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28Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son.

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28. Take heed … unto yourselves—Compare 1Ti 3:2-7; 4:16; 6:11.

and to all the flock—Compare Heb 13:17. Observe here how the personal is put before the pastoral care.

over … which the Holy Ghost hath made you—Compare Joh 20:22, 23; Eph 4:8, 11, 12; Re 3:1. (Ac 14:23 shows that the apostle did not mean to exclude human ordination).

overseers—or, as the same word is everywhere else rendered in our version, "bishops." The English Version has hardly dealt fair in this case with the sacred text, in rendering the word "overseers," whereas it ought here, as in all other places, to have been "bishops," in order that the fact of elders and bishops having been originally and apostolically synonymous, might be apparent to the ordinary English reader, which now it is not [Alford]. The distinction between these offices cannot be certainly traced till the second century, nor was it established till late in that century.

to feed the church of God—or, "the Church of the Lord." Which of these two readings of the text is the true one, is a question which has divided the best critics. The evidence of manuscripts preponderates in favor of "THE Lord"; some of the most ancient Versions, though not all, so read; and Athanasius, the great champion of the supreme Divinity of Christ early in the fourth century, says the expression "Church of God" is unknown to the Scriptures. Which reading, then, does the internal evidence favor? As "Church of God" occurs nine times elsewhere in Paul's writings, and "Church of the Lord" nowhere, the probability, it is said, is that he used his wonted phraseology here also. But if he did, it is extremely difficult to see how so many early transcribers should have altered it into the quite unusual phrase, "Church of the Lord"; whereas, if the apostle did use this latter expression, and the historian wrote it so accordingly, it it easy to see how transcribers might, from being so accustomed to the usual phrase, write it "Church of God." On the whole, therefore, we accept the second reading as most probably the true one. But see what follows.

which he hath purchased—"made His own," "acquired."

with his own blood—"His own" is emphatic: "That glorified Lord who from the right hand of power in the heavens is gathering and ruling the Church, and by His Spirit, through human agency, hath set you over it, cannot be indifferent to its welfare in your hands, seeing He hath given for it His own most precious blood, thus making it His own by the dearest of all ties." The transcendent sacredness of the Church of Christ is thus made to rest on the dignity of its Lord and the consequent preciousness of that blood which He shed for it. And as the sacrificial atoning character of Christ's death is here plainly expressed, so His supreme dignity is implied as clearly by the second reading as it is expressed by the first. What a motive to pastoral fidelity is here furnished!




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