Acts 20:28 and The Deity of Jesus Christ

Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock, wherein you the Spirit the Holy did set Overseers, to shepherd the Assembly of God which He purchased with His own blood (τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἣν περιεποιήσατο διὰ τοῦ ἰδίου αἵματος)”

It is clear from this verse, that the Death of Jesus Christ was not of someone Who was a mere human being, but, as Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:16, “God manifested in the flesh”, according to the Original reading of this verse.

What Paul says in Acts 20:28, is that the Blood that Jesus Christ shed on the Cross, is of the Highest Value, because it is in effect, “The Blood of God”. How is this possible? Simply the fact that “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14), the same “Word” Who is “God” (John 1:1). The Person Jesus Christ, after His Incarnation, became “The God-Man”, as is clear from another passage of Paul, in Philippians 2, where he says that “Jesus existed from eternity in the very nature of God, took upon Himself the very nature of a slave” (so in the Greek), when He was Conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary. As again Paul says in Colossians 2:9, “For in Him the entire fullness of God's nature dwells bodily”, “fully God and fully Man”. In Hebrews 2:9 we read, “But we do see Jesus-- made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God's grace He might taste death for everyone”, the purpose of Jesus Christ the Eternal God, taking “human nature”, was to enable Him to Die, which is impossible for Him to have done as God. He had to “become flesh”, which is what 1 Peter 3:18 means, of Jesus, “put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit”.

There are some variant reading for Acts 20:28, which have been introduced to try to remove the direct reference to the Deity of Jesus Christ. Instead of the reading “τοῦ Θεοῦ”, we have in some evidence, “τοῦ κυρίου (the Lord)”, the earliest being in the Latin edition of Irenaeus (120-200). We also have, “τοῦ κυρίου τοῦ Θεοῦ (the Lord the God, or, the Lord God)”, rather late date. The two oldest Greek manuscripts, the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, both of the middle of the 4th century, read, “τοῦ Θεοῦ”. In the next century we have the Codex Alexandrinus, which reads, “τοῦ κυρίου”.

It is clear from the evidence of this verse, in the Greek writings of the early Church Father, from the 1st century, by Ignatius, who was a disciple of the Apostle John, and others, that the reading, “τοῦ Θεοῦ”, was in the Book of Acts as early as the 1st century.

Ignatius (50-117 AD)

Jesus Christ our Saviour, that being followers of God, and stirring up yourselves by the blood of God (έν αϊματι θεου)” (Ephesians Ch I)

Ignatius in this same Letter, says, “God come in the flesh” (εν σαρκι γενομενοϛ Θεοϛ; Loeb Classical Library, The Apostolic Fathers, Vol. 1, chapter 7, pp. 226, 227); and in chapter 19, “God became manifest in a human way” (Θεου ανθρωπινωϛ ϕανερουμενου, ibid, pp. 238, 239). Clearly references to 1 Timothy 3:16.

Clement of Alexandria (150-211)

we bear, protected as it is by the power of God the Father, and the blood of God the Son, and the dew of the Holy Spirit” (Who is The Rich Man That Will be Saved, Ch XXXIV)

Tertullian (155-220)

So far as I know, "we are not our own, but bought with a price;" and what kind of price? The blood of God” (To His Wife, chap. 3)

Ephraim the Syrian (306-373)

that was bought with the blood of God” (Hymn 7. 10)

Thou art bought with the blood of God; thou art redeemed by the passion of Christ; for thy sake He suffered death, that thou mightest die to thy sins” (On Admonition and Repentance, 5)

Gregory Nazianzen (330-389)

that you may not break down in your mind when you hear of God’s Blood, and His Passion, and His death” (The Second Oration on Easter, xix)

Chrysostom (died 407)

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers (or, bishops) to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.” (Homilies on the Acts)

Jerome (347-419)

Take heed unto yourselves and to all the flock, in the which the Holy Ghost hath made you bishops, to feed the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Letter CXLVI. To Evangelus, I)

John Cassian (360-435)

Feed the Church of God which He has purchased with His own Blood.” (On the Incarnation, Book VI, ch, 4)

Sulpicius Severus (363-420)

And yet it was said to the Ephesian elders: “Feed the Church of God which He has purchased with His own Blood” (The Seven Books, chap. 4)

Even in the New Testaments published by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they have the reading, “τοῦ Θεοῦ”, even though they attempt to modify it by adding “Son”, so as to remove the Deity of Jesus Christ.

NWT, “to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son” (2013)

Kingdom Interlinear “to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own [Son]” (1969, 1985)

There is another variant reading in this verse, instead of, “τοῦ ἰδίου αἵματος” (lit, His own blood), we have,  “αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου” (lit, blood His own). The change of the word order does not change the actual meaning. This is clear from these other examples.

Romans 5:9, “ἐν τῷ αἵματι αὐτοῦ” (by His blood, lit, blood His)

Ephesians 1:7, “διὰ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ” (through His blood, lit, blood His)

Colossians 1:20, “διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ σταυροῦ αὐτοῦ” (by the blood of His cross, lit, blood of cross His)

Revelation 1:5, “ἐν τῷ αἵματι αὐτοῦ” (by His blood, lit, blood His)

Revelation 19:2, “τὸ αἷμα τῶν δούλων αὐτοῦ” (the blood of His servants, lit, blood of servants His)

The strongest evidence for the reading, “Church of God”, is the New Testament itself. There is not a single reference to “Church of the Lord”, or “Church of Christ”, or, “Church of Jesus Christ”. However, there are 8 references to “Church of God”, all in the Writings of Paul, and one, “Church of the Living God”, which is also Paul. This is conclusive, that Paul would not have said, “Church of the Lord”, in Acts 20:28.

This verse shows, not only the real Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, “τοῦ Θεοῦ”, but also the real human nature in the Lord Jesus Christ, as the God-Man, He was able to Die for the sins of the human race. The Eternal God cannot “die”, so the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself fully God (Colossains 2:9), had to “become flesh”, by “taking upon Himself real human nature”, so that He could carry out our Redemption.