Luke is not one of the twelve disciples. As far as can be ascertained from the New Testament, Luke never meets Jesus in this life. It is evident Luke does not follow Jesus until after His ascension. Paul refers to him as a “co-worker” and as “the beloved physician” - but any further information must come under the heading of conjecture.

Luke comes before us as a humble person. Although he conceals nothing regarding himself that is not relevant to his treatise, there is there is not anything about him that suggests a superficial modesty or hypocrisy. It is not known how or when he accepts Christ as his Savior. Possibly Luke is a convert of Paul, but he also knows men like Silas, Timothy, James, and Mark (Col. 4:10 & II Tim. 4:11). Any one of these, or another individual, could have brought Luke to a saving knowledge of Christ.

Luke is unique among the Gospel writers in that he the only Gentile among them (Col. 4:12-14). Tradition suggests Luke is from Antioch. “Luke” is a Roman name and he seems to have knowledge of this area of Syria (11:19; 13:1; 14:19 & 15:22). We are not told if Luke has a wife or any children. Church History asserts Luke dies in Boeotia at age 84.

LUKE’S GOSPEL AND ACTS

When the total verses that Luke writes in his Gospel and in Acts are added up, we find nearly one quarter of the New Testament is written by this non-Jewish physician. He writes Acts as a sequel to show what happens after the Ascension. The Gospel of Luke has a strong evangelistic flavor. This does not change when he writes the Book of Acts. In his gospel, his focus is on the work of Jesus to save us. In Acts, his focus is on the work of the Holy Spirit to keep us.


Luke points out that the Gentiles are being evangelized rapidly (Acts 11).  From Antioch, the Gospel spreads to Cyprus and Asia Minor (Ch.13-14).
He is quick to show how this alarms the more orthodox Jewish members of the Jerusalem church. It is imperative that the Jew/Gentile issue be directly addressed. This is why the Jerusalem Council (Ch. 15) becomes “the meat of the sandwich” in the middle of these 28 chapters. It is natural that Luke, as a Gentile Believer, has particular interest in this. The decision made at the Council is pivotal, showing how unity essential is to the success of Christ’s mission.

LUKE’S EDUCATION

We know little about Luke apart from the biblical record. He may have been educated in Tarsus, since that was about the only place in Asia Minor at that time one could receive a medical education. Although not many Jews know the Aramaic language in the first century, apparently Luke does (Lk. 1-2 & Acts 1-15). It appears both Luke and Paul loved learning. One can only imagine their wonderful conversations and the close connection of their keen minds. Paul is the theologian while Luke is the historian. Paul is very prominent in Acts. As a result, Luke has provided an outstanding character sketch of this great apostle. If all that survived would have been Paul’s brief insights, our concept of his personality would have been hazy. Luke’s focus in his Gospel in on Jesus as God’s Son, but in Acts he centers on Paul as God’s chosen vessel to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles.

LUKE’S MEDICAL BIAS

Both books that Luke writes bear the marks of a first-century medical doctor. How he thinks and what details catch his attention are indicative of this. His medical background is verified by his interest in diseases and their treatment. It is interesting how he uses Greek terms which few outside his field could understand. He records that the woman with an issue of blood in Luke chapter eight “could not be healed by any doctor.” Showing clear preference in this area, Luke records five miracles of healing not found in the other gospels. In Acts, he takes note of the lame man who was healed. He “leaps and walks” outside the Beautiful Gate. Without Doctor Luke, we’d never know Paul was snake bitten on the Isle of Malta. 

Perhaps Luke’s ministry was along the lines of what we now call a “medical missionary.” Paul once referred to Luke as “the beloved physician.” He may have treated the apostle’s various health concerns. If so, this would tend to strengthen the bond between them. It seems more than coincidental that Luke joins Paul during times when it appears he may be recovering from some illness.

THE ROLE OF WOMEN

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, Luke records the roles women play. Anna and Elizabeth almost seem to tell their own stories. There would be no Christmas story without Luke. A doctor would take special interest in the virgin who conceives. He makes it very clear this is a supernatural birth. He takes special notice of the woman from Nain, the sinful woman who repents, Mary and Martha, the woman who lost the coin, the widow and the unjust judge, and the women who stood at the Cross. His empathy for all women is evident in both his books. 

LUKE AND PAUL: THE FAMOUS “WE” PASSAGES

Paul seems to be Luke’s hero in the book of Acts, second only to Christ.
Luke faithfully depicts Paul’s educated tone and diplomacy while in Athens. He shows Paul’s attitude when brought before rulers. He demonstrates through his simple narrative the escalating Jewish opposition of Paul’s ministry. 

Luke joins Paul at Troas and goes with him into Macedonia. They separate briefly, but later rejoin at Troas. They are close friends from this point on. Luke is mentioned three times in the New Testament - and always by Paul (Col. 4:14, II Tim4:11, & Philemon 24). He is named toward the end of Philemon’s letter and may have been in the area as an evangelist. It is not known if or how often Luke visits Paul in prison.

Self-effacing Luke delicately indicates at certain points he has joined Paul by the simple transition from the third person singular to the first person plural. The “we” passages fit the story of Acts perfectly. These sections contain over fifty words, terms, and phrases Luke also uses elsewhere. In the middle of a paragraph Luke may begin with the word “I”….but without explanation begin to use the word “we.”  In this way, the focus remains on Paul rather than on himself.

The “we” passages stand in contrast to the rest of Acts. In the first half of the book, Luke describes activities in terms of “they” or “he.” Beginning in chapter 16, he starts to use first-person plural pronouns such as us, our, and we. It is apparent by the use of these terms that Luke has joined Paul during at certain times in his missionary journeys. In these “we” passages, with find Luke is with Paul on at least three occasions:

~ From Troas to Philippi (Acts 16:10-18).
This takes place during Paul’s first missionary journey into Greece. It seems they travel as far together as Philippi and Macedonia. Luke apparently stays in the area of Philippi while Paul and Silas head for Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and then on to Corinth

~ From Philippi to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4 - 21:19).
There is an interlude of about four years, then Luke rejoins Paul at Philippi on his third missionary journey.

Luke mentions that in Jerusalem the brethren received us warmly (Acts 21:17-18). It is at this point the Church in Jerusalem is introduced to Luke. After only being in Jerusalem for twelve days, Paul is then imprisoned in Caesarea for two years. Here the “we” passages pause. It is logical to suppose Luke stays to work with the Jerusalem congregation and help evangelize the region.

During this era, Paul is drug before rulers such as Felix, Festus, and Herod. Luke is careful to report that no man finds him guilty of the charges against him. It is Luke’s way of stating that Christianity is proven to be non-seditious by the secular powers.

~ From Caesarea to Rome (Acts 27:1 - 28:30).
In Acts 27, the “we” passages recommence and continue to be utilized all the way to Rome. From the detailed account in Acts it is obvious Luke is aboard when Paul is being shipped to Rome as a prisoner. Luke practices medicine while with Paul on the Isle of Malta and is involved in the healing of Chief Publius (28:10). He concludes the Book of Acts by verifying Paul, though in house arrest, is preaching the Gospel without hindrance.

Our parting glimpse of Luke is when he is with Paul in Jerusalem not long before his martyrdom. He is faithful to the end. “Only Luke is with me” (II Tim. 4:11).

Luke’s interaction with Paul at various times throughout this thirteen year period adds a dynamic atmosphere to the Book of Acts. This accurate historical record is based on interviews with other eyewitnesses, careful investigation of the facts, and the direction of the Holy Spirit.


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