Defined Series: Define “Word of God”
Kicking off our newest series, Defined, we are going to explore the Bible’s use of “the word.” How do we define the word of God? What is the meaning of the word of God? Explore the power wielded in the spoken word of God.
Defining a Biblical word goes past just pulling up a contemporary English dictionary and applying that definition to Biblical principle. It’s not that we are creating layers of complexity, it is more about accurately translating text that was written more than 2000 years ago. Biblical scholars have to translate Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts to common day English and, many times, a contemporary word can have a vastly different meaning. That is why we started with defining “word.” Understanding how this one simple word can have completely different meaning opens up your Biblical study to a completely new understanding of God and His “word.”
In your Bible, you may only read the term “the word” or even “word” but it can have three totally different meanings in Greek. Our translations often do not differentiate between these three separate definitions; therefore, it’s important to always study for comprehension, not read for completion. Let me explain.
The first term in Greek that may be translated in your Bible as “word” is graphe. This word on its own simply means “writing” or “written things.” In the Bible, when graphe is used, we know from context that it is speaking to the written scripture or the Bible as a whole. An example of graphe found in the New Testament is in Matthew 26:54.
But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
Our second term in Greek that appears in the New Testament is logos. Now we are getting into where significant differences in the term “word” can bring scripture to a new life. Logos is the message of the Bible, or what has been spoken. The collection of thoughts by God and written by man. In short, as we read the scriptures (graphe) we begin to understand the overall message of God’s words. This understanding and keeping these words in our heart is logos. An example of logos is in John 1:1:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
We know from study and context that in this passage, John is speaking of the “Living word” which is Christ Jesus. But in each of these uses of “word,” logos is what is found in the Greek translations. Logos is a way to see God’s character, His mercy, and His perfection.
But the true power, or the sword of the Spirit, is held in God’s word; not graphe, not logos, but rhema. Rhema in Greek means the utterance, or “spokenness” of a word or words. This would be God physically speaking “let there be light” and there was light. Or the Holy Spirit speaking through us using scripture to combat the enemy as Jesus did in Matthew 4:1-11.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'” 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Note that even the devil utilizes scripture in verse 6. But in this case, did he use rhema, logos, or graphe? Did he have power and authority in the utterance? Did he have understanding in the verse he was quoting? Of course not, the devil was using this verse for manipulation.
To combat the devil in the wilderness, Jesus took the scripture (graphe) and his understanding of the message written in the Bible (logos) to utter the truths and will of God (rhema). In this, after only three times the devil went on the run. The limitless power of God’s word fights enemies we don’t even know exist if we study the Bible and prepare for the battles to come.
Next up: Hallelujah!
Written by Jon and Kathleen Frederick
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