Acts 20:28 ("God...with his own blood") - (from the RDB files)
Trinitarians, for obvious reasons, prefer this translation of Acts 20:28:
"... to shepherd ["feed" in some translations] the church of God which He purchased with
His own blood." - NASB. This certainly seems to be excellent evidence for a "Jesus is God" doctrine.
But there are 2 major uncertainties about the proper translation of Acts 20:28. Either one of those uncertainties completely nullifies any trinitarian "evidence" proposed for this scripture!
First, even some trinitarian Bibles translate this verse, "the church of the
Lord." - NEB; REB; ASV; Moffatt. Since Jesus was often referred to as "the Lord," this rendering negates any
"Jesus is God" understanding for Acts 20:28.
Yes, even the popular trinitarian The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, p. 838, Vol. 2, Zondervan Publ., 1986, uses this translation for Acts 20:28 also: "to feed the church of the Lord"!
And the respected, scholarly trinitarian work, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, p. 480, United Bible Societies, 1971, explains about this first uncertainty concerning the translation of Acts 20:28. Although, for obvious reasons, preferring the rendering "the church of God" at this verse, this trinitarian work admits that there is "considerable degree of doubt" about this "preferred" rendering. They admit that "The external evidence is singularly balanced between 'church of God' and 'church of the Lord.'"
Second, even some trinitarian Bibles render this verse, "to care for the
church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son." - RSV, 1971 ed.; NRSV; NJB; (also see
TEV and GNB).
The New Testament Greek words tou idiou follow "with the blood" in this scripture. This could be translated as "with the blood of his own." A singular noun may be understood to follow "his own." This would be referring to God's "closest relation," his only-begotten Son.
Famous trinitarian scholar J. H. Moulton says about this:
"something should be said about the use of [ho idios (which also includes its form tou idiou)] without a noun expressed. This occurs in Jn 1:11, 13:1; Ac 4:23, 24:23. In the papyri we find the singular used thus as a term of endearment to near relations .... In Expos. vi. iii. 277, I ventured to cite this as a possible encouragement to those (including B. Weiss) who would translate Acts 20:28 'the blood of one who was his own.'" - A Grammar of New Testament Greek, Vol. 1 (Prolegomena), 1930 ed., p. 90.
Respected trinitarian New Testament scholars Westcott and Hort present an alternate reason for a similar
"it is by no means impossible that YIOY [huiou, or 'of the Son'] dropped out [was unintentionall or intentionally left out during copying] after TOYIDIOY [tou idiou, or 'of his own'] at some very early transcription affecting all existing documents. Its insertion [restoration] leaves the whole passage free from difficulty of any kind." - The New Testament in the Original Greek, Vol. 2, pp. 99, 100 of the Appendix.
And A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, p. 481, also tells us:
"Instead of the usual meaning of dia tou haimatos tou idiou ['through the blood of the own'], it is possible that the writer of Acts intended his readers to understand the expression to mean 'with the blood of his Own.' (It is not necessary to suppose, with Hort, that huiou may have dropped out after tou idiou, though palaeographically such an omission would have been easy.) This absolute use of ho idios is found in Greek papyri as a term of endearment referring to near relatives. It is possible, therefore, that 'his Own' (ho idios) was a title which early Christians gave to Jesus, comparable to 'the Beloved'." *
Therefore, we can see that a rendering similar to RSV's "the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own son [or 'beloved']" is obviously an honest, proper rendering.
Although the UBS Committee didn't actually commit itself one way or another on this rendering of tou idiou at Acts 20:28, it did mention that "some have thought [it] to be a slight probability that tou idiou is used here as the equivalent of tou idiou huiou ['his own Son']." - p. 481. Obviously this includes those trinitarian scholars who translated the Revised Standard Version (1971 ed.); NRSV; NJB; and Today's English Version.
Since so many respected trinitarian scholars admit the distinct possibility (and even the probability) of such honest alternate non-trinitarian translations for Acts 20:28, this scripture can't honestly be used as proof for a trinity concept.
* This is more than just a theory. Notice how Acts
20:28 was actually rendered by an early Christian writer (ca. 250-299 A.D.):
"...to the Church of the Lord, 'which he has purchased with the blood of Christ, the beloved...'" (also see p. 422) - The Ante-Nicene Fathers, p. 424, Vol. vii, ("Constitutions of the Holy Apostles," sec. VII, part LXI) Eerdmans Publ., 1989 printing.
Not only has this very early Christian writer used "Lord" here, but he has also shown what the understanding of "the blood of his own" was at this time when the language of the New Testament was still used and clearly understood.