This study will focus upon Luke’s biography, some of which we glean
from Biblical history and some of which we learn from the uninspired
accounts of early Christian history. It is important that we take time to think about this prominent figure in the annals of the early Church. He is important by virtue of the histories which he recorded, “The Gospel
According to Luke” and the “Acts of the Apostles”, yet he is mentioned by name only three times in the New Testament; Colossians 4:14 and 2nd Timothy 4:11, Philemon 1:24.
Piecing Together the Biblical Facts
These three references grant us a fair starting point in the our journey of
discovery. In Colossians 4:14 Paul describes Luke as “the beloved
physician.” As Colossians was one of Paul’s prison epistles, Luke was
therefore one of Paul’s faithful companions in adversity. He was
evidently a medical doctor and was therefore a man of advanced
education. He was clearly associated with his profession in the mind of
Paul. Therefore Paul saw this man using his medical skills and probably
benefited from Luke’s care and attention. He was not only a doctor but a
Christian doctor. His professional qualifications were all the more
useful as he treated people with the love and compassion that only a
Christian could display. Therefore to Paul he was the beloved physician.
The passage in 2nd Timothy 4:11, written some time later during Paul’s
final imprisonment prior to his execution, informs us that Luke
continued to be the companion of Paul. As Paul neared the time when
he would receive the crown of life he was comforted by Luke’s
companionship. Others had forsaken Paul such as Demas. Some were
busy evangelising in other places such Timothy. Luke, however, stood
alone with the Apostle which was all the more appreciated in this season
of terrible trial. Luke is therefore regarded as one who was educated,
professional, compassionate and totally loyal. He is the kind of friend
and companion we all would long for. The reference in Philemon is
revealing in that his Latin name is given, Loukas or Lucas. This informs
us that Luke was certainly Greek and therefore a Gentile.
The Author of Acts
It is apparent that the one who authored “The Acts of the Apostles”, also
penned “The Gospel According to Luke”. The two books are similar in
that they addressed an unidentifiable yet prominent individual by
the name of Theophilus. The true starting point in proving that Luke
wrote the third Gospel is the Book of the Acts. The evidence there that
Luke was the author and by inference also the author of the Gospel is
beyond all dispute.
The author of Acts was a man who travelled extensively with Paul. The
“we” passages of the Book of Acts describe the events which the author
himself witnessed during the ministry of the Missionary Apostle:
A Acts 16:10 – 40
The author joined Paul on his second missionary journey at
Troas and remained with him until Paul was forced to leave
Philippi on account of persecution.
B Acts 20:5-21:18
The author rejoins Paul on his third missionary journey at
Philippi and travels with him all the way to Jerusalem.
C Acts 27-28
The author was evidently a man of great loyalty because he
voluntarily travels with Paul, the prisoner to Rome and remained
by his side through storm and great danger until the party
reached the imperial capital.
In common with the evangelists Luke’s name is never mentioned in
either his Gospel narrative or the Acts of the Apostles. This is surprising
because he was evidently one to whom the Apostle was indebted on
account of his personal service. It is impossible to think of anyone else
who possibly could have travelled so extensively with Paul and was so
acquainted with the early Christians as to write a comprehensive account
of the life of Christ and of the events which transpired in the the early
church. Luke’s fingerprints are all over the Acts and by inference the
Gospel which bears his name.
The Author of the Third Gospel
There is ample evidence, however, apart the Book of Acts , linking Luke
with the Third Gospel. There was apparently a practise which developed
among early Christians, ascribing titles to the Gospels. We know that as
early as 125AD title “The Gospel According to Luke” was current
among believers. This is significant because this was the prevailing
view among those who lived in the same generation as Luke. This is as
convincing evidence as we can possibly discover, linking Luke with his
Gospel. There are other early Christian works which conform that this
was a established as fact early on the history of the Church.
Other Historical Details
Anti-Marcionite Prologue (160-180AD) – Luke was a bachelor from
Antioch, who remained with Paul until his death. He lived until the age
of 84 when he died at Boeotia in Greece, “full of the Holy Spirit”.
Ireneas (182-188AD) – He is significant in that he was a pupil of
Polycarp, who would have known some of the Apostles and possibly
Luke. He said that Luke in his Gospel recorded what Paul preached
concerning Christ’s life.
Eusebius (4th Century) – Luke was familiar with most of the Apostles.
Jerome (400AD) – Greek was Luke’s native language.
What Can We Learn from Luke?
1: Utilising Our God Given Talents
Luke was obviously a highly educated individual. His writings
are some of the finest examples of Greek literature to be be
found in the New Testament. He was a man of learning and
study. If he had not graduated as a doctor he would never have
been able to minister to Paul in his hour of affliction. If he had
not been as educated as he was he would have been incapable of
compiling such a thorough account of New Testament history.
God has given all of his people talents. We must develop those
abilities to the full if they are to be useful for God.
2: Our Talents are Useful For God’s Glory
Luke left behind the lucrative surgery for a life of hardship
following the call of God. Let us listen to the voice of God and
use what he has given us for Christ and His glory.