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Take Heed Acts 20:28

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Acts 20:28

“Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son.” (Acts 20:28, RSV)

“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 2020)

“Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God that he obtained with his own blood.” Do you see how [Paul] gives two orders here? Success with others alone does not bring any benefit—for I fear, he says, “lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Cor 9:27) Equally, caring only for oneself brings no benefit. For such a one is selfish and seeks only his own good, like the man who has buried his gold. He says this not because our own salvation is more precious than that of the flock but because when we attend to ourselves, the flock also benefits.  (John Chrysostom (344/354–407; fl. 386–407). Bishop of Constantinople who was noted for his orthodoxy, his eloquence and his attacks on Christian laxity in high places.)

28. Take heed, therefore. Attend to; be on your guard against the dangers which beset you, and seek to discharge your duty with fidelity.

To yourselves. To your own piety, opinions, and mode of life. This is the first duty of a minister; for without this all his preaching will be vain. Comp. Col. 4:17; 1 Ti. 4:14. Ministers are beset with peculiar dangers and temptations, and against them they should be on their guard. In addition to the temptations which they have in common with other men, they are exposed to those peculiar to their office—arising from flattery, and ambition, and despondency, and worldly-mindedness. And just in proportion to the importance of their office is the importance of the injunction of Paul, to take heed to themselves.

And to all the flock. The church; the charge entrusted to them. The church of Christ is often compared to a flock. See Notes on Jn. 10:1–20; also Jn. 21:15–17. The word flock here refers particularly to the church, and not to the congregation in general, for it is represented to be that which was purchased with the blood of the atonement. The command here is, (1) To take heed to the church; that is, to instruct, teach, and guide it; to guard it from enemies (ver. 29), and to make it their special object to promote its welfare. (2) To take heed to all the flock—the rich and the poor, the bond and the free, the old and the young. It is the duty of ministers to seek to promote the welfare of each individual of their charge—not to pass by the poor because they are poor, and not to be afraid of the rich because they are rich. A shepherd regards the interest of the tenderest of the fold as much as the strongest; and a faithful minister will seek to advance the interest of all. To do this he should know all his people; should be acquainted, as far as possible, with their peculiar wants, character, and dangers, and should devote himself to their welfare as his first and main employment.

Over the which the Holy Ghost. Though they had been appointed, doubtless, by the church, or by the apostles, yet it is here represented as having been done by the Holy Ghost. It was by him, (1) Because he had called and qualified them for their work; and, (2) Because they had been set apart in accordance with his direction and will.

Overseers—ἐπισκόπους. Bishops. The word properly denotes those who are appointed to oversee or inspect anything. This passage proves that the name bishop was applicable to elders; that in the time of the apostles, the name bishop and presbyter, or elder, was given to the same class of officers, and, of course, that there was no distinction between them. One term was originally used to denote office, the other age, and both were applied to the same persons in the church. The same thing occurs in Tit. 1:5–7, where those who in ver. 5 are called elders, are in ver. 7 called bishops. See also 1 Ti. 3:1–10; Phi. 1:1.

To feed—ποιμαίνειν. This word is properly applied to the care which a shepherd exercises over his flock. See Notes on Jn. 21:15, 16. It is applicable not only to the act of feeding a flock, but also to that of protecting, guiding, and guarding it. It here denotes not merely the duty of instructing the church, but also of governing it; of securing it from enemies (ver. 29), and of directing its affairs so as to promote its edification and peace.

The church of God. This is one of three passages in the New Testament in regard to which there has been a long controversy among critics, which is not yet determined. The controversy is, whether is this the correct and genuine reading. The other two passages are, 1 Ti. 3:16, and 1 Jn. 5:7. The MSS. and versions here exhibit three readings: the church of God (τοῦ Θεοῦ); the church of the Lord (τοῦ Κυρίου); and the church of the Lord and God (Κυρίου καὶ Θεοῦ). The Latin Vulgate reads it God; The Syriac, the Lord. The Arabic, the Lord God. The Ethiopic, the Christian family of God. The reading which now occurs in our text is found in no ancient MSS. except the Vatican Codex, and occurs nowhere among the writings of the fathers except in Athanasius, in regard to whom also there is a various reading. It is retained, however, by Beza, Mill, and Whitby as the genuine reading. The most ancient MSS., and the best, read the church of the Lord, and this probably was the genuine text. It has been adopted by Griesbach and Wetstein; and many important reasons may be given why it should be retained. See those reasons stated at length in Kuinoel in loco; see also Griesbach and Wetstein. It may be remarked, that a change from Lord to God might easily be made in the transcribing, for in ancient MSS. the words are not written at length, but are abbreviated. Thus, the name Christ (Χριστός) is written ΧΟΣ; the name God (Θεός) is written ΘΟΣ; the name Lord (Κυρίος) is written ΚΟΣ; and a mistake, therefore, of a single letter would lead to the variations observable in the manuscripts. Comp. in this place the note of Mill in his Greek Testament. The authority for the name God is so doubtful that it should not be used as a proof text on the divinity of Christ, and is not necessary, as there are so many undisputed passages on that subject.

Which he hath purchased. The word here used (περιεποιήσατο) occurs but in one other place in the New Testament: 1 Ti. 3:13, “For they that have used the office of deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree and great boldness in the faith.” The word properly means to acquire or gain anything; to make it ours. This may be done by a price, or by labour, &c. The noun (περιποίησις) derived from this verb is several times used in the New Testament, and denotes acquisition: 1 Th. 5:9: “God hath appointed us to obtain [unto the obtaining or acquisition of] salvation;” 2 Th. 2:14, “Whereunto he called you by our gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ;” 1 Pe. 2:9; Tit. 2:14; Ep. 1:14. In this place it means that Christ had acquired, gained, or procured, the church for himself by paying his own life as the price. The church is often represented as having thus been bought with a price, 1 Co. 6:20; 7:23; 2 Pe. 2:1.

With his own blood. With the sacrifice of his own life; for blood is often put for life, and to shed the blood is equivalent to taking the life. See Notes on Ro. 3:25. The doctrines taught here are, (1) That the death of Christ was an atoning sacrifice; that he offered himself to purchase a people to his own service. (2) That the church is, therefore, of peculiar value—a value to be estimated by the price paid for it. Comp. 1 Pe. 1:18, 19. (3) That this fact should make the purity and salvation of the church an object of special solicitude with ministers of the gospel. They should be deeply affected in view of that blood which has been shed for the church; and they should guard and defend it as having been bought with the highest price in the universe. The chief consideration that will make ministers faithful and self-denying is, that the church has been bought with a price. If the Lord Jesus so loved it; if he gave himself for it, they should be willing to deny themselves; to watch, and toil, and pray, that the great object of his death—the purity and the salvation of that church—may be obtained. (Barnes, A. (1884–1885). Notes on the New Testament: Acts. (R. Frew, Ed.) (pp. 295–297). London: Blackie & Son. (Public Domain))

Acts 20:28

“Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son.” (Acts 20:28, RSV)

“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 2020)

“Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God that he obtained with his own blood.” Do you see how [Paul] gives two orders here? Success with others alone does not bring any benefit—for I fear, he says, “lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Cor 9:27) Equally, caring only for oneself brings no benefit. For such a one is selfish and seeks only his own good, like the man who has buried his gold. He says this not because our own salvation is more precious than that of the flock but because when we attend to ourselves, the flock also benefits.  (John Chrysostom (344/354–407; fl. 386–407). Bishop of Constantinople who was noted for his orthodoxy, his eloquence and his attacks on Christian laxity in high places.)

28. Take heed, therefore. Attend to; be on your guard against the dangers which beset you, and seek to discharge your duty with fidelity.

To yourselves. To your own piety, opinions, and mode of life. This is the first duty of a minister; for without this all his preaching will be vain. Comp. Col. 4:17; 1 Ti. 4:14. Ministers are beset with peculiar dangers and temptations, and against them they should be on their guard. In addition to the temptations which they have in common with other men, they are exposed to those peculiar to their office—arising from flattery, and ambition, and despondency, and worldly-mindedness. And just in proportion to the importance of their office is the importance of the injunction of Paul, to take heed to themselves.

And to all the flock. The church; the charge entrusted to them. The church of Christ is often compared to a flock. See Notes on Jn. 10:1–20; also Jn. 21:15–17. The word flock here refers particularly to the church, and not to the congregation in general, for it is represented to be that which was purchased with the blood of the atonement. The command here is, (1) To take heed to the church; that is, to instruct, teach, and guide it; to guard it from enemies (ver. 29), and to make it their special object to promote its welfare. (2) To take heed to all the flock—the rich and the poor, the bond and the free, the old and the young. It is the duty of ministers to seek to promote the welfare of each individual of their charge—not to pass by the poor because they are poor, and not to be afraid of the rich because they are rich. A shepherd regards the interest of the tenderest of the fold as much as the strongest; and a faithful minister will seek to advance the interest of all. To do this he should know all his people; should be acquainted, as far as possible, with their peculiar wants, character, and dangers, and should devote himself to their welfare as his first and main employment.

Over the which the Holy Ghost. Though they had been appointed, doubtless, by the church, or by the apostles, yet it is here represented as having been done by the Holy Ghost. It was by him, (1) Because he had called and qualified them for their work; and, (2) Because they had been set apart in accordance with his direction and will.

Overseers—ἐπισκόπους. Bishops. The word properly denotes those who are appointed to oversee or inspect anything. This passage proves that the name bishop was applicable to elders; that in the time of the apostles, the name bishop and presbyter, or elder, was given to the same class of officers, and, of course, that there was no distinction between them. One term was originally used to denote office, the other age, and both were applied to the same persons in the church. The same thing occurs in Tit. 1:5–7, where those who in ver. 5 are called elders, are in ver. 7 called bishops. See also 1 Ti. 3:1–10; Phi. 1:1.

To feed—ποιμαίνειν. This word is properly applied to the care which a shepherd exercises over his flock. See Notes on Jn. 21:15, 16. It is applicable not only to the act of feeding a flock, but also to that of protecting, guiding, and guarding it. It here denotes not merely the duty of instructing the church, but also of governing it; of securing it from enemies (ver. 29), and of directing its affairs so as to promote its edification and peace.

The church of God. This is one of three passages in the New Testament in regard to which there has been a long controversy among critics, which is not yet determined. The controversy is, whether is this the correct and genuine reading. The other two passages are, 1 Ti. 3:16, and 1 Jn. 5:7. The MSS. and versions here exhibit three readings: the church of God (τοῦ Θεοῦ); the church of the Lord (τοῦ Κυρίου); and the church of the Lord and God (Κυρίου καὶ Θεοῦ). The Latin Vulgate reads it God; The Syriac, the Lord. The Arabic, the Lord God. The Ethiopic, the Christian family of God. The reading which now occurs in our text is found in no ancient MSS. except the Vatican Codex, and occurs nowhere among the writings of the fathers except in Athanasius, in regard to whom also there is a various reading. It is retained, however, by Beza, Mill, and Whitby as the genuine reading. The most ancient MSS., and the best, read the church of the Lord, and this probably was the genuine text. It has been adopted by Griesbach and Wetstein; and many important reasons may be given why it should be retained. See those reasons stated at length in Kuinoel in loco; see also Griesbach and Wetstein. It may be remarked, that a change from Lord to God might easily be made in the transcribing, for in ancient MSS. the words are not written at length, but are abbreviated. Thus, the name Christ (Χριστός) is written ΧΟΣ; the name God (Θεός) is written ΘΟΣ; the name Lord (Κυρίος) is written ΚΟΣ; and a mistake, therefore, of a single letter would lead to the variations observable in the manuscripts. Comp. in this place the note of Mill in his Greek Testament. The authority for the name God is so doubtful that it should not be used as a proof text on the divinity of Christ, and is not necessary, as there are so many undisputed passages on that subject.

Which he hath purchased. The word here used (περιεποιήσατο) occurs but in one other place in the New Testament: 1 Ti. 3:13, “For they that have used the office of deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree and great boldness in the faith.” The word properly means to acquire or gain anything; to make it ours. This may be done by a price, or by labour, &c. The noun (περιποίησις) derived from this verb is several times used in the New Testament, and denotes acquisition: 1 Th. 5:9: “God hath appointed us to obtain [unto the obtaining or acquisition of] salvation;” 2 Th. 2:14, “Whereunto he called you by our gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ;” 1 Pe. 2:9; Tit. 2:14; Ep. 1:14. In this place it means that Christ had acquired, gained, or procured, the church for himself by paying his own life as the price. The church is often represented as having thus been bought with a price, 1 Co. 6:20; 7:23; 2 Pe. 2:1.

With his own blood. With the sacrifice of his own life; for blood is often put for life, and to shed the blood is equivalent to taking the life. See Notes on Ro. 3:25. The doctrines taught here are, (1) That the death of Christ was an atoning sacrifice; that he offered himself to purchase a people to his own service. (2) That the church is, therefore, of peculiar value—a value to be estimated by the price paid for it. Comp. 1 Pe. 1:18, 19. (3) That this fact should make the purity and salvation of the church an object of special solicitude with ministers of the gospel. They should be deeply affected in view of that blood which has been shed for the church; and they should guard and defend it as having been bought with the highest price in the universe. The chief consideration that will make ministers faithful and self-denying is, that the church has been bought with a price. If the Lord Jesus so loved it; if he gave himself for it, they should be willing to deny themselves; to watch, and toil, and pray, that the great object of his death—the purity and the salvation of that church—may be obtained. (Barnes, A. (1884–1885). Notes on the New Testament: Acts. (R. Frew, Ed.) (pp. 295–297). London: Blackie & Son. (Public Domain))



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