That Acts 20.28 appears to be an unusual element
in Acts is a very interesting and intriguing fact.
The primary metaphor is that of purchase here.
The author rehearses a speech claiming that
the community is "purchased". So we have a
financial metaphor. It is said to be acquired
presumably for a "price".
The speech then states the price
to be blood i.e. (presumably in this case)
a death. So the metaphor is now something more
than financial. The purchase cost the blood of
someone who was "his" (tou idiou). If one
person rescues several others, but dies in the process
then the successful rescue can be seen to have a
"cost", hence the earlier explicit mention of
purchase or acquisition and an implied price.
If this is correct then this passage is not too distant
from those that use ideas of ransom, present outside Luke
in Mark 10.45, and in Luke at 24.21. The ransom
metaphor suggests analogy with payment of money to
buy freedom, but here it seems to intersect with
the thought that a death is involved, as in a rescue
where the only rescuer (or one of the rescuers)
If the above analysis is correct then we do have
ideas of purchase, cost, ransom and rescue in the
passage which the author of Acts attributes to Paul,
but several other soteriological metaphors are notably
absent. We cannot go so far as to deem it highly probable
that the author rejects other ideas, but we can say that
some of them don't seem to appear here
- or elsewhere in Luke-Acts.
David Mealand, University of Edinburgh
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