According to Why does Iglesia ni Cristo use the Lamsa Bible?, at least one Christian church thinks Acts 20:28 in the Lamsa translation supports thier non-trinitarian viewpoint. Many translations use "church of God" and suggest God's blood purchased our salvation, whereas the Lamsa translation says [emphasis mine]:

Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood.

What do evangelical leaders and scholars think about the Lamsa translation? Does it appear to contradict their doctrines?

  • 1
    I'm not by any means an evangelical, but from what I've seen, the Lamsa Bible is an Assyrian Christian's translation of the Syriac Peshitta, which I'm assuming is a translation of the Latin Vulgate into Syriac. Going on that, I'm gonna put any evangelical opinion/response into either a neutral or averse position, since generally such Protestants wouldn't really care or be aware of its existence.
    – matheno
    Jul 31, 2018 at 22:05
  • Do you want to know their general opinion about it, or specifically about Acts 20:28? The latter should be asked at BHSE.
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 31, 2018 at 22:06
  • @curiousdannii my understanding of Acts 20:28 is that it permits unitarianism but doesn't require or strongly suggest it, so one wonders if there are other, perhaps more challenging, changes elsewhere.
    – Bit Chaser
    Jul 31, 2018 at 22:53
  • @matheno I think the Peshitta is independent of the Vulgate. It is the claim of many that it is first or second century; possibly earlier than the Greek for some or all books. I also don't know to what extent Lamsa's translation or the original Aramaic is the issue here, if there is an issue. The Peshitta is definitely an important witness to the early NT text, even if it's a fifth or sixth century text.
    – Bit Chaser
    Jul 31, 2018 at 22:59

2 Answers 2


The Bible scholars involved in the translating of the English Standard Version say this:

Acts 20:28 (ESV): “to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” Refers to the blood of Christ... the blood of God’s own Son, which would be a legitimate alternative reading of the Greek. Some Greek manuscripts read “the church of the Lord.”

The Bible scholars involved in the translating of the New International Version say this:

Acts 20:28 (NIV): “Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” Literally “the blood of his own one” referring to his own Son. Many manuscripts say the church of the Lord.

The Bible scholars involved in the translating of the New Living Translation say this:

Acts 20:28 (NLT): “Feed and shepherd God’s flock – his church purchased with his own blood.” Or “with the blood of his own [Son]”

I have no idea whether those Bible scholars and translators would wish to be labelled as Evangelical Christians, though. However, they are in agreement that there is nothing wrong in translating the Greek into “the blood of God’s own Son” or similar.

One Bible translation (the New World Translation) renders Acts 20:28 as “the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son.” The Bible translators are not named but it is highly unlikely that they would wish to be identified as either Evangelical Protestants or Evangelical Catholics. They are, however, unanimously anti-Trinitarian.

As for Iglesia ni Cristo, they believe that Jesus was created by God the Father and is not a deity and the Holy Spirit is the power of God and also not a deity, being sent by God the Father and Jesus Christ to guide God's people. However, the manner in which that one verse in the Bible is translated neither proves nor disproves the Trinity, although it is understandable why anti-Trinitarians prefer the Lamsa translation of Acts 20:28.

EDIT: As requested, here are the Study Bibles I quote from:

English Standard Version (2008) page 13-17 for names of scholars/translators New Living Translation (2008) page A29-30 for names of scholars/translators New International Version(2000) page xx for names of scholars/translators New World Translation (2006) No scholars/translators are named

  • When you say "The Bible scholars involved" what exactly does that mean? Are these the footnotes present in every edition of the text? Are they from study Bibles?
    – curiousdannii
    Aug 5, 2018 at 8:50
  • Sorry - forgot to provide the details. The Bible scholars involved in the translation of the ESV are listed on pages 13-17 of the 2008 ESV Study Bible; NLT are listed on page A29-30 of the 2008 NLT Study Bible; NIV are listed on page xx of the 2000 NIV Study Bible. And the footnotes I've referred to come from those Study Bible notes.
    – Lesley
    Aug 5, 2018 at 10:27
  • @Lesley Thanks for the answer. If you cite the study bibles in your answer that would make it even better.
    – Bit Chaser
    Oct 3, 2020 at 22:49

I have this useful note on Acts 20:28 from A Journey through Acts and the Epistles, a Working Translation by Walter J. Cummins, a preeminent biblical scholar:

the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood: The Greek word ekklesia (church) is used here to refer to the whole Church of God, parts of which these elders were overseers. According to some critical Greek texts, the phrase “the church of God” should read “the Church of the lord.” The Church referred to in the New Testament writings is called the “Church of God” in I Corinthians 1:2; 10:32; 11:22; 15:9; II Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:13; and I Timothy 3:5. Parts of the Church were also referred to as the “churches of Christ” in Romans 16:16. The Greek words translated “with his own blood” are dia tou haimatos tou idiou according to all critical Greek texts. That phrase may be rendered “with his own blood” or “with the blood of His own.” If the phrase “the Church of God” was original, then “which He purchased with the blood of His own” would express the thought literally, while “which He purchased with His own blood” would express the thought as a figure of speech, metonymy, whereby something is used to refer to something associated with it. We should recognize that God is spirit and that spirit has no blood. However, blood is sometimes used in the Scriptures by association to refer to one’s offspring, and in this case it may have been used to refer to God’s offspring, namely, Jesus Christ. Thus, taken to mean “His own blood” or “the blood of His own,” it refers to the blood of God’s only begotten Son Jesus Christ, which God used to acquire the Church of God. On the other hand, if the former phrase “the Church of the lord” was original, then the latter phrase could be rendered “which he [Jesus Christ] purchased with his own blood.” For a further discussion of this variant reading in the texts, see Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (New York: United Bible Societies, 1971), s.v. Acts 20:28, pp. 480-482.

It is also helpful to note that the words and phrases "trinity", "trinitarian", "God the Son", "Jesus Christ is God" don't appear anywhere in the Bible. They seem to be made up by people who also likely read in Revelation 22:18:

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book

Although the prophecy of this book we know as the book of Revelation, I'd think we'd want to take the same heed about all the other books in the canon of the Bible, including Acts, simply out of respect :)

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