In Acts 20 verses 18-25, Paul addressed the Ephesian elders with a heart felt message. At verse 28 Paul seems to indicate that it was Yahweh's blood, which would specify Christ's shed blood, that purchased the Church of God.

Acts 20:25 And now, behold, I know that you all will see my face no more, among whom I went proclaiming the kingdom of God. 26 Therefore I testify to you on this day that I am pure from the blood of all. 27 For I did not keep back from declaring to you all the counsel of God. 28 Therefore take heed to yourselves, and to all the flock in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the church of God which He has purchased with His own blood. (Modern King James)

Along with the King James Versions, the ASV, RV, and ESV read similar in the latter part of verse 28. But there are versions, such as the Lexham English Bible, that tend to shy away from being so explicit.

Act 20:28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock among which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd the church of God which he obtained through the blood of his own Son. (LEB)

My question is twofold. In the Greek language, of which I'm clueless, how clear is verse 28 in declaring the deity of Christ? And would there be any sound reason for the LEB translators to provide their rendering of verse 28?

1 Answer 1


The NET bible renders it as "of his own Son" as well, and adds in note 114 at https://net.bible.org/#!bible/Acts+20:28:

114 tn Or “with his own blood”; Grk “with the blood of his own.” The genitive construction could be taken in two ways: (1) as an attributive genitive (second attributive position) meaning “his own blood”; or (2) as a possessive genitive, “with the blood of his own.” In this case the referent is the Son, and the referent has been specified in the translation for clarity. See further C. F. DeVine, “The Blood of God,” CBQ 9 (1947): 381-408.

The Greek is amenable to either; however, this construction ("ὁ [noun] ὁ ἴδιος") more commonly means "his own [noun]". See, for example, John 7:18 (which cannot mean "the [noun] of his own" since the case of ἴδιος is not genitive):

τὴν δόξαν τὴν ἰδίαν ζητεῖ

seeking his own reputation

See also Acts 1:25 and Mark 15:20.

But the same is even more commonly written as "ὁ ἴδιος [noun]", which comprises practically all of the other uses of "ὁ ἴδιος" in the NT. Heb 9:12 and 13:12 are particularly relevant examples where "his own blood" is written "τοῦ ἰδίου αἵματος" rather than "τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου". Perhaps they are so in order to avoid exactly this confusion. But Acts 20:28 gives us no such help. One might conclude that if the phrase could be possessive, the author would have added "own son" explicitly to avoid confusion. But he didn't.

Just to round out the complexity: if "τοῦ ἰδίου" is attributive ("his own blood") then those words are neuter to match the case of "τοῦ αἵματος". But if the NEB and LEB have it right, then they should be masculine, since the referent is to a person, not things. Sometimes that tiny difference can decide the meaning. But in this instance, that's also ambiguous! The form of "τοῦ ἰδίου" is the same for neuter and masculine.

If frequency is any indication, then Acts 20:28 would be the only occurrence of "ὁ ἴδιος" modifying another noun where ἴδιος is possessive rather than attributive in the NT. I would therefore prefer "his own blood" to "the blood of his own" unless there is contrary context. But in fact, the context is even less decisive, since "περιεποιήσατο" ("he procured") may refer back to "God" but just as likely back to "consecrated spirit", the subject of the sentence.

  • Is there any question as to whether God shed his own blood or that of his own son?! Does God even have blood?
    – Ruminator
    Apr 11, 2018 at 20:57

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