us (Heb. 6:19-20). Our real, living hope is "by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Pet. 1:3). "Blessed is the man . . . whose hope the Lord is!"

The "blessed hope" of the sons of God (Tit. 2:13) is characterized by earnest yearning, confident expectation, and patient waiting. In hope we were saved (Rom. 8:24). The effects of this hope are many. While it supplies strength to endure. (1 Thess. 1:3) and boldness to speak (2 Cor. 3:12), it also leads to pureness of life (1 Jno. 3:3).

Paul says the Thessalonians are his hope. He means they are the ground or cause of it. When applied to Christians in general, this means that to a large extent our efforts to win others to Christ are the most important ones we shall make in this life. Let that man, therefore, who seeks to excuse himself from "fishing for men" read slowly here!


The taught word is not received well by all who hear it, as the parable of the sower so well illustrates. For this reason, all who teach naturally rejoice exceedingly when those with good and honest hearts hear and obey the word of the Lord. Of the Thessalonians, Paul writes, "For this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when ye received from us the word of the message, even the word of God, ye accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also worketh in you that believe" (I Thess. 2:13). His work among them, therefore, was not in vain (I Thess. 2: l). He gave thanks unto God "for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God" (1 Thess. 3:9). "For ye are our glory and our joy" (I Thess. 2:20).

Jesus desires that His followers may have His joy in them (Jno. 15:11). There is no greater joy in this life than for them to be instrumental in saving some lost soul (Lk. 15:6-7, 9-10, 22-25). Undoubtedly, those whom we have brought to Christ will be the primary source of our joy at His coming. We shall experience supreme joy when we see the fruits of our labors bowing before the throne of God to worship His matchless name. Oh, how tragic it is that so few Christians are real soul-winners for Jesus!


Most of us are prone to think of a future crown in terms of something we shall receive for ourselves as a reward for our labors. We do read of the crown or righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8), the crown of glory (1 Pet. 5:4), and the crown of life (Rev. 2:10). But Paul speaks of the Thessalonians as his "crown of glorying" (1 Thess. 2:19), and the Philippians as his "crown" (Phil. 4:1). What does he mean here? The obvious reference is to the glory-wreath which was given to the winner of the race. In their ultimate salvation the Thessalonians and Philippians will be "a chaplet of victory of which Paul might justly make his boast in the day of the Lord" (Ellicott).

McGarvey has a very fine statement of what is meant here: "The full thought, then, is this: As an athlete, who, in the absence of his king has entered the contest, competed for, and won the crown, would, on the king's appearing, rejoice to lay his trophy at the king's feet; so Paul, having won the Thessalonians for Christ, hoped that he might joyfully present them to Christ at his coming." There was a possibility, however, that Paul would not be permitted to do this, since they may not endure to the end. Paul taught that in such case his labor would be in vain (Phil. 2:16; 1 Thess. 3:5), and his work lost (I Cor. 15:58).


When thinking along this line one is immediately reminded of the words of a very meaningful song we sometimes sing, "Must I Go, And Empty-Handed?" Since those we win to Christ are and shall be our hope, joy and crown, read these words and ask yourself, "What shall I have to offer when He returns?"

"Must I go, and empty-handed,"

Thus my dear Redeemer meet?

Not one day of service give Him, Lay no trophy at His feet?

0 the years in sinning wasted, Could I but recall them now,

I would give them to my Savior, To His will I'd gladly bow.

0 ye saints, arouse, be earnest, Up and work while yet 'tis day;

Ere the night of death o're-take thee, Strive for souls while still ye may.

"Must I go, and empty-handed?"

Must I meet my Savior so?

Not one soul with which to greet Him:

Must I empty-handed go?

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