Revelation White Stone
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15. Revelation White Stone
Revelation 2.17

"Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the victorious one, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it." (Revelation 2.17)✞

White Stone

White Stone with a NameRevelation 2.17 describes the provision of a "white stone" inscribed with a new name. Christ presents a small Revelation white stone to every Christian who overcomes. In Rome, the great houses had their clients and dependents who every morning received from their patron food and money for the day. A dependant sometimes received a "Tessera," a small white stone, or even a wooden or a metal token of a similar size to a one-cent U.S. coin or an English penny. It was a token or tally, giving free entry into the Colosseum or a free meal at a banquet. "The white stone" for the Christian meant that Christ granted them the right to the spiritual rewards which only he can give.

White Gladiator Stone

GladiatorsThe Ancient Romans often presented a white gladiator stone with the letters 'S.P.' inscribed on it to a victorious swordsman or swordswoman upon retiring. These letters celebrated faithful service and stood for the Latin "spectatus," meaning "a man or woman of proven valor beyond a doubt." In the ancient Roman empire, a victorious gladiator was the most admired hero of all. The word "gladiator" came from the name of the "gladius" sword he or she carried. Therefore, the gladiator was a "swordsman" or a "swordswoman." Men and women gladiators sometimes appeared together in the Coliseum and other arenas. One such gladiatorial field at Verona in Italy still stands today, rebuilt as in Roman times. Then as now, the coliseums are used for entertainment, concerts, or events. Most gladiators were former slaves or captives from wars, but some volunteers enlisted for the notoriety. They repeatedly fought until they were either killed or allowed to retire in case of a draw! The gladiator who had a specially illustrious career, when they grew old, were permitted an honorable retirement as well as a white gladiator stone as a parting gift.

Victorious at the Games

One of the highest honors in the ancient world was to be victorious at the games and to receive a gladiator's white stone. Outstanding victors were given a "small white stone" by the master of the games, which conferred them special rights. A Revelation white stone similarly confirms to the Christian that the victorious follower of Christ will share in the future glory of Jesus' reign.

Gladiator Russell Crowe

Gladiator Russell CroweChrist calls Christians to be gladiators for him. Like the movie gladiator Russell Crowe when they prove their bravery in the battle of life, they are allowed to enter with honor into rest. A "revelation white stone" bearing a new name, possibly that of "Jesus" or the phrase "devout Christian," will be presented. The "Revelation white stone" in this verse probably grants admission to Messianic banquets, and perhaps the name of the victor is Jesus himself. It is a mark of faithfulness and a job well done. What an honor that will be!

White Stone Name

Roman TesseraA white stone name like that of a Roman general on a soldier's tessera may be a good luck charm carried into battle. A common custom in the ancient Roman world is to possess a "white stone" as a talisman or "good luck charm." This talisman could be an amulet in remembrance of someone special or even an entry token to the games or a banquet. In ancient Rome and Greece, this "Tessera" inscribed with the giver's initials is of wood, stone, or even bone. A white stone is also sometimes split in two as a token of a great friendship between two persons. After that, the two halves guarantee a warm welcome and safety when visiting the other's home or territory. Dr. William Barclay (1907-1978), the eminent Biblical scholar and historian, writes, "In the ancient world, a particularly happy day is called a "white day." A white stone is a delightful gift to receive!

Sacred Name

AmuletOn the white stone, there is often a sacred name carved or written. In ancient times, some people believed that to know a god's identification gave the bearer certain powers over that god. The name of a god came with the ability to summon that god to one's aid in times of difficulty and mastery over demons. Such a Revelation white stone was doubly useful if no one other than the owner knew the name inscribed upon it. Here in Revelation, Jesus gives his faithful followers a white stone with a new name upon it, not as a good luck charm but bearing the secret and unique identity of Jesus himself.

Jesus White Stone

Roman AmuletJesus' white stone is a guarantee of a believer's eternal nourishment. John of Patmos is most likely saying in Revelation 2 that I will give you a white stone amulet. "You did the same in your heathen days. You carried an amulet or an "object that protected you from trouble" with supernatural power even with superstitious inscriptions on them like your heathen friends. You thought that they would keep you safe and protect you from harm. Now, you need nothing like that, for you are safe in life and death because you know "the new name," that is the name of the only true God, Jesus Christ." The white stone that Jesus gives provides you with entrance to the heavenly feast. It is also a symbol of the believer's eternal spiritual nourishment, like the wilderness manna. The new name on the Revelation white stone may be a secret until a believer enters the presence of the risen Christ in Heaven.

Two Words for New

White Stone with InscriptionIn Greek, the word used here for "stone" is "kainos." There are, however, two words for "new." There is "neos," which means "new in point of time." A thing could be "neos," and yet exactly like any number of other stones. Another word for "stone" is "kainos," meaning "new not only in point of time but also in a point of quality for nothing like it has existed before." Like nothing before it, this new name is written on a white stone and indicates a complete and utter bond between Jesus and a Christian. Jesus will give each Christian a unique Revelation white stone that glistens like snow. "The white stone" is significant because each Christian receives a unique name marked on it. Every person who truly believes in Christ has a new name given to them by Jesus. The words "white" and "new" are characteristic of Revelation. R. H. Charles (1855-1931), a British Biblical scholar, writes, "white is the color and livery of heaven." The word "white" does not describe a dull, flat whiteness like ceiling white paint but a white glistening like snow in the winter sun. The "white stone" has other meanings in that age. It may refer to the pebble indicating acquittal in Greek courts or the lot cast in Greek elections. The white stone conveyed acquittal, and the election stone may refer to the precious stones embedded in the high priest's breastplate. The white stone is both an emblem of forgiveness of sin and a reminder that God individually chooses Christians.

Meaning of the Name

Name BadgeThe Revelation white stone is the evidence that God acquits a person and declares him or her worthy to be elected to eternal life. A person's Christian name, given in baptism, is likewise intended to represent his or her character. "John," for example, means a "gift of God." God gives us "new names" and new hearts when we follow him. "A new stone name" may reference the Christian's spiritual rebirth separate from but typically marked by baptism. Maybe, "the white stone" is an actual person! Perhaps the Risen Christ himself is given to his faithful ones with a new self, cleansed of all earthly stains and glistening with Heavenly purity! A small square stone is also called a "Tessera." In trials, a black Tessera determines guilt, and a white one establishes innocence. Several Tessera or the plural "tesserae" act as lots. After the Olympic Games, winners join a parade of honor and are get a white stone bearing the winner's name and providing him or her a pension for the rest of their days. The plural of "tessera" is "tesserae" and applies to little tablets made of stone, glass, wood, or metal used in wall and floor mosaics. "Tesserae" are used in Mediterranean houses and churches in the Roman period. Mosaics made of tesserae appear as paintings, especially where candles are burning. The tiny pieces of colored glass or pottery keep their bright colors despite the soot from the smoke, which soon darkens and discolors an ordinary painting. They are also easy to clean.

Hidden Manna

Gathering MannaWe all need spiritual food in our lives. In this Revelation verse, Jesus tells us that he will give us "hidden manna" for our spiritual needs. Exodus 16.4-5 describes the origins of "manna." "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way, I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day, they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days." God provided "manna," which is a white bread-like substance from Heaven. The Hebrew word used for "manna" is sometimes "mana." Exodus 16.14-15 describes it, "When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, 'What is it?' For they did not know what it was."

What Is It?

Interestingly, the word for "manna" sounds like the Hebrew for "What is it?" Moses said to them, 'It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.'" Exodus 16.31 describes manna, "The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey." Aromatic coriander seeds look like small peas and are common spice ingredients used to add flavor to dishes. God gives it for the people's physical needs as they travel through the desert towards the Promised Land. As the "manna" or "bread of life," Jesus similarly provides the sustenance that satisfies our most profound spiritual hunger. "Hidden manna" describes the Christian's spiritual food known only to them and concealed from others. Manna is given according to Revelation 2.17, "to the one who is victorious."

"Revelation White Stone"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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