Who Wrote the Gospel of Luke and Acts?
By Brian Chilton
We have been engaged in a series of articles discussing the authorship of the books of the New Testament. In this article, we consider the Third Gospel, the Gospel of Luke. Who wrote the Gospel? What clues do we have from the internal and external evidence, the date, and the location and audience?
Proposed Author by Tradition: Traditionally, Luke is proposed as the author of the Third Gospel. Luke was a physician and an associate of Paul the apostle (Col. 4:14; Philemon 24).
Internal Evidence: Internally, a few distinctive markers are found. First and most noticeably, the author of the Third Gospel writes to one “Theophilus” (Acts 1:3) and seeks to provide an “orderly sequence” (Acts 1:3) of the life of Jesus, after having had “carefully investigated everything from the very first” (1:3) according to what the “original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed down” (Acts 1:2). From this information, one can gather that the author was not an eyewitness of the events of Jesus’s life. But, the author had access to those who had.
Second, the author of the Third Gospel also authored the book of Acts. The level of detail and precision, writing style, the similar address to Theophilus, as well as the connective clause in the first of Acts connects the two works to the same author.
Third, the level of Greek used in both the Third Gospel and the book of Acts is highly advanced. Having taken biblical Greek courses, I have found that a person learns first from the Gospel of Mark and John before tackling the Gospel of Luke. Due to the high degree of Greek employed in the Third Gospel and the book of Acts, one can deduce that the author is quite advanced in his education.
Fourth, the author focuses on Jesus’s ministry to the Gentiles and to the outcasts of society. The Sermon on the Plain is preserved in the Third Gospel. There the author notes that people came to hear Jesus from all around. The author notes that many of the people who heard Jesus were Gentiles from the region of Tyre and Sidon (Luke 6:17).
Fifth, the author describes medical matters far more and to a greater degree than the other Gospels. In Luke 4:38, Luke is sure to note that Simon Peter’s mother-in-law suffered from a high fever. In Luke 14:2, the author describes a man’s body that had “swollen with fluid.” Such details indicate a man who has an eye for medical matters.
Sixth, because of the author’s involvement with the book of Acts, one can deduct from the “we passages” that the author was a close associate of the apostle Paul. For instance, the author of Acts writes…
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