As this expression is not elsewhere found in the Scriptures, it requires but little discernment to perceive that it must have a special significance. In chapter 2:17, the overcomer is promised "a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." This is a new name for the believer, and one that will contain a secret between the Lord and his own soul - a name of affection and approval, which the Lord will bestow upon the one who has been victorious in conflict with evil within the assembly. The overcomer in Philadelphia has the new name of Christ Himself written upon him; and this as the climax of all the blessedness into which he will be introduced. There is, therefore, a great contrast between the two; for, unspeakable as will be the enjoyment of the one who obtains the white stone, with his new name engraven upon it, from the Lord's own hands, it could scarcely be comparable with the blessedness contained in the words, "And I will write upon him My new name."
Is it possible, then, to ascertain what this new name is? The key to its meaning will undoubtedly be discovered in the special place and connection in which it is found. There are few who have not noticed the peculiar character of the promise to the overcomer in Philadelphia. Two things distinctly mark it. It is all a heavenly condition of blessedness; and it is all to be enjoyed in association with Christ, as may be seen from the repetition of the word "My" - the temple of My God, the name of the city of My God, new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God, &c, Another thing may be observed. All the terms thus used really bring before us the accomplishment of God's counsels in redemption. For example: It was not until after His resurrection that our blessed Lord said, "My God, and your God"; and, as we all know, "the city of My God, new Jerusalem," is the Church in glory - in relation, indeed, to the millennial earth during the thousand years, but the tabernacle of God with men in the eternal state, according to its presentation in this book. In other words, it is the bride of the Lamb. The promise to the Philadelphian overcomer is, therefore, to be realized in full heavenly blessedness in association with Christ.
If we have understood the import of the above remarks, we shall the more readily apprehend the meaning of "My new name." It will indicate the new condition of our blessed Lord as being glorified as Man. Ever, from the moment of His incarnation the Second Man out of heaven, it was not until riser and glorified that He assumed, if the words may be reverently used, His true and proper condition as the Heavenly Man. Down here, though in sinless an( holy humanity, He was in weakness and sorrow - thy Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief. HI hungered, He thirsted, He was weary, He wept, am He slept; but risen out of death, while He retains the same body (Luke 24:39, 40; John 20:19-29), He is altogether in a new state and condition. As glorified, He presents to us Man according to God's counsels, the order of the Second Man according to which God is now working; and hence, the model to which all the redeemed are to be conformed. (John 17:19; Romans 8:29.) We regard, therefore, "My new name" as the expression of this new condition on which Christ has entered; and thus "name" here, as elsewhere, will keep its proper significance as the expression of the truth of what the Person is.
It is, on this account, important to remark that "My new name" refers to the glorified humanity of our blessed Lord. It is only to Him, as the glorified Man, that we can be conformed; and, consequently, it must ever be held fast, although His Person is one and indivisible, that He is also over all, God blessed for ever, the true God and eternal life. Always bearing this in mind, it cannot be pressed too earnestly that believers are after the order of the Second Man, that they now belong to this order, and to the place where Christ is as the glorified and heavenly Man. It is one of Satan's most subtle and successful beguilings, especially at the present moment, in turning aside the saints from their heavenly calling, and in leading them into the acceptance of principles which are essentially Jewish. They are willing to have Christ with them in their circumstances; but they are not prepared, like Peter, to abandon the boat, and to walk on the water to go to His side. But, "if any man be in Christ," [there is] "a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." It is of this new creation that Christ, as risen and glorified, is the beginning; and it is, moreover, of this new creation that we, by the grace of God, already form part, and to which we even now belong. Let this blessed truth be ever remembered.
We may now enquire more particularly as to what is meant by having the new name of Christ written upon the overcomer. It will be observed that "My new name" follows upon "the name of My God" and "the name of the city of My God"; and this is very significant. Keeping the term "name" to the meaning already given - viz., the expression or the revelation of the truth of the Person, or the thing, with which it is connected - we shall discover a very full entrance into the character of the blessedness indicated. "The name of My God" will then import the revelation of all that God is as displayed in Christ on the ground of redemption. But when our blessed Lord says "My God," it is manifest that He speaks as man (compare Matthew 27:46; John 20:17, etc.); and consequently we learn here that the overcomer will be brought into the enjoyment of all that God is, as so revealed, in association with Christ. "The name of the city of My God" will, in a similar way, betoken the impress upon the overcomer of the whole truth, which is told out in the Church, of the structure of which, indeed, he is a component part as a living stone; but a living stone which will then be radiant with the glory of God. The overcoming is an individual thing; but the moment the thought of the city is introduced, the individuality of the overcomer is merged in the organization and unity of the city. And, again, it must be noticed that it is "the city of My God." Christ is the living link - if such a term may be used - between God and the city; and it is with Him as the glorified Man, as the Firstborn among many brethren, that the overcomers will for ever be associated in this heavenly glory.
We shall now understand more clearly the additional blessedness of having "My new name" inscribed upon the overcomers. Two things, following the symbolical teaching of this book, may be affirmed: First, that the overcomer will thus be declared as belonging to Him who Himself had trodden the path of conflict, and had been an Overcomer. (Chap. 3:21.) It is a principle, indeed, everywhere seen in the New Testament scriptures, that whatever virtue or excellency is displayed at any time, or under any circumstances, in the saints, has been first exemplified in Christ. The new name written will, then, be the eternal proclamation that Christ, in His new estate and position as the glorified Man, claims the overcomer for Himself. But, secondly, it will also teach that the overcomer will be wholly conformed to Christ. "My new name" will be reproduced in the overcomer; and hence it will be everlasting association with Christ in his heavenly state as being conformed to His image. The overcomer will thus be the perfect expression of His likeness; every moral feature of Him who is the model of the redeemed will then unhinderedly shine out through every possessor of His new name. What a prospect! And what a wealth of blessedness is here disclosed for the encouragement of the Philadelphian believer in holding fast that which he has, that no man take his crown!
It may, however, be enquired whether these exceeding great and gracious promises are limited to the overcomer. The very question misses their significance. They are given to this assembly - the only assembly which, in the closing days of the Church's history, meets the mind and approval of Christ. It is the only one of the last four phases of the assembly on which He looks down with entire satisfaction. And it should be carefully noted that overcoming in this assembly is simply maintaining, holding fast what they had received. All, therefore, are encouraged to be overcomers; and the special promises, which we have considered, are given as an incentive to their fidelity. Doubtless the blessedness they speak of will be the portion of all the redeemed; but this is a very different thing from finding in this glorious portion our sustainment while contending for the truth, and our motive to whole-hearted devotedness to Christ in the midst of general indifference and infidelity. This is the use the Lord would have us make of these promises, even as He Himself, "for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of God."
No wilderness experience, be it ever so faithful, has anything directly to do with this heavenly life, although the grapes of Canaan may cheer the pilgrims by the way.