This article under (C) Copyright 2013 by Jerry Wm Bowers Jr.


 

Revelation 2:17 “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows saving he that receives it

The book of Revelation is highly allegorical, and this means that it contains metaphors which speak of things which are very concrete, touchable, and tangible in our physical and material world, but instead of pointing to those actual things, such allegorical references are rather pointing to their metaphorical or symbolic meaning or purpose.

Such language concludes we are reading something written in a parabolic (parable) nature, and requires a system of hermeneutic (interpretive) deduction to discover its hidden meaning, purpose, and/or intention.

Within the first half of this verse, we see an immediate reference to something else spoken of in a symbolic nature “To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna” to which most Christians should recognize in another scriptural reference, shortly after the story of the feeding 5,000.

In John 6:26-51, Jesus explains that he is the manna (bread) from heaven that gives eternal life; his explanation involves explaining that one must eat of his flesh and drink his blood, and this is clearly parabolic, using his flesh and blood as metaphors of the touchable and tangible, but pointing to their symbolic use.

In verses 27 and 54 of this section, this manna is said to be “meant that endures to everlasting life, which the son of man gives” which we also see echoed later, in John 10:28

This is especially interesting in relation to our subject verse (Revelation 2:17) that speaks of the “hidden manna” to those in Pargamos; among the ruins of many ancient temples in Pargamos, the temple of Dionysus. Dionysus is also reported in some folklore to give eternal life.  

Throughout the book of Revelation, we see numerous references to white items: white as wool, white as snow, white raiment, white horses, white robes, white linen, white cloud, and a white throne

Revelation 2:12 informs us this white stone reference relates to the city of Pergamos; like many of the cities in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) Pergamos was home to numerous temples and other building projects dedicated to Greek, Roman, and even Egyptian deities.

The allegorical meaning of this white stone is seen through numerous ancient customs:

Victory and freedom; the Romans would present white stone; sometimes with their names of the participants and the event they participated in, to the victors of gladiator matches, and to those who were retired from the gladiator fighting matches.

Innocence; as criminal trials ended, jurors would present black stones to proclaim a verdict of guilty and white stones where they believed the person(s) to be innocent of charges against them.

Approval; during elections in the ancient Greek and Roman kingdoms, voters would be given a black stone and a white stone; their casting of the black stone meant they rejected the person running, and the white stone was cast as a sign of their approval.

Entrance; during many of the ancient world games, theaters, feasts, etc... Those prominent, powerful, or wealthy enough to garner admittance to these events would present white stones to gain entry.

Reservations; often times at events such as banquets, reserved seating was marked with white stones that had the guest’s name inscribed or painted on them, and placed wherever they were to be seated.

Authority/Power; these guests who had received these white stones could often use them to order things at the special events, and would often present them to the servants; as a sign of their authority, when making/giving orders or special requests.

Redemption; as slaves or indentured servants had earned, paid for, or were granted their freedom, they would be given white stones to indicate their citizenry verses slave, status.

Healing; the white stone reference to those in Pargamos was also a sign of being healed, or having overcome some disease or infirmity. In Pergamos, there lived an ancient physician, named “Galen” who worked in the “Pergamos Asklepieion” which is named after Asclepius; the Greek God of healing. The Asklepieion would be comparable to a modern day Spa, Resort, or Health Retreat. Upon being healed, or overcoming their illness/infirmity, patrons of Galen would take white stones, inscribe or paint their illness/infirmity; along with their name, a present them on altars in the Asklepieion.

Each of these attributes of the white stone: Victory, Freedom, Innocence, Approval, Entrance, Reservation, Power, Authority, Redemption, and Healing, can be seen as given, granted, bestowed, or rewarded to believers in Christ.

 We enjoy victory in Christ because he has already won the battle!

We embrace freedom in Christ as we are not slaves to this world!

We are seen innocent in Christ as there is no condemnation!

We have approval through Christ, not because of our own works!

We gain entrance to eternal life through Christ!

We are assured of our reservation to eternal life because of Christ!

We have power through Christ as no weapon against us prospers!

We have authority through Christ as he has all power!

We enjoy the benefits of the redemption of Christ!

We are healed through Christ as he delivers us from all adveristy!

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