This Week's Focus Passage

‘It seemed good to me also.’

Focus Passage: Luke 1:1-4

‘It seemed good to me also.’

Foreasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus; that thou mightest know the certainty concerning the things wherein thou was instructed.—Luke 1:1-4. This is the beginning of the ‘gospel of Luke’ in the Word of God. But there is precious little known about the man, Luke, himself, the human author of this book of the Bible. Who was Luke, and where did he come from? There are merely three references to this person by name, and they all come from the pen of the apostle, Paul. In the letter to the church at Colossae, the apostle to the Gentiles, as he closes that particular epistle with many greetings and salutations from many individuals—presumably fellow-workers and associates. After he has spoken of the faithfulness of Epaphras, who was one of them of Colosssae, whom he extols for his labor toward them in Laodicea and Hierapolis, and how faithful this brother was in striving for those with whom he was one in Colossae, he then speaks very briefly of Luke—very briefly, but nonetheless making use of a grand appellation when he refers to this brother as, ‘Luke, the beloved physician,’ simply stating that Luke, along with Demas, salutes them; would have Paul to say hello for them.

The next reference to Luke from Paul’s pen is found in his second letter to his young protégé, Timothy, as he speaks from his prison cell enjoining him to certain activities, not the least of which is that Timothy himself would come to him. But in the course of these petitions, he states that the great desirability of having Timothy to be with him is because Demas had forsaken him, having loved this present world. He further advises his young adherent that ‘only Luke is with me.’ It is of passing interest that Luke is somewhat connected in this context with Demas as he is also in the reference from Colossians, and as we shall see, as well as the epistle of Paul to Philemon. Whether intended or not, this certainly sets the wonderfully continuance of Luke with Paul against the abandonment practiced by Demas. It is spoken both sadly, it seems, and happily by Paul that ‘only Luke is with me;’ sadly that Demas had forsaken him, yet happily that Luke remained with him in spite of Demas’ behavior. How often in the events of men in similar cases, do we find such abandonment to have something of a contagious effect? When one ‘heads for the hills’ quite often the result is that all fall away. It is surely to Luke’s credit that he was not ill-affected by Demas in this, and I believe that Paul is most likely commending his steadfastness when he says, ‘only Luke is with me.’ The letter to Philemon was conspicuously written before second Timothy. In Philemon, Paul can yet speak of Demas and Luke as being together, ‘my fellow-workers.’ So just who was Luke, this faithful fellow-worker and beloved physician?

Most authors surmise by way of deduction from certain implied suggestions that Luke was a Greek; this may very well be the case. Many of these deductions are taken from the language in which Acts and Luke are written, that much of the Greek is in that style similar to the Septuagint and a good deal other in a classical form of the Greek. Hendriksen goes on to say, ‘But all this aside, the best cumulative evidence for the belief that Luke was probably a Greek could still be: Col. 4:10, 11, 14; the Greek of the Preface (Luke 1:1-4); and the voice of tradition.’ He confesses that many fanciful tales have been concocted around Luke, a person about whom we really know very little.

Yet another writer has plainly admitted that concerning the person and the history of the author of ‘The Gospel According to Luke,’ we know little that is perfectly certain. From the epistles of Paul, alluded to above, we have learned that he held a conspicuous rank among the friends and fellow-laborers of the apostle, Paul. It is noteworthy that he seems to be distinguished, along with Demas, from the aforementioned fellow-workers whom Paul said ‘are of the circumcision,’ leading to the likelihood that Luke and Demas were Gentiles; Greeks. It is suggested that Luke was born in Antioch in Syria and there became acquainted with Paul. He may have studied at a medical school in that Syrian city, and thus have the credentials to be referred to as the beloved physician. He was most surely a wonderful assistant to the apostle, traveling with Paul as he made his way through Troas, into Philippi, and afterward on to Jerusalem. Such travelers are in the best way of gathering first-hand information in order to the writing of accurate accounts. In Jerusalem, Luke would probably have been able to meet with James and all the elders of the Church present (Acts 21:18). He was also a close companion at different intervals with another gospel-writer, namely Mark, as we may see again in 2 Timothy as Timothy is requested to bring Mark with him when he himself comes to Paul where Luke only is presently with him. Paul states this communal connection between Luke and Mark once again in the afore-cited passage in Colossians 4:10-14, as well as being repeated in Philemon 23-24. What ‘interviews’ Luke must have been able to have with these fellow-laborers that he was providentially joined together with, some for days, some for weeks, some for years. He has told us in the prologue at the beginning of his narrative—as well as at the beginning of this insert—how that many of the things of which he would take in hand to draw up a narrative were delivered to him who from the beginning were eyewitnesses to those matters which ‘have been fulfilled among us.’ He was thus able to trace the course of events accurately from the first, and to write unto Theophilus in order. This was all done through him by the Holy Spirit, the Divine Author of the Scriptures, that we might know their certainty.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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