Rhema vs. Logos

I was disappointed.

I was disappointed to read a post on the social media page of a popular Christian author. He wrote on January 9.

For logos to be effective in your life, you must intentionally mix it with faith (Heb 4:2). Rhema, in contrast, comes with such vibrancy that it often releases faith with its delivery.

He refers to Hebrews 4:2. This verse contains a word that is translated from the Greek text. The Greek word is logos (λόγος). It can be translated as either “message” or “word.” However, Hebrews 4:2 does not say that a logos lacks vibrancy, nor does it say that a rhema (ῥῆμα) has vibrancy. Hebrews 4:2 doesn’t mention any vibrancy.

Just what does Hebrews 4:2 say?

(ESV) For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.

(NASB) For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also did; but the word they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united with those who listened with faith.

If such a thing as vibrancy exists, it would seem that the listeners of Hebrews 4:2 lacked that mysterious element. The word wasn’t inferior in any way, which is what the author is saying that the Scripture says.

The Scripture doesn’t agree with the author’s assessment of logos. The author is not in alignment with the Word of God.

There are two words for “word.”

The writer is pointing at two Bible words that are translated into English as “word.”

  • In Hebrews 4:2, the word used is λόγος (logos).
  • In some other passages, ῥῆμα (rhema) is translated as “word.”

The writer contrasts LOGOS with RHEMA, indicating that a LOGOS word is ineffective at first, but a RHEMA word is immediately effective to “release” faith. He cites Hebrews 4:2 as a source of this explanation.

There are multiple examples from Scripture.

Ephesians 6:17

…and receive the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word (RHEMA) of God

  • This RHEMA refers to the “Gospel of peace” in 6:15 which Paul introduced in Ephesians 1:13 as the “gospel of your salvation.” Paul writes, “…when you heard the word (LOGOS) of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” A written word cannot be heard unless it is a spoken word. Paul treats LOGOS and RHEMA as practical synonyms in this letter.

John 6:63

The Spirit is the one who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words (RHEMATA) that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. [a]RHEMATA is plural of RHEMA.

  • Jesus helps us understand that he is talking about the spoken RHEMATA by adding “that I have spoken.” If RHEMA is restricted to a spoken word, then Jesus was being redundant. His statement shows that we need clarification in this instance.

1 Peter 1:22-25

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for sincere brotherly love, love one another fervently from the heart, because you have been born again, not from perishable seed but imperishable, through the living and enduring word (LOGOS) of God. For “all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the grass. The grass withers and the flower falls off, but the word (RHEMA) of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word (RHEMA) that has been proclaimed to you.

  • Peter uses LOGOS and RHEMA interchangeably. When the LOGOS was proclaimed to Peter’s audience, he called it RHEMA, not because Peter was using the power of confession to release the creative power of God, but because LOGOS was the message that was spoken.
  • Peter cites from Isaiah 40:6-8. “Grass withers; the flower withers, but the word of our God will stand forever.” In the time of Christ and Peter, the Scriptures, including Isaiah, had been translated from Hebrew into Greek. This “word” (Hebrew: DABAR) from Isaiah is translated into the Greek LOGOS, but Peter substitutes RHEMA for LOGOS. This translation is not a contradiction for Peter if he sees the two words as near-synonyms. If RHEMA and LOGOS are so distinct as suggested, then Peter was making a huge mistake. If RHEMA and LOGOS are as similar as they appear in the other Scriptures, then Peter is justified when he uses RHEMA in place of LOGOS for Isaiah 40:8.
  • RHEMA means a message or a proclamation. When the LOGOS is preached, it can be called RHEMA or LOGOS.

John 18:31,32

So Pilate said to them, “You take him and judge him according to your law!” The Jews said to him, “It is not permitted for us to kill anyone,” in order that the word (LOGOS) of Jesus would be fulfilled that he had spoken, indicating by what sort of death he was going to die.

  • These words of Jesus had not been written down at the time that he spoke them. LOGOS is not always a written word.
  • In the same way as John 6:63, a phrase is employed to clarify that RHEMA is speech in this incidence, “that he had spoken.”

Maybe the mix-up started with someone else.

Kenneth E. Hagin said,

“Faith is always expressed in words. Faith must be released in words through your mouth. We can see that in all of these Scriptures we have read. When you speak something, that is action.”

The truth is that faith is expressed in obedient works and not by confession. The Book of James contradicts the idea that speaking words is action.

Word of Faith authors appear to agree with the author, saying that LOGOS is the written word and that RHEMA words are faith-filled spoken words that release the creative power of God when spoken.

When the Holy Spirit speaks to you, He quickens a Scripture verse or specific direction to you—a specific word for a specific time and purpose. [b]https://www.rhema.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2679:what-is-rhema

There is no great distinction between the two words.

The truth is that the New Testament does not demonstrate this distinction. Jesus is called the LOGOS, and he is not the written word. The creative power of RHEMA is a concept that comes from outside the Scriptures and has been substituted for the direct teaching of Scripture.

Consider this official position stated by the Assemblies of God:

There are two major problems with this distinction. First, the distinction is not justified by usage either in the Greek New Testament or in the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament). The words are used synonymously in both. [c]The General Council of the Assemblies of God, Assemblies of God: Position Papers (Springfield, MO: The General Council of the Assemblies of God, 1972–2017).

Consider the full definition found in Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words.

Proponents of the LOGOS/RHEMA distinction depend upon a partial quotation from W. E. Vine.

rhḗma (ῥῆμα in Greek); that which is spoken, what is uttered in speech or writing;1 an utterance (individually, collectively, or specifically);2 the word by which something is commanded, directed, or enjoined;3 something that is spoken clearly and vividly, in unmistakable terms and in an undeniable language. In the New Testament, the word rhema carries the idea of a quickened word.[d]https://www.rhema.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2679:what-is-rhema

Vine includes more information that may be intentionally left out since it does not reinforce the strong distinction needed by RHEMA teachers. Vine tells us that RHEMA is not a completely different concept from LOGOS.

The significance of rhema (as distinct from logos) is exemplified in the injunction to take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” Eph. 6:17; here the reference is not to the whole Bible as such, but to the individual scripture which the Spirit brings to our remembrance for use in time of need, a prerequisite being the regular storing of the mind with Scripture. [e]W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 683.

On the same page, Vine also gives a definition of LOGOS that includes spoken words.

logos (λόγος) denotes (I) “the expression of thought”… (a) as embodying a conception or idea… (b) a saying or statement…  (c) discourse, speech, of instruction. [f]W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 683.

Stay Alert

If you care about the authentic Word of God, don’t fall for tricksters that use the RHEMA/LOGOS false distinction that is contrary to the teachings of Scripture. They will want you to believe that this doctrine is original from the Bible, and it is not.

Stop living out of alignment with the Word of God.

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