Were We Purchased with God’s Blood?

09 Aug

Some modern critics take issue with how the King James Version translates Acts 20:28. The idea that seems to bother them is that God purchased us “with his own blood.” Several groups would rather see the phrase translated, “the blood of his own (Son).” Notice the Scripture in both the Contemporary English Version and the King James Version:

Acts 20:28 CEV Look after yourselves and everyone the Holy Spirit has placed in your care. Be like shepherds to God’s church. It is the flock that he bought with the blood of his own Son .”— (emphasis mine)

Acts 20:28 KJV “Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the Church of God which he has purchased with his own blood.”— (emphasis mine)

Which translation is correct? How should we understand this Scripture? Did God purchase us with his own blood as the King James Version declares, or should we understand that God (the Father) purchased us with the blood of his own Son (i.e. with Jesus’ blood)? If this Scripture should be translated into “with his own blood,” then Acts 20:28 makes an emphatic statement that Jesus is God, and, since the article is present before the word God, this is a very important declaration. It would virtually end any controversy anyone had with John 1:1. Concerning this point, the translators of the New English Translation say of Acts 20:28,

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.[marginal notes in the NET Bible]

The controversy, therefore, is not the grammatical content of the verse, because everyone seems to agree that the phrase could be translated either way and still be accurate. The controversy in Acts 20:28 evolves out of the liberty taken by adding the word Son to the translation. How can we know for certain how to translate this Scripture?

While grammatical content of a Scripture is important in understanding what is being said, context is just as important and more so where grammar fails to be specific enough. In Acts 20 Paul spoke of his faithfulness in preaching the whole word of God (verse 27) and he commanded the elders at Ephesus to be faithful as well (verse 28). The reason given is that the Church of God was bought with the most precious price of all. In verse 29 Paul warned the elders that, after he left men, even of their own number, would come in and not spare the flock. What Paul said here could be compared with 1Corinthians 11:17-29. There, Paul wrote in his letter that he sent to the Corinthians concerning heresy. There, some had entered the Church of God at Corinth and had not spared the flock (1Corinthians 11:17-19; cf. Acts 20:29), seeking to divide the Church and gain followers after themselves.

In 1Corinthians 11 Paul spoke in allegory. In essence what Paul said was that when we come together, it is to partake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We do this through worship (hymns and spiritual songs), listening to the whole word of God as given in a sermon by our pastor, and through prayer. In this way our spirits are fed (John 6:53). This is the Lord’s Supper (of which the bread and the wine are symbols). When we meet together to hear the word of God preached, we are showing the world that we are trusting in the Lord’s death (1Corinthians 11:23-26).

Heresy divides the Church of God. The point of heresy is never one of truth or error. The point of heresy is always one of ownership of the flock. Heretics come into the Body of Christ in order to rob a portion of God’s heritage (the Church) for themselves. Once I begin to teach what I have studied in the Scriptures in an effort to win a following after myself (1Corinthians 11:17-19), I am seeking to take the eyes of my brothers and sisters off Jesus and cause them to look to me as their teacher. It is a matter of spiritual food, and from where one’s meal comes. In the end it is a question of ownership, whose I am. In other words, if I could obtain a following out of the Church of God for myself, I would be feeding upon those who follow me, and I would be using Jesus’ death as a platform to further my ends. Moreover, if members of the Body of Christ trusted in me, as the Corinthian church was trusting in certain teachers in the first century (1Corinthians 1:12; 3:4; 11:17-19), they would be spiritually feeding upon me instead of Christ. We would be partakers one of another. Therefore, we would be unable to be partakers of the Lord’s Supper, because none of us would be feeding upon Christ (John 6:53-57).

Paul continued his argument in 1Corinthians 12. We are all gifted differently and exercise our gifts in different ministries. We cause those ministries to function out of different organizations (works). Nevertheless, we are all of one Spirit, one Lord and one God (1Corinthians 12:4-6). We function collectively as the Body of Christ. We are his. Yet, of necessity, we must partake of one another to work effectively. Notice

1Corinthians 10:15-18 KJV I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? (emphasis mine)

With this in mind and comparing it to what Paul said in 1Corinthians 11:23-26, we see that in a very real sense the Church of God is compared with the body and blood of Christ. Paul said that he was faithful and delivered all that was given to him from the Lord to the Church of God (1Corinthians 11:23; cf. Acts 20:27). God gives teachers to the Body of Christ (1Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11) to build up the Church of God in Christ. However, if I exalt one teacher over another or if I teach others in order to have someone agree with me, I am partaking of the spiritual body and blood of Christ in an unworthy manner (1Corinthians 11:27-29; cf. Acts 20:26-27 & 29-30).

Paul said that he was innocent of any man’s blood, because he declared to everyone the whole council of God (Acts 20:26-27). On the other hand, those who emphasize only part of the truth and get a following after themselves (heresy) are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord (1Corinthians 11:19-20, 27-29). We are, after all, Christ’s and not a man’s (viz. Lutherans, Wesleyans, Catholics, Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses etc.).

Considering all this and applying it to Acts 20:28 we see that Paul is speaking of the exceedingly precious price that was paid for the Church of God. It is the responsibility of all who participate in each and every function of that church to be faithful, because we are not our own, but are bought with an exceedingly precious price (1Corinthians 6:19-20). If I differentiate between Father and Son in Acts 20:28, I am in reality saying that the essence of one is more precious than the essence of the other. The whole point of this verse, however, is to show the exceedingly precious price that was paid for our salvation. If the most precious price was not paid, then Paul’s argument falls short of being the very best.

Leviticus 17:11 says, “the life of the flesh is in the blood…” What kind of life was in Jesus? Was he merely a descendant of Adam? Is this the most precious life he was able to offer at Calvary? Are we then to understand that the life of God was not in Christ when he hung on the cross (cf. 2Corinthians 5:19)? I am not speaking of God spiritually being in Christ as he is in all of us. I am speaking of the literal life of Christ. Was his literal life that of God? Grammatical content may permit me to play games with the meaning of this Scripture, but context demands that Acts 20:28 be translated that God paid for our salvation with the most precious price of all, “with his own blood.” If I add the word Son to this verse, I demean the work and the character of God.

God is love and when he acts, he does so out of the character of love (1John 4:8, 16). If I apply this to the work of God in our salvation, what can I say about Jesus? If Jesus’ death was indeed an act of love, wouldn’t he have had to have the freedom to choose to live or die? Liberty is an inalienable right possessed by love. Jesus had to have both possession of his own life and the liberty to lay it down or not (John 10:17-18). In other words, our salvation had to have been his choice. Otherwise, if our heavenly Father owned Jesus and purchased our salvation with Jesus’ blood, what would it have cost our Father to sacrifice the life’s blood of a slave? If this were the case, our Father could not have acted out of love, because there was no real sacrifice on his part. How can Jesus offer himself as a free-will offering, if he is the property of someone else? If Jesus were his Father’s property, what cause would there be to believe Jesus loves us or even that our heavenly Father loves us? (Since I cannot purchase anything unless I own what I offer as payment, how could our heavenly Father pay for our salvation with Jesus’ blood unless Jesus was his property? It is odd to my own ear to phrase this idea in this fashion, since I believe that God is One. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit purchased my salvation together, not as individuals. However, the differentiation is made by certain groups and modern critics, so I must speak using their terminology. Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no man than this: that he should lay down his life for his friends” (KJV). For this Scripture to be true, Christ had to be free to offer himself or to decline. An act of love is not an act of love, if there is no freedom to refuse to do the act. If Christ was a slave to our Father, then he did only that which he was commanded to do and is (to use his own judgment) unprofitable (Luke 17:10 KJV). Therefore, the Scripture must read, “…to feed the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood.”

Below are a collection of Scriptures that should convey the proposition that Acts 20:28 must be translated to show Jesus purchased our salvation with his own, i.e., God’s blood, or if you prefer, “the blood of his own (body)”. I say Jesus purchased our salvation, but he made manifest what was in the Father’s heart through his work as man. God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is our Savior, and he purchased our salvation with his own blood from his own human body.

John 10:11
– Christ is the Good Shepherd who gives his life for his sheep.

John 10:17
– Father loves Jesus because he (Jesus) lays down his life that he might take it up again.

John 10:18
– No man is able to take Jesus’ life; he laid it down of his own free will. He had power to lay it down and to take it up again.

Hebrews 1:3
– By himself, Christ purged our sins!

Hebrews 7:27
– Christ satisfied the Law’s demands when he once and for all time

offered himself. No one offered him, he offered himself!

Hebrews 9:14
– Christ offered himself without spot, through the eternal Spirit to God.

Hebrews 9:26
– Christ put away sin by the sacrifice of himself!

In summary, just because a Scripture presents a difficult thought or might be troublesome in the Greek, as some modern critics suppose, or does not fit into one’s theology is not grounds for changing the Scripture. I have found that if I lift up Christ and place him in the highest place (Psalm 97:9; Ephesians 1:20-21), I have no trouble submitting to him and caring properly for the Church of God. That is, as a Sunday school teacher (replace this gift with any other spiritual gift) I have respect for Christ as the Master of his house. I do not wish to intrude into his supervision as the Teacher of all. Moreover, I must have respect for my brothers and sisters when we differ in understanding the word of God. The LORD may require me to present the truth as he revealed it to me, but by no means has he demanded me to see to it that everyone tow the line and submit to what I say. The moment I allow myself to demand of my brethren that they believe me, I have already removed Christ from the highest place in my heart and mind. Once I do this, I begin to judge the Church of God, and split Christ’s Church into the faithful and the faithless. I would find myself judging those brethren in Christ who do not believe as I do. In other words, I would be “guilty of the Lord’s body and blood” (1Corinthians 11:27)! May God forgive us for dividing his flock and enable us to partake only of the Lord’s Supper.


Posted by on August 9, 2009 in Jesus, Religion


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14 responses to “Were We Purchased with God’s Blood?

  1. Eddie

    March 13, 2016 at 08:01

    Greetings Gruni, and welcome. I read over my conclusion in the post “Were We Purchased with God’s Blood?” I think you need to reread with I claim there, because I believe you have misunderstood what I wrote. If you still think I want people to believe “me”, please quote the exact words I say, and then we’ll discuss what I wrote that you have a problem with.

    Lord bless you, Gruni, in all your efforts to please him.

  2. Gruni

    March 12, 2016 at 12:46

    A great article. I have but one problem though and that is with your ending. Do you preach the word of God to please man, or to please your self or to please God? Do you preach to receive glory from man or do you preach to reveal God’s glory? That you will and have said the truth about God’s word doesn’t mean you will or are dividing the body of Christ. Why would you demand he brethren to believe you or your words? Are they your words? We do not preach for someone to believe our words but rather we preach so the truth of the gospel be known. It is not up to you to decide whether or not the brethren will believe your words, all you have to do is to preach it and if its indeed the truth it shall remain as the truth. Look, this is what we do and we Compromise the gospel and allow heresy to be preached in churches and among brethren. What you wrote isn’t a humble saying but an ignorant one. Sorry for my harsh words but I was really vexed with your conclusion. Speak the word of God in truth and in truth only. And allow the Almighty to build His Church. After all I don’t think you are in any position to do the work of the Holy Spirit. That is His work. To bring to us understanding and to cause the growth in the body of Christ.

  3. Eddie

    January 17, 2014 at 07:42

    Greetings Saddam, and thank you for reading my blog, and especially for taking the time to leave a comment.

    When God created us, we were certainly His to do with as He pleased, and if all we are is His creation, then your comment about my blog-post and the comments that ensued between Andy and me would probably be correct. The problem is, God didn’t merely create us, He set us free. He gave us freedom of choice. Adam was free to embrace God or to rebel against Him. Adam chose to rebel and be independent of God. Today, we see the fruits of our independence from God.

    What Jesus did was redeem or buy us back, through his blood sacrifice. It is through our trust in Jesus that we are able to return to God. On our own, we would not seek Him, so He came in the flesh to seek us. We killed Him, thus expressing our independence, but Jesus’ death shows that God isn’t interested in creating a new race, but is committed to us–redeeming us back to Himself (see my blog-post The Tenth Temptation of God).

    It is all about love–God’s love for us, and His desire that we love Him in return. This can be achieved only if we are free to choose–to love or to desire independence. The rebellion of Adam is undone in Christ when we choose to trust Him.

  4. Saddam Kushain

    January 16, 2014 at 11:02

    If God created us, then why would he have to “buy us” back with blood? I’m sorry but this all sounds extremely bizarre.

  5. Eddie

    December 30, 2013 at 13:00

    Greetings once again, Andy. It is difficult to understand if Dr. DeHann is speaking figuratively or literally. He puts ‘blood poisoning’ in quotes, which may indicate a figurative sense, but he seems to be speaking literally throughout the paragraph. In any case I would disagree with a literal understanding of blood poisoning gotten from the tree of knowledge.

    If we take an automobile as an example, it would be simple to show how the literal argument falls apart. My automobile sits in the driveway, and for all intents and purposes, it is ready to go. What I need to do to make that happen is to turn the ignition key. The battery will ignite the engine and the fuel will begin to pump through the corroborator to the engine to keep it running. We can liken God’s breathing into man’s nostrils with turning the ignition key of the car. I would still be able to say that the life (line) of the car is the fuel line. Once the car has been started, there are many things that could go wrong with the car to cause it to break down (die). I can turn the ignition key off which would take away the fire from the spark plugs and fuel wouldn’t burn and the car couldn’t go. I could run out of gas. The oil could leak out and the engine would lock up. The water line could lean and he car would overheat and eventually come to a stop. Many things could occur to cause death in a descendent from Adam. The point is, God didn’t give Adam eternal life to begin with. He promised eternal life only to those who eat of the Tree of Life (Jesus). Adam died, because his rebellion kept him from partaking of the Tree of Life. His sin / rebellion brought death into the world and was passed on to all of us, because Adam had no eternal life to pass on.

  6. andrew bradice

    December 30, 2013 at 10:50

    Thank you for responding, I agree with your view also. The mentioning of the tree of good and evil is found on page 16 of the book. thank you andy

  7. Eddie

    December 30, 2013 at 08:58

    Andrew, greetings, and thanks for reading my blog and for your comment. I have heard of M.R. DeHann, and I have the book concerning which you speak above–The Chemistry of the Blood. Although I appreciate Dr. DeHann’s work, I don’t always agree with his conclusions, and this would be one of those times. If your book is the same as mine, the conclusion that breath is blood is on page 38. I have been unable to account for his teaching that ‘eating the tree of knowledge poisoned the blood.’ If you would give me the page, I could read the context of his remark. If he means it literally, then I would have to disagree again. God forgives us for the things we do, and if all Adam did was poison his blood system, God could have easily forgiven that and healed him.

    I see the eating of the forbidden fruit as Adam’s rebellion against God. The sin of rebellion has **independence** in view. That is a sin that cannot simply be forgiven. If Abe Lincoln **forgave** the South, what is today the United States would be at least two, possibly more, nations. Rebellion cannot be forgiven, it must be fought if one (God) is to work all things out according to his original plan. One doesn’t’**breath** blood, and simple **poison** is not enough to drive a wedge between God and man.

    This, of course, is my take on what you asked. I do not try to imply that my words are the Lord’s. You have to go to him to satisfy your own heart.

    Lord bless you, Andrew.

  8. andrew bradice

    December 29, 2013 at 19:42

    I got involved in the subject of the blood im reading a book by the late M.R.DeHaan very interesting I wanted to get your take on whaof the dust of the t he said this is basically a paraphrase, God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathe into him the breath of life and man became a living soul the inference im getting is the life that was breath into him was blood also he brought out that it was the eating of the tree that poisoned his blood are you familiar with his book I’d like your take on it

  9. Eddie

    December 7, 2013 at 19:38

    I would agree with your conclusion. The blood of a mere man, no matter how righteous, could never purchase the atonement of all mankind. The blood **must** be that precious–the blood of God who became flesh.

  10. andy bradice

    December 7, 2013 at 17:35

    would we not have to conclude that although God is Spirit that Jesus the God -man purchased us with the blood of God or else there would be no atonement for sin even more significant ablood covenant . You say?

  11. Smoodock

    August 10, 2009 at 22:32

    Yet, elsewhere we see that it is Jesus who did the buying. In Matthew 13:44-46 the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price show the one who bought the field and the pearl sold all he had to do it. Jesus is pictured in Philippians 2:5-8 as giving up equality with God (the Father) to become a man, able to die and pay the price. I don’t see how the logic of these other translations fit in with what we know to be true elsewhere–in places where the wording is not in question.

  12. wellwateredgarden

    August 10, 2009 at 21:05

    Jesus called Himself a bond-servant. He came to earth as a human to do His Father’s bidding.

    If you ask a friend to help you with something, and he agrees to do it, does that make him your slave? Of course not.

    God did through His Son what only a perfect man could do … die for the salvation of imperfect/sinful man. And because of that we are the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ.

    The whole thing was God’s idea and perhaps not totally understandable in human terms, but has only to be believed for it to be active and available.

  13. Smoodock

    August 9, 2009 at 23:05

    The problem, then, is if one believes God (the Father) purchased the the church (ecclesia) with the blood of Jesus, wouldn’t that make Jesus no more than a slave? After all, how can anyone use the life of another as a commodity, unless that one owns that life? Elsewhere, the Scripture says Jesus, by himself, purged our sins (Hebrew 3:1) and offered himself (Hebrew 9:14, 26); no one offered him; he offered himself. This seems show that the translation of Acts 20:28 that says: “…the church of God, which he has purchased with the blood of his own (Son) ” is in error.

  14. wellwateredgarden

    August 9, 2009 at 22:27

    The Concordant Literal Version of the New Testament has it this way:

    “Take heed to yourselves and to the entire flocklet, among which the holy spirit appointed you supervisors, to be shepherding the ecclesia of God, which He procures through the blood of His Own.” – Acts 20:28

    God, the Father, didn’t die and shed His own blood on the cross since He is spirit. Jesus, as a man, (the Son of Man and the Son of God) died and shed His blood for the salvation of all.

    The way I see it, anyway …

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