We’re continuing our study of the doctrine of the Trinity tonight. We’re going to be in the book of Acts and studying a passage that is often controversial. My main source for this will be Murray J. Harris’s work “Jesus as God” which goes into much more detail than I can on the topic. One reason he goes into much more than I can is that Harris is highly skilled in the Greek and I am not. He knows the works of the scholars better than I and anyone wanting a more in-depth look is advised to go to Harri’s work. We’ll be looking at a verse he examines, Acts 20:28, but getting the whole context by reading Acts 20:25-31.
25I have gone from place to place, preaching to you about God’s kingdom, but now I know that none of you will ever see me again. 26I tell you today that I am no longer responsible for any of you! 27I have told you everything God wants you to know. 28Look after yourselves and everyone the Holy Spirit has placed in your care. Be like shepherds to God’s church. It is the flock that he bought with the blood of his own Son. 29I know that after I am gone, others will come like fierce wolves to attack you. 30Some of your own people will tell lies to win over the Lord’s followers. 31Be on your guard! Remember how day and night for three years I kept warning you with tears in my eyes.
I had to search through a number of translations until I got to the CEV which agrees with the view I will be representing tonight. I do not believe this is a Trinitarian text, but having said that, I don’t believe it goes against the Trinity either.
I think one of the great dangers would be the idea of the blood of God. As Harris points out, we do not have references to God dying on the cross or God being resurrected. We could have a similar problem with the idea of God’s blood. After all, we as Trinitarians do not believe God died. We believe a person who had the full nature of God died on a cross. God never died, but Jesus died in his humanity in that he experienced the separation of his soul from his body.
This could get us into the area of patripassianism. The idea is that the Father suffered through the Son when the Son died. I am a defender of the impassibility of God in that I do not believe God is the receptor of emotions in that he responds to them in a temporal sense. I believe he is experiencing any emotion or activity in the eternal now. God is not responsive. He is ultimately proactive in that he acts knowing how we will respond to any actions. It’s a surefire recipe for a headache!
The idea of the blood of God would be problematic as it could lead to a bodily idea of God. For this reason and those within the text, Harris goes with the idea that the main thrust of the passage is that God has acted in purchasing the church through the blood of his Son. He doesn’t rule out that this could be a reference to Jesus as being God, but just sees it as unlikely.
Should a Trinitarian be bothered? Not in the least. We have hundreds of different passages we can use. As a Trinitarian however, I believe I must be honest and if I don’t see something taught in a passage of Scripture, I will not say it is there. This is something we should all learn. We should not accept something because it supports our view unless we believe it is a true argument. We should not reject something on the same grounds unless it’s based on a true argument.
We shall continue tomorrow.