On this day when we celebrate St. Luke, we read a devotion taken from Lutheran Bible Companion, Volume 2.
2 Timothy 4:5–18
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Luke is known for being the divinely inspired author of the books of Luke and Acts. Our devotional reading discusses the evidence that points to his authorship of these two books. We thank the Lord today for the faithful evangelist Luke and the Gospel that bears his name.
The Early Church, from the second half of the second century onward, uniformly ascribes the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles to Luke, “the beloved physician,” Paul’s companion on his journeys and his faithful friend in his imprisonment. He was probably a Gentile, for Paul distinguishes him from his Jewish co-workers (Col 4:10–11, 14). Luke joined Paul at Troas during the second missionary journey, as the use of the first person plural in Ac 16:11 indicates, accompanied Paul as far as Philippi on that journey, and apparently remained there for the next seven years. He rejoined Paul in AD 55 when Paul passed through Philippi on his last journey to Jerusalem and was with him continually thereafter. According to 2Tm 4:11 he was with Paul in his last imprisonment also.
The evidence of the two books themselves confirms the ancient tradition. The Gospel and Acts have one author, both are addressed to Theophilus, and they are markedly alike in language and style; they also show structural similarities. As noted above, the author of Acts in a number of places speaks in the first person plural (the so-called “we” passages, e.g., Ac 16:11–17; 20:5–21:18; 27:1–28:16), thus indicating that he was an eyewitness of the events recorded. Since these “we” passages are in the same style as the rest of the work and fit naturally into the whole narrative, they can hardly be assigned to another author. This marks the author as a companion of Paul. Of all the known companions of Paul, only Titus and Luke come seriously into consideration; the rest are excluded by the content of the narrative itself or made unlikely by their obscurity. If the Early Church were guessing at the author, it might well have picked Titus, who is more prominent than Luke in the letters of Paul. The tradition that assigns the third Gospel and Acts to Luke is therefore in all probability a genuine tradition and is to be trusted.
Scholars have naturally examined the language of Luke to see whether it betrays the influence of a physician. The first findings of research in this area greatly exaggerated the medical character of Luke’s language. Later investigation has shown that much which had been labeled “medical” was not peculiarly medical at all but part of the common language of cultured men of the day. But if the language of Luke is not sufficiently medical in character to prove that he was a physician, it does confirm the ancient tradition in so far as there is nothing in it that makes it unlikely or impossible that the writer was a physician.
Devotional reading is from Lutheran Bible Companion, Volume 2, pages 269–70 © 2014 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Almighty God, our Father, Your blessed Son called Luke the physician to be an evangelist and physician of the soul. Grant that the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments may put to flight the diseases of our souls that with willing hearts we may ever love and serve You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Prayer is from Lutheran Service Book: Collects of the Day, page 30 © 2007 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.