There is much confusion and commingling of three vital, but very distinct, New Testament terms. This confusion often ends up causing many to slip into Bibolatry, the wrongful worship of the Bible.
These three terms are:
1) The Scriptures,
2) The Logos-Word of God, and
3) The Rhema-Word.
This study will help distinguish the various uses in the Bible of these three crucial terms.
When the New Testament refers to the Bible as a whole, it usually uses the word “Scriptures,” which is the Greek word “Graphe.” Jesus continually referred to the entirety of the Old Testament Bible as “the Scriptures.” This included the Law, the Prophets, and the wisdom Writings, all of which formed the Bible as it then existed in Jesus’ day. “You study the Scriptures (Graphe) thoroughly because you think in them you possess eternal life, and it is these same scriptures that testify about me.” John 5:39. (Also see Matthew 21:42, 22:29; Mark 14:49; 15:28; Luke 24:32, 45).
Now, when the New Testament uses the term “Rhema-Word,” it refers to divinely inspired insights. It represents a divine devotional truth “quickened by” God and then “expressed through” the heart and mouth of man. “The Rhema-Word is near you, in your mouth, and in your heart : that is , the Rhema-Word of faith, which we preach.” Romans 10:8. “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word (rhemati) that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4. (also Luke 4:4).
By contrast, when the New Testament refers to “THE (definite article) Word of God,” it uses the Greek word “Logos,” and always and only refers to Jesus’ divine presence. The Greek word “Logos” in different contexts can be certainly used in other ways, but “THE” Logos “of God” always refers to the Spirit of Christ.
Logos just means “the expressed essence” of something. Thus, Jesus is “the expressed essence” of the Father, the very image of the invisible God. Colossians 1:15-18.
“In the beginning was the word, and the Logos-Word was with God, and the Logos-Word WAS God…. And the Logos-Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory , the glory as of the only begotten of the Father ,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:1, 14.
With me so far? The Logos-Word IS Jesus, or perhaps better put, “the Spirit of Jesus”– the core essence of Jesus which later “BECAME flesh.” Except for His brief 33 year incarnation, it is the non-bodily Spirit of Christ Who abided in the Old Testament (1 Peter 1:11) and Who now abides and resides upon the earth. The Spirit of Christ is the sole communicative agent of God Who is to lead us into all truth. John 16:13; Romans 8:14. The Spirit is now in the world speaking to all men’s consciences according to their willingness and ability to receive His promptings.
Simply put, WITHOUT the Spirit of Christ doing the “quickening” within our minds and hearts, we don’t have any truly transformative knowledge about God.
“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed God`s Spirit dwell in you; but if any one has NOT [the] SPIRIT OF CHRIST he is NOT of Him.” Romans 8:9.
Simply put, the Logos-Word is a “who,” the Spirit of Christ internally engraved on our hearts, and NOT a “what,” the dead letter engraved on external tablets.
Revelation picks up on this idea of Jesus as the Logos-Word. “And I saw heaven opened , and behold a white horse ; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True… His eyes were as a flame of fire , and on his head were many crowns… And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood : and His NAME is called ‘THE Logos-Word of God.'” Revelation 19:11-13.
Now some maintain that the Logos-Word of God is defined as the Bible. But think about how that would ridiculously affect the meaning of the passages cited in John 1 and Revelation 19 above.
“In the beginning was the Bible, and the Bible was with God, and the Bible WAS God…. And the Bible was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld the Bible’s glory , the glory as of the only begotten of the Father ,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:1, 18.
“And I saw heaven opened , and behold a white horse ; and the Bible that sat upon him was called Faithful and True… The Bible’s eyes were as a flame of fire , and on his head were many crowns… And The Bible was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood : and His NAME is called ‘THE Bible of God.'” Revelation 19:11-13.
Doesn’t sound quite kosher does it? Sadly, it is the ultimate objectification and depersonalization of God to label “a thing” (the Bible) as being synonymous with Jesus. And this very thing has resulted in a phenomenon known as Bibolatry, the wrongful worship of the Bible. Many OT Jews fell into this same snare by wrongly worshipping the engraved stones of Moses which contained the written Law. And Jesus called them out on it in John 5:39, quoted above.
The Jews often treated the written Scriptures as exactly as they would God. They literally enthroned it in their places of worship. They would actually bury and mourn a Torah scroll if it was desecrated. Jews would also dance with the Torah scroll in joyous celebration. They actually considered themselves married to the Scriptures. The Jews literally kissed the Scriptures daily in their synagogues and homes. They quite literally worshipped Scriptures AS God. Sadly, this just goes too far by turning God into a controllable object, an “it,” rather than an uncontrollable Spirit, a “who.”And many Christians do the same thing today. They place more faith in what they call the literal “word of God,” the Bible, than they do in the Holy Spirit of Christ, the actual Word of God. This is the very thing 2 Corinthians 3:6 warns us against, not to be a minister of the dead external letter, but rather to be an able minister of the living internal Spirit of Christ.
Am I saying the Bible is bad or unnecessary? Emphatically NOT!! The Bible is blessed, wonderful and crucial to our growing up and into Christ. I love and esteem its truth, beauty, and wisdom. I treasure its text, subtext, and super-text, which is pregnant with divine promises which provide us all things, both natural and supernatural, for life and Godliness. 2 Peter 1:3-5.
Let me be clear. The Spirit of Christ wonderfully uses the Scripture as it uses no other document in history. But, then again, Satan misuses the Scriptures more than any other document in human history. And he does it by snaring readers into a literalistic dead letter reading which mutates the image of God into a bipolar monster. The value of Scripture depends on which Spirit is translating it, Christ’s or Satan’s. When Satan is leading us to read the Bible as a wrathful threat, we are crippled with fear and despair toward God. But, when Christ is actively illuminating our minds, all is well, and we see the Bible for what it is– treasure box of promises.
But as much as I love Scripture, I do not worship it. I worship God THROUGH it, but only as an “instrument” for the Spirit of Christ to blow revelation and inspiration through.
So, to review, the Greek “Graphe” refers to the entire Canon of “written Scriptures,” the Bible in other words. The Greek “Rhema” refers to any individual and devotionally inspired idea, insight or idiom from the Lord. The Scriptures (“Graphe”) are comprised of individual Rhema-Words of divine inspiration.
But, “THE Logos-Word of God” ALWAYS refers to a “who” rather than a “what.” THE Logos-Word IS Jesus, always Jesus, only Jesus. THE Logos-Word is NOT the written Bible, nor the inspired Rhema-Words which comprise the written Bible.
Rather, the Logos-Word is Jesus– His kingdom presence within us, and His kingdom presence around us. Moses once gloriously declared that he and the Israelites would not make a move toward their destiny unless the Lord’s presence went with them. Moses here spoke of THE Logos-Word, the Spirit of Christ, and NOT the Scriptures.
When the New Testament says to “preach the Word of God,” it is not saying to preach the Bible, but rather to preach Jesus, His kingdom, His presence, and His Spirit. Sure we glean much of what we understand about Jesus from the Bible, but only up to a point. It is always toward the Spirit of Christ that all Scripture richly points. Scripture can supplement our sharing, but is the always to be the protean and palpable presence of God WHOM we are to minister to others.
As for the Logos-Word in Hebrews 4:12, that is certainly referring to Jesus IN us, the hope of glory, “who” divides soul from spirit. The very next verse, 13, uses “He” in back-reference to “the Word.” So, again, I think the Logos here is clearly a living “who” and not a written “it.” The New Testament canon didn’t even exist when the book of Hebrews was written. So “the Logos-Word of God” to the first century audience would have meant “the Spirit of Christ” rather than the New Testament canon, which would not even come into canonized existence for several more generations.
Until we realize this and intentionally move the Holy Bible in our understanding away from a synonymous and co-equal place with the Holy Spirit, we will be subject to snares of dead letter legalism and Bibiloatry. I know people who are bloodthirsty for the Bible, yet have no confidence in the Holy Spirit’s ability to ever powerfully lead them into deeper revelation and intimacy outside of the dead letter reading of the Bible.
The Bible points to Jesus. It serves Him, not vice versa.
So, I want to propose a RADICAL EXPERIMENT for the next 30 days.
Whenever you hear, say or think the term “the word of God,” replace the idea of this describing “the Bible” with the following concept– “the Spirit of Christ.”
For example, “I was richly in the word this morning” translates “I was richly in the Spirit of Christ this morning.” Or, “The word of God is really speaking to me” becomes “The Spirit of Christ is …really speaking to me.” Or, “The word of God leads, blesses, protects, heals and delivers me” becomes “The Spirit of Christ leads, blesses, protects, heals and delivers me.” See if this does not make God more vibrantly real and near to you over the next month. Continue to read Scripture to your heart’s desire, but just remember to prioritize the Spirit’s place of prominence in the proper translation and illumination of what you read.