The Hidden Manna and the White Stone in Revelation 2:17 -- By: Daniel K. K. Wong

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 155:619 (Jul 1998)
Article: The Hidden Manna and the White Stone in Revelation 2:17
Author: Daniel K. K. Wong

The Hidden Manna and the White Stone
in Revelation 2:17

Daniel K. K. Wong

Daniel K. K. Wong is President and Professor of Biblical Studies, Truth Theological Seminary, Alhambra, California.

The third of the seven letters to the churches of Asia (present-day western Turkey) in Revelation 2–3 was addressed to Pergamum (Rev. 2:12–17). The believers at Pergamum had been faithful in holding fast the Lord’s name, and as a result some of them had been martyred (v. 13). Yet some in the local church held to “the teaching of Balaam” and were guilty of immorality (vv. 14–15). They were exhorted to repent, lest the Lord come and make war against them with the sword of His mouth (v. 16).1

This letter concludes with the enigmatic statement, “To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it” (v. 17). What is the hidden manna? What is the significance of the white stone? What is the name on the stone? To whom are these blessings promised? These questions are addressed in this article.

The Hidden Manna

The Background of the Blessing

The reference to manna is traceable to the Book of Exodus. In the wilderness, as Moses led the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan, God provided bread (manna) for their sustenance, and Moses placed a memorial pot of this manna in the ark of the covenant (Exod. 16:32–35; Heb. 9:4).2 Jesus spoke of Himself as the manna or spiritual “bread” God gave from heaven (John 6:35, 48–51). Those who appropriate this “bread” will experience spiritual satisfaction and sustenance. Spiritually they will never hunger or thirst (v. 35) or die (v. 50).

The Nature of the Blessing

Some writers suggest “the hidden manna” is a figure depicting admission to the messianic feast, the Messiah’s kingdom.3 Benedict claims it represents “the capacity to

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