Be Right with God
Be on guard for yourselves (20:28a)
The first priority for anyone involved in spiritual leadership is his own relationship with God. Effective ministry is not mere outward activity; it is the overflow of a rich, deep relationship with God. As John Owen wisely observed,
A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouths of the public, but what that minister is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more. (Cited in I. D. E. Thomas, A Puritan Golden Treasury [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1977], 192)
No one is ready to face the pressures and responsibilities of ministry who is not right with God. Those pressures, as well as the demand to set the example, require that leaders constantly be on guard (Mark 13:9; Luke 21:34).
The first step in being on guard is self-examination. After a whole chapter of exhortation to the young preacher (1 Tim. 4:1–15), Paul summed up what he had said by calling Timothy to examine himself (verse 16): “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” He charged Timothy to scrutinize his life and doctrine to make sure both honored God. Such was crucial to his own perseverance and to the salvation and perseverance of others. Paul expressed that same truth in his second letter to Timothy:
Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. (2 Tim. 2:20–21)
In a house there were vessels for dishonorable uses, such as garbage and other waste. There were also vessels for honorable uses, such as food and drink. Only clean ones of high quality were fit for honor. Since God uses clean and holy instruments, vessels of honor, self-examination and forsaking sin are essential for leaders. Although God does bless His truth in spite of the preacher, He does not bless the unholy leader, no matter what title, position, or office he might hold.
In a powerful passage from his classic work The Reformed Pastor, Richard Baxter gives a stirring call for pastors to examine themselves:
Take heed to yourselves, lest you live in those sins which you preach against in others, and lest you be guilty of that which daily you condemn. Will you make it your work to magnify God, and, when you have done, dishonour him as much as others? Will you proclaim Christ’s governing power, and yet contemn it, and rebel yourselves? Will you preach his laws, and wilfully break them? If sin be evil, why do you live in it? if it be not, why do you dissuade men from it? If it be dangerous, how dare you venture on it? if it be not, why do you tell men so? If God’s threatenings be true, why do you not fear them? if they be false, why do you needlessly trouble men with them, and put them into such frights without a cause? Do you “know the judgment of God, that they who commit such things are worthy of death”; and yet will you do them? “Thou that teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?” Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, or be drunk, or covetous, art thou such thyself? “Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?” What! shall the same tongue speak evil that speakest against evil? Shall those lips censure, and slander, and backbite your neighbour, that cry down these and the like things in others? Take heed to yourselves, lest you cry down sin, and yet do not overcome it; lest, while you seek to bring it down in others, you bow to it, and become its slaves yourselves: “For of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage.” “To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness.” O brethren! it is easier to chide at sin, than to overcome it. (The Reformed Pastor [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1979], 67–68)
Personal holiness is the requirement of true and powerful spiritual leadership. God calls for holiness that is not just outward, in the eyes of men. Paul had that outward virtue even before his salvation, when he described himself as blameless as to the law (Phil. 3:6). But he called it “rubbish” (v. 8) compared to true righteousness. True holiness is inward, so that one can say with Paul, “For our proud confidence is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you” (2 Cor. 1:12).
Shepherd the Flock
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. (20:28b)
After making sure that his own life (and consequently that of his family, 1 Tim. 3:4–5) is in order, a leader’s second priority is the spiritual care of his flock. Positively, that care involves the feeding and leading of all the flock. The metaphor of a flock and a shepherd is often used to describe God’s relationship to His people. It is an apt one, since sheep are helpless, timid, dirty, and in need of constant protection and care. The Old Testament frequently describes Israel as God’s flock (Pss. 77:20; 78:52; 80:1; Isa. 40:11; 63:11; Jer. 13:17; 23:2–3; 31:10; Ezek. 34:2ff.; Mic. 2:12; 5:4; 7:14; Zech. 10:3), and the New Testament pictures the church as a flock with the Lord Jesus Christ as its Shepherd (John 10:1ff.; Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 2:25; 5:2–4).
Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4), has taken His flock and divided it into many smaller flocks (cf. 1 Pet. 5:2, “the flock of God among [or apportioned to] you”; 1 Pet. 5:3, “those allotted to your charge”). The Holy Spirit sovereignly raises up overseers, or undershepherds, who are responsible to shepherd their flocks. Shepherd is from poimainō, a comprehensive term encompassing the entire task of a shepherd. The most important part of that task, however, is to feed. In John 21:15–17, Jesus three times instructed Peter to care for His sheep. The second time He used poimainō, but the first and third times boskō, which has the more restricted meaning of “to feed.” Obviously, then, the primary task of an undershepherd of the Lord’s flock is to feed the sheep. Sadly, many undershepherds today fail to do that, seemingly content to lead their sheep from one barren wasteland to another. The tragic result is a spiritually weak flock, ready to eat the poisonous weeds of false doctrine, or to follow false shepherds who deceitfully promise them greener pastures, while leading them to barren desert.
Since sheep are followers, the shepherds’ task also involves leading the flock. They must set the direction for the sheep to follow. The New Testament knows nothing of congregational rule; instead it commands believers to “obey your leaders, and submit to them” (Heb. 13:17). Paul reminded the Thessalonians that their pastors were given “charge over you in the Lord” and were to be appreciated, esteemed, loved, and followed without conflict (1 Thess. 5:12–13). God has committed the leadership of the church to the overseers (elders, pastors). Those who serve faithfully are to be doubly honored (1 Tim. 5:17); those who fall into sin are to be publicly rebuked (1 Tim. 5:20). It is a sobering realization that elders will someday give an account to God for how they lead those committed to their charge (Heb. 13:17).
The motive for such high standards of leadership lies in the fact that the church belongs not to men, but to God (cf. 1 Pet. 5:2). Church leaders have a stewardship over His property and must discharge that stewardship faithfully (cf. 1 Cor. 4:2). Further, the church is the most precious reality on earth, since the ultimate price was paid for it when the Lord Jesus Christ purchased it with His own blood (cf. 1 Pet. 1:18–19). That demands that every leader treat the church as the precious fellowship that it is. God is a spirit and has no body, hence no blood. Yet Paul can say that God as much as purchased the church with His own blood because he “believed so strongly in the deity of Jesus Christ and His essential unity with the Father that [he] hesitated not to speak of His sacrifice on Calvary as a shedding of the blood of God” (G. T. Stokes, “The Acts of the Apostles,” in W. Robertson Nicoll, ed., The Expositor’s Bible [New York: A. C. Armstrong and Son, 1903], 2:419).
The Lord Jesus Christ set the example of loving concern for the church that all leaders must follow. In Ephesians 5:25–27, Paul describes Christ’s sacrificial love for the church:
Christ … loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.
The undershepherd must have the same concern for the purity of the church as did the Great Shepherd. Paul certainly did. To the Corinthians he wrote, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin” (2 Cor. 11:2). Those undershepherds who truly value the church will shepherd their flocks by feeding them the Word of God and faithfully leading them.
28. Take heed, therefore. He doth now apply his speech unto them, and by many reasons showeth that they must watch diligently, and that he is not so careful but because necessity doth so require. The first reason is, because they be bound to the flock over which they be set. The second, because they were called unto this function not by mortal man, but by the Holy Ghost. The third, because it is no small honour to govern the Church of God. The fourth, because the Lord did declare by an evident testimony what account he doth make of the Church, seeing that he hath redeemed it with his blood. As touching the first, he doth not only command them to take heed to the flock, but first to themselves. For that man will never be careful for the salvation of other men who will neglect his own. And in vain shall that man prick forward other to live godlily, who will himself show no desire of godliness. Yea, that man will not take pains with his flock who forgetteth himself, seeing he is a part of the flock. Therefore, to the end they may be careful for the flock to them committed, Paul commandeth and warneth that every one of them keep himself in the fear of God. For by this means it should come to pass, that every one should be as faithful towards his flock as he ought. For we said that Paul reasoneth from their calling, that they be bound to take pains in the Church of God, whereof they have the government. As if he should say, that they may not do whatsoever they like best, neither are they free after they be made pastors, but they be bound publicly to all the flock.
The Holy Ghost hath made you overseers. By the very word he putteth them in mind, that they be placed, as it were, in a watch-tower, that they may watch for the common safety of all men. But Paul standeth principally upon this, that they were not appointed by men, but the charge of the Church was committed unto them by God. For which cause they must be the more diligent and careful, because they must give a straight account before that high seat of judgment. For the more excellent the dignity of that Lord and Master whom we serve is, the more reverence do we give him naturally, and the reverence itself doth sharpen our study and diligence.
Moreover, though the Lord would have ministers of the word chosen from the beginning by the voices [suffrages] of men, yet doth he always challenge the government of the Church to himself, not only to the end we may acknowledge him to be the only governor thereof, but also know that the incomparable treasure of salvation doth come from him alone. For he is robbed of his glory if we think that the gospel is brought unto us, either by chance or by the will of men, or their industry. But this doth Paul attribute peculiarly to the Spirit, by whom God doth govern his Church, and who is to every man a secret witness of his calling in his own conscience.
Concerning the word overseer or bishop, we must briefly note this, that Paul calleth all the elders of Ephesus by this name, as well one as other. Whence we gather, that according to the use of the Scripture bishops differ nothing from elders. But that it came to pass through vice and corruption, that those who were chief in every city began to be called bishops. I call it corruption, not because it is evil that some one man should be chief in every college or company; but because this boldness is intolerable, when men, by wresting the names of the Scripture unto their custom, doubt not to change the tongue of the Holy Ghost.
To govern the Church. The Greek word ποιμαινειν doth signify to feed. But by a fit similitude it is translated unto every kind of government. And we have said that this is the third argument drawn from the excellency of the function; as the same Paul telleth Timotheus elsewhere, that he take heed and see how he ought to behave himself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth. As if he should say, that there is no time to be idle in such a weighty calling, and that those are less excusable whom God hath made stewards of his family, the higher that degree of honour is, unless they be correspondent to so great dignity, that is, unless they do their duty diligently. Now, if bishops or overseers be made by the Holy Ghost, to the end they may feed the Church, the hierarchy of Papistry is ridiculous, wherein bishops being proud of their (painted sheath and) vain title, do not so much as once meddle with the function of teaching, no, not for fashion’s sake.
Which he hath purchased. The four reasons, whereby Paul doth carefully prick forward the pastors to do their duty diligently, because the Lord hath given no small pledge of his love toward the Church in shedding his own blood for it. Whereby it appeareth how precious it is to him; and surely there is nothing which ought more vehemently to urge pastors to do their duty joyfully, than if they consider that the price of the blood of Christ is committed to them. For hereupon it followeth, that unless they take pains in the Church, the lost souls are not only imputed to them, but they be also guilty of sacrilege, because they have profaned the holy blood of the Son of God, and have made the redemption gotten by him to be of none effect, so much as in them lieth. And this is a most cruel offence, if, through our sluggishness, the death of Christ do not only become vile or base, but the fruit thereof be also abolished and perish; and it is said that God hath purchased the Church, to the end we may know that he would have it remain wholly to himself, because it is meet and right that he possess those whom he hath redeemed.
Notwithstanding, we must also remember, that all mankind are the bond-slaves of Satan until Christ set us free from his tyranny, gathering us into the inheritance of his Father.
But because the speech which Paul useth seemeth to be somewhat hard, we must see in what sense he saith that God purchased the Church with his blood. For nothing is more absurd than to feign or imagine God to be mortal or to have a body. But in this speech he commendeth the unity of person in Christ; for because there be distinct natures in Christ, the Scripture doth sometimes recite that apart by itself which is proper to either. But when it setteth God before us made manifest in the flesh, it doth not separate the human nature from the Godhead. Notwithstanding, because again two natures are so united in Christ, that they make one person, that is improperly translated sometimes unto the one, which doth truly and in deed belong to the other, as in this place Paul doth attribute blood to God; because the man Jesus Christ, who shed his blood for us, was also God. This manner of speaking is called, of the old writers, communicatio idiomatum, because the property of the one nature is applied to the other. And I said that by this means is manifestly expressed one person of Christ, lest we imagine him to be double, which Nestorius did in times past attempt; and yet for all this we must not imagine a confusion of the two natures which Eutychus went about to bring in, or which the Spanish dog, Servetus, hath at this time invented, who maketh the Godhead of Christ nothing else but a form or image of the human nature, which he dreameth to have always shined in God.
28 On those elders, then, lay a weighty responsibility. The Holy Spirit had entrusted them with the charge of the people of God in Ephesus; they had to care for them as shepherds cared for their flock. It may be implied that their commission to take pastoral responsibility for the church had been conveyed through prophetic utterances, in which the direction of the Spirit was recognized. The word translated “guardians” is the word from which “bishop” is derived,63 but to use that word here might give it an official flavor which would be an anachronism. If their commission was received through prophetic utterances, they received it no doubt because they were known to be those on whom the requisite qualifications for this work had been bestowed—and bestowed by the same Spirit whose will was declared by the prophetic utterances. Their responsibility was the greater in that the flock which they were commissioned to tend was no other than the church of God which he had purchased for himself (an echo here of Old Testament language)—and the purchase price was nothing less than the life-blood of his beloved Son.66
28. Take heed … unto yourselves—Compare 1 Ti 3:2–7; 4:16; 6:11.
and to all the flock—Compare Heb 13:17. Observe here how the personal is put before the pastoral care.
over … which the Holy Ghost hath made you—Compare Jn 20:22, 23; Jn 20:22, 23, Eph 4:8, 11, 12; Rev 3:1. (Ac 14:23 shows that the apostle did not mean to exclude human ordination).
overseers—or, as the same word is everywhere else rendered in our version, “bishops.” The English Version has hardly dealt fair in this case with the sacred text, in rendering the word “overseers,” whereas it ought here, as in all other places, to have been “bishops,” in order that the fact of elders and bishops having been originally and apostolically synonymous, might be apparent to the ordinary English reader, which now it is not [Alford]. The distinction between these offices cannot be certainly traced till the second century, nor was it established till late in that century.
to feed the church of God—or, “the Church of the Lord.” Which of these two readings of the text is the true one, is a question which has divided the best critics. The evidence of manuscripts preponderates in favor of “the Lord”; some of the most ancient Versions, though not all, so read; and Athanasius, the great champion of the supreme Divinity of Christ early in the fourth century, says the expression “Church of God” is unknown to the Scriptures. Which reading, then, does the internal evidence favor? As “Church of God” occurs nine times elsewhere in Paul’s writings, and “Church of the Lord” nowhere, the probability, it is said, is that he used his wonted phraseology here also. But if he did, it is extremely difficult to see how so many early transcribers should have altered it into the quite unusual phrase, “Church of the Lord”; whereas, if the apostle did use this latter expression, and the historian wrote it so accordingly, it is easy to see how transcribers might, from being so accustomed to the usual phrase, write it “Church of God.” On the whole, therefore, we accept the second reading as most probably the true one. But see what follows.
which he hath purchased—“made His own,” “acquired.”
with his own blood—“His own” is emphatic: “That glorified Lord who from the right hand of power in the heavens is gathering and ruling the Church, and by His Spirit, through human agency, hath set you over it, cannot be indifferent to its welfare in your hands, seeing He hath given for it His own most precious blood, thus making it His own by the dearest of all ties.” The transcendent sacredness of the Church of Christ is thus made to rest on the dignity of its Lord and the consequent preciousness of that blood which He shed for it. And as the sacrificial atoning character of Christ’s death is here plainly expressed, so His supreme dignity is implied as clearly by the second reading as it is expressed by the first. What a motive to pastoral fidelity is here furnished!
Ver. 28.—Take heed for take heed therefore, A.V. and T.R.; in for over, A.V.; bishops for overseers, A.V.; purchased for hath purchased, A.V. Take heed, etc.; προσέχετε ἑαυτοῖς, peculiar to Luke (ch. 5:35; Luke 12:1; 17:3; 21:34). Now follows the weighty charge of this great bishop to the clergy assembled at his visitation. With the true feeling of a chief pastor, he thinks of the whole flock, but deals with them chiefly through the under-shepherds. If he can awaken in these individually a deep concern for the souls committed to their charge, he will have done the best that can be done for the flock at large. The first step to such concern for the flock is that each be thoroughly alive to the worth and the wants of his own soul. “Take heed unto yourselves.” He that is careless about his own salvation will never be careful about the souls of others (comp. 1 Tim. 4:16). In the which the Holy Ghost, etc. Ἐν ᾧ, no doubt, does not strictly contain the idea of “over which;” but the idea of authoritative oversight is contained in the word ἐπίσκοπος, and therefore the rendering of the A.V., and of Alford’s A.V. revised, is substantially correct. Perhaps the exact force of the ἐν ᾧ is “among which,” like ἐν ἡμῖν (ch. 2:29, and elsewhere). The call and appointment to the ministry is the special function of the Holy Ghost (John 20:22, 23; ch. 12:2; Ordination Service). To feed; ποιμαίνειν, the proper word for “tending” in relation to τὸ ποίμνιον, the flock, as ποιμήν, the pastor, or shepherd, is for him who so feeds the flock of Christ (see John 10:11, 16; 21:17; Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 5:2, 3). St. Peter applies the titles of “Shepherd and Bishop of souls” to the Lord Jesus (1 Pet. 2:25). St. Paul does not use the metaphor elsewhere, except indirectly, and in a different aspect (1 Cor. 9:7). The Church of God; margin, Church of the Lord. There is, perhaps, no single passage in Scripture which has caused more controversy and evoked more difference of opinion than this. The T.R. has τοῦ Θεοῦ, but most uncials have τοῦ Κυρίου. Kuinoel asserts that the reading τοῦ Κυρίου rests on the authority, besides that of the oldest manuscripts, of the old versions, and of many of the most ancient Fathers, and says that it is undoubtedly the true reading. Meyer, too, thinks that the external evidence for τοῦ Κυρίου is decisive, and that the internal evidence from the fact that ἐκκλησία τοῦ Κυρίου occurs nowhere else in St. Paul’s writings, is decisive also. But on the other hand, both the Codex Vaticanus (B) and the Codex Sinaiticus (א), the two oldest manuscripts, have Θεοῦ (Θυ). The Vulgate, too, and the Syriac have it; and such early Fathers as Ignatius (in his Epistle to the Ephesians) and Tertullian use the phrase, “the blood of God,” which seems to have been derived from this passage. And Alford reasons powerfully in favour of Θεοῦ, dwelling upon the fact that the phrase ἐκκλησία τοῦ Θεοῦ occurs ten times in St. Paul’s writings, that of ἐκκλησία τοῦ Κυρίου not once. The chief authorities on each side of the question are: (1) in favour of τοῦ Κυρίου, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Bornemann, Lange, Olshausen, Davidson, Meyer, Hackett, as also Grotius, Griesbach (doubtfully), Westein, Le Clerc, and others; (2) in favour of τοῦ Θεοῦ. Bengel, Mill, Whitby, Wolf, Scholz, Knapp, Alford, Wordsworth, etc., and the R.T. It should be added that the evidence for τοῦ Θεοῦ has been much strengthened by the publication by Tischendorf, in 1863, of the Codex Sinaiticus, and in 1867 of the Codex Vaticanus, from his own collation. The result is that τοῦ Θεοῦ seems to be the true reading (see the first of the two collects for the Ember weeks in the Book of Common Prayer). With regard to the difficulty that this reading seems to imply the unscriptural phrase, “the blood of God,” and to savour of the Monophysite heresy, it is obvious to reply that there is a wide difference between the phrase as it stands and such a one as the direct “blood of God,” which Athanasius and others objected to. The mental insertion of “the Lord” or “Christ,” as the subject of the verb “purchased,” is very easy, the transition from God the Father to God incarnate being one that might be made almost imperceptibly. Others (including the R.T.) take the reading of several good manuscripts, Διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου, and understand τοῦ ἰδίου to be an ellipse for τοῦ ἰδίου υἱοῦ, the phrase used in Rom. 8:32; and so render it “which he purchased by the blood of his own Son.” Οἱ ἰδίοι, his own, is used without a substantive in John 1:11. This clause is added to enhance the preciousness of the flock, and the responsibility of those who have the oversight of it.
28. “Keep watch over yourselves and the entire flock over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to shepherd God’s church which he purchased with his own blood.”
- “Keep watch over yourselves and the entire flock.” Paul gives a charge to the Ephesian elders, who must assume pastoral responsibilities in the local church. He begins by telling them to keep watch over themselves; that is, they have to be spiritual examples for the members of the church. He exhorts them to put their minds to work in watching themselves (compare 1 Tim. 4:16).
In addition, the elders have the task of caring for the spiritual needs of “the entire flock.” Paul uses imagery borrowed from the agricultural society of his day. This is rather unusual for Paul, whose educational training kept him from any intimate knowledge of sheepherding. Yet he knew that Jesus had frequently alluded to the shepherd and the sheep.42 And when Peter wrote his epistle, he called Jesus the Chief Shepherd under whom elders serve as overseers and shepherds of God’s flock (1 Peter 5:1–4).
- “Over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” This clause introduces two significant points. First, Paul states that the Holy Spirit has appointed the elders as overseers. Perhaps Paul is referring to a specific ceremony that marked their appointment (compare 14:23). Next, he uses the term overseers as a synonym for “elders” (see v. 17). The task of the overseer is to be a shepherd (compare Num. 27:16–17) like Jesus Christ:
Oversight means loving care and concern, a responsibility willingly shouldered; it must never be used for personal aggrandisement. Its meaning is to be seen in Christ’s selfless service which was moved by concern for the salvation of men.
Both Paul and Peter describe the responsibilities of an overseer in their respective epistles. Paul lists a number of qualifications for anyone who aspires to the office of elder/overseer (1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 1:6–9), and Peter similarly specifies the duties of an elder (1 Peter 5:1–4). Both apostles use the terms elder and overseer interchangeably.
- “To shepherd God’s church which he purchased with his own blood.” This clause presents difficulties, for the expression God’s church can be translated “church of God/Christ” or “church of the Lord.” The first expression is common in the New Testament; it occurs twelve times apart from Acts 20:28. Conversely, although the reading the Lord’s church does appear in a number of excellent Greek manuscripts, that reading occurs nowhere else in the New Testament and only seven times in the Septuagint. On the basis of the scriptural evidence, I am inclined to adopt the reading the church of God.
Another difficulty, however, remains. What is the meaning of the literal translation with the blood of his own? If we translate the phrase “with his own blood,” which most translations have adopted, we confuse the meaning of the sentence. The context mentions the Holy Spirit and God, to whom the word blood fails to apply. Perhaps the suggestion to say that “his own” is a variant of “his beloved” or “his one and only [Son]” is a step toward solving the matter.
- “God’s church which he purchased.” God bought his universal church with the blood of his Son. He paid an incalculable price to save a people for himself through Christ’s death on the cross. Writes Donald Guthrie, “The idea of the death of Christ being a purchase price is a distinctive emphasis in Paul’s epistles.” Indeed, Paul tells the Corinthians, “You were bought at a price” (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23; and see Ps. 74:2; Rev. 5:9).
20:28. Paul gave three reasons that the elders must be vigilant. First, they were appointed by the Holy Spirit. Paul did not explain how the Spirit revealed their appointment. Second, the church was God’s. It did not belong to Paul or any other individual. Third, God purchased the church with His own blood, or better, “the blood of His own [Son].” Here “His own” refers to Jesus, not God the Father. It is possible that Jesus here was called God. He was called by the title Theos elsewhere in the NT (e.g., Jn 1:1, 18; Rm 9:5), but the NT writers were careful to avoid blending these unqualified statements of Jesus’ deity with strictly human attributes (such as blood). One never finds, for example, statements like “the cross of God” or “God was crucified at Calvary,” or “God died and rose again” (for a detailed discussion of this text, and for this understanding, see Murray J. Harris, Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1992], 137–141). And it is unlikely that the reference is to the blood of God the Father, who, as a spirit, does not have blood. Paul’s point in making this statement may implicitly have reminded these elders that the church they oversaw belonged to God, not to them.
The word overseers (episkopoi) in secular Greek meant “[those who have] the responsibility of safeguarding or seeing to it that something is done in the correct way” and was adopted for use in the church to describe those who provided supervision and leadership (BDAG, 379). It is a virtual synonym for elders (presbyteroi, v. 17), which is literally “an older man,” but had a specialized meaning that designated a church leader by his physical and spiritual maturity. These terms both signify the same office, namely that of “pastor.” Though “pastor” (poimen) is not used in Ac 20, the related verb poimaino (“to shepherd”) is found in v. 28. This suggests that those who are pastors are also elders and overseers in the church, and that pastor is not an office that differs from elder or overseer.
 Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 209). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.