Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog.
Did you know that in Greek, the original language of the New Testament, two different Greek words are used to refer to the word of God? One is logos, and the other is rhema.
Understanding the meaning of these two Greek words can help us know and experience God in a deeper way. That’s why we’re taking some time in this post to discuss logos and rhema and their importance to our Christian lives.
The Greek word logos
The more commonly known of these two Greek words is logos. In the New Testament, logos is used to refer to the constant, written word, which is recorded in the Bible. How incredible it is that we human beings can have God’s written word in our hands!
When we read the written word, we can learn about God and know His ways, His salvation, and His plan for mankind. Without the logos, we would have no way to know God’s purpose, or our place in that purpose. We would be left to wonder or guess what His intention is. But we have to thank God for giving us the Bible, which communicates to us who He is and what He desires.
Knowing about God objectively is certainly a wonderful thing, but we can go further to know God on a personal level and experience Him subjectively. This is where rhema comes in.
The Greek word rhema
The lesser-known of these two Greek words is rhema, which is used to refer to the instant, personal speaking of God.
Our God isn’t silent; He’s a speaking God. His written word is a record of His speaking. But that’s not all. He continues to speak today, and He wants to speak directly to us.
It’s by the rhema word that we can know God subjectively, in our personal experience. Now let’s take a closer look at how we can receive this rhema from God.
Logos plus rhema
Both logos and rhema are crucial to our Christian life. God uses His logos Word to speak His rhema word to us. And God’s living, instant speaking always corresponds with and never contradicts His written Word.
So the more we read the written Word, even storing it up in us by memorizing and musing over it, the more God can speak instant words to us. His instant words in any given situation guide us and turn us to Him when we take heed to them.
Let’s look at how this could happen. For example, let’s say you’re at work or school and something happens that makes you very upset. The more you think about it, the more bothered you are. As you let all your thoughts about it swirl around in your mind, you begin to feel spiritually deadened. All of a sudden, Romans 8:6, a verse you had read before, pops into your head: “The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.”
Immediately you realize, “No wonder I’m so dead! I’ve been setting my mind on my flesh. I need to turn back to the Lord to set my mind on Him.” So you begin to pray, “Lord, I turn back to You. I set my mind on You in my spirit right now. Thank You, Lord, when my mind is set on my spirit, it’s life and peace!”
As you turn to the Lord in your spirit, you’re saved from being consumed by your negative thoughts, and you’re ushered into enjoying life and peace from God.
How did all this happen? The Lord used the constant, written word (logos) you’d previously read and memorized to speak an instant and personal word to you (rhema) in your particular situation. The Lord’s instant speaking strengthened you to turn to Him and supplied you right where you were.
The functions of the rhema word
The rhema word does more than help us in particular situations. It also imparts life into us and washes us so we can grow in the divine life and be inwardly transformed. By imparting life into us and washing us, the rhema word works out God’s purpose in us.
Let’s look at two verses where we can see this.
1. Rhema imparts life to us
John 6:63 says:
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”
Note 3 in the New Testament Recovery Version on the words clearly explains the difference between logos and rhema and how the Lord’s words impart the divine life to us:
“The Greek word for words, here and in v. 68, is rhema, which denotes the instant and present spoken word. It differs from logos (used for Word in 1:1), which denotes the constant word. Here the words follows the Spirit. The Spirit is living and real, yet He is very mysterious, intangible, and difficult for people to apprehend; the words, however, are substantial. First, the Lord indicated that for giving life He would become the Spirit. Then He said that the words He speaks are spirit and life. This shows that His spoken words are the embodiment of the Spirit of life. He is now the life-giving Spirit in resurrection, and the Spirit is embodied in His words. When we receive His words by exercising our spirit, we get the Spirit, who is life.”
The Spirit gives us life through His rhema words, which the Lord said are spirit and life. So how can we receive life from the Spirit? The key for us to receive the Lord’s rhema words is that we must exercise our spirit when we come to the Bible.
The best way to exercise our spirit is by prayer. By praying with the Word, we contact the Spirit in the Word. Then the words on the page are no longer simply black and white letters; they become rhema, and are spirit and life to us. This is how the Word of God feeds us and supplies us with life for our growth in Christ.
2. Rhema washes us
Ephesians 5:26 says:
“That He might sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word.”
Washing in this verse doesn’t refer to the washing away of sins by the blood of Jesus. Instead, it’s the washing of the water in the word, or rhema. Note 4 in the New Testament Recovery Version on word explains:
“The Greek word denotes an instant word. The indwelling Christ as the life-giving Spirit is always speaking an instant, present, living word to metabolically cleanse away the old and replace it with the new, causing an inward transformation. The cleansing by the washing of the water of life is in the word of Christ. This indicates that in the word of Christ there is the water of life.”
To be washed from our sins, we need the redeeming blood of Christ. But we need to realize we must also be washed inwardly from the old things of our natural life. This happens by the washing of the water of the living, instant, present rhema word. Through that cleansing away of the old and replacing with the new, we’re inwardly changed, or transformed.
We need to receive rhema
So we need to open ourselves to the Lord dwelling in our spirit who speaks His instant word to us. By receiving this instant word, life is imparted into us, and we’re washed inwardly.
Going back to the example we used before, the verse suddenly popping into your head wasn’t a coincidence; it was the Lord speaking to you. When you receive that word, you’re not only helped to turn back to the Lord, but life is imparted into you, and inwardly you’re washed from losing your temper.
Certainly God wants us to read, study, and memorize His written word. But even more, He wants us to receive His instant, living speaking. Let’s all regularly read and pray with the logos so the Lord can speak rhema words to impart life into us and wash us for the fulfillment of His marvelous purpose and plan.
If you don’t have a New Testament of your own and you live in Australia, you can order a free copy of the New Testament Recovery Version here.
Subscribe to receive the latest posts