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Why do you believe that "Church of Christ " is the correct name of the Church founded by Christ.
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"Church of the Lord,"   or "Church of God,"
or "Church of Christ"? (in Acts 20:28)


Letter to the Editor:
GOD'S MESSAGE, May 2004, p.3

I CONSULTED SEVERAL Bible translations and versions, and I found out that in most renditions, instead of "Church of Christ," the phrase written in Acts 20:28 which refers to the true Church is either "Church of the Lord" or "Church of God." As far as I know, only Lamsa's Translation mentions "Church of Christ." Why do you believe that "Church of Christ " is the correct name of the Church founded by Christ?

Jasmine Domingo
Cotobato City, Philippines

Editor's reply:

 It must be taken into account that it is Christ who built the true Church .and that He called it His Church (Mt. !6:18). To explain the relationship between Christ and His Church, Apostle Paul teaches that the Church is Christ's body (Col.1:18). The correct name of the true Church built by Christ therefore is "Church of Christ," for it is but right and just for the body to be called by the name of the head.

Regarding the phrase "Church of Christ" in his translation of Acts 20:28, George M. Lamsa explains, thus:

      "The eastern text reads: 'The church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood.' . . . . Jewish Christian could not have used the term God, because in their eyes God is spirit, and spirit has no flesh and blood. . . . It was Jesus of Nazareth who shed his blood on the cross for us, and not God." (New Testament Commentary: From the Aramaic and the Eastern Customs, pp. 149-150)

Granting without conceding that only George M. Lamsa's translation of the Bible renders the phrase in Acts 20:28 as "Church of Christ," still no rule of reasoning compels us to conclude that if one is alone in his position, then his stand would be wrong.

Besides, it is not just Lamsa's translation which mentions "Church of Christ" in Acts 20:28. The English translation of the verse in Syriac manuscript such as MS Syriac 325 (12th century), MS Syriac 27 (16th century), and the Novum Testamentum Syriace (17th century) read "Church of Christ."

Syriac is an Aramaic dialect into which most of the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament were first translated. Consulting Syriac manuscripts can help settle controversies in the Greek manuscripts. According to some Bible scholars, "No branch of the Early Church has done more for the translation of the Bible into their vernacular than the Syriac-speaking" (The early versions of the New Testament: Their origin, transmission and limitations, p.3). It is also asserted that the Syriac manuscripts are "of great value to the Biblical exegete . . .  in view of their origin in the second and third centuries" (The text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, p.67).

Aside from Syriac manuscripts, the phrase "Church of Christ" can also be found in Acts 20:28 in Peshitta Aramaic Text with a Hebrew Translation which, when translated in English, reads:

     "Watch then for yourselves and for all the flock in which the Holy Spirit has given you the responsibility to feed the church of Christ which he has acquired with his own blood."

In Dr. John Wesley Etheridge's translation "The Apostolical Acts and Epistles, from the Peschito, or ancient Syriac, the phrase in the verse was rendered as "church of the Meshija [or Christ]. Moreover, the Disciples New Testament translated by Victor Alexander, puts in the verse the name "church of Jesus Christ."

We are confident that the translations or versions that have "Church of Christ" are the more accurate rendition of Acts 20:28 because the latter part of the verse states, "which he purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28, American Standard Version, emphasis ours). It is clear that the one referred to here by the pronoun "he" is the one who shed his blood for the Church. Here, we can only agree to Lamsa's explanation, for it is indeed what the Bible teaches. The pronoun "he" does not refer to our Lord God for  He, being a spirit (Jn. 4:24), has no flesh and bones (Lk.24:36-39), and thus has no blood. It is the Lord Jesus Christ's blood, which washed the members of the Church of their sins (I Peter 1:18-19; Rev. 1:5). When the text reads, "Church of Christ," it furnishes no difficulty for reading "with his own blood."

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Note: Some words and phrases are in italics for emphasis.

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