Rhema vs. Logos

The Problem

Popular teachings exist today in the church that claim the Greek words, “rhema,” and, “logos,” (which both translate to our English, “word”) are 2 entirely different concepts. As I understand it, such teachings see, “rhema,” as the spoken and revealed word of God, and, “logos,” as the written word of God. So this would mean that statements made in the Bible concerning the “rhema-word” would not necessarily apply to the “logos-word,” and vice versa.

After looking into this further, I have 2 problems with this teaching:

  1. It’s fundamentally not true. As shown below, “rhema,” and, “logos,” are actually used interchangeably.
  2. It can lead to dangerous conclusions. Namely, it has the potential of leading people to demote the place God set for His objective, written word (Scripture) and, instead, promote the place of subjective, personal revelation/prophecy/interpretation/etc. beyond where God sets that (see Deut. 13:1-5; Jer. 23; Acts 17:11; Gal. 1:8; 1 Cor. 14:29-38; 1 Thes. 5:19-21; etc. for examples of God’s objective word trumping subjective interpretations and “revelations”). Tragically, accepting that subjective revelations/interpretations are on par (or greater than) the objective, written word is how all cults start. To be clear, I don’t think adherents or applications of the rhema-logos teaching inevitably come to these conclusions. But I do fear that it can lead there, thus I wanted to write to warn the church.

Rhema and Logos Defined

According to stepbible.org:

  • ῥῆμα (rēma) is a Greek word meaning: ‘declaration‘ (G4487) word, saying; matter; thing. It occurs about ~69 times in the New Testament.
  • λόγος (logos) is a Greek word meaning: ‘word‘ (G3056) word, spoken or written, often with a focus on the content of a communication (note the many contextual translations in NIV); matter, thing. “The Word” is a title of Christ (Jn 1:1), emphasizing his own deity and communication of who God is and what he is like. It occurs about ~330 times in the New Testament.

You’ll notice that logos is defined as a spoken or written word, and is used for Christ Himself (see John 1:1). Thus, any claim that logos is confined to the written word only is already off base.

Rhema and Logos in the Bible

  • Matt. 12:32-37: “And whoever speaks a word [logos] against the Son of Man will be forgiven…on the day of judgment people will give account [logos] for every careless word [rhema] they speak, for by your words [logos] you will be justified, and by your words [logos] you will be condemned.”
  • Where Matt (26:75) says, “Peter remembered the saying [rhema] of Jesus,” Luke (22:61) says, “Peter remembered the saying [logos] of the Lord”
  • Acts 10:44: “While Peter was still saying these things [rhema], the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word [logos].”
  • John 12:48: “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words [rhema] has a judge; the word [logos] that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.
  • Heb. 12:19: “the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words [rhema] made the hearers beg that no further messages [logos] be spoken to them.”

And this is just a sampling. But I hope it’s enough to show that the Bible does not see such a distinction between rhema and logos. These words are very freely used interchangeably.

Further, as indicated above, there are lots of times where logos refers to something other than the written word of God. Consider 1 Cor. 12:8 where we read, “To one is given through the Spirit the utterance [logos] of wisdom, and to another the utterance [logos] of knowledge.” Or 1 Cor. 14:19: “I would rather speak five words [logos] with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words [logos] in a tongue.” Clearly, these are spoken (and revealed) words, yet logos is used.

Now it should be noted that the converse is not also true, that is, rhema is not used for the written word. So this shows a probable, subtle distinction that logos is more broad than rhema. So we might say all rhema is also logos, but all logos is not necessarily always rhema, if that makes sense. But by no means does this indicate that statements made about rhema do not equally apply to logos. The above clearly demonstrates otherwise.

In all this, it should be clear that God’s word via Scripture safely retains the promises applied to rhema AND logos, and is the pre-eminent revelation and word of God by which we judge all other “revelations” and “words.”

Other Resources

To Future Me

I wrote the following exactly 1 year ago (Jan 21, 2021), as part of a work assignment. It’s a bit more personal than most blog posts I write, but I think that’s probably for the better (you know, to help with my relate-ability haha :). Anyway, I wanted to publish it for me to have as a reference, and in case it speaks to others, too.

As a part of the Healthier U January Assignment, I am to:
“write 3 to 5 things you are grateful for today and write a letter to your future self”
Today, I am grateful:

  1. That Jesus lives and speaks. Lots of difficult conversations going on right now within our house church on account of me and my opinions on certain matters that others strongly disagree with (I’ll leave it vague on the Blog). Hoping when I read this in 1 year we can look back and see the hand of God in all of it. But I’m so thankful that Jesus speaks.
  2. To have a prudent wife. As God showed me a day before Shana and I married: “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.” (Prov. 19:14). I constantly am reminded of this as I watch my wife lovingly correct me and point me to the ways of Christ (and model this herself).
  3. For the bright sunshine out my window. It reminds me of Christ’s mercy that is new every morning. Lord, may it be a new dawn for us here.
  4. For food and drink (and a surplus of it) in my home.
  5. For the hope and assurance of being with Christ together, forever, without tears, pain, suffering, or sin having even a remote chance to join us…all through the hope of the gospel.

Future me:
I know it’s only a year out, so maybe you can kick this message out another couple decades as well. As I write this letter, my life looks a lot like:

wake up around 7am, busy kids, get breakfast ready, busy kids, read the word and pray, busy kids, start my work day, busy kids, schedule appointments and my day, busy kids (well, at the moment I’m the only one in the house, so it’s a bit peaceful right now :), take a break (choosing whether to spend it ministering to my family, others, or edifying myself), make sure dinner is scheduled, finish my work day, busy kids, eat and help get people ready for bed, busy kids, put them down to sleep (waiting to see who doesn’t stay down), get the house in order for the next day, decide whether to spend the remaining time ministering to my family, others, or edifying myself, around 10pm go to bed.

There it is in a nutshell. Then, I feel other pressures on top of this related to tending the house church we are part of, ministering to others I’m connected with, and thinking about how to best take care of the family (lately I’ve been pondering/praying about a larger living space [note: as of 3 months ago, we did move to a larger space]).

Definitely feel too busy to even think about being bored LOL (Laugh Out Loud, in case future me forgets that acronym LOL again). But I’m happy for this opportunity to sit in a peaceful house and contemplate my life in the future (and in the present). I keep going back to 1 Chronicles where we read things like: “Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan…” (1 Chron. 1:1). Those 4 names encapsulate 3,657 years of life. I can’t imagine their adventures, struggles, daily drudgery, highs, lows, etc. And God doesn’t record that. Instead, all we know is that they were born, passed on their seed, and died. In the same way, I pray that it would be said of us that we were faithful to pass on the word of God, and the gospel, as it was entrusted to us. I fear we take up too much time with things that don’t matter because we lose sight of the ultimate goal. Lord, bring us back to your path and plan.



The Authority & Sufficiency of Scripture

Audio of “The Authority & Sufficiency of Scripture” (1 hr 49 min)

Video: The Authority & Sufficiency of Scripture (1 hr, 54 min)

Scripture (God’s Written Word)

  • First Five Books (“Law”): Ex. 31:18 → Ex. 34:27-28 → Deut. 31:24-26
  • Additions: Josh. 24:25-26; 1 Chron. 29:29; Jer. 30:2; Rev. 2:1; Etc.
  • God-Human Author: Mk. 12:36; Heb. 3:7; 4:7; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21; Ps. 12:6
  • Old Testament: Luke 24:44; Matt. 5:17-18; John 10:34-35; Matt. 19:5 (cf. Gen. 2:24)
  • New Testament
    • Gospels: Matt. 24:35; John 14:26
    • Beyond: John 15:20; 16:13-14; Acts 1:1; 1 Thes. 2:13; Rev. 1:1
    • Scripture: 1 Tim. 5:17-18 (cf. Luke 10:7); 2 Pet. 3:2, 15-16
  • Bible is Set: Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:17-19; Jn. 10:27

Scripture’s Authority

  • Word + Spirit = Light, Life: Gen. 1:3ff; Ps. 33:6: Heb. 1:3
  • Truth: John 17:17
  • God’s Thoughts/Ways: Ps. 119:130; Isaiah 55:8-11 (cf. Prov.14:12)
  • Judge: Heb. 4:12-13; John 12:47-50; Rev. 19:11-16
  • Over any “revelation”: Matt. 3:17-4:11; Deut. 13:1-15; Gal. 1:6-10
  • Matt. 4:4; 22:29-32; 2 Tim. 3:16: “every word” / “all Scripture”

Scripture’s Sufficiency

  • “Equipped for every good work” 2 Tim. 3:1-4:5
  • “All things that pertain to life and godliness” 2 Pet 1:3-21
  • Blameless: Ps. 119:1
  • Imperishable seed: 1 Pet. 1:23 (cf. Deut. 22:9)
  • Revealed: Deut. 29:29

Scripture’s Power

  • Nourishment: 1 Pet 2:2; Matt. 4:4; Heb. 5:14
  • Life: Deut. 32:47; Isaiah 55:3; John 6:63
  • God’s Presence: Exod. 25:21-22
  • Sanctification: 2 Pet. 1:4; Deut. 6:4-8 
  • Builds Church: Acts 2:42; 6:2, 4; 17:11; 20:32; 1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:7