There are three different Greek terms commonly translated into English as word –
Understanding the meaning of these Greek terms can help us read and study Scripture correctly and contextually while equipping us to walk out our Christian beliefs.
The first Greek term is graphe and it simply means the physical book itself. The leather bound covering with your name etched on the bottom right hand corner and the printed words on the sheets of paper that make up the tangible Bible.
The second Greek term and the most familiar is logos. In the Bible, it refers to the message or the meaning of The Book. Think of it as the all-encompassing and over-arching revelation of God. Jesus was referred to as logos in John 1:1, “In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and He was God.” Jesus Himself was God’s message in human form. More than just words on paper, logos is what we read and study and hide in our hearts. It’s how we know God and experience His power in our lives because logos is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12).
The third term used is rhema which means the spoken or declared Word. Dr. David Jeremiah phrases it this way, “The rhema of God means ‘a saying of God.’ We could translate this verse this way: ‘Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the saying of God.” It’s incredibly important we fully comprehend that rhema is God’s spoken Word. Not in totality like logos rather specific passages or verses that God speaks and applies to specific situations in our lives.
Jesus provides the perfect example of using the spoken Word to defeat Satan in Matthew 4:1-11. After 40 days in the wilderness without food, the devil arrives to tempt Jesus by enticing Jesus to turn stones into bread. Jesus stood firm with a rhema word…
“No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from God’s mouth.” (Mat 4:4)
Satan tried again, but this time his temptation was wrapped in Bible verse used out of context. Without skipping a beat, Jesus spoke another rhema word,
“The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the LORD your God.” (Mat 4:7)
Satan didn’t give up easily. One more time he tried to tempt Jesus by asking Him to take matters into His own hands and forgo God’s plans. Impressively, Jesus came back with another powerful rhema response,
“For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only Him.” (Mat 4:10)
The flawless, effortless quoting of scripture is extremely impressive. Oh, that we could aspire to be like Jesus!
Learning about graphe, logos and rhema supplies valuable insight to studying the Bible. In my own personal study, it’s transformed the meaning of many Bible verses by adding depth to my reading. I hope learning about these Greek terms expands your comprehension of Scripture too.
Many Blessings as You Study God’s Word,