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Biblical People

Biblical People: Luke

Luke, the only non-Jewish author in the New Testament, writes as an outsider looking in. This gives his writing a perspective that most non-Jewish Christians embrace, because we, too, are outsiders.

Luke writes the two longest books in the New Testament. They make up about 25 percent of the New Testament’s content. Only Paul is more prolific.

The first book Luke writes is his biography of Jesus, called The Gospel of Luke or simply Luke. Luke researches his subject and interviews eyewitnesses. He records his findings for Theophilus.

In Luke’s second piece, he continues his investigation, chronicling the early church. We call this book The Acts of the Apostles, the book of Acts, or simply Acts.

Again Luke documents his findings for Theophilus. At some points in the narrative, Luke participates in the events he covers. We see this when he switches from third person to first person, using the pronouns I and we.

Many people appreciate Luke’s writing style for the details he mentions that aren’t in the other three biographies of Jesus. Aside from this, we know little about Luke. His name only appears three times in the Bible, each time toward the end of one of Paul’s letters.

In Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae, he calls Doctor Luke a dear friend who sends greetings to the Colossians. It’s likely that Luke is with Paul when he writes that letter.

Next, in Paul’s personal letter to his protégé Timothy, Paul dips into a bit of despair, writing that “Only Luke is still with me.” 

Then, in Paul’s letter to Philemon, he calls Luke a fellow worker for the cause of Jesus.

From these we see Luke as a dear friend, loyal companion, and faithful missionary.

Luke does much to help us better understand Jesus, but he receives little credit. Are we willing to do the same?

[Discover more about Luke in Colossians 4:14, 2 Timothy 4:11, and Philemon 1:24.]

Read more about other people in the New Testament in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.