Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. James 1:12
During the first century, the winners of athletic games would each receive a wreath of olive branches (a tree sacred to the ancient Greeks) or even gold, which imitated the wreath that the gods were portrayed as wearing. The wreath was given in honor of the athletes’ faithfulness and exceptional performance, much like an Olympic champion today would receive a gold medal.
In keeping with the athletic competition metaphor they often used to describe the Christian walk, the New Testament writers used the word stephanos (crown) to describe the reward righteous people will receive for their faithfulness to God. This word typically refers to the winners’ wreath presented during the games as opposed to the word diadem (also translated as crown) that is used only in reference to Jesus (Revelation 19:12) and the Devil (Revelation 12:3).