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What is being taught nowadays about the Word of God is of great concern to me. There is so much misunderstanding of what it is. It helps us to understand things better if we know that there are two Greek words for “word” in the New Testament. Let me share them here in a chart.
As you can see in column #1, the first Greek New Testament word often translated word is logos, which you may know very well. The word in column #2 you may also know, but perhaps not quite so well: rhema.
The Word “Logos” and the Logos
Logos means the vocal expression of a thought. It’s good to ponder that definition as we remember that the Lord Jesus is called the Logos, as the Apostle John makes very clear in the opening of his Gospel. So as we come to that famous passage which starts, “In the beginning was the Word,” let’s substitute Logos for Word wherever it appears in the original Greek:
- In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.
- John 1:1-3
So, Logos, in this sense, is the Son of God in His wonderful, supreme capacity, stature, order, right, divinity, as the Word, the Expression, of God.
There is only one person who can be called the Word of God; and there is nothing and no one else that deserves the title. In a loose way, we often refer to the Bible as the “Word of God,” but that leads to confusion. When the Bible speaks about itself, it never refers to itself as the Word of God. In actuality that title belongs only to a Person, who is the Originator of all words that come from God. There is only one Word of God, not two.
The Bible refers to itself as “the Scripture of Truth,” as we find in Daniel 10:21. When the Lord Jesus referred to the Bible, He never said, “It is written in the Word of God.”3 He would say, “It is written”4 or “in the Scriptures.”5 The word scripture just means that which is written, the writings.
So that Book which God has given to us we may call the written word of God. But, please, don’t place it on the same level as the Logos, the only Word of God. The Scriptures are greatly inferior to the Logos, the Son of God. Consider their obvious differences:
- There are many many different versions of the Bible, but there is only one Son of God.
- Of the Logos it says, “The same was in the beginning with God.” The Bible wasn’t in the beginning with God.
- “All things were made by Him”; the Bible made nothing.
The Bible is a record from God, so, if you want to give it a correct title, it is “words from God,” not the Word of God, a title which refers only to the Son of God.
We believe in the divine inspiration of that precious book which we call the Holy Bible, the Scripture of Truth. We accept it as the truth. We know that it’s the only really completely reliable book in the world. It takes precedence over all those marvelous books about the Bible or inspired by the Bible, like John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress or Milton’s Paradise Lost. It takes precedence over anybody else‘s writings, because it’s so different. The Bible came as words from God. God arranged for it to be given to us, and He preserved it down through the ages. We have the unspeakable privilege of handling a copy of it.
But Hebrew and Greek scholars are not always certain what the original really said, or (in some cases) what the original words really mean; so we have many different versions. If the Bible were an infallible utterance from God put into English, there would be only one version. But because we don’t have the original text,6 and because there are variations among the many copies and fragments that have come down to us, scholars seek to discover the oldest copies and to compare the various readings, trying to arrive at a consensus of what the original said. Why has God allowed this situation? So that instead of worshiping the Bible we worship Him only, and so that we don’t substitute a book for the true Word of God, who is the Son of God.
Now, as we have said, the meaning of the Greek word logos is the vocal expression of a thought, that is, a word. If my words are not the expression of my thoughts, I am not being straightforward. And if I just say anything that comes into my mind, that’s not true expression of a thought, it’s just emptiness and vanity. So words must mean something. Now when the Lord Jesus is called the Word of God, it means that He is the only, complete, just, truthful, perfect expression of the mind of God. He represents the Father as the only one who completely, and entirely, and perfectly manifests God in all His fullness. He is the true pleroma,7 the utter fullness of God, the expressed manifestation of God.
The Logos perfectly expressed God before coming to earth; and when He came to earth in the Incarnation, He combined that expression, that Logos-expression of God, with humanity. So, He is God “manifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16).8
God has never been manifested in an angel, or an archangel. True, some of God’s wonderful attributes have being manifested through cherubim, and seraphim, and archangels, and principalities, and powers, and angels. God has shared His glory with them as God shared His glory with Adam; Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden were expressions of God in a very minor degree: “Let Us make a man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Those human beings were no more perfect expressions of God than angels, or archangels, or cherubim, or seraphim, or any other celestial being. The only one who perfectly and for all eternity has, and will, express God is the Logos. “No man has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18). So, Christ, the Logos, the Word of God, is the great, wonderful, glorious, complete, and perfect image of God.
Thus when we talk about the Bible as “the Word of God,” we must think more clearly when we do it; otherwise we are worshiping something that’s made on earth. “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an image” (Exodus 20:3-4a). The Bible is not the image of God; it’s a precious book that God has given to us. He has reserved it for us, that we might discover and know the one who is the only expression of God, the incomparable Christ. There are hymns that try very hard to compare Him with earthly things and experiences. I can think of one that’s a great favorite:
Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the garb of blooming spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.
Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling, starry host;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heav’n can boast.9
We understand the sentiment of those lovely words, but they cannot do justice to our Beloved, because Jesus is incomparable — you can’t compare Him with anything, not the brightness of stars, not the beauty of flowers, not the majesty of mountains!
All comparisons fail, because Jesus is God. All things proceed from Him, every beauty originates in Him, every fair thing has come from Him. He is the glorious Word of God, the expression of all the Father’s thoughts. When the Father, who is the originator of all creation, intended to put forth all His power to create, the Son, the Logos, who has been in the Father and begotten of the Father from all eternity, knew what the mind of the Father was, and expressed the Father’s mind in words. He started off by saying, “Let there be light,” because the Father intended light, so the Son expressed the mind of the Father. Thus He is Logos in the sense that He is the vocal expression in words of a thought (remember our definition?), but in His case the thought is the Father’s, and He expresses the mind of the Father. He knows the mind of God, what Father wants, what He intends to do. He is the only one who can fully know.
For instance, He is the only possible one to come before the Father and take from the Father’s hands the scroll, sealed with seven seals, that opens the everlasting future:
- 1And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” 3And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. 4So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it.
- 5But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” 6And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.
- Revelation 5:1-7
No one was found worthy to receive the scroll and open it, because no one knows the mind of the Father or is worthy to express the mind of the Father, except the Son, the Logos. And coming as the Lamb who had been slain, He took the scroll out of the Father’s hand and opened it.
You will remember what unfolded as the Lamb opened the scroll, how the thunders uttered their voices, the seals were broken, and terrible things happened, then glorious things happened as it went on. The culmination was “a new heaven and new earth,” all things new, old things “passed away” (Revelation 21:1), the former things not being remembered, nor coming to mind (Isaiah 65:17). Everlasting righteousness prevails in this new heaven and new earth, with the Logos present with His people and worshiped by them.
Logos Applied to More Mundane Matters
So we see how Logos applies to our Beloved Lord Jesus. He is the only one, the Logos, who expresses the Father. But the word logos in the New Testament is not exclusively used to mean the Word of God. It can be used about human beings speaking. Often you will find the word logos referring to human words. Here is a very simple illustration of that in Acts 18:14-15—
14And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you. 15But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters.”
“A question of words” — there’s our word logos.10 Here logos has nothing to do with the Bible. Logos is being employed in a very ordinary sense in this passage.
I’ll give you another illustration in 1 Corinthians 2:4—
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.
“Speech” is the word logos, and “words” in the same verse is logos11 as well. It is not in man’s words, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.
Here’s another example from verse 13 of the same chapter:
These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
Once again, “words” is logos.12
Those three examples suffice to show that logos can be used in ways other than the Word of God.
We have established the meaning of logos. Now let’s turn our attention to the other New Testament Greek word from our chart13 — rhema. Like logos, rhema is translated as word, but oh, the difference!
What Rhema Is Not
Since there is considerable misunderstanding about what rhema means, it might be easier to start with what rhema is not.
First, rhema is never used of the Lord Jesus as a title. The Son of God is not called the Rhema of God; rather (as we have seen) “His name is called The Logos of God” (Revelation 19:13).
Here’s another illustration, and this brings us closer to my point of concern. Where I live, there’s a church that is very “sold out” on the doctrines of “positive confession” and prosperity. In this church’s newspaper advertisement this statement appears— “Rhema (Greek): the written word of God spoken.”
But as we think about that definition of rhema — “the written word of God spoken” — we can see why it is completely untrue! If that were true, it would mean that when you speak anything out of the Bible that God had once said, you are making a rhema. But no one can give a rhema, in the real sense of the word, unless God speaks it through your mouth. For this glorious word rhema means direct speech. And when rhema refers to God, it means a word God is speaking directly; it is never a secondhand word. If we take something out of the Bible that God has said, and then we say it, that is not a rhema. But, if God gives you a word to say, whether it’s in the Bible or not, that is rhema. It’s got to be divinely inspired to a person directly in order for it to be a rhema from God.
Now, if you say that “rhema is the written word of God spoken,” that means to say that God has to write everything down first before He says it. Someone tried to convince me the other day, quoting two verses right out of context — “Forever Thy word is settled in heaven,”14 and “Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name.”15 This person was trying to tell me that God’s word is even more important than He is Himself! Isn’t that ridiculous? Surely you can see that’s wrong; it’s a twisting of Scripture. If you look at the original, it means nothing of the sort. What it’s really saying is that God has magnified His word, not above His name, but through His name.16 A word is true, it will happen, because “the mouth of God has spoken it” (Isaiah 40:5).
Now God doesn’t have a Bible in heaven. There are no Bibles in heaven, and the idea that in heaven we should “gather around the word” and discuss it there is complete nonsense. Fancy gathering around the Bible when the Logos Himself is there! A Bible in heaven? It would almost be like having a temple in heaven where you have to go to worship. “‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:24). We only have churches on earth to shut out the world, so we can be apart from the world and with God. That’s why we have sanctuaries. But we won’t need sanctuaries in heaven, for the whole heaven is full of God, full of His praises. And in the very last book of the Bible, in the next-to-last chapter, John gives you his eyewitness account: “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:22). And, “they should see His face” (Revelation 22:4), and “they shall be His people” (Revelation 21:3). There we shall worship God in utter fullness. But we won’t have to go into a special building to do it! How different our perspective, our understanding, our thinking will be then! “And the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (Isaiah 65:17).
So we’ll have no “Bible” in heaven, because we’ll have the Logos Himself. There will be no temple or sanctuary in heaven, but God and the Lamb are the temple. Please also purge from your thinking that God has a kind of plan up in heaven, and He has to keep looking at it to see what comes next. Utterly absurd! Oh, the greatest American poet (in my opinion), John Greenleaf Whittier, said,
Who fathoms the Eternal Thought?
Who talks of scheme and plan?
The Lord is God! He needeth not
The poor device of man.17
God doesn’t need a “blueprint.” I hear people saying, “God has a blueprint for your life.” I understand what they mean, so I’ll give them a pass. But God has no need of “a blueprint for your life.” The Omniscient One doesn’t have a faulty memory like me. If I don’t make a note for a subject, I’ll forget it. But even with a faulty memory, I still remember that we must define rhema.
What Rhema Is
Well, then, what is a rhema? Let the Bible define it. One of the lovely things about the Bible is that you can go to the very first mention of a thing for its definition or significance. Take the numbers of the Bible, for instance: the very first mention of each number will define the spiritual principle that God associates with it.
But, we’re not talking about numbers here. We’re talking about this word rhema. Where is the very first mention of rhema? You won’t find the word in the Hebrew Old Testament, of course, because rhema is used in the Greek New Testament. Here is the scene in which we first encounter the word rhema. The Lord Jesus is being attacked by the devil during the great temptation in the wilderness, found in Matthew 4:1-11.
The temptation was the direct result of the Lord Jesus being baptized in the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:13-17). By that same Holy Spirit he was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (4:1). Think about this encounter: the devil is trying to persuade the Lord Jesus to serve Himself, to use His power to minister to His own need. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, is there? If you were starving to death, and you had power to turn stones into bread, would it be wrong? No, not in and of itself, because you wouldn’t want to die. And that is what the devil was saying. It’s so subtle! His logic seems so plausible. But when you have the One who “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28), and to be the great and wonderful manifestation of God in giving, then He must not use His powers to serve Himself.
So the devil says, “Now make these stones become bread” (Matthew 4:3). And do you remember Jesus’ wonderful answer? Here it is:
- “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
- Matthew 4:4
The Greek word for word in Jesus’ response is rhema. Now, there’s our definition: Rhema must come out of the mouth of God. Unless God gives the rhema, it’s not a rhema!
Think for a moment about the false notion some believe, that “a rhema is the written word of God spoken.” Immediately after Jesus’ first temptation, the devil launches his second temptation (Matthew 4:6), doing so by quoting the Scripture18 (quite correctly, by the way) to the Lord Jesus. We can’t fault the devil’s perfect quotation; it was a “written word of God spoken.” Was it rhema?
Of course it wasn’t! Was it “the word of God”? Not here! But didn’t the devil quote the Scripture correctly? Yes, he did! Nevertheless, when the devil quotes the Bible, it becomes the word of the devil and not the word of God. When a donkey speaks, as Balaam’s ass did, it’s the word of a donkey and not the word of God. When false prophets speak and quote the Bible in order to tempt and betray, it’s not the word of God, even though God said it once; it’s the word of a false prophet.
So here is God’s definition for you. Never forget it: a rhema must always come fresh from the mouth of God. Rhema is not “a written word spoken”; that would make the rhema of a secondary origin. A rhema is always primary; it’s always God’s saying it now. And when God says it, even though He’s said it once before, it’s as new, and fresh, and dynamic as if God had only said it once. For this glorious word rhema is direct speech, and when it refers to God, it means God is speaking directly, now, firsthand; it is never secondhand. It we take something that God has said out of the Bible and say it, that is not a rhema. But, if God gives you a word to say, whether it’s in the Bible or not, that is rhema. It’s got to be a timely, divinely inspired word to be a rhema from God. The living God does not have to write something down first before He says it (or before we say it); it’s a rhema when it comes directly from Him to us or through us.
If you are one of those who believes that you can speak a rhema by speaking the written word of God and it will come to pass, I encourage you to try this experiment tonight. In a completely dark room, I want you to declare “the written word of God spoken,” and illuminate the room by quoting Genesis 1:3 — “Let there be light!” I assure you, you’ll be in that dark room a long time, unless somebody else comes and switches the light on for you. Then ask yourself, “Why didn’t this rhema work? It’s in the Bible!” Of course it’s in the Bible. And when that word in the Bible comes from God’s mouth, spoken into the present moment and circumstance, it will happen. But when that quoted word comes from your mouth, it’s not rhema at all. It’s only you quoting what God once said.
Now, when God said, “Let there be light,” that was a rhema; light came into existence and was manifested, because whatever God says always happens. That’s the joy of having a word from God. That’s why we say, “Get a word from the Lord.” How many there are who pick a word out of the Bible which suits their physical condition, who “claim a promise” and therefore say, “God is going to heal me!” Then they don’t understand why it doesn’t work. But, if they would wait upon the Lord until He gave them a word, even if He said, “No, I am not going to heal you,” you can rely upon that word, and God will give you something better than health in the word that He gives you. That’s a situation Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, when he sought the Lord for the healing of his “thorn in the flesh.”
Rhema and God’s Sword
Over the years, I have heard much teaching about “the sword of the Spirit” being the word of God, that is, the Bible. Oh, friends, we cannot understand God’s sword until we apply this most blessed concept of rhema, a word of divine origin.
The sword of the Lord is mentioned in the book of Revelation when John has those wonderful revelations of the Lord Jesus:
- 13He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.… 21And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
- Revelation 19:13-16,21
That is how John saw the Lord in the last, great battle. And that is how he saw Him as the Book of Revelation unfolds:
- …out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.
- Revelation 1:16
In that same book, the Lord Jesus describes Himself as “He who has the sharp two-edged sword” (Revelation 2:12), and He speaks of that sword as “the sword of My mouth” (v. 16).
Note, please, that it is the sword of His mouth, not ours. Rhema is the true sword of the Spirit. The sword of the Spirit is not the Bible (as we shall see when we look at Ephesians 6:17, a bit further on). If I lost my Bible, or never had a Bible, God could still use His sword through me. But, you say, “You might forget all those scriptures you’ve ever learned.” Nevertheless, God can still give a rhema through me, because the word comes from God, not from me.
I know how valuable it is to memorize the Bible, but that’s not the sword of the Spirit. I’ve heard earnest, but misinformed, teachers say to young people, “Now, learn your Bible every day. Keep on learning the Bible. Then when the devil comes at you, you’ve got the sword of the Spirit.” If the devil comes at you, he’ll put such a fog on your mind, you won’t be able to remember a thing! You don’t know the devil, friends, nor have you had any serious conflict with the devil, if you make glib statements like that. When the devil comes at you, he’ll put such a miasma over you, such a fog, that you won’t be able to think straight!
There is a real battle with the devil. I tell you, friends, the great saints of God knew something of those battles. You may have read about Martin Luther’s battle while he was at the castle of Wartburg. He got so distressed, he even picked up his inkpot and threw it at the devil, and they say you still see the stains on the wall. The devil was real to him.
The devil was absolutely real to John Bunyan. He will tell you in his autobiography19 that his mind was in such a fog he couldn’t even remember a favorable Scripture, but that the devil would suggest a number of unfavorable ones. All poor Bunyan could think of was that he was lost — with Scriptures quoted to prove it.
Friends, if you rely upon memory, you’re in a very poor situation; but when God brings a rhema, memory doesn’t come into it. He is the living God, and He will give you a word that is the real sword of the Spirit. Out of the mouth of Jesus, it says in Revelation 1:16, “went a sharp two-edged sword.” That’s the sword of His Spirit. It’s got to come out of His mouth, not yours. And if you foolishly think that you can pick any text out of the Bible to upset the devil and cause him to run, you are living in the world of magic and incantations. There is no incantation, no Bible quotation, that will make the devil turn tail and run, that is, provided you believe in the old nonsense that he has a tail anyway! For the idea of the devil as a person with horns and hooves and a tail is ridiculous. He is more often like an angel of light, utterly deceiving, utterly kind, utterly persuasive, utterly evangelical, really charismatic, perfectly Pentecostal, a great genuine Baptist, a grand Presbyterian, absolutely a magnificent Episcopalian. If I’ve omitted a label, please supply it for yourself, because I have neither time nor space to mention them all.
But, the devil doesn’t appear in physical form, unless you happen to have that kind of mentality, and he knows that you’ll be persuaded by magic. Some people live in a world where they are very easily persuaded by magical things, so that’s how the devil deceives them. But to others he’ll come battling in the intellect; and more and more in these days he will do that.
You will hear more and more of visitations from angels and of people having marvelous visions. More and more preachers will impress you with “the talk they had with an angel” who appeared to them. I would say, friends, it is exceedingly rare for God to send angel visitants. Those occasions are usually the devil manifesting in these last days as “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15), as God said he would. I don’t find many people who take that verse seriously or consider its implications. Oh, yes, they quote that verse, and others, like “in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1) and “many false prophets” (Matthew 24:11; 1 John 4:1) are going “to show signs and wonders” (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22).
Yet despite the warnings in these verses, for many, all that’s needed is to see “a sign and wonder,” and they’ll believe in the authenticity of the person who shows it. It could be that the ”prophet”or “wonder worker” is a complete fraud, and maybe even quite unaware of that fact themselves, because they can’t discern between God’s power and psychic20 manifestations. Why do their credulous followers believe so readily? Their thinking goes along lines like this: ”These things must be spiritual, because we can’t do them normally; therefore it must be of God. And because this person mentions Jesus’ name, and he’s such a nice person, he couldn’t be wrong.”
Oh, for a rhema that comes from the mouth of the Lord! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it here again: the sword of the Spirit only comes out of His mouth, not yours! But, you say, “He is in me.” Yes, He is in you when He is in you. He is not in you just because you believe the Bible. He is only in you when you have had a real experience of God the Holy Spirit coming to dwell in you in a true and genuine new birth. Then you’ll know that He is there by His own inner witness. Then you’ll know He is there by the way He chastens you, for every true son and daughter is chastened by the Father. You’ll know He is there because you witness in your spirit that you’re a child of God. You’ll know He is there because you witness the truth. And He will speak a rhema out of your lips as the occasion requires.
I’ve known times, friends, when God’s given me a rhema, and afterwards I have been loved for it. At other times when I’ve delivered such a word to someone, I’ve been hated for it, and they haven’t spoken to me ever since, because that rhema completely shattered their false façade and exposed them. Those who have wanted to be true have thanked God for the rhema-word. Not so those more interested in being the center of attention and abiding in their high position!
Real Rhemas and “Idle Rhemas”
The word rhema is also used in the Scriptures of others besides God. For example, in Matthew 12:36, where Jesus warns that “for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment,” the Greek word is rhema. That means if you speak any idle word you’re going to answer for it one day, so be careful. Ask the Lord that you may not speak idle words. Compare an actual rhema, an inspired and commanding word from the mouth of the Lord, with an “idle rhema.” Let me quote from Isaiah 55:9-11 what the Lord says about words that He speaks:
“9For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there, but water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
If we’re honest, most of the prophecies or “words from the Lord” we’ve ever heard amongst Pentecostal or charismatic people are not God-given rhemas; they are vanities — “idle words” — because they don’t happen. A number of people I’ve known have been prophesied over that they are going to go all around the earth preaching the gospel. I knew one man, I remember when it was prophesied over him, that he was going to be a great evangelist. On the basis of that “word,” he joined an evangelistic world tour, then came home and backslid, going off with someone else’s wife. Why? Because the word “prophesied” over him didn’t come to pass. He found he wasn’t asked here and there as a great, important evangelist. So he backslid, because that “prophecy” was not a rhema at all. I could have told him so at the time: “My dear man, it’s only flattering your vanity, that’s all.” God never tells you you’re going to be a “great one.” There is no such prophecy ever uttered by God that tells you that you’re going to be a great person. A true prophecy will tell you you’re going to be a very small one, for that’s what you are, aren’t you? That’s what I am — nothing! God never flatters. God never promises you greatness. Those prophecies, I say, are false. But when God gives a rhema, it always happens. Oh, blessed rhemas of God! Oh, we should ask God to give us more, for He says of each word He gives, “It shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
Rhema in Spiritual Warfare
When Paul says in Ephesians 6:17, “Take… the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God,” you can guess which Greek word is used, can’t you? It’s not logos; it’s rhema. “Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the rhema of God.” Now please note: it’s the sword of the Spirit, not your sword, not taken by you. That sword must be the dynamic word of God, a rhema from His mouth.
Friends, in the heat of battle with the devil, he can so fog and distress your mind that you can’t think of a single Bible text. In the midst of the hottest struggle, all those things you were told — “learn these Bible verses by heart, so you have the right one to put the devil to flight” — don’t work! You find that the devil is very powerful. But just when you seem to think that the enemy has won, God will give you a word which you will speak out, and the devil will flee! Hallelujah! That’s a rhema, friends.
Oh, that you would grasp this truth, and realize it, and stop this vanity of thinking that the devil is afraid of any verse you quote from the Bible. How can he be afraid of the Bible when he quotes it himself!?
The devil is a copier, a clever imitator. There is nothing he can’t copy. Speaking in tongues is copied by the devil; so is prophecy and the other gifts. Friends, I can’t tell you any method whereby you can discern what is of the devil, what is of God. All I can say is “walk in the Spirit” and you’ll know when God is speaking, and He will reveal when the devil is masquerading as God, for “My sheep hear My voice” (John 10:27). Yes, Jesus’ sheep know His voice, and they can distinguish it from the voice of a stranger. “And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers” (John 10:5).
It is possible for the devil to quote Scripture, that is, to quote a logos, but it’s impossible for the devil to give a rhema, for by definition, a rhema is an original, commanding word of God. The enemy can copy what once was a rhema, and say it to Jesus, but he can’t win, because he cannot speak the commanding, creative word of God. Only God can speak such a word, such a rhema, and He speaks it through His Son, the Logos, who is the expression of the Father.
The Rhema of Cleansing
Here is an example of Paul giving you a rhema:
- 25…Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
- Ephesians 5:25-27
I’ve heard people take these verses and say that Christ cleanses by the word, so if people read the Bible, and keep on reading the Bible to the Church, the Church is being cleansed. That’s completely false. Many of those who read the Bible to the Church aren’t clean themselves! Reading the Bible doesn’t cleanse you at all. The “word” given here is rhema — “that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the rhema.” He cleanses by a commanding word.
Have you ever waited upon God for His commanding word concerning inner cleansing? Did the disciples ever receive such a commanding word from Jesus? Oh, yes! He said, “Now are ye clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3 kjv). And even though the word here is logos, it wasn’t the Bible Jesus quoted to them. Rather, it was something He spoke Himself — a rhema.
The Church isn’t cleansed by reading the Bible or having the Bible read to it. Christ’s goal for His Bride is that she become “a glorious church without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing” (Ephesians 5:27). But He accomplishes that cleansing person by person within the Church. The word that cleanses is the individual word to a human being in the Church who is longing for a pure heart and wanting to be clean. If they will wait upon God, He’ll speak them clean — “Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”
The Word of Answered Prayer and Calling: Rhema
- “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
- John 15:7
What are the words that “abide in you”? “If you abide in Me and My rhemas abide in you” — it’s rhema again! It’s not “if you learn the Bible off by heart” that you abide in Him; it’s if you obey the individual words He has given to you.
If you wait upon Him, you will know what His will is for you. His will may be that you don’t enter the ministry. If that’s the case, and you do enter into the ministry, you will be out of God’s will. What a nuisance you’ll be in the ministry in that case! Quite a number of ministers are just that, because they’ve never been called of God into the ministry; they went into it as a profession. They can’t speak the rhemas of God. Oh, but if God tells you to go into the ministry and you disobey, you will never have any success in life. But the call has got to come from God, with you being inwardly moved by the voice of the Spirit. Every minister who is ordained usually has to say that he was inwardly moved of God to enter into the ministry, that it was a call from God. It must be a rhema from God.
- “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
Have you ever been on God’s altar waiting for the fire? I can remember the kind of agony that I went through in times past, longing and beseeching God to give me a pure heart. I’ve knelt down in the middle of the field with tall grass, hoping nobody would see me. I have knelt behind a hedge. I have gone out in the morning and climbed up on a rock right out of the way to pour out my heart to God, asking Him to give me a pure heart. Have you ever done things like that? I wanted it. The Holy Spirit burdened me for it.
Well, He gave me a rhema. He gave me assurance by speaking a word to my heart from the Psalms — “All that is within me bless His holy name” (Psalm 103:1). And by that lovely rhema I knew that the old carnal mind had gone, the thing that prevented me from praising Him and blessing Him. “All that is within me bless His holy name” — and the thing that wouldn’t bless His holy name before — that stubborn self-will, that wanting to go my own way — had gone! And I truthfully say, friends, I have really, genuinely, only wanted God’s way ever since, at all costs. When God gives you a pure heart, you’ll only want God’s way and to live for Him. Ambition is gone; building up a personal empire is gone; seeking for praise is gone; seeking for money is gone. Gladly living in Christ is there instead; gladly depending upon Him and finding He supplies all of your needs replaces all the rest.
A Rhema to Missionary Mary Mozley
Let me give you an example of a rhema in the life of Mary Mozley.21 Mary Mozley was a pioneer missionary with the Africa Inland Mission to the Congo in Africa. She went out in November 1914 to be a missionary in a tribe that had never heard the gospel. Interestingly, that tribe was called the Logos. The name was pronounced Lōgōs (long “o” sounds), not logos (short “o” sounds). The Logos had never had their language committed to writing, so they had no written literature of any sort. And they had such a complicated tonal language, that the same word, but with a change in intonation, meant an entirely different thing.
Imagine what a challenge the language of the Logos was for Mary, an educated, highly qualified nurse, who ministered to the physical needs of the people while she worked to master their language! She persevered for years, and at last managed to commit their language to writing with regard to St. Mark’s Gospel, and she trained some of them to read it. Finally they had the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in their own language, and those who could read it to them.
As I said, Mary went out in 1914; she died of blackwater fever in December 1923 at the age of 36, after laboring in faith, love, and many tears for nine years of sacrificial service.
Let me quote from one of Mary’s letters. On the 22nd of June 1916 she wrote to her own parents in England:
“I seem to have no news, though there is one lovely piece of news that fills my heart with singing. You know how I’ve been seeking a clean heart. I think that I had an intellectual conception of what it was. I have been reading Mr. Paget Wilkes’s book on faith,22 and I knew I had not the experience. Mr. Wilkes says that faith is not vague, but asks for and definitely receives blessings. We decided to seek the Lord for definite heart cleansing, for if our hearts were really cleansed, we could not say, “I do not know whether I have a clean heart or not.” For about a week God dealt with us and kept us seeking. Then on the Friday night, before Whitsunday,23 the Lord graciously heard, and filled me with such a wonderful peace, the like of I which I’d never known before. All the darkness went, and I could only praise, for I knew the Comforter had come to dwell in my heart.”
The Lord had spoken her clean!
In another letter Mary Mozley quoted another beautiful thing. She had suffered so much from fever, and heartache, and disappointment. In a letter home to her parents (her father was a vicar in the Church of England), Mary quoted in French from Madame Guyon, the writer on spiritual things of the seventeenth century:
“Souffrir passe, d’avoir souffert demeure éternellement.”24
Here is a translation in English:
“Suffering passes, to have suffered remains eternally.”
Oh, what a truth! Suffering and tribulation pass, but to have suffered, the blessings of that last for all eternity. Isn’t that wonderful? Blessed Mary Mozley! Her life’s practice is revealed in another line she wrote in a friend’s autograph album, where she penned:
“Give others the sunshine, tell Jesus the rest.”
Isn’t that deep? That’s one of the great things a pastor has to do. A pastor appears on the platform full of joy, radiant, seemingly without a care in the world. But he is bearing your cares and has a dreadful heartache. And sometimes (I know by experience) you can minister to the people in joy and love, even though you have a broken heart. Give others the sunshine, tell Jesus the rest. Oh, friends, that’s the result of a pure heart! That was Mary’s practice on the mission field.
You know, the mission field isn’t the heaven you might you think it is; too often… well, it seems a bit like the other place! Some missionaries can quarrel, not speak to each other for weeks, and have dry, formal prayer meetings. They can even loathe each other. It’s dreadful to have to live with such people day after day in a small mission house. These people — if you had met them ordinarily — you’d thank God you didn’t have to live with them; and they’d be thinking the same about you! Yes, I need to be honest about the mission field. Why? Because so many missionaries haven’t received a pure heart. They don’t believe in it. They’re opposed to the teaching. But, oh, how it’s needed!
Not Mary! Her heart had been changed. As she lay on her deathbed, suffering from delirium, she was back again in Sunday school. She sang ever so softly:
One the object of our journey,
One the faith which never tires,
One the earnest looking forward,
One the hope our God inspires.25
She had learned that lovely Sunday school hymn in the wonderful old, ivy-walled stone church of which her evangelical father had been the vicar for so many years. With those lovely words on her lips, Mary Mozley, who had received a rhema to her now-purified heart, fell asleep in Jesus and was buried in Africa, one of those saints who have given their lives for that dark continent.
The Great Rhema of John the Baptist
Finally, consider a last great example of rhema:
- “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar… the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.”
- Luke 3:1-2
The word here is rhema.
John knew the Scriptures. He could recite many, many scriptures by heart. He knew that he was the forerunner who had been foretold. He was the one, “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord’ ” (Isaiah 40:3). But that was Isaiah’s rhema about John; that wasn’t John’s rhema. What was the rhema that came to John? Here is the special revelation that God had given to him:
- “Behold! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
- John 1:29
No one could ever have said that before, for God’s Lamb hadn’t been among His people before. Now Jesus of Nazareth comes back from His forty-day wilderness encounter with the devil, and John declares, “Behold! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” That is the word of the Lord that “came to John in the wilderness” — a great, glorious revelation that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of the living God, God manifested in the flesh, “the Lamb of God.”
But wait a moment. There had been lambs before.
- There had been a lamb for one person. Abel first offered a lamb. (Cain could’ve joined in, but he didn’t.) In another example of this, Isaac’s life was spared when God spoke a commanding word to save him, and the Lord provided a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. That’s a lamb for a life.
- Later on there was a lamb for a household. At the first Passover, God commanded that the blood of a lamb should be placed on the lintel and on the side posts of the doorway into every Israelitish family. Those who obeyed God applied the blood of the Passover lamb as God had said and were spared— “a lamb for a household” (Exodus 12:3).
- Still later, it was a lamb for a nation. When Israel received the great institution of the Law, God ordained that a lamb be offered every morning and every evening as a burnt offering before the Lord for the nation (Numbers 28:3-4).
But there never had been a lamb from God for the whole world! The rhema that came to John was “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” What a rhema to receive! And what a rhema to declare! Hallelujah!
Conclusion: Rhemas from the Logos
Isn’t it good to examine scriptures to find out the difference between logos and rhema, that we may seek the Lord and receive direct words from Him? Oh, not words of our choosing, not promise-verses we have snatched from the Bible, for words of our choosing will not come to pass! Rather, we look to the Christ, God’s Logos, the Word of God, the perfect expression of the mind and will of God, to give us, in due season, rhemas, words directly from His mouth. “My sheep hear My voice.” Friends, it’s absolutely impossible for God to give you a word and it doesn’t come to pass. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My word shall not pass away.” And for that I say, “Oh, thank You, Lord!” His word, His rhema, will never return empty. Amen.
Dear Father, we thank You for your love. Oh, Father, please, we ask that we, your little children, may enter into your presence so that you would be able to speak to us, and give us words from God. Father, when we’re in the battle and the enemy seems to be winning, and we are overwhelmed because of the loss and discouragement, and because mighty men around us are falling, and those that we look up to are backslidden, and courage is almost gone — would You, please, dear Father, exercise that sword of the Spirit, through Your dear Son? Let the word come forth from the mouth of Your Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus, that commanding word to bring us to victory. And, when you give us a rhema to give out, a rhema from Yourself, the actual Word of the Lord, oh, give us courage and faith to speak the Word of God to your dear people, or to the individual who needs to hear it. For Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.
Some Further Thoughts on Jesus’ Limited Use
of the Phrase “Word of God”
As we have detailed in our endnotes from the text above, the Gospels record Jesus as using the phrase “it is written” 18 times, and “the scripture” or “the scriptures” 13 times. (See the list of references in endnotes 4 and 5.) In addition, the Gospel writers use “it is written” 5 times (Matthew 2:5; Mark 1:2; Luke 2:23; 3:4; and John 12:14) and the phrases “the scripture” or “the scriptures” 9 times (Mark 15:28; Luke 24:27, 45; John 2:22; 19:24, 28, 36, 37; 20:9).
By contrast, there are only 6 times that the Gospel writers associate the phrase “the word of God”26 with Jesus’ ministry. These occur once in a narrative description about His teaching, and 5 times as a phrase from His mouth:
- Luke 5:1 tells us that people “pressed around” Jesus “to hear the word of God.” This is the narrative use of the phrase. Luke doesn’t mention the content of the message, but note that God incarnate was speaking!
- In Mark 7:13, Jesus sums up a condemnation of the Pharisees and scribes (vv. 5-13), in which he accuses them of creating religious loopholes to avoid obedience to a very practical outworking of the Fifth Commandment, thus “making the word of God of no effect” through their traditions. Clearly He is referring to Scripture, as He quotes Exodus 20:12. But the emphasis seems to be on the contrast between what God says (“the word of God”) and what man teaches (“the commandments of men” v. 7; “the tradition of men” v. 8; “your tradition” v. 13).
- In Luke’s version of the explanation of the parable of the sower (8:11), Jesus explains the “seed is the word of God.” The Old Testament was the only “Bible” available at this point. The preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom brings forth what the words of the Old Testament could not. The “seed” which is the “word of God” is a new word of God, a Kingdom proclamation of what was only hinted at in the Old Testament.There is another possibility concerning this passage: If we capitalize “Seed” to represent Christ, the promised “ ‘Seed’ of the Woman” (Genesis 3:15) and the Seed of Abraham (a theme Paul develops in Galatians 3:16), then we gain a very new perspective into the spiritual dynamics of conversion and New Birth – the Seed is the Logos, the Word of God Himself!
- Let’s consider Jesus’ use of the phrase “word of God” in Luke 8:19-21—
19Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd. 20And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.” 21But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”
Matthew gives us his parallel version of this incident in 12:46-50, but he phrases Jesus’ response in such a way as to omit the phrase “word of God.” Mark also includes this incident, and like Matthew, doesn’t use the phrase “word of God.” Matthew gives Jesus’ response as:
“…whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (12:50)
And Mark is in agreement with Matthew:
“…whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.” (3:35).
But Mark, for context, just a few verses before his parallel report of this event, gives us the background and the motivation for why Jesus’ “own people” (explained later in verse 31 to be “His mother and brothers”) were coming to Him:
20Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. 21But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, “He is out of His mind.”
In considering Jesus and His ministry, apparently Mary,27 Jacob, Judah,28 and the rest of His siblings held a dim assessment of Jesus and His ministry similar to the one Festus later reserved for the apostle Paul: “You are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!” (Acts 26:24). This hardly sounds like faith in Jesus or in His teaching. In fact, the Apostle John (who knew Jesus’ family personally) is quite clear about where Jesus’ brothers stood on the “faith scale” — “even His brothers did not believe in Him” (John 7:5).
Were Jesus’ mother and brothers observant Jews? No doubt! As much as any other Torah-observant Jew (that is, to borrow modern evangelical parlance, “Bible believing” Jews who were obedient “church members in good standing”), they should have been counted among those who would “hear the word of God and do it” (recall Luke 8:21), if “the word of God” is interpreted as the Scriptures.
But reading and obeying the Bible isn’t Jesus’ point here, as Matthew and Mark make clear. His family members had been living in the same household with the Incarnate Logos for decades, but were still in unbelief about who Jesus was and that He spoke the mind and heart of God the Father.
To Jesus, kinship with Him wasn’t just a matter of family relationship or Bible belief and obedience; rather, it was spiritual kinship which was available only to “whoever does the will of My Father in heaven.” Jesus clearly defines what it means to obey the Father, do His will, and do the work of God: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:29).
- What about Jesus’ use of the phrase “word of God” in Luke 11:27-28?—
27And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” 28But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
We have seen (in point #4 above) that Mary was one of the family members who had come to “rescue” Jesus. Other scripture passages show us that, though she was a woman of great, obedient faith (Luke 1:26-38) and spiritual inspiration (1:46-55), she had not yet arrived at a place of fully understanding the Person and role of her firstborn. Apparently, she was still “pondering these things in her heart” (Luke 2:19), yet not coming to proper conclusions (Luke 2:48-51). And who can blame her?! Nevertheless, when this unnamed woman of Luke 11:27 exalts Mary’s status, Jesus’ words make clear that Mary, though a Torah-observant Jewess, had not yet come to the place of faith where she was hearing Jesus’ proclamation as “the word of God,” nor was she “keeping it,” that is, walking in obedience to it. This is in contrast to others, men and women (e.g., Luke 8:2), who were both hearing God’s word through the Incarnate Logos, and doing / obeying / believing it. Eventually, Mary went beyond “pondering” and “hiding” things in her heart and committed herself to full-on faith in the Son of God; but she had not reached that point at this time in the narrative.
- As Jesus’ Jewish opponents contended with Him over the “blasphemous” (in their opinion) implications of His declared Sonship (John 10:29-33), the Lord responded by quoting Psalm 82:6—
34“Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods” ’? 35If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?”
Let’s note in passing that here we find Jesus using the two phrases He normally associates with “the Bible” of His time: “Is it not written” (a slight turn of phrase from His usual, “Is is written,” but giving the idea a bit more emphasis) in verse 34; and then He employs the phrase “the Scripture” in verse 35.
Now let’s look at the critical phrase that appears between “written” and “Scripture,” where Jesus says, “to whom the word of God came…”. The “whom” would be Asaph (writer of Psalm 82, possibly a “seer” in David’s court [2 Chronicles 35:15]). The formula used — “to whom the word of the Lord came” — is a Hebrew idiom related to prophecy, prophets, and prophetic words or “burdens.” The phrase “the word of the Lord came to [fill in the name]” occurs 92 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. In the Septuagint, that is, the Greek Old Testament, that phrase is translated either as λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ (lógos toũ theoũ — “word of God,” e.g., Jeremiah 1:2) or λόγος Κύριου (lógos Kúriou — “word of the Lord,” e.g., Jeremiah 1:4).
Even though logos is the Greek word normally used to render the Hebrew in such passages,29 the concept is still one of a direct word from God for a given occasion and circumstance. This more than meets the definition of rhema, even though the exact word isn’t used in the Hebrew-to-Greek translation. Thus, prophetic words are rhemas in principle. Weighing Jesus’ use of this prophetic-formula idiom in His quotation of Psalm 82:6, we come to something like this:
- It is written in the law, “You are gods.”
- Remember: This came as a prophetic word to Asaph.
- You don’t disagree with this verse, believing that, being Scripture, it can’t be broken (even though you don’t understand the implication of it).
- The same prophetic “word of God” that came to Asaph is the very Word of God30 standing before you now, declaring to you that, yes, indeed, I AM the Son of God.
Seen in this light, the phrase “word of God” means something far more significant in this passage than “Bible,” even though it is couched between Jesus’ two favorite expressions for God’s Book — “it is written” and “the scriptures.”
- Copyright held by Finest of the Wheat Teaching Fellowship, Inc. Edited and annotated by Jim Kerwin. Co-edited by Denise Kerwin. Transcription by Inés María González Valdés. ↩
- A transliteration is the changing of the letters and words of one language into the alphabet of another language. ↩
- Although Jesus never used the phrase “it is written in the word of God,” He did use the phrase “word of God” very sparingly — only 5 times: Mark 7:13; Luke 8:11, 21; 11:28; John 10:34. In each of these passages, Jesus used “word of God” with different and interesting implications. For further thoughts, see the appendix. ↩
- “It is written” is used by Jesus 18 times (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10; 11:10; 21:13; 25:24, 31; Mark 7:6; 9:12-13; 14:21, 27; Luke 4:4, 8; 7:27; 19:46; 24:46; John 6:45). The Gospel writers use the phrase narratively 5 times (Matthew 2:5; Mark 1:2; Luke 2:23; 3:4; John 12:14). ↩
- “The scripture” and “the scriptures” are phrases Jesus uses 13 times (Matthew 21:42; 22:29; 26:54, 56; Mark 12:10, 24; 14:49; Luke 4:21; John 5:39; 7:38; 10:35; 13:18; 17:12). The Gospel writers employ those same two phrases in their narratives 7 times (Mark 15:28; Luke 24:27, 45; John 2:22; 19:24, 28, 36, 37; 20:9). ↩
- When speaking of the original texts of various Bible books, scholars use the term autograph. Generally, when we think of the term autograph, we think of a signature (perhaps along with a word of encouragement or a bon mot) coming straight from the hand of a famous person. But the word autograph comes from the Latin autographum — written in one’s own hand. So the term can apply equally to any document handwritten by its author, that is, the original manuscript. What Pastor Gutteridge is saying is that we don’t have Moses’ original copy of Genesis or Mark’s handwritten gospel or John’s signed originals of his letters. We have copies of copies of copies of the originals. ↩
- Plērōma (πλήρωμα) is a powerful Greek word meaning completeness, fullness, fulfillment, sum, total, even (super) abundance. Paul uses plērōma to describe Jesus in such passages as:
- Colossians 1:19 nkjv — For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness (plērōma) should dwell…
- Colossians 2:9 nkjv — For in Him dwells all the fullness (plērōma) of the Godhead bodily…
- Unless otherwise noted, all verses quoted come from the New King James Version (nkjv). ↩
- These stanzas are from Fairest Lord Jesus, an anonymous 17th Century German hymn translated by Joseph A. Seiss. ↩
- The literal reading of v. 15 in the Greek is “of word,” singular (λόγου / lógou), the word logos in the genitive case. (Genitive case is how Greek expresses “of”.) ↩
- Or, more specifically, logois (λόγοις / lógois), the plural dative form of logos. (Dative is the Greek case that expresses the idea of “in.”) ↩
- Again, logois (λόγοις / lógois), the plural dative form of logos. ↩
- This refers to the chart which appears on the first page of this article. ↩
- Psalm 119:89 kjv ↩
- Psalm 138:2 kjv ↩
- This is something that modern translations bring out more clearly:
- For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name. (nasb)
- …for you have magnified your word according to all your name. (leb)
- …for you have magnified your word according to all your name. (esv)
There are also older translations that bring out this theme:
- …for thou hast magnified thy Name aboue all things by thy word. (Geneva. The seemingly misspelled word aboue, is the archaic way of spelling above.)
- …for thou hast magnified thy holy name above every thing. (Brenton’s translation of the LXX, the Greek Old Testament)
- From Whittier’s poem The Eternal Goodness ↩
- Psalm 19:11-12 ↩
- Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners ↩
- Psychic might seem like a charged word here, since many readers perceive the term in a spiritist connotation. But the primary definition is of or relating to the human soul or mind, that is to say, something which proceeds from the soul (ψυχή in Greek — psuchē). The apostle Paul makes the same contrast between soulish and spiritual in 1 Corinthians 2:14-15, though it gets muddied in translation: “But the natural (psuchikos, the adjectival form of psuchē, meaning soulish — a better reading than natural, in this editor’s opinion) man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.” ↩
- Mary Mozley’s life (1887-1923) was detailed in the biography The Obedience of Faith: The Life of Mary Mozley by Catherine S. Miller, published in 1935 by Marshall, Morgan & Scott, London. It is probably from this title that Pastor Gutteridge draws these facts from Mozley’s life. Special thanks to Nina Gaddis (AIM U.S.) and Alan Hewerdine (AIM Europe) of Africa Inland Mission for helping the editor track down this information. For more information on AIM’s ongoing ministry, visit https://www.aimint.org. ↩
- This would have been Alpheus Paget Wilkes’s book The Dynamic of Faith, published that same year. Wilkes was a well-known missionary during this period, having co-founded and spearheaded the Japan Evangelistic Band along with Barclay Buxton. ↩
- Whitsunday: Pentecost Sunday, seven weeks after Easter Sunday ↩
- From page 79 of Mary Mozley’s biography ↩
- From Through the Night of Doubt and Sorrow by Bernhard Severin Ingemann, translated by Sabine Baring-Gould ↩
- “Word of God” appears twice in the nominative (subject) case — ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ / ho lógos toũ theoũ — and four times in the accusative (direct object) case — τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ / tón lógon toũ theoũ. ↩
- We will ponder Mary’s state of belief when we consider Luke 11:28, below. ↩
- Jacob and Judah are better known to us as “James” (the later writer of the New Testament epistle by that name, as well as the leader of the Jerusalem church for many years) and “Jude” (author of the next-to-last book in the New Testament). These later came to faith and were present in the Upper Room (Acts 1:14). ↩
- There are exceptions. For instance, the LXX/Greek text of Jeremiah 1:1 starts with “The rhema of God which came to Jeremiah,” even though verses 2 and 4 use logos. Nathan is another example in the Septuagint: “The same night, the rhema of the Lord came to Nathan…” (2 Samuel 7:4). ↩
- Recall that the passage we are reading is in John’s Gospel, and that John commenced his Gospel revealing Jesus to be the Logos, God the Word, the perfect expression of the mind of God. ↩