Summary: This message explores the difference between the two.
There is a teaching in the church today that the Greek word ‘rhema’ is the spoken Word 'from' God to people today, and the Greek word ‘logos’ is God's written Word as we have in the Bible. This has caused the belief that a ‘spoken’ word through prophecy, dreams, visions, or a Word of Knowledge is ‘fresh revelation’ that is greater than, and supersedes, the written Word, the Bible. This belief is being used to validate and justify teaching that is contrary to traditional orthodox Christianity. A simple word study of the original Greek language used in the New Testament (NT) quickly reveals that there is no major difference between the words ‘rhema’ and ‘logos.’
The Septuagint translates both ‘logos’ and ‘rhema’ from the Hebrew word ‘dabar,’ which means ‘that which is uttered in speech, or writing, discourse, the subject matter of speech; a minimal unit of discourse, a single word, a focus on the content of the communication.
The words "rhema" and "logos" overlap in their definitions. The actual difference between the words is simply a matter of writing style and expression. The word "logos" occurs 330 times in the NT. The word "rhema" occurs 70 times in the NT. There are 218 times when the word "logos" occurs and it is translated simply as "word." ”Rhema” is translated 56 times as "word." The word "logos" occurs 50 times and is translated "saying." Nine times "rhema" is also translated as "saying." The words "logos" and "rhema" are equally associated with "word" and "saying." "Rhema" is a saying that could be in a written form, so many "rhema's" put together could constitute a "logos".
The Greek word ‘logos’ refers to a word, decree, the act of speaking, teaching, reason, account; first sense of collection, counting, conversation; expression of thought, a complete statement description, thoughts expressed in words, relates to speaking and thinking, a divine declaration recorded in the Old Testament (OT); systematic and formal treatment of a subject, the content of what is preached'; pertaining to matter.
'Logos' also refers to the gospel as preached by the Apostles, and not to all the Scriptures (Acts 4:4). It is used regarding the supernatural gifts of prophecy, wisdom, knowledge, and tongues (1 Cor 12:8, 14:9). The ‘logos is also ‘spoken’ by angels (Heb 2:2, 12:19) and also refers directly to Jesus (John 1:1,14).
The Bible often uses the Greek word ‘graphe’ to refer to the written Word of God and ‘logos’ to refer to that which Jesus had spoken (Matt 21:42; 22:29; John 2:22, 5:39, 14:23-24, 17:6,14; Acts 17:11; 18:24; Rom 1:2).
Jesus is the 'logos' who spoke the ‘logos’ and all that exists came into existence (John 1:1-3). Both ‘rhema’ and ‘logos’ are meant to be synonyms and are equated with each other (2 Pet 3:5). The word ‘rhema’ can be seen referring to what was written. Although the prophets ‘spoke’ words from God, they were written to the people (1 Pet 1:25; 2 Pe 3:2,5; Heb 12:19,11:3; Jude 1:17).
The word ‘rhema’ is also used of the gospel of Christ being preached, and not the written word that is used to sanctify and cleanse, or the spoken word (Ro 10:8, 17; Eph 5:26; 1 Pet 1:25). The ‘logos’ word is also equated with the ‘rhema’ word that was delivered on the day of Pentecost (Acts 10:44). The ‘rhema’ words of Peter were seen as a ‘logos.’
During the early years of preaching the gospel, it was not written down yet, but the gospel is just as well contained in the OT as it is in the NT. The word of faith is ‘preached’ and not ‘written.’ Whether the Bible uses the word ‘rhema’ of God, or ‘logos’ of God, it still points to that which is spoken in the majority of cases. The word ‘logos’ cannot be interpreted as only the written Word (ex Eph 6:17; Heb 6:5).
God the Father, just as He spoke in the past in the OT through His prophets, continues to speak to His people today through the New Testament by using His Words spoken to Jesus, who then spoke to His Apostles, who wrote them down, which are the books of the New Testament (Heb 1:1-3; Luke 10:16; John 13:20, 17:17-20). The writers of the NT constantly appealed to the Scriptures alone as their base of authority in declaring what was, and was not, true biblical teaching (Matt. 21:42; John 2:22; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; 1 Peter 1:10-12, 2:2; 2 Peter 1:17-19; Acts 17:11).
There are approximately 5,700 copies of the Greek manuscripts that were made very close to the time of the originals, and they all agree with each other to 99.5% accuracy. The .5% variation would include textual misspelling or minor word alternations. There are also over 19,000 copies in the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages which bring the total supporting New Testament manuscript purity to over 24,000 copies.