In the New Testament, which was written in Greek, there are two different words used for ‘word.’ In the Greek language there is a subtle difference in the use and context, which we don’t have in English. One Greek word is ‘rhema’ and the other is ‘logos.’ But is the difference important? And what do Christians mean when they talk about receiving a rhema word?
Rhema Word Examples
The easiest way to explain the difference in Biblical text between the use of rhema and logos is to show some examples. These are easy to find by using any good concordance. I’ve selected just a few verses to illustrate the difference:
The Fourfold Witness – John 5
In this passage of Scripture Jesus is responding to accusations from the Jewish leaders regarding His authority. He uses the word logos for the word of God, that the people had heard or read, and the word rhema for His spoken words.
“And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice, nor seen His form. But you do not have His word (logos) abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you did not believe.” John 5:37-38 NKJV
“For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words? (rhema)” John 5:46-47 NKJV
Jesus Prays for His Disciples – John 17
In the final moments of His ministry, Jesus is praying for His disciples and He uses the word logos for their obedience to the written word of God. He then refers to the message that He had spoken to them as being a rhema word.
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. (logos) Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words (rhema) you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me” John 17:6-8 NIV
Preaching to Cornelius’ Household – Acts 10
Peter has been summoned to Cornelius’ house to bring him a rhema word! When he arrives he finds a large gathering of people who have come to Cornelius’ house to meet him. Peter refers to the general word or message that was sent to Israel, proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, as a logos word. But that Cornelius, and those gathered who were Gentiles, had heard and received the message as a rhema word.
“Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he who you seek. For what reason have you come?” And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words (rhema) from you.” Acts 10:21-22 NKJV
“The word (logos) which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ – He is Lord of all – that word (rhema) you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism that John preached.” Acts 10: 36-37 NKJV
Rhema Word Meaning
When logos is used it refers to a general message, and in Scripture this often refers to the written word of God. We know that all Scripture can encourage, teach, or challenge, every time we read our Bible, and the ‘logos’ word can speak to us in a general sense on a daily basis.
A rhema word in Scripture refers to something said, a specific spoken word. The rhema word is more personal and is a particular message that we respond to. When we refer today to receiving a rhema word, the implication is that God’s word has spoken directly to our situation. When we are reading our Bibles, praying, or listening to a Scripture message, a verse seems to stand out as being pertinent to our circumstances. A word that seems to be speaking to us personally to bring hope, and encouragement, or even a challenge!
Receiving a Rhema Word
Some people may make no distinction between the ‘rhema’ or ‘logos’ word – they accept that God’s word is powerful whenever it is known and received, felt, or experienced. After all, that is the important point that we respond to and apply the word of God to our lives.
From my own experience, there have been times when I have read a familiar passage of Scripture, something that I may have read many times before, and suddenly it appears to have a real personal significance. It usually is in response to prayer, when I am searching and seeking to hear from God for a particular situation.
The first time I believe I received a rhema word, it was a verse of instruction, of comfort and hope, to hold onto through a dark and difficult time in my life. It wasn’t a word that required me to step out and do anything, it was more about being strengthened and encouraged in my faith that God was with me.
More recently I believe I received a rhema word from a verse of Scripture that challenged me to change my perspective and have a different view of my circumstances. The verse encouraged me to see the possibility of an exciting new beginning.
Sometimes when we create the space, and take the time, God encourages us to stretch out and believe for a new season of enlargement! If you’d like to read more, clink on the link to read my guest post on Anchored Voices. Their current theme is ‘How this verse changed me’ and the post I have written is called ‘A New Beginning’. I hope you will join me there….