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April 2, 2010

Acts 20:28 Lamsa Translation

Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed your overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood." - Acts 20:28 (Lamsa version)
There are those who criticize the Iglesia Ni Cristo for their use of the Lamsa version when quoting Acts 20:28. Critics say that the phrase "church of Christ" as written in the Lamsa version is incorrect and that the correct one is "church of God". Furthermore, they claim that there are no existing manuscripts that can be used to support the rendition "church of Christ" and that Lamsa is the only version which contains "church of Christ".

Other English Versions

These critics are misinformed because Lamsa is not the only version containing the phrase "church of Christ". Below are some other English versions containing similar renderings.
Etheridge Translation:
"Take heed therefore to yourselves, and to the whole flock over which the Spirit of Holiness hath constituted you the bishops; to pasture the church of the Meshiha [Christ] which he hath purchased with his blood."
Disciples New Testament:
"Therefore, take care of yourselves, and of all the congregation in which you have been appointed through the holy Spirit as bishops, to shepherd the church of Jesus Christ, that which he established by his blood."

Early Manuscripts

Regarding manuscripts supporting the rendering "church of Christ", there are in fact existing ones. The English translation of the verse in Syriac Manuscripts such as MS Syriac 4 (12th century), MS Syriac 325 (12th Century), MS Syriac 27 (16th century), and the Novum Testamentum Syriace (17th century) read "Church of Christ."
Ezra Abbot, a New Testament Textual Criticism scholar, listed some of the earlier manuscripts containing the reading "church of Christ".
Manuscripts for the reading "church of Christ"
Admittedly, there are more manuscripts supporting other variant readings and that those manuscripts are even written in Greek. However, no rule of reasoning compels us to conclude with certainty that one particular reading is correct based on its quantity alone. We must remember that the greek manuscripts we have are not the originals but are just copies which can also contain transcription errors.

Ancient Versions

Also, there are evidence that the Syriac texts we currently have, whether they are transcriptions or translations, are better than some Greek texts, so we should not in any way disregard the value of the Syriac texts. Syriac is an Aramaic dialect into which most of the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament were first translated. Consulting Syriac manuscripts can help settle controversies in the Greek manuscripts.
Aside from Syriac manuscripts, the phrase "Church of Christ" can also be found in Acts 20:28 in Peshitta Aramaic Text which when translated into English, reads: "Take heed therefore to yourselves, and to the whole flock over which the Spirit of Holiness hath constituted you the bishops; to pasture the church of Christ which he hath purchased with his blood." Peshitta Acts 20:28Peshitta Acts 20:28

Early "church fathers"

In addition to the ancient versions, we also have witnesses in the quotations of the early "church fathers". Among these are those of Athanasius, Theodoret, Pseudo-Athanasius, and Pseudo-Fulgentius.

Internal Evidence

Most importantly, we can turn to internal scripture evidence to see whether the rendition "church of Christ" is correct or not. Apostle Paul says, "These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (I Cor. 2:13, King James Version).
Spiritual things will not contradict with other spiritual things when they are compared with one another. In no way will they manifest disagreement, but only harmony and unity. They go together perfectly well-at all times. With this apostolic method of teaching, nothing is added to or taken away from the Word. Consequently, when one Bible verse seems to clash in meaning with another verse, the former or the latter is either mistranslated or misinterpreted.
Based on scriptural evidence, we can conclude that "church of Christ" is the more accurate rendition because the latter part of the verse states, "which he purchased with his own blood". The rendering "church of God" would mean that it is God who died and shed blood on the cross. This would contradict other bible verses that teach God is immortal (1 Timothy 1:17) and that God is a spirit (John 4:24), has no flesh and bones (Lk. 24:36-39), and therefore has no blood. It is the Lord Jesus Christ's blood, which washed the members of the Church of their sins (I Pt. 1:18-19; Rev. 1:5).
[1] The Authorship of the Fourth Gospel and other Critical Essays, Ezra Abbot
[2] Khabouris Codex

The word church as used in the bible refers to that entity that Christ built (Mt. 16:18). He called it “my church”. That church built by Christ had doctrines that distinguish it from those built by others which, because they were not built have no right to claim that they are of Christ. Such doctrines are written in the bible and the only church whose doctrines are identical with those written in the bible is that one built by Christ. Christ said he is the door and anyone who enters in shall be saved (Jn. 10:9). He also said that he is the door of the sheep (Jn. 10:7). Sheep means God’s people (Ps. 100:3) or the flock wjich is the Church of Christ (Acts 20:28, LAMSA).

Thus, if you are not in the flock or you do not belong to the church of Christ, you will not be saved. Lamsa’s version is accurate because the one who actually shed HIS BLOOD FOR THE CHURCH IS CHRIST. God, being a spirit (Jn. 4:24), has no flesh and bones (Lk. 24:36-39) and thus HAS NO BLOOD. The other bible versions is not accurate for God has no blood. The Bible list several names for the one church built by Christ. It is called “Church of God” (I thess. 2:14), “Church of the living God” (I tim. 3:15) and more. This Church of God is also of Christ because whatever is of God is also of Christ (Jn. 16:15;17:9-10).
It is called the Church of the Lord (Acts 20:28, American Standard Version) but the Lord referred to here is the one who shed his blood for the church and this is the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:36) who washed the members of the Church with his own blood (Rev. 1:5).
A jesuit scholar, Rev. Francis B. Cassilly, in his book Religion: Doctrine and practice, states that the Church built by Christ from the earliest times has been called after him, the Christian church or the church of Christ, the only true Church and the one which god orders all men to join. To refuse to join this true church is to disobeys God’s orders.


  1. i highly agree to your post and yes, everything is written before about that translation.. well my only question is the book translated by lamsa was released during the year 1933 if im not wrong..so what is the versed used by INC before when those times the translation never been existing since it is "re-established" during 1914?

    1. Ang ginagamit namin ay ang dating salin sa Tagalog ng Gawa 20:28:2:36 na ang banggit ay "iglesia ng Panginoon," si Cristo ang Panginoon na ang ginamit na pantubos ay ang kanyang dugo (I Ped. 1:18-19, Apoc. 5:9) kaya iglesia ni Cristo (Roma 16:16) ang pangalan ng tunay na iglesia na binili ni Cristo ng kanyang sariling dugo. Walang ginawang sariling paliwanag si ka Felix Manalo kundi pinagwangis niya lang ang mga nakasulat sa Biblia. Noong lumabas ang salin ni Lamsa ay lalong napatunayan na tama ang sinasabi ni Ka Felix Manalo na IGLESIA NI CRISTO ang tinubos ng dugo ni Cristo.

  2. Acts 20:28
    New King James Version (NKJV)
    28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

    There is nothing wrong about those translations that says "church of God". The only reason why these becomes a problem is when you believed that the Father is the only God and the Son is not God. The Son is one person having two natures; he is both God and Man. The word "God" here refers to Jesus Christ who also has a human nature; so it is correct to say that God purchased his church with his own blood.

    1. The problem is not because we believe that the son of God, Jesus Christ is not God but the other translators of the bible.

      God cannot purchase the church with his blood because in the first place he is not a human but a spirit. that means he has no blood.

      It is not GOD who died on the cross but his son, Jesus Christ.

      And it is not GOD who established the church but Christ (mt. 16:18) so it is rightfully to say CHURCH OF CHRIST because it is Christ who founded the church, he is the one who died on the cross and it is who purchased the church with his own blood.

      But im not saying that it is very wrong to call the church "church of God" because what Christ is also of God.

      "All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” Jn. 16:15

      "I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.
      John 17:9-10

      Christ cannot be God because God have a son, if Christ is the God, who is his son? And why did he call his father the only true God? Why does Abrahamic religions believe only one God (not God with three persons) while Christianity, also an Abrahamic religion, particularly the Roman Catholic Church believes in a God with Three persons?


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