Two Important Greek Words in the Bible: Logos and Rhema
Did you know the Bible uses two different Greek words to refer to the word of God? One of these words is logos, and the other is rhema.
Understanding the meaning of these two 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 Bible, logos is used to refer to the constant, written word of God, which we have recorded in the Bible. How incredible that we human beings can have in our hands God’s written word!
Through 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 who God is or how He operates; we would be left to speculate and wonder. We have to thank God for giving us the Bible as His means to communicate who He is to us.
Through the written Word of God, logos, we learn about God and His ways. But we don’t have to stop at knowing about God objectively; through His Word we can know God on a personal level and experience Him subjectively. This is where rhema comes in.
The Greek word rhema
Rhema is the lesser-known Greek word used in the Bible for word, and refers to the instant, personal speaking of God to us.
Our God isn’t silent; He’s a speaking God. He wants to communicate with us not only through His written word, but also through speaking directly to us in our particular situations. This instant speaking from God comes to us within and is based on the constant written Word of God without. It’s by the rhema word that we can know God subjectively and experientially.
Sometimes we receive God’s rhema word as we’re reading or praying with the written word. At other times, the Lord speaks a specific word to us sometime during our day. Let’s look into how this happens.
Logos plus rhema
Both logos and rhema are crucial to our Christian life, for God uses His logos Word to speak His rhema word to us. So the more we read the written Word, even storing it up in us, the more God can speak instant words to us. And God’s living, instant speaking always corresponds with His written Word, which keeps us on the right path. These instant words guide us and turn us to Him when we take heed to them.
As an example, let’s say you’re at work or school and you’re angry about something. The more you think about it, the more turmoil you experience, and the more dead you begin to feel. All of a sudden, Romans 8:6 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, “Wow, 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!”
Suddenly you’re saved from the negative things you were experiencing and are 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 to speak an instant and personal word to you (rhema) in your particular situation. The Lord’s instant speaking strengthened you to turn back to Him and supplied you in the midst of your circumstances.
The rhema word imparts life to us and washes us
The rhema word does more than help us in particular situations. It also imparts Christ as life into us us so we can grow in Him. And it washes us so we can be inwardly transformed. By these two functions of the rhema word, God works out His purpose in us.
1. 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 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 key for us to receive the Lord’s rhema words is to exercise our spirit when we come to the Word of God. The best way to exercise our spirit is by prayer. By praying with the Word, we contact the Spirit in the Word and the words on the page are no longer simply words but become 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. Ephesians 5:26 says, “That He might sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word.”
The washing in this verse refers not to the washing away of sins by the blood of Jesus, but to the washing in the water of the word. Again, rhema is used for word here. Note 4 in the Recovery Version on word explains what the washing rhema word does in us:
“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. This is typified by the laver situated between the altar and the tabernacle (Exo. 38:8; 40:7).”
To be transformed inwardly, we need to open ourselves to the Lord so His logos can become His rhema word to us to wash and cleanse us every day.
Certainly God wants us to read, study, and memorize His written word; but even more, He wants us to receive His instant, living speaking. May we all spend more time to read and pray with the logos with hearts open and spirits exercised so the Lord can daily speak rhema words to help us, impart life into us, and wash us for the fulfillment of His marvelous purpose and plan.