Mr. George Lamsa’s scholarship led him to knowledge that the Hebrew word for “God” and “Lord” is one and the same. The Hebrew word for Lord may refer to the Lord God or to the Lord Jesus Christ.
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Why Lamsa for Acts 20:28

Letter to the Editor:
PASUGO, May-June 1993, p.2

I AM AN avid reader of Pasugo and  among  the articles  I admire is "Toward Responsible      parenting"' (September-October 1992 issue).

However, I have noticed that whenever you refer to Acts 20:28, you always cite George Lamsa's  version   which    used    the  expression "Church of Christ" instead of "Church of God"  which most Bible versions carry. The reason you give is that God is a spirit.  He doesn't have bones and flesh, and blood to be shed for and in behalf of the people who live in His Church to gain salvation.

These are the questions that arose in my mind. Please answer them:
     1. Who is this George Lamsa to change some words of the Bible? 
     2 What are his own views, concepts, and  reasons   for  changing them?
     3. The Bible takes a neutral stand-for all which were written therein are parables. Why does   your church interpret them literally?
     4. Why is it that your Church is bringing Christ's name into the Church's name if you do not believe that Christ is God?
     5. Which are God's priorities in saving us:  the Church where we belong, or the way we perform our role in this world of God's creation?

James Jeraldy M. Balingit
Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines

Editor's reply:

Mr. George M. Lamsa is a native Assyrian who was born and reared in that part of the ancient biblical land from which Abraham migrated to Palestine. His people, because they were isolated for many centuries, preserved the Aramaic language and the ancient biblical customs which have disappeared everywhere else. The language and the manners and the customs of his people are almost identical with that in which Jesus and his contemporaries were reared. His family, from the days of the patriarch to 1918, lived a simple pastoral life. Even today, they speak in idioms and parables, some of which would be difficult for a Westerner to understand.

Mr. Lamsa began his study of the Scriptures in Aramaic under the teachers of his tribe. Then he was educated in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s College in Persia and Turkey and after the First World War, in the Virginia Theological Seminary of Alexandria, Virginia. In addition to being translator, Mr. Lamsa is a world traveler and lecturer. His translations from the Aramaic and comments on the Scriptures have aroused tremendous interest both in America and in Europe. They have helped many to a better understanding of the greatest of all books.

Mr. George Lamsa’s scholarship led him to knowledge that the Hebrew word for “God” and “Lord” is one and the same. This is probably the reason why many Bible versions render Acts 20:28 in reference to the Church as either “Church of the Lord” or Church of God.” The Hebrew word for Lord may refer to the Lord God or to the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who believe that Christ is God are prone to be led by their mind – set to ignore scholarship and to put their belief in their research and thus the translation of Acts 20:28 has been either “Church of God” or “Church of the Lord.”

Mr. Lamsa’s research revealed to him that the Hebrew word for “Lord” in Acts 20:28 refers not to God who cannot shed blood for He, being spirit, has no blood. Rather, the word refers to Christ who actually was crucified for the Church.

Acts 20:28 is not a parable. Christ literally shed His blood for the Church when He was crucified (cf. Jn. 19:17-30, 34). He gave His life for the Church because He loved her (cf. Eph. 5:25). And to save her it was necessary for Him to shed His blood (cf. Heb. 9:22, Revised Standard Version).

Note: You may read from verse 17.
Later, Jesus knew that everything had been done. To make the Scriptures come true he said, “I am thirsty.”
29 There was a jar full of sour wine there, so the soldiers soaked a sponge in it. They put the sponge on a branch of a hyssop plant and lifted it to Jesus’ mouth. 30 When he tasted the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and died.
34 But one of the soldiers stuck his spear into Jesus’ side. Immediately blood and water came out. (Jn. 19:17-30, 34, ERV)

25 Husbands, love your wives the same as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.  (Eph. 5:25, ERV)

22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (Heb. 9:22, Revised Standard Version)

The Iglesia ni Cristo carries Christ’s name. This connotes possession. Christ owns the Church which is why the apostles used to call it the Church of Christ or, in Filipino, Iglesia ni Cristo (cf. Rom. 16:16; Acts 20:28, Lamsa). It was Christ who founded the Church which He called “my church” (cf. Mt. 16:18).

16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you.

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. (Acts 20:28, Lamsa)

18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. NKJV

For a person to be saved, he should be a member of the true Church of Christ because it is to the Church where God brings those to be saved (cf. Acts 2:47).

47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church[h] daily those who were being saved. NKJV

This Church has been purchased by Christ with His blood and therefore redeemed and given the right to deify God (cf. Heb. 9:14).

14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

All those outside the Church – whether they lived good lives in the eyes of men or not – will be subject to God’s judgment (cf. I Cor. 5:13, RSV).

13 God judges those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”

But, once inside the Church, one must obey all of God’s commandments because it is in this Church where man must be made worthy of salvation (cf. Eph. 4:11-16).

11 And that same Christ gave these gifts to people: He made some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to go and tell the Good News, and some to care for and teach God’s people.[a] 12 Christ gave these gifts to prepare God’s holy people for the work of serving, to make the body of Christ stronger.
This work must continue until we are all joined together in what we believe and in what we know about the Son of God. Our goal is to become like a full-grown man—to look just like Christ and have all his perfection.
14 Then we will no longer be like babies. We will not be people who are always changing like a ship that the waves carry one way and then another. We will not be influenced by every new teaching we hear from people who are trying to deceive us—those who make clever plans and use every kind of trick to fool others into following the wrong way.
No, we will speak the truth with love. We will grow to be like Christ in every way. He is the head,
16 and the whole body depends on him. All the parts of the body are joined and held together, with each part doing its own work. This causes the whole body to grow and to be stronger in love. (Eph. 4:11-16, ERV).


Note: Some cited verses are printed in full to facilitate study.

Bible Study Suggestion: If you have further questions, please feel free to visit the Iglesia ni Cristo congregation nearest you. A minister or an evangelical worker would be happy to answer any biblical question you have in mind. For the latest Worship Service Directory of Iglesia ni Cristo Locales and Congregations outside the  Philippines, please visit www.iglesianicristoworshipservice.com or just click link at home page.

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