“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8 (ESV)
The “Crown of righteousness” can mean either that righteousness itself is the crown or reward, or that this crown is the reward for righteousness. We can read how the Bible speaks of the death of a believer, especially in the New Testament, we notice how the word “departure” is used rather than death. Jesus, Paul, and Peter all spoke of their physical death as a “departure.” Apostle Paul lived for about 60 years. When writing his second letter to Timothy, he knows then, for certain, his death is very near. But it was not the end of living, it was his time of departure from this world to live with God’s in heaven. Paul was one of untold number of Christians who Emperor Nero’s aggressive persecution killed, blaming them for the burning of Rome – which Nero had done himself. Paul speaks of it in this passage in very positive words. He does not fear his departure and he knows that His Lord has prepared a reward. Paul was not the only one to receive this Crown of Righteousness but all who love Christ’s appearing are promised the same reward on ‘that day’ which is the day of Christ’s return.