The Greek word “Rhema” was often used as a synonym for Logos. Whereas Logos focused on a written word, Rhema focused on the spoken form of the written word. The first occurrence of Rhema in the Bible is found in Matthew 4:4. Here Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3. In that passage, Moses was teaching the children of Israel that they were to recognize that their dependency was on God and everything that proceeded from His mouth. They were to have no confidence in the manna that He provided, but rather their confidence was to be solely on the One who provided the manna. Their worship was to be of the Creator, not of His creation.
In Matthew 4, Jesus was responding to the temptation by the devil to have Him turn stones into bread since He was hungry. In Jesus’ quote of the passage from Deuteronomy, rather than saying that “man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD,” He said that man lives “on every word (Rhema) that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Here, we learn that our spiritual nourishment, which will have eternal implications, is provided by God’s word (Rhema). It is also used in John 3:34. When John the Baptist’s disciples reported to him that Jesus was baptizing, John explained to them the significance of Jesus Christ. In verse 34, John said that Jesus was sent by God and speaks the words (Rhema) of God. Then in John 5:45-47, we see the link between the written and spoken word of God. There were some Jews who wanted to kill Jesus because He was claiming equality with the Father (verse 18). In Jesus’ response to the Jews, He said that the very one in whom they were hoping (Moses) is the one who would accuse them before the Father (verse 45). He said if they had really believed the writings of Moses, then they would believe the words (Rhema) of Jesus. In other words, if they would have believed what Moses had written, they would believe what Jesus was speaking, because Moses’ writings were all about Christ.
In Acts 10:44, both words are used to refer to the same reality. When Peter was preaching to some Gentiles, the text says that “While Peter was still speaking these words (Rhema), the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message (Logos).” So we see that they both refer to the proclamation of the gospel, with Rhema focusing on the verbal proclamation of it and Logos referring to the written form of it. We see the same thing in 1 Pet 1:22-25. In verse 22, Peter tells his readers that their souls had been purified by their “obedience to the truth.” In verse 23, he says that they have been born again by the word (Logos) of God and he says that the word (Logos) endures or abides forever. After telling the readers that all flesh will wither away (verse 23), Peter says that the word endures forever. However, this time he uses the word Rhema. In other words, the Rhema and Logos are not two different words. They refer to the same thing and that to which they refer will last forever.
Therefore, Rhema is not some personal message for an individual. As is taught in 2 Peter 1:20, no Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation. The Rhema has to match up with the Logos, because they both refer to the same word. That’s why in Ephesians 5:26, Christ is said to have cleansed His church by the word (Rhea).
(Note: All Bible quotes are from NASB).