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Who was Luke in the New Testament?


Early Christian tradition identified Luke as the author of the Gospel that bears his name. This is seen in the following references: In his Ecclesiastical History (iii. 4.6), Eusebius designated Luke as the author of this Gospel. A century earlier Tertullian spoke of Paul as the “illuminator” of this author, who supplied him with much of the information found in the author’s writings.

About the year a.d. 185 Irenaeus wrote: “Luke, the follower of Paul, put in a book the gospel that was preached by him.” The famous Muratorian Fragment, a portion of a document written toward the close of the 2d century, confirms what Irenaeus said stating that the third Gospel was written by Luke, the physician, a companion of Paul.

Also, the book Acts of the apostles is considered to be written by this same author as well. Both books tell of the origin and early development of Christianity; both are similar in literary style and language; and both are dedicated to the same man, Theophilus (Luke 1:3).

Eusebius describes this author as “by race an Antiochian and a physician by profession.” He was, presumably, a native of Antioch, and some have thought that it was there where he wrote his works.

The book of Acts indicates that Luke worked with Paul. This is especially clear when he uses the personal pronoun “we” particularly during his closing years of ministry. From Troas, it appears that the author was with Paul during his time in Greece (Acts 16:10–18), on his final visit to Palestine (Acts 20:5 to 21:18), and on his trip to Rome (Acts 27:1 to 28:16).

In Colossians 4:14 and Philemon 23, 24, this author sends greetings to those to whom these epistles are addressed. And toward the close of his final imprisonment in Rome, Paul wrote Timothy, “Only Luke is with me” (2 Timothy 4:11).

The context of Colossians 4:11–14 implies that this physician was not a Jew but a Gentile, for he is listed, not among men of the circumcision, but with others who are known to have been Gentiles.

The book of Luke is generally considered to be one of the most literary of the New Testament and possess a style similar to the great Greek writers. The place and way of the physician’s death are not known, but tradition says that he was martyred in Greece, being nailed to a living olive tree.

In His service,
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