(Rev. 2:17) What are the secret names and the white stones mentioned here?

Let’s consider each:

Secret name?

The concept of getting a name from God was predicted in OT passages like Isaiah 62:2 and 65:15. Some commentators believe that the name on the stone is the name of God (Rev. 3:12), which Christ also has (Rev. 19:12). However, this doesn’t seem to fit with the notion that only the believer would know this name. In the OT, the concept of a name was closely associated with one’s identity. This concept of a name becomes important at the end of the book, when only those names found in the book of life will enter heaven (Rev. 20:15).

White Stone?

The historical backdrop of Pergamum gives us some insight into the symbolism of the white stone:

First, the white stone imagery comes from trial procedures in Pergamum. Osborne writes, “In ancient trials jurors would cast a white or black stone into an urn to vote for acquittal or guilt (cf. Acts 26:10); while no name was written on the stones, the trial setting could make sense in the Pergamene situation.”[1] Jesus could be communicating their acquittal from guilt. Walvoord writes, “In courts of law being given a white stone is thought to represent acquittal in contrast to a black stone which would indicate condemnation.”[2]

Second, the white stone imagery comes from the Pergamum games. Osborne writes, “It was common for members of a guild or victors at the games to use stones as a ticket for admission to feasts, and also for free food or entrance to the games.”[3] Thus Jesus could be explaining that because of the white stone, these believers get free access into the feast of God: heaven.



[1] Osborne, Grant. Revelation. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2002. 138-139.

[2] Walvoord, John. The Revelation of Jesus Christ. JFW Publishing Trust. Chicago, IL. 1966. 70.

[3] Osborne, Grant. Revelation. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2002. 139.