July 31 Morning Verse of The Day

20:28 Reference to redemption through Jesus’s blood, that is, redemption through his death, is unique in Acts. It does reflect Paul’s language in his letters (e.g., Rm 3:25; 5:9; Eph 2:13).[1]

20:28 Paul used the language of shepherding to describe the responsibility of the leaders of the Ephesian church. Here they are called overseers rather than elders (see note at v. 17), appointed by the Holy Spirit for their task. Reference here to redemption through the blood of Jesus is unique in Acts, but the language reflects Paul’s statements elsewhere (Rm 3:25; 5:9; Eph 2:13).[2]

20:28 with his own blood. The phrasing is remarkable in the way it acknowledges that the blood of Christ is the blood of God. Many ancient manuscripts have a different word order, reading “the blood of His own,” that is, of Christ.[3]

20:28 overseers The Greek word used here, episkopos, refers to those with leadership responsibility over the church. These leaders are likely collectively responsible for multiple churches.[4]

20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves. Spiritual leaders need first of all to guard their own spiritual and moral purity. the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. The last part of this phrase refers to the blood of Christ poured out in his atoning death on the cross (cf. Rom. 3:25; 5:9; Eph. 1:7; etc.). The reference to God in the first part of this phrase (“the church of God”) most likely is a reference to Christ as the head of the church and as “God the Son,” the second person of the Trinity. Alternatively, if God the Father is in view in the phrase “the church of God,” then “his own blood” is a reference to the blood of God’s “own,” that is, of “God’s own Son” (which would be a legitimate alternative reading of the Greek). (See also ESV footnote indicating that some Greek manuscripts read “the church of the Lord” rather than “the church of God.”)[5]

20:28 Be on guard for yourselves. Paul repeated this call to self-examination to Timothy when his young son in the faith served as pastor of the Ephesian congregation (1Ti 4:16; 2Ti 2:20, 21). overseers. These are the same as elders and pastors (see note on 1Ti 3:1). The word stresses the leaders’ responsibility to watch over and protect their congregations—an appropriate usage in the context of a warning against false teachers. Church rule, which minimizes the biblical authority of elders in favor of a cultural, democratic process, is foreign to the NT (cf. 1Th 5:12, 13; Heb 13:17). with His own blood. See note on 1Pe 1:18. Paul believed so strongly in the unity of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ that he could speak of Christ’s death as shedding the blood of God—who has no body (Jn 4:24; cf. Lk 24:39) and hence no blood.[6]

20:28. Paul first exhorted them concerning the quality of their own spiritual walk as leaders and then with regard to “all the flock” (cf. v 29; Luke 12:32; 1 Pet 5:3). Describing believers as a flock recalls the Good Shepherd to whom the sheep belonged (cf. John 10:1–21). The apostle then mentioned how they attained to this privilege: “the Holy Spirit had made them overseers and set them apart to shepherd the church of God.” The MT reads the church of the Lord and God. Both renderings point to the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ as the words which follow (“which He purchased with His own blood”) clarify. The elders had no ownership over other believers or the church. The Lord’s love of the Church set the standard for the leaders’ treatment of her. They should care for it as God’s cherished possession and lead it with the sacrificial love exemplified by her Lord.[7]

20:28 Since he would never again meet them on earth, he delivered a solemn charge to the elders that they should first of all take heed to their own spiritual condition. Unless they were living in fellowship with the Lord, they could not expect to be spiritual guides in the church.

Their function as elders was to take heed … to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit had made them overseers. As mentioned previously, overseers in the NT are also called bishops, elders, and presbyters. This verse emphasizes that elders are not appointed or elected by the local assembly. They are made overseers by the Holy Spirit, and should be recognized by the believers among whom they labor.

Among other things they were responsible to shepherd the church of God. The importance of such a charge is seen in the words which follow: which He purchased with His own blood. This latter expression has been the cause of considerable discussion and disagreement among Bible scholars. The difficulty is that God is here pictured as shedding His blood, whereas God is Spirit. It was the Lord Jesus who shed His blood, and although Jesus is God, yet nowhere else does the Bible speak of God bleeding or dying.

The majority of manuscripts read “the church of the Lord and God which He purchased with His own blood,” apparently suggesting that Person of the Godhead (the Lord) who actually shed His blood.

Perhaps J. N. Darby comes closest to the correct sense of the passage in his New Translation: “The assembly of God, which He has purchased with the blood of His own.” Here God is the One who purchased the church, but He did it with the blood of His own Son, the blessed Lord Jesus.[8]

20:28. In verses 28–35 Paul turned to the future responsibilities of the elders in Ephesus. First, they were to guard (prosechete, “attend to” in the sense of taking care of) themselves and all the flock. Significantly before they could provide for the flock they had to care for their own spiritual well-being.

Here the elders are described as overseers (episkopous, from the verb episkopeō, “to look for, to care for”). The term “elders” has primarily Jewish antecedents and stresses the dignity of the office, whereas “overseers” is mainly Greek in its derivation and emphasizes the responsibility of the office, namely, “to look after” others.

The value of the flock, over which the elders were to be shepherds (poimainein, pres. tense infinitive; cf. 1 Peter 5:2), is underscored by Paul’s calling it the church of God (i.e., the church that is owned by God) and by his referring to its purchase (cf. Ps. 74:2) by His own blood. Nowhere does the Bible speak of the blood of God the Father. The Greek here can read “by the blood of His own,” that is, His own Son. The Greek word for bought means “acquired, obtained.”[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.[10]

20:28 “Be on guard for yourselves” This is a PRESENT ACTIVE IMPERATIVE. This admonition is also in 1 Cor. 16:13; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:6, 10. The Christian life has both a divine and a human aspect. God always takes the initiative and sets the agenda, but believers must respond and continue to respond. In one sense we are responsible for our spiritual lives (cf. Phil. 2:12–13). What is true of individual believers, is true for church leaders (cf. 1 Cor. 3).

 “and for all the flock” This is a metaphor for the people of God (cf. Ps. 23; Luke 12:32; John 21:15–17). It is also the origin of the term “pastor.” See note at 20:17. Church leaders are responsible to God for themselves and their churches (cf. 1 Cor. 3).

 “the Holy Spirit has made you” This shows the divine call of God in choosing church leaders.

 “overseers” See note at 20:17.

 “the church of God”“God” is found in the ancient Greek manuscripts P74, A, C, D, and E, while “Lord” is found in MSS א and B. Paul uses the phrase “church of God” often, but never the phrase “church of the Lord.” The context supports “the church of the Lord” because the next phrase, “through the blood of his own,” surely refers to Christ. However, this is just the kind of editorial scribal change that one would expect. Therefore the UBS4 Greek text retains “God,” but gives it a “C” rating. “Lord” would be the most unusual and difficult reading.

This text serves as a good example of how scribes changed texts for theological reasons. A good discussion is found in Bart D. Ehrmans’ The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, pp. 87–89. Scribes altered texts to make them stronger doctrinally against the Christological heresies of their day. Acts 20:28 offers a variety of changes probably related to internal historical/theological tensions.

Before we throw up our hands in despair, we must remember that the New Testament has a superior textual tradition, far better than any other ancient writing. Although we cannot be absolutely sure of the exact wording of the original autographs, we still have a trustworthy and accurate text! These variants do not affect any major doctrines!! See Rethinking New Testament Textual Criticism ed. David Alan Black.

 “He purchased with His own blood” This reflects the OT concept of sacrificial substitution (cf. Lev. 1–7; Isa. 53). It is also possibly a strong reference to Jesus’ deity. Paul often uses phrases which point to this truth (cf. Rom. 9:5; Col. 2:9; Titus 2:13).

It is also possible to translate this Greek phrase as “through His own,” meaning near relative (i.e. His Son Jesus). F. F. Bruce, Commentary on the book of the Acts, p. 416 #59, says this phrase should be translated “by means of the blood of His own one,” which he asserts is well attested in the papyri.[11]

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.”

a. “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).

b. “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.

c. “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.

d. “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).[12]

28. Now Paul reaches the second part of his discourse. The first part has implicitly contained exhortation to his hearers in that his personal example was intended to be a pattern to them, but now he turns to direct exhortation. In the manner of a farewell discourse he deals with how they are to act when he is no longer with them. They are to pay attention to their own spiritual condition (cf. 1 Tim. 4:16) as well as to that of the church; it is only as the leaders themselves remain faithful to God that they can expect the church to do so likewise. The church is described as a flock, a familiar Old Testament metaphor for God’s people (Ps. 100:3; Isa. 40:11; Jer. 13:17; Ezek. 34) which was taken up by Jesus (Luke 12:32; 15:3–7; 19:10; John 10:1–30). The picture is applied to the church and its leaders in John 21:15–17 and 1 Peter 5:2; Paul uses it without any particular emphasis in 1 Corinthians 9:7; but it is not one of his pictures for the church. From this usage developed the idea of church leaders as ‘shepherds’ or ‘pastors’ (Eph. 4:11), but the term which Paul uses here is guardians (rsv). This is the meaning of the word elsewhere translated as ‘bishops’ (Greek episkopos), a word which was used for leaders in at least some of Paul’s churches (Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 1:7). It conveys the idea of spiritual oversight and pastoral care. Such people owed their appointment to God’s choice of them by the Spirit. The people described here as ‘bishops’ are identical with those described as ‘elders’ in verse 17, and in 14:23 we read how they were appointed by Paul in some of his churches with prayer and fasting, i.e. in dependence on the guidance of the Spirit. Their task was to care for the church; the rsv mg. rendering feed is too narrow in meaning for a word that means ‘to act as a shepherd’; it refers to all the care that must be exercised in relation to the flock. The church is here called the church of God; this is a phrase found exclusively in Paul’s letters (e.g. 1 Cor. 1:2). The church belongs to God because he himself bought it (rsv obtained is weak). The thought is of the act of redemption by which the church became God’s special property, and is based on the picture of God redeeming Israel in Isaiah 43:21 (cf. Ps. 74:2, which significantly follows a verse in which Israel is likened to a flock). The cost of redemption was (literally) his own blood. It is, however, unlikely that an early Christian would have spoken of God shedding his own blood, and therefore we must either assume that Jesus is the subject of the clause (which is just possible, but unlikely) or that the phrase means ‘the blood of his Own’ (rsv mg.), which is grammatically possible and fits in with the use of the phrase his own Son (Rom. 8:31). Although this is one of the few places in Luke’s writings which clearly refer to the doctrinal significance of the cross, we should not underestimate its importance as a statement which represented his own belief as well as Paul’s.[13]

20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. The watchman image continues as Paul applies it in his charge to the Ephesian elders. “Keep watch over yourselves” is the same warning that Gamaliel gave to the Sanhedrin, though there the Greek words are translated as “consider carefully” (5:35). Religious leaders first must examine themselves lest they lead their charges to ruin. The backdrop is Ezekiel 34, where the prophet excoriates the shepherds of God’s flock for failing to care for the weak, looking after only themselves, and abandoning the flock to predators. The church must be rightly led, or it too will be scattered and lost.

“Overseers” are identical to “elders.” “Elder” refers to “age, experience, and wisdom”; “overseer,” to the role of leading, managing, and guarding. Overseers are not “overlords,” and Paul makes clear that the church belongs to God, not to them. God acquired rights over the church with “his own blood.” Some interpret this phrase to mean “his own [Son’s] blood” (cf. Eph. 2:13; Col. 1:20; 1 Pet. 1:18–19; Rev. 5:9). The grammar of the text suggests that it refers to God’s blood, which gives prominence to how much it cost to redeem the church.[14]

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[15]

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.[16]


[1] Porter, S. E. (2017). Acts. In T. Cabal (Ed.), CSB Apologetics Study Bible (p. 1382). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[2] Sills, M. D. (2017). Opportunities and Challenges in Global Missions. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (pp. 1757–1758). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1595). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ac 20:28). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2130). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ac 20:28). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[7] Valdés, A. S. (2010). The Acts of the Apostles. In R. N. Wilkin (Ed.), The Grace New Testament Commentary (pp. 586–587). Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society.

[8] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1648–1649). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[9] Toussaint, S. D. (1985). Acts. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 414). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[10] Marty, W. H. (2014). Acts. In M. A. Rydelnik & M. Vanlaningham (Eds.), The moody bible commentary (p. 1723). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[11] Utley, R. J. (2003). Luke the Historian: The Book of Acts (Vol. Volume 3B, p. 235). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.

[12] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 17, pp. 732–733). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[13] Marshall, I. H. (1980). Acts: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 5, pp. 352–353). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[14] Garland, D. E. (2017). Acts. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (p. 212). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books: A Division of Baker Publishing Group.

[15] Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of the Acts (pp. 392–393). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[16] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1994). Acts (Vol. 2, pp. 222–225). Chicago: Moody Press.

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