Why Did Jesus Promise a White Stone?
…To him that overcometh will I give…a white stone….
— Revelation 2:17
For years, I carried a small white stone in my pocket. In times when I felt discouraged, I would reach into my pocket to touch that stone and remind myself that Jesus promised a “white stone” to those who overcome. Of course, a stone has no magical powers, but that little stone reminded me of what the Lord said when He promised a “white stone” in Revelation 2:17 to those who overcome.
So what is the significance of the “white stone” that Jesus promised?
Let’s delve into the Greek language and history today to see what we can find about how “white stones” were used at the time this was written by John on the isle of Patmos and why Christ promised a “white stone” to those who overcome.
In the original text of Revelation 2:17, the wording in the phrase “a white stone” is ordered differently in Greek. The Greek wording actually reads “psiephon leuken.” The word psiephon refers to a stone or pebble, and leuken means white. So rather than “a white stone,” it should be literally translated, “A stone, a white one.” This lays a particular emphasis on the color of the stone, so we must examine the primary way “white stones” were used in early New Testament times.
When a Roman trial concluded, and it was time for a panel of judges to vote for the defendant’s innocence or guilt, the judges registered their votes by casting a black or white stone into an urn. A black stone symbolized a vote for guilt, and a white stone denoted a vote for innocence. When all the votes had been cast, the stones were emptied from the urn and counted one by one. If there were more black stones, it meant the judges had found the defendant guilty; if there were more white stones, it meant they had found the individual to be not guilty.15
Therefore, when Christ offered “a stone, a white one” to overcomers — placing a definite emphasis on the word white — it meant: “I have reviewed all the evidence, and I have judged you not guilty!”
Jesus’ message to that church, and to us today, was that regardless of who they had been or what they had done before they came to Christ, what mattered now was who they had become in Christ. Viewing them in light of His blood, Jesus had cast “a stone, a white one” in their direction, affirming their full acquittal and complete release from their past sinful lives and memories.
Therefore, when the devil — or any person, for that matter — tries to throw a stone of judgment against us by mentally tormenting us about past actions we’ve already been forgiven for, we may boldly answer, “Christ has already cast His vote. He has found me NOT GUILTY!” Regardless of any actions we may have committed in the past, Jesus’ blood has purged our con- science from dead works to serve the living God (see Hebrews 9:14).
There was another way the ancient Greeks also used white and black stones for vote-casting. One of the greatest privileges in Greek society was to vote about civic issues in a public election. In these elections, people used white and black stones to cast their votes, similar to the way such stones were used in legal trials.16 Votes were customarily registered by casting a black or white pebble into large vases that were set up throughout the city at designated locations. When the time for voting had concluded, the pebbles were separated into white and black piles and then counted. A white stone represented a person voting in favor of some issue, whereas a black stone represented a person was voting against it.
Thus, when Christ promised “a stone, a white one” to the believers who overcame, He was not only announcing freedom, forgiveness, and acquittal from a past sinful life, but He was also telling them: “My vote is for you. I am putting My full support behind you.”
How powerful this is when we realize what the “white stone” means in Revelation 2:17. It declares that Christ has found us not guilty and that He is putting His full support behind you and me. Christ is voting for us!
15 Ovid, Metamorphoses, XV.
16 Charles Dexter Cleveland, A Compendium of Grecian Antiquities (Boston: Hilliard, Gray, Little, and Wilkins, 1831), p. 68
Years ago, I actually preached on this subject in the city of Moscow — then we distributed white stones to the whole congregation. I urged people to carry them in their pockets or purses as a reminder that if they were washed in the blood of Christ, Jesus has found them not guilty. And regardless of what the devil tries to tell them, Christ’s blood has freed them from the past, and they are free! Furthermore, I encouraged them when life seemed to be getting tough to let that white stone remind them that if no one else was voting for them, Christ was voting for them and, therefore, they were going to make it!
Today I want to tell you that if you have been forgiven and washed in the precious blood of Christ, you are forgiven — period. The devil may try to hassle you in your mind and torment you with past memories that God Himself doesn’t remember. But just realize that Christ reviewed all the evidence, and since His blood was applied to your life, He has found you completely blameless and free from shame.
Furthermore, if it doesn’t feel at the moment like anyone else is for you, just remember that Christ Himself has cast His vote for you. Romans 8:31 tells us, “…If God be for us, who can be against us?” My friend, if Jesus has cast His vote for you — and He has! — you can throw off all despair and start rejoicing, because the one vote that really matters has been cast in your favor!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I thank You for the blood of Jesus Christ, which has cleansed me from all sinful actions of the past. Although I admittedly did wrong in the past, it is not held against me, because the blood of Christ has made me free. You have officially declared me clean. I stand before You as a born-again individual, free from the offenses of my past. A white stone has been cast in my favor. I am cleansed and free, and You are voting for me and my success!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I refuse to wallow in condemnation over my past sins that even God Himself doesn’t remember. Instead, I focus my attention on the blood of Jesus as I remember all He has done for me. When the devil — or anyone, for that matter — tries to throw a stone of judgment against me by mentally tormenting me about past actions that I’ve already been forgiven for, I boldly answer: “Christ has reviewed all the evidence and already cast His vote. He has found me innocent!” I toss aside any garments of despair, and I put on the garment of praise because Jesus’ blood has purged my conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Since God is for me, who can be against me? Jesus has cast His vote of a white stone in my favor — and that is the only vote that matters!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- When the devil tries to assault your mind and drag you into memories of the past, how do you resist him? Do you allow him to attack you, or do you stand up to those allegations that no longer have any application concerning who you are today? How do you resist the devil in such circumstances?
- When you think of Christ casting a “white stone” in your favor — a favorable vote for you — how does that affect you?
- In light of Christ casting a white stone in your favor, don’t you think it’s time for you to stop submitting to the devil’s actions of throwing stones of accusation at you — or at others?