They said, it was the express purpose of God to manifest both to angels and men, that the conqueror shall be crowned, and the conquered, that is, the faithless apostate, be self-condemned. This was doubtless an allusion to the testimony in the letters to Smyrna and Philadelphia; in the former of which, it is written, "Be faithful until death, and I will give thee the coronal wreath of the life;" and in the latter, "Hold fast what thou hast, that no one take thy coronal wreath," stephanon, or "crown."
"The management of this persecution," says Milner, "seems to have been the whole employment of the magistrates. Swords, wild beasts, pits, red hot chains, wheels for stretching human bodies, and talons of iron to tear them; these were at this time the instruments of pagan vengeance. It was not a local or intermit- ting, but an universal and constant persecution. The lightning of the Decian rage refined and cleared the whole Christian atmosphere. No doubt, the effects were salutary in preventing the extinction of the truth, which was rapidly expiring.
In the English Version, Stephanosis rendered "crown." There are two words in the Apocalypse so rendered, — diadema and Stephanos. The latter is used in Mat. 27 : 29, "they platted a crown of thorns;" and in 1 Cor. 9 : 25, "to obtain a corruptible crown;" and in 1 Pet. 5 : 4, "a crown of glory that fadeth not away." In the Apocalypse, when unassociated with other words, it signifies a garland, chaplet, or wreath, encircling the head from the crown to the back thereof at its junction with the neck. Such was the Stephanos, or coronal wreath, with which the victorious athletoe, or combatants, in the public games of antiquity were decorated. These combatants were runners, wrestlers, and pugil- ists, who agonized, or contended earnestly, for the glory, honor, and recompense of victory. Paul alludes to them in saying, "Know ye not that they who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? So run that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible cor- onal wreath; but we an incorruptible."