St Luke the Evangelist
St. Luke, also known as Saint Luke the Evangelist, was the author of the Gospel According to Luke and the Acts of the Apostles in the Christian tradition, a colleague of St. Paul the Apostle, and the most literary of the New Testament authors.
There is little information regarding his life. Based on passages in the Pauline Letters, tradition portrays him as a physician and a Gentile. He most likely joined Paul on multiple missionary trips.
He is the patron saint of doctors and artists.
Saint Luke composed one of the most important parts of the New Testament, a two-volume work that included the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles.
In the two works, he draws parallels between Christ’s life and the existence of the Church.
Among the Gospel authors, he is the only Gentile Christian. He is said to be an Antiochene, and Paul refers to him as “our dear physician.”
His Gospel was most likely written between the years of 70 and 85 A.D.
Luke arrives in Acts during Paul’s second tour, stays in Philippi for many years until Paul returns from his third adventure, follows Paul to Jerusalem, and stays close to him while imprisoned in Caesarea.
During these two years, Saint Luke had the opportunity to gather information and interview people who had known Jesus. He followed Paul on the perilous voyage to Rome, where he became a loyal comrade.
Life of Saint Luke
Many researchers believe Luke was a Greek physician who resided in the Greek city of Antioch in Ancient Syria, while others including theologians believe Luke was a Hellenic Jew.
While it is widely accepted that the theology of Luke-Acts points to a gentile Christian writing for a gentile audience, some have concluded that the emphasis on the scriptural roots of the gentile mission makes it more likely that Luke-Acts is directed to a community made up of both Jewish and gentile Christians (see the use of Isaiah 49:6 in Luke-Acts).
Others have simply concluded that Luke was either a Hellenistic Jew or a God-fearer.
Philemon 1:24 is the first time he is mentioned. He is also referenced in the Pauline epistles Colossians 4:14 and 2 Timothy 4:11.
The next oldest narrative of Saint Luke is found in the Anti-Marcionite Prologue to the Gospel of Luke, a work that was formerly considered to date from the 2nd century but has since been dated to the later 4th century.
Helmut Koester, on the other hand, thinks that the next section, the only one surviving in the original Greek, was written in the late 2nd century.
According to Epiphanius (Panarion 51.11), Luke was one of the Seventy Apostles, and John Chrysostom suggests that the “brother” Paul cites in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians 8:18 is either Luke or Barnabas. (Homily 18 on 2 Corinthians based on 2 Corinthians 8:18)
Certain elements of Saint Luke’s personal life may be legitimately accepted if one agrees that he was the author of the Gospel bearing his name and the Acts of the Apostles.
While he excludes himself from those who were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ ministry, he uses the term “we” often in discussing the Pauline missions in Acts of the Apostles, implying that he was there at those times.
Writings by Luke
Luke’s author was a well-educated literary figure who wrote in colloquial Greek.
If the Gospel bearing his name and the Acts of the Apostles were written by the assigned author, they were most likely written during or immediately after the Jewish rebellion (66–73 CE).
Because of linguistic and other parallels with the Gospel and Acts, some scholars have identified Luke with the Pastoral Letters and the Letter to the Hebrews, either as an author or as amanuensis.
Some academics, on the other hand, question Luke’s authorship of the two New Testament works typically attributed to him, arguing for a date later in the first century CE.
In some ways, the problem is analogous to that posed concerning the authorship of Shakespeare’s works or, in the classical realm, Plato’s correspondence.
However, unlike the Shakespearean issue, no alternate author has been proposed, and unlike Plato’s letters dilemma, no broader Lukan corpus is available for comparison.
Those who doubt Luke’s authorship point to the fact that theological emphases in his Gospel and Acts differ significantly from those in Paul’s writings, and that the description of the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) differs from the description of the conference in the second chapter of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians.
Those concerns are founded on the premise that Luke was Paul’s disciple and on the conventional connection of Acts 15 with the Galatians 2 conference.
Both of those premises, however, are most likely incorrect.
A more important problem is the disparity between Paul’s portrayal in Acts and the impression one gets from his writings.
However, it has been overstated at times, and in no instance does it surpass the variance that could be anticipated between a sometimes colleague’s perceptions of a guy and the man’s writings.
When the Gospel and Acts were put in the library of the author’s patron, Theophilus, they were very certainly labeled with the name Luke (Luke 1:3).
Within a century, there was a popular and accepted tradition linking Luke to an otherwise unimportant physician and Paulian colleague.
Saint Luke as an Artist
Beginning in the eighth century, Christian tradition holds that Luke was the first icon painter.
He is known to have painted images of the Virgin Mary and Child, most notably the Hodegetria painting in Constantinople (now lost).
Beginning in the 11th century, several painted pictures, notably the Black Madonna of Czestochowa and Our Lady of Vladimir, were worshipped as his signature works.
He was also reported to have painted Saints Peter and Paul and decorated a gospel book with a whole cycle of miniatures.
Late medieval Guilds of Saint Luke in European towns, particularly Flanders, or the “Accademia di San Luca” (Academy of Saint Luke) in Rome, which was emulated in many other European cities throughout the 16th century, collected and protected artists.
The practice of Luke painting icons of Mary and Jesus is widespread, especially in Eastern Orthodoxy. The narrative is also supported by Saint Thomas Christians in India, who claim to still retain one of the Theotokos icons painted by Saint Luke and delivered to India by Saint Thomas.
Saint Luke Reflection
Luke wrote for Gentile Christians as a Gentile. His Gospel and Acts of the Apostles demonstrate his command of the ancient Greek style as well as his familiarity with Jewish sources.
Luke’s style has a warmth to it that distinguishes it from the other synoptic Gospels while still complementing them well.
The wealth of the Scriptures is a genuine Holy Spirit gift to the Church.
The author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles has been identified as St. Paul’s “Luke, the loving physician” (Colossians 4:14).
We know very little further about Luke’s life from Scripture or early Church historians.
Luke is said to have been born as both a Greek and a Gentile.
In Colossians 10-14, he talks about his buddies.
He begins by mentioning all those “of the circumcision,” or Jews, and excludes Luke from this group.
Luke’s gospel has a unique concern towards proselytizing Gentiles.
Only in his narrative do we have the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus praising the faith of Gentiles like the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian (Lk.4:25-27), and the account of the one thankful Samaritan leper (Lk.17:11-19).
According to the early Church historian Eusebius, Luke was born in the Syrian city of Antioch.
In our day, it would be natural to presume that a doctor was wealthy, yet academics have suggested that Luke may have been born a slave.
It was fairly unusual for slaves to be educated in medicine so that their families may have a resident family physician.
Not only does Paul mention Luke as a physician, but so do Eusebius, Saint Jerome, Saint Irenaeus, and Caius, a second-century writer.
Was Luke one of the 12 disciples?
No, Luke was not one of the 12 disciples. Saint Luke was a doctor and friend of Saint Paul who wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. The 12 disciples were chosen by Jesus to be his closest followers and witnesses to his life, teachings, and resurrection.