I believe they are one and the same thing. There are FIVE different kinds of CROWNS mentioned in Scripture that will be awarded to believers at the “Judgment Seat of Christ.” We will consider the Judgment Seat first where Christ will review our SERVICE and LIFE. We shall see that everything that was done “for Christ’s glory and by His power” will receive a REWARD. Then we will list the FIVE CROWNS and comment briefly on each one.

The Judgment Seat of Christ is first seen in 1st Corinthians 3:11-15. “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone BUILDS ON THIS FOUNDATION with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, EACH ONE’S WORK WILL BECOME CLEAR; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and THE FIRE WILL TEST EACH ONE’S WORK, of what sort it is. IF ANYONE’S WORK which he has built on it ENDURES, HE WILL RECEIVE A REWARD. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (NKJV). Here we see the believer’s WORK (or SERVICE) being tested by Jesus Christ. From the moment one is saved he is privileged to serve Christ by preaching and teaching the truth about Him. If he is faithful in doing this he will “receive a REWARD”; if he is not faithful in his service he will “suffer loss of reward.” Notice, he would still be “saved” which teaches us that this is NOT a question of “losing one’s salvation.”

The other passage which speaks of this is 2nd Corinthians 5:10, “But we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that EACH ONE MAY RECEIVE THE THINGS DONE IN THE BODY, according to what he has done, good or bad.” Here we learn that the believer’s WHOLE LIFE will be reviewed and everything that was “good” (that brought glory to Christ) will be rewarded, while everything that was “bad” (that brought dishonor to Christ) will be rejected. Again, this has nothing to do with salvation, but rather with how we LIVED after we were saved. Did we allow the indwelling Spirit to control us (see Ephesians 5:18 and Galatians 5:16)? If so, then we will have brought forth the “fruit of the Spirit” in our lives (see Galatians 5:22). This is more than “serving Christ by preaching and teaching His Word”; it is showing the world the very LIFE OF CHRIST which is in us (see Galatians 2:20). We will be REWARDED for this.

1) The INCORRUPTIBLE CROWN (1st Corinthians 9:25) which is a reward for “being an obedient and disciplined servant.”

2) The CROWN OF REJOICING (1st Thessalonians 2:19) which is a reward for “winning souls to Christ.”

3) The CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (2ND Timothy 4:7-8) which is a reward for “living a righteous life” (in view of Christ’s coming).

4) The CROWN OF LIFE (James 1:18 & Revelation 2:10) which is a reward for “patient suffering” and “being willing to lay down your life as a martyr for Christ.”

5) The CROWN OF GLORY (1st Peter 5:1-4) which is a reward for “being a faithful shepherd to the flock of God.”

In closing, it’s interesting and enlightening to see what we will do with any crowns that we receive: “the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne…and CAST THEIR CROWNS BEFORE THE THRONE, saying: ‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things and by Your will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:10-11). We will realize, as never before, that it was God’s love and grace, accompanied by His power (see Philippians 2:13), which motivated us and enabled us to serve Him faithfully and to live righteous lives. And thus, we will “cast our crowns at His feet” and worship Him as the One Who is worthy to receive the glory.  (486.1)  (DO)