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What is the “white stone” in Revelation 2:17 and what is its purpose?

“I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” (Revelation 2:17) 

In ancient times, the Greeks and Romans had a custom of noting and perpetuating friendship by means of a white stone. This stone was divided and each person inscribed his name on the flat surface, after which the parts of the stone were exchanged. Producing either half was sufficient to insure friendly aid. Thus, the divided stone became a mark of identification. 

Kings were known to observe a similar custom. A white stone would be broken into two parts, half the king would retain and the other part would be given to a special ambassador. The ambassador could send his stone to the king at any time, ensuring aid. Thus, the divided stone became a mark of identification.

It is likely the text refers to this ancient custom. The white stone is not literal, but is symbolic of a precious token of the love of Jesus. The new name written in the stone suggests that Jesus will give a personal name to each who overcomes and receives a heavenly reward. Each will have a personal favor and friendship with the Lord. This indicates a secret relationship between the great King of kings and the individual.

 The Lord knows them that are his. 2 Timothy 2:19 (NKJV)

Each overcomer has the personal favor of the Lord. Of this, no one will know except himself and the King.  It may be said that the overcomers receive the mark of identification or acceptance (the symbolic white stone) now in the present life. 

This mark is the granting or “sealing” of the holy spirit by which the Lord identifies overcomers. The new name signifies a new relationship to God through His son, Jesus. This relationship – like stone – is lasting and imperishable. It is “white” in that it is an innocent, pure, holy relationship.

While this verse says it will be part of the final reward of the church, yet from the beginning of our experience, we have this precious relationship with the Jesus.  In a sense, then, the stone is symbolically loaned to the Lord’s people now; if they are faithful, it will ultimately be given to them. 

The full seal of the holy spirit will be given in the heavenly resurrection when the new immortal body is received. Then we shall have the complete knowledge of the name by which we shall be known to the Lord and he to us forever. 

To learn more about the holy spirit listen to, “Do We Have the Purpose of the Holy Spirit Backwards?”

“How Can I Get the Holy Spirit?”