When they had twisted a crown of thorns [ stephanos], they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! (Mtt. Mat. 27:29) [emphasis added]Here the Roman soldiers clearly are mocking Jesus as royalty, yet He is wearing the stephanos. This use is contrary to the assertion that stephanos is a victors crown whereas diadēma represents royalty. Hemer explains the use of stephanos for royalty in this situation because the crown of thorns is literally a wreath: There is certainly no reason for denying στέφανος [stephanos] its most usual sense here. It is wreath, not diadem, Kranz, not Krone. The crown of thorns is admittedly στέφανος [stephanos] in the evangelists (Mtt. Mat. 27:29; Mark Mark 15:17; John John 19:2, John 19:5), but that was literally a garland. To the soldiers it meant mock royalty; perhaps to the writers it also implied victory.1 But this fails to explain why Jesus is crowned with a stephanos in other contexts where a wreath is not in view (Heb. Heb. 2:9; Rev. Rev. 14:14+). The evidence that the Romans understood Jesus as claiming to be a king and not a victor is overwhelming (Mtt. Mat. 27:11, Mat. 27:29, Mat. 27:37; Mark Mark 15:2, Mark 15:9, Mark 15:12, Mark 15:18, Mark 15:26; Luke Luke 23:3, Luke 23:37, Luke 23:38; John John 18:33, John 18:39; John 19:3, John 19:12, John 19:14, John 19:19, John 19:21). Moreover, Jesus is frequently found wearing the stephanos . Those who assert that the horseman of Rev. Rev. 6:2+ cannot be Christ because he is wearing a stephanos need to make this determination from other factors.
1 Colin J. Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), 72.