LOGOS, RHEMA, AND GRAPHE
By John Carpenter
 
There are three Greek words that have been misunderstood and mistranslated over time, and, as a result, have caused significant doctrinal errors within the teachings of the Christian church. Those Greek words arelogos, rhema, and graphe. Understanding these three Greek words cannot only help us better understand the sciriptures in general, but can help us to differentiate when the scriptures are referring to Jesus Christ, the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Scriptures [bible, or "word" as many call it].
 
LOGOS, THE CHRIST
 
The first Greek word is logos, which can, in context, refer to Christ. John wrote, In the beginning was the Word [Greek, logos, something said, the Divine Expression, this is, Christ, a communication, preaching, say, tiding, or utterance], and the Word [logos, Christ] was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life [in Him] was the light of men (John 1:1-4). In these four verses, the word [logos, the Divine Expression, which is Christ] was in the beginning, was with God, all things were made by Him, without Him nothing was made, in Him was life, and this life was the light of [revelation and understanding given unto mankind]. In these verses, the Word is clearly identified as and referring to Jesus Christ, not the bible or scriptures.
 
In another example, the author of the book of Hebrews wrote, There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word [Greek, logos, the Divine Experession, Jesus Christ] of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his [Christ] sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him [Christ] with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:9-13). Read in context, it is clear that the people of God work to enter into a rest, a rest available only from faith in the logos, or Jesus Christ. It is not the bible, but Christ who is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of our soul and apirit, and of the joints and marrow, and who discerns the thoughts and intents of our own hearts. In verse 13, the author adds the words him and his, a definite reference to Christ. I have heard many Christians, including teachers and preachers, say and teach, in error, that the bible [or word, as they call it] is quick and powerful, sharp, piercing, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Cleaarly, it is not the bible, but Jesus Christ who is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
 
Lastly, we have an example from Peter: As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk [nourishment needed for growth] of the word [Greek, logikos, from Greek logos, the Divine Expression, Jesus Christ], that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord [Christ] is gracious. To whom [Christ] coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men [Chris], but chosen of God [Christ], and precious [Christ], Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ [Christ]. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone [Christ], elect [Christ], precious [Christ]: and he that believeth on him [Christ] shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he [Christ] is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone [Christ]which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner [Christ], And a stone of stumbling [Christ], and a rock of offence [Christ], even to them which stumble at the word [Greek, logos, Christ], being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye [who believe in Christ] are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him [Christ] who hath called you [Christ] out of darkness into his [Christ] marvellous light (1 Peter 2:2-9). And many believers, teachers, and preachers believe that the word referred to in these verses is the bible and that it is the bible which is our source of nourishment and growth. It is clearly Christ who is the nourishment needed for the believer's growth.
 
LOGOS, THE GOSPEL
 
Within the scriptures, the word [logos], in context, can also have a second meaning. The word [Greek, logos, something said, the Divine Expression, this is, Christ, communication, preaching, say, tiding, or utterance]can also refer to the gospel, or good news of the God's salvation and Kingdom. Paul wrote the Ephesian church, That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted,, after that ye heard the word [logos] of truth, the gospel [Greek, euaggelion, a good message, announce good news, good tidings] of your salvation [Greek, soteria, rescue, physical or moral safety, deliverance, health, saving]: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:12-13). Paul also wrote the church in Colossae, We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word [logos] of the truth of the gospel [Greek, euaggelion, a good message, announce good news, good tidings]; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth (Colossians 1:3-6). In these verses, the word [logos] clearly refers to the gospel or good news of salvation and the Kingdom of Heaven.
 
Paul wrote Timothy these words: Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; butthe word [logos, the gospel message: earlier in this verse Paul referred to the gospel] of God is not bound [restrained, stopped]. Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing [to understand correctly] theword [logos, the message of the gospel] of truth (2 Timothy 2:8-15). Paul referred [in verse 8] to the trouble he had suffered, but also explained that, despite his own suffering, the gospel was not bound and had continued to be spread. Paul instructed Timothy to rightly divide, or understand correctly, that the preaching of the gospel would result in suffering and trouble, as it had with Paul, and that Timothy was to not be ashamed of any suffering he would encounter for the sake of the gospel.
 
In another example, Christ explained the parable of the sower to His disciples. He said, Now the parable is this: The seed [scattering of seed, object to be sown] is the word [Greek, logos, Christ and the gospel message of the Kingdom] of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience (Luke 8:11-15). The seed clearly refers to the gospel message of the Kingdom, and not the bible, or word. When Christ sows the gospel into the good ground, or the honest and good heart, that heart hears the gospel message, keeps and cherishes it, and, with patience, brings forth fruit. In context of these verses, the seed is the gospel message, not the bible.
 
Lastly, Christ angrily told some Jewish pharisees and scribes, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban [ a consecrated gift, present or offering], that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word [Greek, logos, Christ and the gospel, not the bible] of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye (Mark 7:9-13). Christ knew that, because of their traditions, the Jewish leaders and community had not only rejected Christ, but had invalidated and disannuled the word of truth, the gospel within their own lives.
 
RHEMA, THE HOLY SPIRIT
 
Secondly, the English word word [which is translated from the Greek rhema] can also refer to the speaking, movement, working, and operation of the Holy Spirit, depending upon the context of the verses. For example, the author of the book of Hebrews wrote, Through faith we understand that the worlds [Greek, aion, age, course, creation, beginning of, world beginning] were framed [Greek, katartizo, to complete thoroughly, fit, mend, make perfect, prepare] by the word [Greek, rhema, utterance, speak, say by pouring forth (of the Holy Spirit)] of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear (Hebrews 11:3). In error, many often think that the word of God referred to in verse 3 is the bible [or word, as many call it], and that the bible created and perfected the worlds. If we think about it reasonably, we know that it was not the word of God, or bible, that God the Father used to create the creation, but the speaking, movement, and operation of God's supernatural, powerful, explosive, creative Holy Spirit.
 
Paul wrote the church in Rome, For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word [Greek, rhema, utterance, speak, say by pouring forth of the Holy Spirit] of God (Romans 10:13-17). Verses 13-17 are most often misinterpreted to mean that faith is the result of hearing the preaching of the word [or bible, as it is referred to]. If we closely examine the flow of the verses, is becomes clear that Paul is teaching that salvation is the result of calling upon the Lord, calling upon the Lord is the result of believing, believing is the result of hearing, hearing is the result of preaching, and preachers preach because they are sent by the word [Greek, rhema, that is, the supernatural, explosive movement, operation, speaking, and working of the Holy Spirit] of God, and not the bible, or word. Reversing this flow of verses, we can see that the operation, movement, and working of the Holy Spirit [Greek, rhema] sends preachers to preach, preaching results in hearing, hearing results in believing, believing results in calling upon the Lord, and calling upon the Lord results in salvation. In this context, it is not hearing the preaching of the bible or scriptures [word, as many call it] that results in faith and salvation, but the working, operation, and movement of the Holy Spirit [or Rhema] within the hearts and minds of preachers which sends preachers to preach.
 
The scriptures also verify that it is the Holy Spirit that sends men to preach. The apostles Barnabus and Saul were sent forth by the Holy Spirit: As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus (Acts 13:2-4). The prophet Isaiah even prophesied that Christ would be sent. Isaiah wrote, The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings [the good news, the gospel] unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to then that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified (Isaiah 61:1-3). Christ announced the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy by these words: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me [and called and sent me] to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18-19).
 
In John we read, For he [Christ] whom God hath sent speaketh the words [Greek, rhema, utterance, speaking, movement, and working of the Holy Spirit] of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure [limited amount] unto him [Christ] (John 3:34). Christ was not only sent by God the Father via the Holy Spirit, but was given the Holy Spirit without limitation. Ezekiel referred to his own calling and sending by the Holy Spirit: the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me. And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. For they are impudent children and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them (Ezekiel 2:2-5).
 
The apostle Paul wrote the church of believers in Thessalonica, We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word [Greek, logos, the gospel] in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost(1 Thessalonians 1:6).
 
Peter wrote the strangers throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (1 Peter 1:1), Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power [Greek, dunamis, the supernatural, explosive power and working of the Holy Spirit] of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end [purpose, goal] of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into (1 Peter 1:3-12). Peter teaches here that the gospel was preached because of the supernatural, miraculous operation of the Holy Spirit.
 
Many more scriptures could be given for support, but it is clear that the scriptures teach that if there is a calling, sending, preaching, or performance of miracles by God, we can rest assured that the explosive, powerful, miraculous operation of the Holy Spirit is involved, not the bible [or word].
 
GRAPHE, THE SCRIPTURE
 
The third, and final, Greek word that is important to understand in the new testament is the Greek word graphe. Graphe, which means a document, holy Writ, to describe, or writing, is translated into the English words scripture or scriptures. Graphe is the root word for the English word graphic, meaning formed by writing, drawing, or engraving. When you see the word scripture in the bible, you will find that scripture has been translated from the Greek word graphe.
 
For example, Christ spoke to the Jewish chief priests, scribes, and elders using a parable, specifically the parable of the tenants: A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. And have ye not read this scripture [Greek, graphe, a document, holy Writ, to describe, written]; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner (Mark 12:1-10).
 
In the the old testament, many things about Christ were prophesied, including the betrayal of Jesus Christ by one of His own disciples:Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me (Psalms 41:9). Zechariah heard and wrote, And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD (Zechariah 11:13). Referring to His own betrayal by one of this own disciples, Christ spoke these words to his disciples: I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture [Greek,graphe, a document, holy Writ, to describe, written] may be fulfilled [completed, brought to pass, happen], He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me (John 13:18). In this verse, Christ identifies the scripture as holy Writ, and that which has been written previously written.
 
Addressing the church in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote, For the [old testament] scripture [Greek,graphe, a document, holy Writ, to describe, written] saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:11-13).
 
Paul wrote to his dearly beloved spiritual son, Timothy, from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures [Greek, gramma, a writing, a letter or note, scripture, what is written], which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture [Greek, graphe, a document, holy Writ, to describe, written]is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:15-17). Again, Paul referred to the graphe orgramma as scripture.
 
Chastening some Jewish sadducees, Christ said, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures [Greek, graphe, a document, holy Writ, to describe, written], nor the power [Greek, dunamis, miraculous exposive power] of God (Matthew 22:29).
 
Speaking to some Jews who completely rejected Christ and the life available in Christ, and sought to kill Him as well, Christ angrily said,And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word [Greek, logos, gospel of the Kingdom] abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures [Greek, graphe, a document, holy Writ, to describe, written]; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life (John 5:37-40). In these verses, Christ not only refers to the Holy Scriptures, but explains that life is not available [as many believe] within the scriptures, but only by coming to faith in Christ. In fact, what the scriptures do, according to Christ, is testify of Him. Within the church, the error is being taught by teachers and preachers that the bible is the word rather than the graphe, or Holy Scriptures. According to scriptures, the graphe is the bible, and the word refers to Christ [logos], the Holy Spirit [rhema], or the gospel [logos], as has been outlined above.
 
To summarize, clearly, the three Greek words of our study, Logos, Rhema, and Graphe, mean different things. There has been, and still is, much confusion and misinterpretation of holy scriptures, within the Christian church concerning the English translations of logos,rhema, and graphe. This confusion is due primarily to two factors.
 
First, the translators did us a great disservice. The Greek words logos and rhema were both translated into the same English word, word. Since logos refers to Christ or the gospel, and rhema refers to the operation of the Holy Spirit, it makes sense that this leads to almost total misinterpretation of the scriptures. As we saw above, two examples can easily make the point. One, In the beginning was the Word [Greek, logos, something said, the Divine Expression, this is, Christ, a communication, preaching, say, tiding, or utterance], and the Word [logos, Christ] was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life [in Him] was the light of men (John 1:1-4). As we saw earlier, when many encounter this verse, they automatically believe that the word here refers to the bible, and not Jesus Christ. Two, Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed [Greek,katartizo, to complete thoroughly, fit, mend, make perfect, prepare] by the word [Greek, rhema, utterance, speak, say by pouring forth (of the Holy Spirit)] of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear (Hebrews 11:3). When most encounter this verse, they believe that the word refers to the bible, and not the Holy Spirit; but the bible, as we saw above, and as our good sense should tell us, did not frame the worlds. The Holy Spirit did.
 
Secondly, many teachers and preachers within the Christian church are teaching error concerning the translation of the Greek words logos, rhema, and graphe. These preachers and teachers were taught error by their predecessors, and now, they, themselves, are teaching this same error to their own congregations and followers. This error can be easily seen if you take a few minutes and listen closely and analytically to some of the evangelists on television or pastors within a church. Sadly, the truth is that many of these teachers and evangelists, as Christ warned, do err, not knowing the scriptures... (Matthew 22:29). Unfortunately, they are teaching the same errors that they learned themselves.
 
In order to fully and accurately understand the New Testament scriptures it is important to recognize the differences between logos, rhema and graphe and their contextual meanings within the scriptures. This is best accomplished by seeking God and asking Him to open up the scriptures to us (Luke 24:32, Luke 24:45). AMEN.



 
 
THE CHRISTIAN HERALD
                                                           A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
 
"Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we
faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not
walking in craftiness, nor handling the [gospel] word of God deceitfully;
but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's
conscience in the sight of God.  But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to
them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the
minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel
of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.  For we
preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves
your servants for Jesus' sake.  For God, who commanded the
light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give
the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face
of Jesus Christ"
(2 Cor 4:1-6).

 
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"The LORD bless thee, and keep
thee: The
LORD make his
face shine
upon thee, and
be gracious
unto thee: The LORD lift up
his countenance upon thee, and
 give thee peace”
(Numbers 6:24-26).
 
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”
(Isaiah 5:20-21).