[b-greek] Re: REMA THEOU

From: Iver Larsen (iver_larsen@sil.org)
Date: Mon Oct 15 2001 - 04:57:37 EDT

> The expression REMA THEOU appears in
> Luke 3:2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,
> the word of God came to John son of Zechariah
> in the desert.
> Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation and the
> sword of the
> Spirit, which is the word of God.
> Is this expression any different or basically synonymous with the
> phrase LOGOS THEOU which appears in
> 1 Thessalonians 2:13 And for this reason we too give thanks to God
> unceasingly, that, in receiving the word of
> God from hearing us, you received not a
> human word but, as it truly is, the word of
> God, which is at work in you who believe.
> 1 Timothy 4:5 for it is made holy by the invocation of God in
> prayer.
> That's the NAB. The NRS has it:
> for it is sanctified by God's word and by prayer.
> 1 Peter 4:11 Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God;
> etc.
> Thanks for any help.

Words need to be understood in context, since the range of meanings is
illustrated by such contexts. Even when words or almost synonymous, they
rarely overlap so completely in meaning that they could be substituted in
all instances.

To establish any possible difference between RHMA and LOGOS especially as
they are connected to the LORD, one would need to look at all the
occurrences in LXX and the GNT. That would be an interesting but somewhat
time consuming study.

Having looked at a number of these instance, it seems to me that there is a
tendency for RHMA to denote a *specific* message from God. Where LXX has
RHMA QEOU, NRSV will often translate: "the command of the LORD" and the
context talks about a specific command. (The NRSV translates the Hebrew
which often will be "mouth of ADONAI" rather than "word-DBR of ADONAI".)

LOGOS QEOU may also refer to a specific word of God, but in addition, it is
used in the general sense of everything that God has said, the general
message from or about God.

If one has the expression "the word of God/the LORD came to..." then that is
a prophetic formula that occurs numerous places in the LXX, sometimes with
RHMA, sometimes with LOGOS. It is the word "came to" that shows that this is
a specific prophetic message from God to that person. So, Luke 3:2 should be
understood on the background of that LXX prophetic usage.

Whether Eph 6:17 refers to a more specific prophetic inspiration from God or
a more general understanding of the message of God, is a question that can
probably not be settled by word study alone. I believe it is significant
that RHMA is used here rather than LOGOS, but that is my understanding of
the nature of prophetic inspiration, and that is a theological question.

Best wishes,

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