The New Name

To him that overcometh, I will give a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

— Revelation 2:17

In the passage about the gift of the white stone, we find the essence of religion. What the mystic[1] meaning may be must be taken differently by different minds. I think the writer of Revelation sees in its whiteness, purity, and in its substance, indestructibility; but I care chiefly to regard the stone as the form whereby the name is represented as passing from God to man. The giving of the white stone with the new name is the communication of what God thinks about the man to the man. It is the divine judgment. The true name is one which expresses the character, the nature, the meaning of the person who bears it. It is the man’s own symbol, the sign which belongs to him and to no one else. Who can give a man this, his own name? God alone. To whom is this name given? To him that overcometh. When is it given? When he has overcome. Why does God wait till then? Just as repentance comes because God pardons, yet the man becomes aware of the pardon only in the repentance, so it is only when the man has become his name that God gives him the stone with the name upon it, for then first can he understand what his name signifies. God’s name for a man must then be the expression in a mystical word—a word of that language which all who have overcome understand—of his own idea of the man, that being whom he had in his thought when he began to make the child. To tell the name is to seal the success—to say, “In thee also I am well pleased.”

[1] I use the word mysticism as representing a mode of embodying truth, common, in various degrees, to almost all, if not all, the writers of the New Testament. A mystical mind perceives that the highest expression of which the truth admits lies in the symbolism of nature, and the human customs that result from human necessities, and so prosecutes thought about truth by dealing with the symbols themselves after logical forms. This is the highest mode of conveying the deepest truth, and the Lord himself often employed it.


by Jolyn Canty

Manna, the white stone, a new name: George MacDonald explains these three beautiful symbols of God’s fatherly love and care for us.

Manna: Manna provided life in a barren wilderness, and Jesus compared Himself to manna and the true bread from Heaven when he fed the multitude:  “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” John 6:1-14.

The White Stone:  The white stone has been compared to several ancient symbols.  The Romans had the custom of awarding white stones to the victors of athletic games.  In Greece, a white stone or Token of Privilege, known as a tessera, was given at Olympic games to the victor, allowing him entrance to the special awards banquet.  There was also the Token of Innocence, or Pebble of Acquittal: in ancient Greece, jury members would cast a white stone to signify an acquittal, and a black stone to signify guilt.

Another example of the white stone is the Jewish high priest’s breastplate, which contained twelve stones.  Each stone bore the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel engraved upon it.  As the high priest ministered in the temple, he bore the names of God’s people into God’s presence.  Concordantly, the believer’s name written on the white stone may also reference our standing in God’s presence. However, most Bible scholars believe that the white stone is connected to the Stone Tablets of the Law given to Moses.  Jesus is the New Law given to man, the Law that transcends the Old Law.  When the overcomer honors God’s law, Christ will honor the overcomer for knowing and doing God’s will.  Accordingly, we who overcome will celebrate at the banquet table with Him in heaven.

The New Name:  Throughout Scripture, names convey and represent the character of the bearer.  There is an ancient Jewish saying which states: “With each child, the world begins anew.”  Judaism places great importance on the naming of each child.  The name of a person is closely related to their essence.  Parents also choose a name which connects their children to previous generations.  The name chosen is their statement of hope for whom their child will become.

The new name represents the Holy Spirit’s work of conforming us to the holiness of Christ (Romans 8:29, Col. 3:10).  The new name is the name of adoption: we are now His.  He writes our new name on a white stone, an indestructible object that conveys its permanence, and by its color, purity.

George MacDonald emphasizes whiteness, purity, substance, indestructibility, repentance, overcoming, and receiving our true name given by God alone.  God wants to tell us our new name when we have been conformed to the likeness of his Son, and when that name is descriptive of who we are in Christ.

“We are pencils in God’s hands and He is writing love letters to everyone.”
--Mother Theresa