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In Acts 20 Paul is saying his farewell to the elders of Ephesus. He is bringing to their memory the manner, in which he had spent all that time with them - in humility (Acts 20:19).

Then he says: "

Acts 20:26 (KJV)
Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men

Why on earth did Paul need to mention this? Was there a possibility that during his ministry he might've killed someone? Was it not clear that Paul didn't kill anyone and didn't even intend to kill anyone?

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Was it possible reference to former life of saul, thus since converting has lived a just life –  user3824 Jan 23 '13 at 7:32
    
Why would he then need to tell the elders from Ephesus about it at the very last time meeting them? They knew it all too well that Paul hadn't killed anyone since his conversion. It just doesn't make any sense mentioning that to them. –  brilliant Jan 23 '13 at 7:40
    
Interesting, I just ran into this when answering another question: apparently Pope Pelagius I did this as well, but (seemingly?) in reference to the death of the prior pope, Pope Vigilius. –  Alypius Mar 18 '13 at 1:21
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1 Answer 1

up vote 21 down vote accepted

In the NLT, it's quite straightforward:

Acts 20:26 (NLT)

26 I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it’s not my fault,

I was actually amused by the "it's not my fault" part; reminds me of a child. :P

Anyway, other more-literal translations give variations of the following:

Acts 20:26 (NIV)

26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you.

Okay, we can see where the "it's not my fault" part comes from; "innocent".

With more context, the meaning becomes clearer.

Acts 20:25-27 (NIV)

 25 “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you. 27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.

Jews would have recognized the reference to (at least) Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 33:8 (NIV)

8 When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood.

Thus, Paul was saying that because he had been preaching God's word to everyone, he couldn't be held accountable for failing to warn someone about their sins and its consequences.

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I've really grown to like how the NLT can help in understanding the original meaning behind a verse. I still like to hold it up against literal translations (as you did) and interlinear bibles, though. –  a_hardin Sep 13 '11 at 15:24
    
Yup, don't knock the NLT or The Message. Plenty of effort by the translators went into the dynamic equivalence, especially by Peterson. –  Footwasher Dec 9 '12 at 5:57
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The Ezekiel reference was spot on. God's apostles and messengers have a great responsibility on their shoulders. They have to answer to God if they neglect their divinely-appointed mission. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Jan 23 '13 at 8:27
    
I would take NLT > Message though. I feel like most of the time when you encounter a gospel blessing in the Bible, the Message renders it as something you do or some action you take, rather than what you receive. –  Ben Mordecai Jan 24 '13 at 5:11
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