ORANGE DAWN

What Is the Difference between Rhema and Logos?

Rhema and Logos as used in the New Testament.

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Section One

Introduction

In recent years, the Greek terms rhema word and logos word found in the New Testament have gained much attention. Some people claim they are interchangeable and others say they are not. Some people also claim that God writes logos word on the pages of Scripture, but until you receive a rhema word from God concerning the logos word on the page, you have no personal application of the logos word for you. With so many different views out there, who is telling the truth? To understand how God used the terms logos and rhema in the New Testament, we must examine the Scriptures themselves. Please open your Bible and join the study. God inspired the precise words of Scripture recorded in the original autographs (the documents written by the authors before they were copied numerous times) and those precise words make all the difference.

Section Two

Are Logos and Rhema Interchangeable?

2.1 Interchangeable Words?. Are the terms “logos” and “rhema” interchangeable in Scripture? Consider John 1:1. Jesus identified Himself as The Logos to describe His eternal divinity and relationship with God. In one verse Jesus laid the foundation for understanding the Trinity and the eternality of God. Jesus never used the term “rhema” to describe His relationship to the Trinity and eternality of God. Jesus never said the “rhema” became flesh and dwelt among men. Furthermore, because God inspired each word in the original autographs of the Bible, we should not confuse the words God chose. For example, when God used the term “rhema” and “logos” in the same verse, He obviously sought to draw a distinction between them (Matthew 12:36; John 12:48). Many Bible translators do not believe the words of Scripture are inspired, but rather they claim the thoughts of Scripture are inspired. Such thinking devalues God speaking with precise words, Holy Words, because the words give rise to thoughts. To know the thoughts of God, you must know the precise words God communicated and keep them straight in translations. Consider Jeremiah 26:2 where God commanded Jeremiah not to omit a single word God spoke to him. Therefore, the words logos and rhema are not interchangeable in the Bible.

Section Three

Logos

3.1 Logos. The term logos generally focuses upon the substance of the thing communicated or said. 1Please be aware that nothing in this article supports Aristotelian metaphysics about the essence of things. Logos describes actual people, places and things, but it describes more than nouns.  It concerns the essence of the word and the person and power behind the term logos. The term logos draws attention to the symbol behind the word, and the symbol’s person and power and essence behind the logos. A few examples help us understand how God used the word logos.

3.2 In the Beginning. Consider John 1:1. God revealed that the Logos was in the beginning and the Logos was with God and the Logos was God. The Logos beautifully described both the incarnation and the Trinity. The Logos there did not directly describe spoken words, but the Person, Jesus Christ. God focused upon Jesus being the Logos. God was not describing what Jesus said or communicated, but Who Jesus is and always has been. Jesus is God and the messenger of God. Therefore, logos does not focus upon the spoken word, or the communication. Logos focuses upon the symbol or person behind the word, and the symbol and person’s power and essence. In contrast, rhema focuses upon what was spoken. In some instances, logos focuses upon the messenger and rhema focuses upon the message itself.

3.3 Shepherds and Mary. Consider Luke 2:19. Mary heard from the shepherds who had seen the angels. Mary treasured their word (rhema) they had spoken to her (Luke 2:19). Mary was not storing up the person (shepherds) who spoke those words, but the message delivered. What they said about Jesus she treasured in her heart. Therefore, rhema focuses upon the message, not the messenger. The communication itself plays a large role in the term rhema.

3.4 Examples of Logos.  The following examples help us understand the term logos.

Jesus identified Himself as the Word (logos) Who was in the beginning with God and was God. The Word was the Creator of all things (John 1:1-3). Therefore, we understand that the term logos may also refer to Jesus, Who is the Word of God Who took flesh and dwelt among men, full of divine glory, grace and truth.

♦  The Centurion understood that Jesus would merely say the word (logos) and his servant would be healed; Jesus did not need to enter his home (Matthew 8:8).

Jesus and others proclaimed the word (logos) of the kingdom of God (Matthew 13:19-22).

Jesus cast out demons with a word (logos) (Matthew 8:16).

Jesus indicated that true disciples continue in His word (logos) (John 8:31).

Paul commended the Ephesian elders to God and the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified (Acts 20:32).

False teachers peddle the word (logos) of God (2 Corinthians 2:17).

False teachers adulterate the word (logos) of God (2 Corinthians 4:2).

The word  (logos) of God sanctifies believers (1 Timothy 4:5).

The word (logos) of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing as far as the division of  soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). 

The people were astonished at the teaching of Jesus, because Jesus spoke His word (logos) with authority (Luke 4:32).

For in this case the word (logos) is true, “one sows and another reaps” (John 4:37).

The word (logos) of Jesus disclosing Himself as the Bread of Life caused the disciples to grumble and say who could listen to it (John 6:60).

Paul said his preaching and his word (logos) were in demonstration of the Spirit and of power (1 Corinthians 2:4).

The word (logos) of the Father is truth and sanctifies believers (John 17:17).

Section Four

Rhema

4.1 Rhema. The term rhema refers to the spoken word itself, and frequently the spoken word of God. In contrast to logos focusing upon the person, power and essence behind the word, rhema focuses more on the spoken communication itself. In other words, at times, rhema focuses upon the message spoken and logos focuses upon the messenger and the essence and power of the symbol and person behind the message.

4.2 Examples of Rhema. The following examples help us understand the term rhema.

The word (rhema) is the sword of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). 

Jesus explained that God sent Him and He spoke the words (rhema) of God (John 3:34).

Jesus spoke the words (rhema) by the power of the Holy Spirit, given to Jesus without measure (John 3:34).

Jesus said that His words (rhema) are spirit and life, because the Holy Spirit gives life (John 6:63).

Simon Peter knew that Jesus had the words (rhema) of eternal life (John 6:68).

Zacharias lost the ability to say words (rhema) after seeing an angel (Luke 1:20).

The shepherds made known the word (rhema) which had been told them about this Child (Luke 2:17).

Mary treasured all the words (rhema) spoken by the shepherds after they saw the angels speaking about the Christ Child (Luke 2:19).

Mary also treasured the words (rhema) spoken by young Jesus about His time with the teachers in Jerusalem (Luke 2:51).

Words (rhema) may also be blasphemous (Acts 6:13). 

False witnesses accused the apostles of speaking words (rhema) against the holy place and the temple (Acts 6:13). 

The ages and all things were prepared by power of the word (rhema) of God (Hebrews 1:3, 11:3).

People also speak careless words (rhema), for which they must give account (Matthew 12:36).

Pilate brought words(rhema) against Jesus (Matthew  27:14).

Peter remembered the word (rhema) of the Lord Jesus concerning his denials of Christ Jesus  (Matthew 26:75; Mark 14:72).

Section Five

The Difference between Logos and Rhema

5.1 Contextual Usage. Some writers in the New Testament used both logos and rhema in the same passage. Those passages illuminate the differences between logos and rhema.

The Day of Judgment. In the day of judgment, people will render a word (logos) for every idle word (rhema) they spoke (Matthew 12:36). In this case, the rhema relates to idle, spoken words (the message itself). The force of the passage describes final judgment. Jesus continued saying that by your  words (logos) you will justified, and by your words (logos) you will be condemned (Matthew 12:37). Therefore, rhema may be distinguished as common speech, but logos forms the basis for judgment. Therefore, we know that by your standard you will be judged, so here you will be judged according to logos, rendered upon demand at the judgement. The logos here refers to the person who said the words and the thoughts and intentions in the heart of that person when they said it. The logos also refers to the standard of judgment, being the authority and power Jesus has to judge. Jesus does not judge the words (rhema), but the person speaking. The person behind the words will be judged by their own logos. Jesus said that by what proceeds from your own mouth you will judged (Luke 19:22).  Saints, however, never face condemnation (Romans 8:1). At the moment of salvation, saints do not go to the judgment (John 5:24) and do not give any account of their empty words (rhema). Every saint, however, will give a word (logos) regarding how they treated other saints (Romans 14:12). The logos behind actions and words (rhema) matters to Jesus and one day such logos will be given. The words spoken (rhema) will not be at issue, but the person (with thoughts and intentions) will be at issue.

The Standard of Judgment. Jesus explained that the word (logos) He spoke will be the standard of judgment for the people who reject Him and do not receive His words (rhema) (John 12:48). The words (rhema) Jesus spoke do not form the standard for judgment, but those words (rhema) must be received. Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (rhema) (Romans 10:17). Generally, some people hear and obey the rhema of God, but understand that the logos Jesus spoke becomes the standard for judgment.

Mary and Gabriel. The angel Gabriel said to Mary “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” She was perplexed upon the word (logos). Mary was not alarmed by the words themselves, but the person and meaning of those words. She reasoned about the salutation (Luke 1:29). God then explained to her that the power of the Most High will overshadow you and the One born of her would be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). The angels also disclosed that Elizabeth, a barren woman, would have a child, and said that with God no word (rhema) will be impossible (Luke 1:37). Mary responded saying that may it happen according to the rhema of the angel (Luke 1:38).  Therefore, the logos of God perplexed Mary because she was called the favored one and the Lord was with her. The substance of those words caused her to be perplexed. In contrast, Mary signaled her acceptance of the rhema from the angel about her giving birth to the Son of God by the power of God.

Demon Son. A man asked the disciples to cast a demon out of his son. They were unable. When Jesus descended from the mountain, He rebuked the unclean spirit and it came out of the boy. Everyone was marveling. Jesus told His disciples to let those words (logos) sink into their ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men (Luke 9:44).  The disciples did not know this word (rhema) and it was veiled from them that they should not apprehend and they were  fearing to ask Him concerning this word (rhema) (Luke 9:45). Jesus talked about letting the logos (authority of Jesus) sink into their ears. The disciples, however, were unable to comprehend the rhema of Jesus, focusing upon the words themselves. On the spiritual level, the word (rhema) was veiled from them and they were afraid to ask Jesus about the word (rhema). Therefore, we see Jesus focused upon learning about His authority and their inability to cast out the demons. They were unable to comprehend even the rhema, because it was veiled from them. Notice too that to comprehend the logos, the disciples first must comprehend the rhema.

The Caesarean Pentecost. Peter went to Caesarea to see Cornelius the Centurion. Both of them had received divine instructions about the other person. When Peter arrived, he began to explain Jesus and the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter spoke about the word (logos) which God sent to the sons of Israel, proclaiming the Gospel, peace by Jesus Christ. Peter then said that Jesus is Lord of all. Peter then explained that they knew the word (rhema) had come through all Judea, having begun in Galilee (Acts 10:37). While Peter was still speaking the words (rhema), the Holy Spirit fell upon all the ones hearing the word (logos) (Acts 10:44).

Section Six

False Teaching Regarding Logos and Rhema

6.1 “Rhema Word” Doctrine. Some people use the term “Rhema Word” to mean that God gives individual saints specific revelation about a verse, applying that verse to your life. Some Rhema Word people see a two step process of revelation from God. Step one means God wrote down revelation (logos) on the pages of Scripture. Step Two means God gives you individually a rhema word revelation concerning the logos on the page of Scripture. In other words, some “Rhema Word” people say you read a verse in Scripture and then it comes alive to you. Those “Rhema “Word” people then say you have received a “Rhema Word” from God. According to some “Rhema Word” people, God has given you a special revelation about the meaning of that verse for you. Before we accept that use of the term “Rhema Word,” let us start with defining some terms about truth and then review some Scripture.

6.2 Objective and Subjective. The term “objective” means a general or universal standard or point of view. In contrast, the term “subjective” means your personal point of view. A simple example may help to understand the difference. I like chocolate (subjective point of view). Chocolate comes from  the fruit of cacao trees (objective point of view). Some people use those terms to distinguish rhema (subjective) from logos (objective). We should examine “Rhema Word” doctrine very carefully from both the subjective and objective points of view.

6.2.1 Truth. Objective truth describes the universe that exists independently of your mind and existence. Objective truth exists whether you know about that universe or not. Objective truth remains eternal, because objective truth is not tied to time or existence at a particular moment in time. Objective truth itself is more than a mere quality of propositions, although propositions may state the truth about the universe. Truth remains broader than mere propositional statements about reality. Jesus said He is the truth. 2Do not misunderstand, Jesus was not claiming to be the universe in some kind of pantheistic way. He was claiming to embody truth, and particularly the Truth about the Way to the Father’s house. See also Ephesians 4:21 and John 14:17 and 1 John 5:6. Therefore, I will use the term objective truth to describe a universe that actually exists, whether you know about that universe or not. Objective truth accurately reflects the universe. 3The universe includes all existence, without reference to time, actuality or potentiality, created or non-created.

6.2.2 Subjective Truth. Subjective truth means you believe or think something is true, whether it is actually true or not. Subjective truth is personal, and depends upon your specific point of view. You constantly create your own subjective truth. You can change your mind and so change your subjective truth. Most people live by subjective truth, which may not be true at all. Notice that objective truth never changes, but remains eternal. Objective truth is true for everyone, because God describes reality, which is true for everyone, whether they believe it is true or not. Unbelievers may not understand much about the spiritual world, but the reality of the spiritual world remains. In other words, things do not exist individually in the mind of each believer. No one should believe that if you do not know something, then that something does not exist. Actually, the universe exists independently of whether you know it or not.

6.3 Rhema Word Doctrine and Subjective Truth. Some people claim they have received a special revelation from God about a particular verse in the Scripture. Next, they claim that special revelation was just for them, and no one else. People who make such claims are slipping into subjective truth. They claim a special revelation from God, which only applies to them. No doubt God speaks to people through the Scriptures, but does God teach us that He calls that process of God teaching us from the Bible a “Rhema Word” from God? We should find that answer in the Bible, and not in experience. In the Scriptures, when God provides rhema and logos, God reveals eternal truths, objective truth. The Holy Spirit guides a saint into all truth (John 16:13) through the anointing given to  all saints (1 John 2:20). People promoting “Rhema Word” doctrine must avoid confusing prophecy with illumination from God about the proper application of a passage to our lives.  Some people who promote “Rhema Word” doctrine think that “Rhema Word” means something temporal and not eternal. They ignore verses like John 6:68 indicating the eternality of the words Jesus spoke and their basis in spirit, not in flesh or this world.

6.4 Rhema Word Doctrine and Prophecy. Some people promoting “Rhema Word” doctrine also misunderstand prophecy. People who receive direct revelations from God are called prophets in the Bible. When people promote “Rhema Word” doctrine, they are claiming (wittingly or not) that everyone should be a prophet. While Paul wished everyone would prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:5), he understood that not all saints will prophesy (1 Corinthians 12:29). Therefore, be careful not to confuse prophecy from God with the “Rhema Word.” God prophesied through many people in the Bible, giving them His words (Rhema and logos) to speak. 4See Prophetic Rhema in Mark 14:72, 9:32; Luke 2:15, 2:17, 2:19; 3:2, 9:45. See Prophetic Logos in Luke 3:4 and Acts 10:36, 10:44 (see Luke 2:50–Mary treasured the rhema in her heart Luke 2:50.) Prophecy in the Bible never means something that is true only from your point of view. In other words, God deals in objective truth. The prophecies of God consist of revelation from God. The word (logos) of God is truth and sanctifies all believers in the truth (John 17:17; see also Matthew 22:16, John 8:44, John 16:13, Acts 26:25). Lying means we do not speak the truth, even if we did not mean to lie or thought we were telling the truth (see 1 John 2:21 and John 8:44–the people thought they were telling the truth, but actually they were lying).

6.5 Popular Passages Used by Some Rhema Word People. Some people promoting “Rhema Word” doctrine often rely upon a few passages to support their ideas about Rhema Word. Reviewing them briefly may help us understand and resolve the issues about the Rhema Word doctrine.

6.5.1 Matthew 16:17–Trinitarian Revelation. No one disputes that God the Father reveals Jesus Christ as Savior to each unbeliever He calls into the family of God (Matthew 16:17–God the Father revealed Jesus as Savior to Peter–flesh and blood did not make that revelation; see also Ephesians 1:17).  Likewise, Jesus then reveals the Father to the new saint (Matthew 11:27; compare Matthew 11:25; Luke 10:21) and the the Holy Spirit reveals the deep things of God to the saints (1 Corinthians 2:10). Therefore, the Scriptures plainly teach that God reveals many things to each believer. The issue concerns whether the best term to apply to those revelations is “Rhema Word”?

6.5.2 Romans 10:17–Faith and Hearing. Some people who promote “Rhema Word” doctrine point to Romans 10:17. They claim since faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word (rhema) of God, that means (in their minds) that God will give special revelation (“Rhema Word”) to you concerning faith.  They completely ignore the context of Romans 10 that God sends messengers bearing the word (rhema) of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to new lands so that they may believe and have eternal life. The term rhema there does not mean you receive a special revelation just for you, but rather the word (rhema) of the Gospel of Jesus Christ remains the same for all people. Some individuals will hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and believe (faith is a gift of God, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9)), but the rhema remains the same Gospel for all of them. No doubt God opens the spiritual eyes and hearts of the person who believes the word (rhema) of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but no further rhema is involved in Romans 10:17. God directly reveals the word (rhema) to one person at a time (remember the words of Jesus about the Father revealing Jesus to Peter (Matthew 16:17)). The rhema we have in Scripture. The Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son all reveal God to us and open our hearts to His revelation (the existing rhema and logos found in the Scripture).

6.5.3 2 Corinthians 13:1–Two or Three Witnesses. Some “Rhema Word” people claim that 2 Corinthians 13:1 means that the word (rhema) once given by God must be confirmed by two or three witnesses. Of course, once again, they twist the passage which says nothing about revelation from God. In fact, the passage quotes the Old Testament law concerning supporting testimony by multiple witnesses in a legal dispute. The context concerns Paul coming back a third time to Corinth where the people there have doubts about Paul and his apostleship. Paul said that such disputes will be settled by multiple confirming human witnesses. Of course, Paul received revelation from God about many things, but 2 Corinthians 13 does not mean that every word (rhema) of revelation must be confirmed by two or three witnesses. Throughout the Bible, prophets like Micaiah and Jeremiah  had no supporting witnesses (but lots of opposition), yet they spoke the truth from God. If someone argues that the spirit of the prophets must be subject to the prophets (1 Corinthians 14:32), that context concerns the proper use of spiritual gifts in the local Breaking of Bread service. In order to keep the service orderly, each prophet must take his turn speaking. No prophet should have uncontrolled outbursts, but each prophet must remain under spiritual control by the Holy Spirit Who will prompt each speaker in turn to speak 1 Corinthians 14:26-33).

6.5.4 Matthew 18:16–Two or Three Witnesses. Church discipline concerns restoring a brother from sinful actions. The first step involves an individual going alone to convict his brother. If the brother hears, you have gained your brother. If he will not hear you, take with you one or two that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word (rhema) may stand (Matthew 18:16). The emphasis here lies upon the spoken word (rhema) and the testimony of the sinful person and the witnesses brought seeking repentance and restoration to fellowship. Nothing in the passage concerns confirmation of prophetic messages.

6.6 Logos Word Doctrine. Some people promoting Rhema Word doctrine claim that the words on the page of Scripture are true as written. But, they claim that those words on the page have no power in themselves, until God applies the logos word on the page with a special rhema word just for you. This view of logos and rhema distorts the Scriptural use of the terms logos and rhema. The disciples of Jesus correctly understood that the words (rhema) of Jesus are spirit and life (John 6:63). Consider also that the word (logos) of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those living it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). Rhema never refers to a personal revelation given to benefit only one person. All Scripture profits everyone (2 Timothy 3:16-17), because it is revelation from God, Who cannot lie (Titus 1:2).

Section Seven

Conclusion

God did not use the terms logos and rhema interchangeably. He meant very different things with each word. Both logos and rhema were direct revelations from God, but the terms can be used to describe things other than revelation. When people claim that the words on the page of Scripture lack power or personal application without God speaking a rhema word to you, they seriously twist Scripture. God applies both logos and rhema to our lives. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

HALLELUJAH !

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