Acts 20:28 - The blood of God

Be on guard for yourselves and for 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. (Acts 20:28 - NASB)

What Trinitarians Say

This translation of this verse is used to support the Trinitarian notion that God died on the cross.

What We Say

The NASB’s above translation of Acts 20:28 is misleading and problematic.  First, we should consider the footnotes in these other popular Trinitarian translations:

  • English Standard Version (ESV) footnote on Acts 20:28: “b.  Or with the blood of his Own
  • The New International Version (NIV) footnote on Acts 20:28: “b.  Or with the blood of his own Son
  • NIV Study Bible (NIV) footnote on Acts 20:28: “his own blood. Lit. ‘the blood of his own one,’ a term of endearment (such as ‘his own dear one’) referring to His own Son.

If the NASB rendering were correct, the Greek would need to read αἵματος ἰδίου, “idiou haimatios,” (his own blood).  However, manuscript evidence supports the reading τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου, “tou haimatios tou idiou,” (the blood of his own).   The Nestle GNT 1904, the Westcott and Hort 1881, the W&H NA27, and the Tischendorf all support this reading.

The reference here is, of course, to God’s own Son, Jesus.  This is in keeping with biblical language.  The “blood of Christ” is found throughout the New Testament (Eph 2:13, 1 Cor 10:16, 1 Pet 1:19, Heb 9:14, etc.)  God is nowhere said to have blood.  Jesus even explains, “God is a spirit,” (John 4:24). 

Despite the NASB's problematic suggestion that God himself shed blood on the cross, other popular translations have demonstrated the proper rendering of the verse:

"the blood of his own Son."
(NET) New English Translation – 2005

"the blood of his own Son."
(NRSV) New Revised Standard Version – 1989

"the blood of his own Son."
(RSV) Revised Standard Version - 1946

"the death of his own Son."
(CEB) Common English Bible – 2011

"the blood of his own."
(DARBY) J.N.Darby – 1890

"his own Son’s blood."
(CJB) Complete Jewish Bible – 1998

"the blood of his own Son."
(CEV) Contemporary English Version – 1995

"the blood of his own (Son); or with his own blood."
(EXB) Expanded Bible – 2011

"the blood of his Son."
(GNT) Good News Translation – 1992

"the blood of his own Son."
(LEB) Lexham English Bible – 2010

"the ho blood haima of ho his own idios Son."
(MOUNCE) Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament – 2011

"the death of his own son."
(NCV) New Century Version – 2005

"the blood of His own Son."
(VOICE) The Voice Bible Translation – 2011

We must remember that God cannot die; the Bible says God is "immortal" (1 Tim 6:16), and that means that whatever death is, God cannot do it.  However, "Christ died" (Rom 5:8); the "Son" died (Rom 5:10; John 3:16).  It is "the blood of his Son Jesus" that cleanses us (1 John 1:7)