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Logos and Rhema, An Exaltation of Logos, Part 2
by Karl Kemp 
07/09/12
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We'll continue this study where we stopped in Part 1, under the heading, "Many key passages that use logos where rhema would be expected, based on the popular, but wrong, views regarding logos and rhema."

1 Corinthians 15:1, 2. "Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, (2) by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word [logos] which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain." The word [logos] of the gospel that the apostle Paul preached to them was alive, powerful, and effective to save all who would repent and humble their hearts before God to receive it. To receive the gospel includes submitting yourself to God, His Son, and His gospel in faith, and (as Paul says here) we must continue to hold fast the gospel (by the sufficient saving grace of God in Christ).

When the apostle said "unless you believed in vain" in 1 Cor. 15:2, he meant unless the gospel he had preached to them wasn't true. He knew it was true, of course. He spoke these words ("unless you believed in vain") in a context (which he goes on to discuss as he continues) of knowing that some of the "Christians" at Corinth were denying the future resurrection of the physical body. He wanted to make it very clear that we don't have the option to change the gospel that he had received by revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ (see Gal. 1:6-9, 11, 12).

Ephesians 1:13. "In Him [in Christ], you also, after listening to the message [logos] of truth, the gospel of your salvation - having also believed [Having heard the word (logos) of the gospel, which is alive, powerful, effective, personal, etc., we still must submit to the gospel in faith, appropriating God's saving grace, and we must press on in faith (by God's grace) until the end.], you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise." Having believed - having submitted to the gospel in faith - we receive the Holy Spirit, who was promised in the Old Testament (cf., e.g., Ezek. 36:27; Joel 2:28, 29) and promised by the Lord Jesus (cf., e.g., John 7:37, 39; Acts 2:4, 5). To be sealed by God as His own (what a privilege!) includes being born again by the Holy Spirit. The new birth was not available until Jesus had conquered sin and spiritual death through His atoning death and been resurrected. Then He still had to return to the Father and receive "from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit" which He then poured out, starting on the day of Pentecost (see Acts 2:33).

Philippians 2:14-16. "Do all things without grumbling or disputing, (15) so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, (16) holding fast the word [logos] of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain." We must submit to, and hold fast, the word (logos) of life, which is alive, powerful, and effective and enables us to "be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom [we] shine as lights in the world." The Spirit of God enables us to walk in line with the word of the gospel (whether using the Greek words logos or rhema). The apostle Paul would have run/toiled in vain at Philippi if all the believers there would have turned their backs on Christ and would not be ready to stand before God "in the day of Christ," which wasn't about to happen.

Colossians 3:16. "Let the word [logos] of Christ richly dwell in you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."

1 Thessalonians 2:13. "For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received [in faith] the word [logos] of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word [logos] of men, but for what it really is, the word [logos] of God, which also performs its work in you who believe." Here again we see that the logos of God is alive, powerful, and effective: IT PERFORMS ITS WORK IN [THOSE] WHO BELIEVE (to those who submit to the word of God in faith and continue to walk in faith by God's sufficient grace).

1 Timothy 4:6. "In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Jesus Christ, constantly nourished on the words [plural of logos] of the faith and of sound doctrine which you have been following." We are constantly nourished on the Word of God, which is alive, powerful, effective, etc.

2 Timothy 2:8, 9. "Remember Christ Jesus, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, (9) for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal, but the word [logos] of God is not imprisoned."

Hebrews 4:12. "For the word [logos] of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and 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 is discussed in my paper on the meaning of the words spirit and soul.

James 1:18. "In the exercise of His [God's] will He brought us forth by the word [logos] of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures." "He chose to give us birth through the word [logos] of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created" (NIV). The word that makes us alive, etc. is alive, powerful, effective, personal, etc.

1 Peter 1:22, 23. "Since you have in obedience to the truth [Obedience to the truth of the word of the gospel is included in what it means to have faith in the gospel (see, for example, John 3:36; Rom. 2:8; 2 Thess. 1:8; and 1 Pet. 4:17).] purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart [Having been born of the Spirit, Christians are enabled and required to love one another with a supernatural love (cf., e.g., Gal. 5:22; 1 Pet. 4:8; 1 John 4:7, 8, 11, 12, 16-21).], (23) for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word [logos] of God." God's logos is "living and enduring," powerful, effective, etc. For one thing, we are born again through that logos word. And with the new birth comes the enablement to walk in love (and all the fruit of the Holy Spirit of Gal. 5:22, 23) and manifest the righteousness and holiness of God.

1 John 1:10. "If we say that we have not sinned [like the Gnostic heretics that the apostle John was refuting throughout this epistle, who denied the reality of the all-important sacrificial death of the Lamb of God and their need for His atoning blood, were saying], we make Him a liar and His word [logos] is not in us." God's word was not in them because they did not receive it into their hearts.

1 John 2:14b. "I have written to you young men, because you are strong, and the word [logos] of God abides in you."


Some examples where people hear a word (rhema), but the word is not received, or in some cases is not understood, by those who hear it. There is nothing about the meaning of the word rhema (as it is used in the New Testament) that ensures that it will be alive, understood, effective, etc. in those who hear it, even in the case of believers. (Ten uses of the total number of the 67 uses of rhema in the New Testament are included with these examples.):

Mark 9:32. "But they [Jesus' disciples] did not understand this statement [rhema], and they were afraid to ask Him."

Luke 2:50. "But they [Jesus' parents] did not understand the statement [rhema] which He had made to them."

Luke 9:45. "But they [His disciples] did not understand this statement [rhema], and it was concealed from them so that they would not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement [rhema]."

Luke 18:34. "And the disciples understood none of these things, and the meaning of this statement [rhema] was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said."

Luke 24:11. "But these words [plural of rhema] appeared to them [to the apostles] as nonsense, and they would not believe them."

John 5:47. (Jesus spoke these words to some of the Jews who were rejecting and not believing in Him.) "But if you do not believe his writings [the writings of Moses; in verse 46 Jesus had just mentioned that Moses wrote about Him], how will you believe My words [plural of rhema]."

John 8:47b. "He who is of God hears the words [plural of rhema] of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God."

John 12:47, 48. "If anyone hears My sayings [plural of rhema] and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. (48) He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings [plural of rhema], has one who judges him; the word [logos] I spoke is what will judge him at the last day." God's logos, which is alive, and powerful, and effective will judge those who reject God's words [plural of rhema; logos could be used here too] at the last day.


Quite a few examples where rhema is used of God's Word in an exalted sense, where it is alive, powerful, effective, etc. However, as I mentioned, I don't believe that the meaning of any of these verses would change in any meaningful way if the word logos was used instead of rhema.

Matthew 4:4. "But He [Jesus] answered and said, 'It is written, "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word [rhema] that proceeds out of the mouth of God." ' " Jesus was quoting from Deut. 8:3. It is clear that God's written word is included in, and is a big part of what is meant by, "every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." God's word is alive, powerful, and effective, and we are totally dependent on His word to live in right relationship with Him, even as our physical bodies are dependent on bread (food) to sustain physical life. Although God's Word is alive, powerful, and effective, we must make it a top priority to understand His Word and to take in into our hearts and live in it, by grace through faith, or it won't be alive, powerful, or effective in/for us. (God's words dealing with the judgment of those who continue to rebel against Him will, of course, be alive, powerful, and effective against those who don't submit to Him or His words.) Many examples included in this article show that logos would fit perfectly here.

Luke 1:38. "And Mary said, 'Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word [rhema].' And the angel departed from her." The word that Mary received was the Word of God spoken by Gabriel. The word was alive in Mary and understood in large part because of the condition of her heart. I'm not minimizing our dependence on God's working with His Word, revealing it, etc., and He must receive all the glory, but as I demonstrate in this paper, the Bible puts a strong emphasis on the condition of our hearts and our need to take God's Word into our hearts for the precious thing that it is, the very Word of God. If we don't love God and His Word, it won't be alive, powerful, or effective in/for us. Verses like the following, which use logos, demonstrate that logos would fit perfectly here: Matt. 13:23; Mark 4:20; Luke 10:39; 11:28; John 4:50; 5:24; and Acts 2:41.

Luke 3:2. "in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiphas, the word [rhema] of God came to John [John the Baptist], the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness." The word of God came to John the Baptist, and the word was alive, powerful, and effective in John and his ministry, but this had nothing to do with the fact that rhema was used here instead of logos. Many examples in this article demonstrate that logos could have been used here without changing the meaning of this verse.

John 6:63, 68. "It is the Spirit who gives life [referring here to spiritual/eternal life]; the flesh profits nothing; the words [plural of rhema] I have spoken to you are spirit [or, "Spirit" with the margin of the NIV] and are life. ... Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words [plural of rhema] of eternal life.' " Rhema is used in an exalted sense here, but it would not change the meaning of these verses to substitute logos for rhema (cf., e.g., John 5:24; 8:31, 51; 1 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 4:12; and 1 Pet. 1:23). And even though Jesus' words were very much alive and brought life to those who received them, they were not alive for those who did not submit to the Lord Jesus and His Word in faith. The majority rejected Him and His words. In this context many of His disciples stopped following Him.

John 8:47a. "He who is of God hears the words [plural of rhema] of God." Logos would fit perfectly here too (see under John 17:8 below).

John 15:7. "If you abide in Me, and My words [plural of rhema] abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." It is clear that most people have rejected Jesus; they did not abide in Him, and His words did not abide in them. Whether logos or rhema is used, we must submit to His words with repentance and humble faith. See 1 John 2:14, for example, which speaks of God's logos abiding in believers.

John 17:8. (Jesus is praying to God the Father here,) "for the words [plural of rhema] which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me." I'll quote John 17:2, 6, 14: "even as you have given Him [Christ Jesus] authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. ... (6) I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word [logos]. ... (14) I have given them Your word [logos]; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." We must RECEIVE GOD'S WORD AND KEEP HIS WORD, whether logos or rhema is used, and whether it is God's written word, His Word spoken through Jesus, an apostle, etc.

Acts 2:14. "But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven [on the Day of Pentecost], raised his voice and declared to them, 'Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words [plural of rhema]." The listeners still needed to respond to Peter's words. Some did, and some didn't. Verses like Acts 2:22, 40, 41 demonstrate that logos could have been used in Acts 2:14 instead of rhema.

Acts 5:19, 20. "But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them [the apostles] out he said, (20) 'Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message [plural of rhema] of this Life.' " Logos is used repeatedly throughout the book of Acts and other places in the New Testament for the words of the gospel message.

Acts 10:22, 44; 11:1. "They said, 'Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message [plural of rhema] from you.' " (44) "While Peter was still speaking these words [plural of rhema], the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message [logos]." (11:1) "Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word [logos] of God." (Acts 11:14 also uses the plural of rhema, referring to the same event, "and he will speak words [plural or rhema] to you by which you will be saved and all your household.") The use of logos in Acts 10:44 and 11:1 (and in many similar verses) confirms that there is no substantial difference between the meaning of the words rhema and logos in these verses.

All the people gathered by Cornelius responded in faith to (they received) the gospel message that Peter preached. (God knew their hearts before He sent Peter to them [cf. Acts 10:2, 4, 31, 34, 35].) Believing in the Lord Jesus Christ (see Acts 11:17) is something they did. Although God convicts, draws, reveals, etc., He does not just give people saving faith or make believers continue in faith (see my papers titled "A Paper on Faith" and "Once Saved, Always Saved?") We desperately need the balanced truth of what God's Word teaches on these super-important topics.

We certainly couldn't submit to the gospel if God didn't send the gospel to us, one way, or another. (And before that, He had to send His Son to die for us and all that was involved in His all-important ministry, and He had to keep the devil from destroying us.) God told Cornelius to send for the apostle Peter, who would tell him words [plural of rhema] by which he and all his household would be saved (Acts 11:14); He convinced Peter that he should go (Acts 10:9-20, 28, 29, 34, 35; 11:2-12); and Acts 11:18 speaks of God's granting the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life. Our salvation is totally dependent on God; we are saved 100 percent by the saving grace in Christ, and God must receive all the glory; but we (as free moral agents; we still have some freedom after the fall) must submit to the gospel in faith and press on to the end of the race by grace through faith. God, who is sovereign, is the one who set things up this way.

Romans 10:8. (Romans chapters 9-11 are discussed verse-by-verse in a paper on my internet site.) "But what does it say? 'The word [rhema] is near you, in your mouth and in your heart' - that is, the word [rhema] of faith [or, "of the faith"; the definite article is included in the Greek] which we are preaching." The apostle Paul is speaking with respect to those who submit to the gospel in faith. Verses like the following show that the apostle Paul could just as well have used the word logos here: 1 John 2:14, which speaks of the word [logos] of God abiding in hearts; Phil. 2:16, which speaks of the need for Christians to hold fast the word [logos] in their hearts; and 1 Thess. 2:13, which speaks of the word (logos) of God performing its work in those who receive the word for what it really is, the word (logos) of God.

Romans 10:16-18. "However [even though God sent His Son to save them (and us) and sent the gospel of new-covenant salvation to them (and us)], they did not all heed [obey] the good news [In other words, they did not submit to the word (rhema) of the gospel with repentance and faith; many did, but many didn't.]; for Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed our report?' [Isa. 53:1] (17) So faith comes from hearing [It's important to see that the apostle didn't say here that if you hear the gospel you will believe it. (But we must, of course, hear the gospel before we can submit to it in faith.) He has already mentioned that many did not submit to the gospel - they did not obey it - and he goes on in verse 18 to point out that the problem wasn't that they hadn't heard the gospel. Many heard it but rejected it.], and hearing by the word [rhema] of Christ [or, probably better, "by the word concerning Christ," the gospel]. (18) But I say, surely they have never heard have they? Indeed they have; 'their voice has gone out into all the earth, and their words [plural of rhema] to the ends of the world [quoting from Psalm 19:4].' "

2 Corinthians 12:3, 4. "And I know how such a man [The apostle Paul was speaking of himself here] - whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows - (4) was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words [plural of rhema], which a man is not permitted to speak." Rhema is used in an exalted sense here, but logos could have been used too with no difference in meaning.

Ephesians 6:17. "And take up the helmet of salvation, and the SWORD of the Spirit, which is the word [rhema] of God." I'll quote Heb. 4:12, which uses logos, "For the word [logos] of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged SWORD, and 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 is discussed in my article dealing with the meaning of spirit and soul in the New Testament.)

In Eph. 6:10-20 the apostle Paul speaks of the armor Christians must wear and of the sword we must use to be victorious in our warfare against Satan and his hosts (built on the pattern of the armor worn and a weapon used by many Roman soldiers). The indwelling Spirit of God enables us to effectively use the word of God (the sword of the Spirit) in our spiritual warfare. We will further discuss Eph. 6:17b later in this paper.

1 Peter 1:22-25. "Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, (23) for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word [logos] of God. (24) For, 'all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, (25) but the word [rhema] of the Lord endures forever' [quoting Isa. 40:6b-8 (Septuagint version)]. And this is the word [rhema] which was preached to you."

Many uses of logos in the New Testament demonstrate that logos could have been used instead of the two uses of rhema in 1 Pet. 1:25, including the use of logos in 1 Pet. 1:23, where logos is used of "the living and enduring word of God," through which we are born again.


Several examples where logos and rhema are used together in the same setting with the same meaning.

Luke 9:44, 45. " 'Let these words [plural of logos] sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.' (45) But they did not understand this statement [rhema], and it was concealed from them so that they would not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement [rhema]." "This statement" (rhema), which is used twice in verse 45, is the equivalent of "these words" (plural of logos) in verse 44.

John 12:47, 48. "If anyone hears My sayings [plural of rhema] and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. (48) He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings [plural of rhema], has one who judges him; the word [logos] I spoke is what will judge him at the last day." God's logos, which is alive, and powerful, and effective will judge those who reject God's words/sayings [plural of rhema; logos could be used here too].

John 17:6-8, 14a. "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word [logos]. ... (8) For the words [plural of rhema] which you have given to Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that you sent Me. ... (14) I have given them your word [logos]...." (Also note the use of logos in 17:17.) The context shows that the "words" (plural of rhema) of 17:8 are the equivalent of God's "word" (logos) of 17:6 and 14.

Acts 10:22, 44; 11:1. "They said, 'Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message [plural of rhema] from you.' " (44) "While Peter was still speaking these words [plural of rhema], the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message [logos]." (11:1) "Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word [logos] of God." (Acts 11:14 also uses the plural of rhema, referring to the same event, "and he will speak words [plural or rhema] to you by which you will be saved and all your household.") The uses of logos and rhema in these verses (and in many similar verses) confirms that there is no substantial difference between the meaning of these words in these verses.

Hebrews 12:19. (These things took place at Mt. Sinai.) "and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words [plural of rhema; God audibly spoke the ten commandments to the people of Israel (see Ex. 20:1, 19, 22), for one thing] which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word [logos] be spoken to them." Logos and rhema are used with the same meaning in this verse.

1 Peter 1:23-25. "for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word [logos] of God. [This logos of God is certainly living, effective, etc.] (24) For, 'All flesh is as grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, (25) But the word [rhema] of the Lord endures forever [taken from Isa. 40:6-8].' And this is the word [rhema] which was preached to you."

With the words of 1 Pet. 1:25a, "but the word [rhema] endures forever," compare the words of Jesus in Matt. 24:35 (Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33), "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words [plural of logos] will not pass away."

I believe I could find quite a few other passages to list here too.

We'll continue this study in Part 3 of this paper.

Copyright by Karl Kemp


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