SO THAT HE MIGHT SANCTIFY HER:
hina auten hagiase (3SAAS):
(John 17:17, 18, 19; Acts
26:18; 1Corinthians 6:11; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:14; 10:10; 1Peter 1:2;
So that -
Introduces a purpose clause, explaining why Christ gave Himself up for
sanctify her - The Bride of Christ has been set apart by Christ. In
Paul's day, the father would chose a bride for his son, which is
analogous to what happened in the Godhead, Paul writing that...
He (God the Father) chose us in Him
(in Christ, in union with Him) before the foundation of the world, that
we should be holy and blameless before Him. (see note
So in eternity
past, believers were in a sense "engaged" or "betrothed"
to Christ, this engagement or
not being realized in the believer's life until the day of their
regeneration by the Spirit, the day of their new birth by grace through
faith, the day on which the Spirit baptized them (united them with,
identified them with) the Body of Christ, the Church, the Bride of
Jesus answered and said to him
(Nicodemus), "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again,
he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3)
Blessed be the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to
be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus
Christ from the dead (See note
1 Peter 1:3)
Since you have in obedience to the
truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently
love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not
of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the
living and abiding word of God. (See notes
1 Peter 1:22;
He saved us, not on the basis
of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His
mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy
Spirit, Whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our
Savior, that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs
according to the hope of eternal life. (See notes
For by one Spirit we were all
baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free,
and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1Cor 12:13).
And in order to
assure His "sincerity" and authenticity of our
to Christ, our Bridegroom gave us the glorious gift of His Spirit.
In Him, you also, after listening to
the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-- having also
believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise (See
The seal of the
Spirit of Christ serves to identify the Bride as now belonging only
to Christ and underscores that she could be that she would be His
possession forever. But at the moment of our
betrothal, Christ did
something else...He gave His bride the most glorious engagement ring
ever given...His Spirit. Paul records that the Spirit of promise was...
Who is given as a pledge (as
an engagement ring" =
arrabon - see word study) of our
inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to
the praise of His glory. (See note
(Comment: Using the metaphor of Bridegroom/Bride, the phrase "with
a view to the redemption" refers to the return of the Bridegroom
Christ Who will sweep away His Bride the church into glory, as she is
transformed "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last
trumpet" [1Cor 15:52] at which time she is forever changed and puts
on her imperishable, immortal bridal attire.)
In a parallel
passage Paul speaks about the
of Christ to His Bride writing...
I am jealous for you with a godly
jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I
might present you as a pure virgin. (2Corinthians 11:2)
Paul is acting like a Jewish father who is giving his daughter, the
Corinthian believers, to the bridegroom, Christ. Betrothed is in
which emphasizes Paul's personal interest and involvement in the matter
["I myself betrothed you"]. Ultimately Christ will present His
bride to Himself as explained in Ephesians 5:26. Note that elsewhere
Christ is referred to as the "Bridegroom" [Jn 3:29, Mk 2:19-20] which
creates no conflict with Paul's designation as "Husband" for as
was tantamount to marriage and
required a certificate of divorce to terminate. Note that the Bride as
"pure virgin" parallels Paul's words in Ephesians 5:27 "the church in
all her glory having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing but that she
should be holy and blameless".
John explains that
the Bridegroom will return, but that in the meantime He was preparing
the home for His Bride
In My Father's house are many
dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go
to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again, and receive you to Myself; (cf "that He
might present to Himself the Church in all her glory" Ephesians
5:27) that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:2, 3)
Paul also described the
Bridegroom's sudden return to sweep His Bride off of her feet writing
we do not want you to be uninformed,
brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the
rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose
again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in
Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who
are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede
those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from
heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the
trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. 17 Then we who
are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the
Lord.18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1Thessalonians
John brings this
glorious event to conclusion writing...
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give
the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride
has made herself ready." And it was given to her to clothe herself in
fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts
of the saints. And he said to me, "Write, 'Blessed are those who are
invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" And he said to me, "These
are true words of God." (Revelation 19:7-9)
In Ephesians 5:26 Paul
is speaking primarily of sanctification as what the theologians refer to
as positional sanctification (past tense
salvation, the point in time when we were justified or declared
righteous when we placed our faith in Christ substitutionary sacrifice
on the Cross - see discussion of the
Three Tenses of Salvation).
sanctification is a one time event and contrasts with so-called
progressive sanctification in which the justified believer is daily,
more and more, gradually being set apart from the world and unto God.
Progressive sanctification is the idea inherent in other phrases such
being conformed more and more into the image of God's Son (Ro 8:29-note;
cf, progressive transformation in Ro 12:2-note)
or of being continually transformed from glory to glory by the Spirit
aspects of sanctification are important to understand because when one
reads the evangelical commentaries on Ephesians 5:26,
some authorities interpret "might sanctify her" as a past, completed event
(synonymous with positional sanctification). Other authorities interpret this passage as Christ's
progressive (ongoing) sanctification and cleansing of His Bride, the
Church, whom He will continue to set apart and cleanse in order that He might present her to Himself at
If one adheres
rigidly interpretation of the Greek text, the aorist tense of both
sanctify and cleansed favors a past
completed action. On the other hand,
simple logic dictates that the past completed action (positional
sanctification or justification) cannot be divorced
from ongoing or progressive sanctification. In other words,
positional and progressive sanctification are two sides of the same coin. Justification without
sanctification is not taught in Scripture and if carried to the extreme
leads to the teaching that one could be saved and live anyway they
wanted to live for the rest of their life and still go to heaven when
they die. In my humble opinion, this is a errant teaching and to base
one's eternal destiny upon it is fraught with danger. I would day
Now with this
background, these notes take the stand that at Calvary when Christ gave His
for His Bride, He set her apart and at the same time set into motion a
process of sanctification that is manifest by His Bride's
righteous acts ("righteous acts of the saints") that will culminate in Her obtaining
her glorious, bridal attire of
"fine linen, bright and clean, for the fine linen is the righteous acts
of the saints." (Revelation 19:8-note) She will receive her final gown at the return of
her Bridegroom to obtain His Bride. At that time John records...
"that when He appears, we shall be
like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is." (1John 3:2)
In this glorified
state Christ presents the Bride to Himself, at the time all the
believers have attained the perfect state with clean, white linens, with
no spot or wrinkle or any such thing. That time clear speaks of Christ
second coming when He receives His Bride to Himself, which is synonymous
with the rapture of Church as discussed above (see 1Thes 4:13, 14, 15,
16, 17, 18)
background let us consider some of the comments regarding Ephesians 5:26
by respected expositors.
One of the deans
of Biblical prophecy, the late Dr. John Walvoord divides Christ's
relationship to His Bride into 3 basic phases...
The present work of sanctification (Ed
note: "Progressive Sanctification" as discussed above) described in
Ephesians 5:26 will culminate in a future work revealed in Ephesians
5:27 where it is said that Christ has the goal
“that he might present the church to
himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing;
but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
When the work of Christ for His
church has been consummated, the church will be in heaven without any
evidence of sin which spoiled its testimony in this world. There will be
no spot, that is, visible defilement; no wrinkle that is, no evidence of
age or corruption, or anything of a similar nature such as a blemish.
Instead, the whole church will be completely holy and adapted to the
environment of heaven.
A further thought is introduced in
the description of the bride as the wife of Christ in Revelation 19:8
where after the announcement of the coming marriage feast and the
declaration in Revelation 19:7,
“his wife hath made herself
ready,” the passage declares: “and it shall be given unto her that she
should array herself in fine linen, bright and pure: for the fine linen
is the righteous acts of the saints.”
Here the result of the present work
of Christ is defined as clothing the bride in fine linen, namely, the
righteous acts which stemmed from the present work of the sanctifying
application of the Word of God.
The work of Christ for the church in
this present age therefore partakes of the character of the loving
ministry anticipating that future joyous occasion when the bride will
stand complete in heaven with every beauty and grace. The bride is
already joined to Christ in legal marriage and in recognition of the
price that was paid at Calvary and the acceptance of the offer of
salvation. This is the first phase of the marriage relationship.
The bride is now awaiting the coming
of her bridegroom, which will be fulfilled at the rapture of the church
and which is the second phase.
Subsequent to the rapture, the
marriage feast will be observed which is anticipated in Revelation
19:7–9, which is the third phase.
The present work of Christ will
therefore have its consummation in these future events and ultimately
the church, which is now incomplete and with many deficiencies, will
stand perfect in heaven in every beauty and grace.
The figure of the bridegroom and the
bride is a proper conclusion to all the other figures which depict the
relationship of Christ to His church and especially emphasizes that
which is yet ahead. (Bibliotheca
Sacra: Volume 122. Issue 487. Page 199. 1965)
MacDonald is in agreement with Walvoord writing at the present time
love for the church is shown in His
work of sanctification: that He might sanctify and cleanse her with
the washing of water by the word. To sanctify means to set apart.
Positionally the church is already sanctified; practically she is being
set apart day by day. She is going through a process of moral and
spiritual preparation, similar to the one-year course of beauty culture
which Esther took before being presented to King Ahasuerus (Esther
2:12, 13, 14, 15, 16). The process of sanctification is carried on by the washing
of water by the word. In simple terms this means that the lives of
believers are cleansed as they hear the words of Christ and obey them.
Thus Jesus said to the disciples,
“You are already clean because of the
word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:3).
And He linked sanctification with the
word in His high priestly prayer:
“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your
word is truth” (John 17:17).
Just as the blood of Christ cleanses
once for all from the guilt and penalty of sin, so the word of God
cleanses continually from the defilement and pollution of sin. This
passage teaches that the church is being bathed at the present time, not
with literal water, but with the cleansing agent of the word of God. (MacDonald,
W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
contrast to the above authorities, takes the approach that Christ's
sanctification of the Church does not refer to progressive
sanctification writing that...
The basic idea of this verb ‘sanctify
or make holy’ is that of setting someone apart to God for his service.
Christians are described as those who are ‘sanctified in Christ Jesus’
(1Cor. 1:2), whom God has set apart for himself in the name of the Lord
Jesus Christ (1Cor. 6:11). In an expression which is without parallel in
Paul’s letters, Ephesians 5: 26 stresses the corporate dimension by
asserting that it is the church (note the emphatic position of ‘it’)
which is sanctified through Christ’s death.
Some understand the verb here (and
the language of sanctification generally) as describing a process of
moral renewal and change, which is preceded by an initial cleansing
from sin. But the verb ("might sanctify") refers to the church being
brought into ‘an exclusive and dedicated relationship with God, as the
holy people of the New Covenant’ (cf. 1Cor. 1:2;
6:11), not to an ongoing process of sanctification...Through his
sacrificial death Christ claimed the church as his own to be his holy
people (cf. Eph 5:27).
‘Christ died to devote the church to Himself in an exclusive and
permanent relationship analogous to marriage’. There are two elements:
a separation from all that is unclean and evil, and a consecration to
God and his will. (O'Brien,
P. T. The Letter to the Ephesians. W. B. Eerdmans. 1999
[see word study] = holy, set
apart) means to set apart for God, to sanctify, to make a person or
thing (in the OT altars, days, priests, etc were set apart) the opposite
of koinos, which means profane or common. When Christ died on the cross,
our Lord's purpose was that he should sanctify for Himself a people in
Here are the 28
uses of hagiazo in the NT - Matt. 6:9; 23:17, 19; Lk. 11:2; Jn.
10:36; 17:17, 19; Acts 20:32; 26:18; Rom. 15:16; 1 Co. 1:2; 6:11; 7:14;
Eph. 5:26; 1 Thess. 5:23; 1 Tim. 4:5; 2 Tim. 2:21; Heb. 2:11; 9:13;
10:10, 14, 29; 13:12; 1 Pet. 3:15; Rev. 22:11. Hagiazo is translated in
the NAS as hallowed(2), keep holy(1), sanctified(16), sanctifies(2),
Himself apart for His Bride declaring...
And for their sakes I sanctify
Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified (perfect
tense = past
completed act with continuing effect, speaks of permanence this setting
apart) in truth. (John 17:19, cp Heb 2:11)
sanctification was the result of the gospel being proclaimed...
to open their eyes so that they may
turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in
order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among
those who have been sanctified
tense = past
completed act with continuing effect, speaks of permanence this setting
by faith in Me.' (Acts 26:18, cp Acts
20:32, where sanctified is also in the perfect tense).
This gospel took
vile sinners and made them saints, baptized into a body known as the
And such were some of you (sins
listed in 1Cor 6:9, 10); but you were washed, but you were sanctified,
but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the
Spirit of our God. (1Cor 6:11)
The writer of
Hebrews adds that...
By this will we have been
tense = past
completed act with continuing effect, speaks of the permanence of
Christ's setting apart of His Bride) through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for
all. (Hebrews 10:10-note,
contrast use of hagiazo in Heb 10:14 [note]
[continuously "being sanctified"]
speaks of progressive, daily sanctification).
writes that the idea is that Christ ...
might consecrate her (His Bride, the
Church), or set her apart to Himself as His own redeemed and peculiar
possession—that she should be His and His alone—His by a special tie of
tender devotedness—was the object of His death. (John Eadie, D., LL.D.
The Epistle of St Paul to the Ephesians)
applies this truth writing...
The husband’s love will also be a
sanctifying love (Eph. 5:26, 27). The word sanctify means “to set apart.”
In the marriage ceremony, the husband is set apart to belong to the
wife, and the wife is set apart to belong to the husband. Any
interference with this God-given arrangement is sin. Today, Christ is
cleansing His church through the ministry of His Word (John 15:3;
17:17) (Ed: "progressive sanctification" as discussed above). The love of the husband for his wife ought to be cleansing her
(and him) so that both are becoming more like Christ. Even their
physical relationship should be so controlled by God that it becomes a
means of spiritual enrichment as well as personal enjoyment (1Cor
7:3, 4, 5). The husband is not to “use” his wife for his own pleasure, but
rather is to show the kind of love that is mutually rewarding and
sanctifying. The marriage experience is one of constant growth when
Christ is the Lord of the home. Love always enlarges and enriches, while
selfishness does just the opposite. (Wiersbe,
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
also applies Jesus' sanctifying love to Spirit filled husbands
For husbands to love their wives as
Christ loves His church is to love them with a purifying love.
Divine love does not simply condemn wrong in those loved but seeks to
cleanse them from it. Christ’s great love for His church does not allow
Him to be content with any sin, any moral or spiritual impurity in it.
God tells His people,
“Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as
white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like
wool” (Isa 1:18).
He casts the sins of His forgiven children “into
the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19), and He forgives their iniquity
and remembers their sin no more (Jer. 31:34)...Love wants only the
best for the one it loves, and it cannot bear for a loved one to be
corrupted or misled by anything evil or harmful. When a husband’s love
for his wife is like Christ’s love for His church, he will continually
seek to help purify her from any sort of defilement. He will seek to
protect her from the world’s contamination and protect her holiness,
virtue, and purity in every way. He will never induce her to do that
which is wrong or unwise or expose her to that which is less than good.
J: Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Press)
Hughes also applies these
verses to the sanctifying effect of a husband's love writing that...
a prominent instrument in (the
wife's) progressive sanctification has been her loving husband. He has
been a humble partner in developing her beauty. How did this come about?
He was a man in whom the Word of God richly dwelled (Col 3:16-note).
As God’s Word and Spirit filled him, he lived out the ethics of the
Kingdom. As her loving head, he served her and prayed for her and adored
her with unconditional love. The tide of his authenticity encouraged her
onward and upward in her beauty of soul. All was and is of Christ the
Bridegroom — but the sanctifying love of the husband was an effective
instrument in Christ’s hands. When we men read verses 25 through 27
together, we cannot escape our huge responsibility. Is our wife more
like Christ because she is married to us? Or is she like Christ in spite
of us? Whatever our effect, our call is clear: sanctifying love (Hughes,
R. K.: Ephesians: The Mystery of the Body of Christ. Crossway Books)
HAVING CLEANSED HER BY THE WASHING OF WATER WITH THE WORD: katharisas (AAPMSN) to loutro tou hudatos en rhemati:
(Ezekiel 16:9; 36:25;
Zechariah 13:1; John 3:5; Acts 22:16; Titus 3:5, 6, 7; Hebrews 10:22;
1Pe 3:21; 1John 5:6) (Jn 15:8; 17:7; James 1:18; 1Peter 1:22,23)
Having cleansed (2511)
(katharizo from katharos = pure, free from admixture
of what is false) means to cause something to become clean. In a
spiritual sense, it means to purify from pollution and guilt of sin. In
secular Greek katharizo occurs in inscriptions for ceremonial cleansing.
Here are the 31
uses of katharizo in the NT - Matt. 8:2, 3; 10:8; 11:5; 23:25, 26; Mk.
1:40, 41, 42; 7:19; Lk. 4:27; 5:12, 13; 7:22; 11:39; 17:14, 17; Acts
10:15; 11:9; 15:9; 2Co. 7:1; Eph. 5:26; Titus 2:14; Heb. 9:14, 22, 23;
10:2; James. 4:8; 1Jn 1:7, 9. Katharizo is translated in the NAS as
clean(3), cleanse(5), cleansed(16), cleanses(1), cleansing(1), declared
clean(1), make clean(3), purify(1).
In Titus we
read that Christ Jesus our Lord,
gave Himself for us, that He might
redeem us from every lawless deed and purify (katharizo) for
Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
= to bath oneself, referring to the
in John 13:10) means "a bathing" referring to the action rather than the
bath itself. Loutron may also refer to a basin or laver for washing.
It should be noted
that several lexicons render loutron figuratively as baptism,
referring to water baptism, but other very reputable
Greek lexicons do not consider this a valid interpretation.
In Greek literature louo means
wash, (mid.) wash oneself, take a bath; generally it indicates washing
the whole body, in contrast to nipto which is used for washing parts of
the body, and pluno which is used of inanimate objects, especially
clothes. Apolouo is a strengthened form of louo, has the same meaning
but stressing the removal of dirt. Loutron means the place where
one has a bath, the bath-house, or the water for a bath, or simply the
bath...loutron only occurs twice in the LXX, referring to animals’
bathing (Cant. 4:2; 6:6) and in Sir. 34:25, referring to a ritual
washing. Josephus uses it in War, II, 8, 13 (161) of a bath that married
Essenes take with their wives to aid conception.
Loutron in literary Gk.
signifies the place where a bath is taken, whether the house for
bathing, water for bathing, or simply the bath. (Brown,
Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986.
There are only 4
uses of loutron in Scripture, 2 in the
(see below) and 2 in the NT, the present verse and Titus 3:5 (note)
Song of Solomon 4:2 "Your
teeth are like a flock of newly shorn ewes which have come up from their
washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them has lost
Song of Solomon 6:6 "Your
teeth are like a flock of ewes which have come up from their washing,
all of which bear twins, and not one among them has lost her young.
(hudor from huo = to rain) can refer to literal water.
Hudor is often used in the NT as a figure of speech which
represents the enlivening, refreshing, and
comforting influences of Holy Spirit.
prophet Ezekiel God promises Israel in what in its essence
represents the New Covenant (only specifically named in the OT in
Jer 31:31, 33)
"For I will take you from the
nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own
land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you (in Ephesians
this "clean water" is the spoken Word, epitomized by the Gospel), and
you will be clean; I will cleanse (Septuagint
katharizo same verb used in Ephesians 5:26) you from all your
filthiness and from all your idols. 26 Moreover, I will give you a
new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart
of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will
put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you
will be careful to observe My ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:24-27)
from verb rheo = to speak - to say, speak or utter definite
words) refers to the spoken word, especially a word as uttered by a
living voice. Laleo is another word translated speak but it
refers only to uttering a sound whereas rheo refers to uttering a
definite intelligible word. Rhema refers to any sound produced by
the voice which has a definite meaning. It focuses upon the content of
the communication. For example in Luke we read...
And they understood none of these
things, and this saying (rhema) was hidden from them, and they
did not comprehend the things that were said. (Luke 18:34)
In the plural rhema ("words"), means
saying, speech or discourse.
used to refer to "the thing spoken of", an object, a matter, an affair or
an event. For example we read in Luke 1:65
And fear came on all those living
around them; and all these matters [rhema] were being talked
about in all the hill country of Judea.
(Compare to) But Mary treasured up
all these things (rhema), pondering them in her heart. (Luke
the NT can exhibit several nuances of meaning depending on the context
a prophecy ("that
you should remember the words - rhema - spoken beforehand by the
holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your
apostles." see note
2 Peter 3:2),
charge against one (Mt 27:14 Jesus "did not answer him with
regard to even a single charge" - rhema), a message (Ro
10:8 "But what does it say? "THE WORD - rhema - IS NEAR YOU,
IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART"-- that is, the word - rhema - of
faith which we are preaching,"),
(Lu 2:29 "Now Lord, Thou dost let Thy bond-servant depart In peace,
according to Thy word", Lu 1:38 And Mary said,
"Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your
word." And the angel departed from her.),
a command (Mt 4:4 "Man
shall not live on bread alone, but on every word - rhema - that
proceeds from the mouth of God"; Luke 5:5 And Simon answered
and said, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but
at Your bidding - rhema - I will let down the nets.")
There are 68 uses
of rhema in
the NT (Matt. 4:4; 12:36; 18:16; 26:75; 27:14; Mk. 9:32; 14:72; Lk.
1:37, 38, 65; 2:15, 17, 19, 29, 50, 51; 3:2; 5:5; 7:1; 9:45; 18:34;
20:26; 22:61; 24:8, 11; Jn. 3:34; 5:47; 6:63, 68; 8:20, 47; 10:21;
12:47, 48; 14:10; 15:7; 17:8; Acts 2:14; 5:20, 32; 6:11, 13; 10:22, 37,
44; 11:14, 16; 13:42; 16:38; 26:25; 28:25; Ro 10:8, 17, 18; 2Co. 12:4;
13:1; Ep 5:26; 6:17; He 1:3; 6:5; 11:3; 12:19; 1Pet. 1:25; 2Pet. 3:2;
and is translated: bidding (1), charge, 1; discourse, 1; fact, 2;
matters, 1; message, 2; nothing, 1; remark, 1; say, 1; saying, 1;
sayings, 3; statement, 6; thing, 2; things, 4; word, 18; words, 22.
There are too many
uses of rhema (about
516) in the
of rhema (as distinct from logos) is exemplified in the
injunction to take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and
the sword of the Spirit, which is the word (rhema) of God. (See
the reference is not to the whole Bible as such, but to the individual
scripture which the Spirit brings to our remembrance for use in time of
need, a prerequisite being the regular storing of the mind with
One of my favorite
uses of rhema is in Luke's record of the angel's words to Mary...
For nothing will be impossible with
God. (Luke 1:37)
Comment: You are probably asking "Where is
rhema in this verse?"
The Greek can be rendered
of God can fail."
Only a few English translations render rhema
in this way. The 1901 ASV has
"For no word from God shall be
void of power."
The Weymouth has
"For no promise from God
will be impossible of fulfilment."
The Amplified has
with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be
without power or impossible of fulfillment."
This is a powerful verse about God's
powerful spoken word!
Here in Ephesians
5 the rhema is a purifying word.
In Hebrews 11 we
see rhema is a creating word...
By faith we understand that the
worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was
not made out of things which are visible. (Heb 11:3)
In Hebrews 1
rhema is a upholding word, a word associated with Jesus'
And He is the radiance of His glory
and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by
the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He
sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb 1:3)
In Matthew 12 we
see rhema can refer to a potentially damaging word (be
careful what rhema proceeds from your mouth!)...
"And I say to you, that every
careless word (rhema) that men shall speak, they shall render
account for it in the day of judgment.37 "For by your words
(logos) you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be
condemned." (Mt 12:36, 37)
Comment: Note how rhema is used
in parallel with logos. As a generalization, rhema brings
out the single item rather than the whole content as in logos.
Matthew 4 we see
it is a nourishing word...
But He answered and said, "It is
written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT
PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'" (Mt 4:4) (Comment: Here we see
that rhema is not only a nourishing word but a temptation defending
word, used to fend off the fiery missiles the Evil One had thrown at
Jesus to tempt Him.)
In John 6 we see
rhema is a life giving word, a word of eternal life, Jesus
It is the Spirit who gives life; the
flesh profits nothing; the words (rhema) that I have spoken to
you are spirit and are life...68 Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to
whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. (John 6:63, 68)
This word is the
agent of this sanctification as Paul wrote in Titus...
He saved us, not on the basis of
deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy,
by the washing (loutron) of regeneration and renewing by the Holy
Spirit. (See note
The purpose of the
spoken word is to produce a blamelessness and holiness that makes us fit
to be presented to Christ as His own beloved and eternal bride, to dwell
in His glorious presence forever (cf. Rev. 21:1ff-note).
ministry to the church is that of sanctifying and cleansing her by using
the water of the Word of God. Water for washing is sometimes used as a
symbol of the Word of God.
In John 15
You are already clean because of the
word which I have spoken to you. (John 15:3)
John 13 John used
the root word
louo explaining to Peter
He who has
= past completed action
with ongoing effect) needs only to wash (nipto) his feet, but is
completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you. 11 For He knew
the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, "Not all of you
are clean. (John 13:10-11)
(Comment: The imagery is oriental, where the Roman citizen
would louo his
entire body at the public baths and nipto his feet when he
arrived home. Jesus used louo to refer to the cleansing of the
sinner in "the Fountain filled with Blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins"
at the moment of salvation when he is completely and eternally justified
or declared righteous by faith in Christ. "Wash his feet" refers
to a daily cleansing of the saint in his walk and his feet become
"dirty" from sin and thus has to do with progressive or practical
sanctification or daily being set aside more and more to God and from
this world which is passing away. In this verse it appears that Jesus is
referring to the "washing of regeneration", to the one time occurrence
in salvation when the sinner is justified by grace through faith. The
partial washing indicated by the verb nipto is a picture of the daily
need for confession and cleansing as in 1John 1:7,9. But see comment on
this verse in the
regarding this interpretation).
In John 17
in His prayer to His Father Jesus said...
them in the truth. Thy word is truth. (John 17:17)
So how does
Christ sanctify His Church today? By the washing of the water with
the Word. Pastor-Teachers, are you "washing" your flock the Jesus way?
Remember Paul says in Eph 5:29 (note)
that He also nourishes (promotes the growth of) His Bride and the
only spiritual food that accomplishes this goal is the pure milk of the
><> ><> ><>
ILLUSTRATIONS OF BIBLE TRUTH by Harry A. Ironside - THE
CLEANSING WORD "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the
washing of the water by the word" (Eph 5:26).
The Word is for cleansing as well as for instruction, and
if it keeps going through you it will have a marvelous effect upon your
mind and heart and life. It will cleanse and purify you and fit you to
be a real worker for the LORD JESUS CHRIST.
You remember the story of the Scotch laddie who was one of those
inquisitive youngsters who always wanted a reason for everything he was
told to do? He was working for a farmer and when the old man told him to
do anything, the lad generally asked, "Why?" This disturbed his
On one occasion he said to the boy as he handed him a market basket,
"Take this basket down to the creek and fill it with water." When the
laddie asked, "Why?" and started to explain that it would not hold
water, the old man replied, "None o' yer 'whys.' I'm paying for your
time; you do as I tell you."
So the boy started for the creek with the basket in his hand. Wading
into the water, he dipped the basket into the creek and lifted it up. Of
course, the water all ran out.
Disgusted, he said, "It will no' hold the water."
The old farmer replied, "Fill it up again."
Again the lad obeyed, and once more the water all ran through.
His master said, "Fill it again."
This time the boy answered, "I'll fill it up once more, but if it does
no' hold this time, you will no make me a fool again."
So he dipped it into the creek the third time, and as he held it up, the
water all ran out. Angry, he flung the basket over into the grass,
saying, "Take your auld kreel; I'll no be a fool fer ye or anybody
The old man picked it up good naturedly and then held it between him and
the sun. As he examined it carefully, he explained, "It's a guid deal
cleaner than it was, and that's what it needed." The water running
through it had cleaned away the dirt, and this is how the Word of GOD
affects our lives.
Our LORD JESUS prayed, "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is
truth." (John 17:17) We are sanctified by the washing of the water by
the Word. We cannot give too much time to the study of this blessed
Book. I do not mean merely studying it in order to get sermons out of
it, but what we need is a daily, thoughtful, prayerful study of the Word
for the nourishment of our own souls, for building ourselves up in our
most holy faith. (Bolding added)
Constant Companion - When my
wife and I are preparing for a trip, one of the first things we do is
get out the road atlas. We study it intensely to learn the best
routes, determine the number of miles we’ll have to travel, pick out
interesting places to visit, decide how far we can get in a day, and
estimate expenses. On the journey, the atlas is our constant
companion, and we consult it many times a day. We couldn’t get along
For Christians, the Bible is an atlas for their spiritual journey, but
it is much more. It is described as:
sweeter than honey (Psalm 19:10-note;
a lamp (Psalm 119:105-note)
rain and snow (Isaiah 55:10,11)
a fire (Jeremiah 23:29)
a hammer (Jeremiah 23:29)
water (Ephesians 5:26-note)
a sword (Ephesians 6:17-note)
solid food (Hebrews 5:12-note,
a mirror (James 1:23-note)
milk (1Peter 2:2-note)
Like the highway traveler, we as
Christians are on a long and sometimes hazardous journey. We face many
decisions and will have many needs on our pilgrimage to paradise. The
Bible has been given to us to help us make those decisions and to meet
those needs. It should be our constant companion–studied diligently
and consulted often along the way. We can’t do without it.
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
I have a companion, a dear,
A union of blessing that never shall end;
Till Jesus returns with His saints from on high
We'll travel together, my Bible and I. —Anon
The Bible is like a compass—
it always points the believer in the right direction.