In Revelation 2:17 Jesus changes his general address in order to speak directly to believers who have ears to hear. That is, he is addressing those who have not closed their hearts and minds to his word (cp. John 1:11-12; 3:32). However, the promises he makes are made only to those who endure to the end and overcome the attacks of the enemy both from within and from outside the church. In other words, out of the church of Pergamos, Jesus singles out those who have not closed their hearts and minds, but out of this smaller group, Jesus addresses a yet tinier group of believers who endure all things for his namesake.
The very first thing Jesus promised to those who overcome is that he would give them of the hidden manna, but what does hidden manna refer to? Moses told Aaron and the children of Israel, when the manna had first fallen from heaven, to take a portion of it and lay it up before the Lord in the Temple (Exodus 16:32-34; Hebrews 9:4). So, in that sense it was hidden from view. It wasn’t lost, but it wasn’t readily seen, unless one went into the presence of the Lord.
Let me suggest that hidden in the context that it is used in Revelation 2:17 does not necessarily mean something that could be seen physically, even if it were unveiled. On the other hand, it might be seen physically, but its identity would be hidden. The Greek word used in this verse is in the sense that the manna (whatever it represents) is simply not recognized for what it is. We are told that Jesus wasn’t recognized for who he really was (John 1:10-11), for, if he had been recognized, the Jewish and gentile authorities, who put him to death, would not have done so (1Corinthians 2:8). Therefore, although men were able to see Jesus, he was also hidden from their view. No one recognized him, except those who were “given” the hidden manna (John 6:44), for Jesus **is** that manna that comes down from heaven (John 6:48-51)! Today, Jesus is not seen, yet he is still that hidden manna that comes to us from heaven. We feed upon him and are nourished in the Spirit of God.
Manna is also the word of God, written down by men who were moved to do so by the Spirit of God. Nevertheless, his word is not understood by most men, because a veil hangs over it, so God’s word can’t be understood by the spirit of man who sees it as mere nonsense (1Corinthians 2:14). Neither did the Jews of the first century AD understand their own Scriptures that pointed to their destruction, because such an idea was nonsense (1Corinthians 2:14) to them. Nevertheless, that blindness or the veil, which covered their eyes as they read God’s word, is taken away in Christ (2Corinthians 3:14). In other words, those Jews and gentiles who had the hidden manna weren’t blind to the things God had planned to do in their lifetimes. Therefore, those believers, who were among the ones who have ears to hear but also overcame, were not be ignorant of what God was doing, neither in Pergamos nor the rest of the Empire, including Jerusalem.
Notice, the second thing Jesus promised to give those who overcame was a white stone. I believe this stone represents Jesus’ judgment of innocence (cp. Romans 8:34). The Sanhedrin made their judgments in the form of white and black stones. White was for innocence and black was for guilty. Jesus was telling those who overcome in the midst of the trouble they are in, holding fast to his name and not denying his faith (Revelation 2:13), he would declare their innocence before the Father and his angels (Matthew 10:32-33; Luke 12:8-9).
The church at Pergamos was thrust into a season of tribulation. The Messianic Jews were ostracized by their own people (cp. John 16:2), at the command of Jerusalem authorities, who were behind the trouble these believers were experiencing. Moreover, gentile believers seem also to have been in the midst of trouble, which came from neighbors and former friends who feared the spread of this new faith would herald the end of their own religions (cp. Acts 19:24-28). In other words, believers, both Jews and gentiles, were cut off from their community. They were as eunuchs whose names would cease to exist in their generation, but Jesus promised to give them a new name and write it upon the white stone he promised to give them (Revelation 2:17). This new name represented life to those who received it—eternal life. The giving of this name annulled the judgment of death with which their community had condemned them. No name meant they had no descendants, and no future, but the new name was better than the name of a son or a daughter (Isaiah 56:4-5). Just as Jesus was hidden and not recognized, neither were his people (Psalm 83:3), but their vindication was coming with Jesus’ judgment upon their persecutors (cp. Isaiah 62:2).