Alean and I are on the road this week, traveling to spend holidays with family. This week’s blog posting comes to you from Kansas.
There is an obscure verse in Revelation 2 that I’ve always read past because it strikes me as such a bizarre statement. Vacation time grants us the privilege (or is it the necessity) of filling our drive time speculating about some of those more cryptic statements in scripture. Check this one out.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who overcomes, I will give the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone inscribed with a new name, known only to the one who receives it.
– Revelation 2:17, BSB
The promise above is one of seven promises made by Jesus through the Spirit to the seven churches in Asia. The promise is made to “the one who overcomes.” The challenge with this is know who this overcomer is. Opinions vary, but here is a pretty good one from John.
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
– 1 John 5:4, ESV
The Name Stone
Using that as our definition of the overcomer, it describes every Christ-follower. I’m reading Jesus’ statement as saying we are well-positioned for the hidden manna and the white stone with a new name inscribed on it.
None of us will know our new name until we receive it, and even then we are the only ones who will know it. I really cannot fathom what that means, but I have to admit, it’s pretty fascinating.
In summary, then, and if I’m reading correctly and honoring context, everyone who is born again through faith in Jesus is going to receive a new name from the Lord. We won’t know the name until we are given it, and once we receive it, we are the only ones who will know it.
The Selection Process
So, how does Jesus choose that new name for each of us? It is reasonable to look at how he has done so in the past. Jesus has demonstrated a propensity for assigning names to others based on his evaluation of their character or their service to the community of faith. We saw this with Peter/Cephas who made the bedrock statement that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. From that, Jesus named him “Rock.”1 When Jesus called Levi, the text referred to him as Matthew.2 Thomas was called Didymus, meaning twin.3
In the Old Testament, we see similar examples. Abram and Sarai became Abraham (father of multitudes)4 and Sarah (princess, or noblewoman).5 Jacob became Israel (prevailing one).6 All of these names speak of character or some aspect of the life of the one to whom the name is given.
We know our new name, and Jesus knows it because he gave it to us. Is this how we will be addressed by him on the new earth? I don’t know. And we haven’t even addressed the hidden manna. Maybe I’ll speculate about that one on the drive home. Until then . . .
1. Matthew 16:18
2. Matthew 9:9
3. John 11:16, 20:24
4. Genesis 17:5
5. Genesis 17:15
6. Genesis 32:28