I love this passage, but especially the part that I have emphasized:

The Heavenly Warrior Defeats the Beast 11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. Revelation 19:11-13 (NIV)

So how can God (Jesus) have a secret identity, as indicated in this scripture? Is there support for this, or anything like it, elsewhere in scripture?

I am interested in the Protestant answer to this question, especially also the Messianic Jewish answer, if possible.

Although a Catholic answer will (probably) not be accepted, I would still appreciate a good answer.

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    This is not unique to the only-begotten Son, but is common to all the sons of God : To him that overcometh 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 knoweth saving he that receiveth it.* Revelation 2:17. They are publicly known among men. But privately known in a different way, in intimacy. It is not necessarily a matter of 'identity'. One may be publicly identified, yet personally known in another way. It is a matter of relatonship.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 9, 2023 at 8:33
  • 2
    @NigelJ Your comment is so excellent that it should be fleshed out into an answer if you have the time. Aug 9, 2023 at 12:03
  • 1
    Thank you @MikeBorden . I have, instead, up-voted Anne's answer which I would neither wish nor need to enlarge upon. Regards.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 9, 2023 at 17:08
  • @NigelJ -- I think I disagree with you on every point. Can you back up your statements, because the cited scripture doesn't really back up your statements. Aug 9, 2023 at 21:12
  • @MicroservicesOnDDD See the answer which expands my comment : the answer given by Anne.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 10, 2023 at 8:43

1 Answer 1


This section of the Revelation gives spiritual insight into aspects of the risen Christ that all who love him and who long for his appearing (2 Timothy 4:1) will be keen to grasp. Much could be said about all the points in those three verses, but the question only raises what is perceived to be a problem - given that he has a name written on him that nobody but he knows, "how can God (Jesus) have a secret identity?"

First, it is an important point that this identifying name is known to God / Jesus. Note that this secret name has been written on him. It does not say that he wrote it upon himself. He received this unique name - from God. Therefore, both God and Jesus know this name. Because God gave him this unique name, that speaks of how they uniquely relate to each other in the Godhead. It is only a secret for others who are not in the Godhead. Why should that surprise anyone? God chooses to reveal what he decides people in general, and his born-again children in particular, will be enabled to know. Indeed, the whole of the book of the Revelation is a "revealing" for the benefit of God's children, to encourage them through increasingly difficult times, "things that must shortly to come to pass (1:1).

Further, there are other places in the Bible where we are told that certain things are only known to certain individuals. In this example, it again speaks of a unique relationship between Christ (who gives the secret name) and the recipient of it, after overcoming. All believers are told in the Revelation that Christ has made this promise:

"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches: To him that overcometh 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 knoweth saving he that receiveth it." (2:17 A.V.)

A Protestant explanation of this matter of a "secret name", known only to the returning Christ, is in this book, which I now quote from. Jude vss. 14 & 15 have been quoted, to link in with these three verses in Revelation 19:11-16, showing this refers to the Last Days drawing the age to a close. Verse 11 is shown to be the conclusion of the ride on the white horse first begun in ch.6 v.2. The rider will rein that symbolic white horse in, turn it around, and rend the heavens to come down. Sticking only to details about this rider's names, (plural) here is the offered explanation :

"And on his head were many crowns' (vs.12). The crown upon his head in Revelation 6:2 was stephanos. Here the many crowns are diadamata. The latter indicates the band worn by the victor. Crowned as a king over and over to perfection, his victories are manifold, each one being unique. He is the King of the Jews; the King of Israel - not to say of Jacob, Isaiah 41:21 - thirdly he is the King of Salem, that is, of peace; fourthly, he is the King of righteousness; fifthly, the King of saints; sixthly, the King of kings; and, to bring all to perfection, he is the King of eternity. Thus he is crowned with many crowns.

...Now observe the names by which he is called. Here is a threefold testimony.. He is called Faithful and True (vs.11), precisely because the heavens are rent, and his appearance is made manifest from the glory. ...the word-for-word utterances [from Matthew to Revelation] actually passed from his lips. ...Each syllable is faithful and true, because that is the character of the speaker: he is called in himself what is absolutely certain of him: He is Faithful and True...

Next, 'His name is called The Word of God', ch.19 vs.13. This name likewise goes back to beginnings, and more also. It is a name which evokes the divine name... The Word of God is a name greater than the things which he has spoken... But a person is more than his speech, though that speech has all the character, reflects the complete nature, and circumscribes the entire personality of him who spake it. (John 1:1-4)...

Thirdly, to complete the threefold witness, 'He hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords ch.19 v.16. ... 'until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in his times he shall show who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords...' 1 Timothy 6:14-16. He shall show this in his times? When shall these times be? When in the vision, 'Heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True.' Those times...

Three names: Faithful and True; The Word of God; King of kings and Lord of lords. Yet there remains a name. But it is an unspeakable name. 'Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?' Genesis 32:29. 'Why askest thou after my name, seeing it is secret?' Judges 13:18. 'And he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself', Revelation 19:12. And who am I, that I should take it upon myself to explain the inexplicable? As well might one vainly suppose to approach the light unapproachable, or to behold him whom no man hath seen nor can see; or else to grasp the ends of infinity, or to compass the reaches of eternity. But these are things above heaven and beyond earth, things pertaining to absolute deity." The Revelation of Jesus Christ, John Metcalfe, pp. 521, 523-528 [Emphases mine] http://www.johnmetcalfepublishingtrust.co.uk/contact_us.htm

The name Christ has written on him, which no man knows bar himself, is tied up with the three names given in the surrounding verses. Understand those and then it can be seen that this supremely personal name is about his relationship within the Godhead and will contain all Christ's character, reflecting his complete nature, and Christ's entire, unique personality.

  • 1
    I love what you said, but I'm not sure that we can accept the connection to Genesis 32:29 on the basis of the word "secret", which I think should be translated "awesome" or "too wonderful for you" or "beyond comprehension". Instead of "secret", the Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB) translates this word as "FELI" or "supremely wonderful". Aug 9, 2023 at 21:10
  • @MicroservicesOnDD You used the phrase 'secret identity' based on an unknown name. The Judges 13:18 name is said to be secret. That could include meaning awesome, too wonderful [for you to know] or beyond comprehension [to humans]. There is a point at which humans are not permitted by God to know certain things, but he and the Son know everything about each other, including that name, as it was written on him, not by himself, so God knows it too.
    – Anne
    Aug 10, 2023 at 15:49

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