Saint Luke, also known as Luke the Evangelist and Luke the Physician
Saint Luke, also known as Luke the Evangelist or Luke the Physician, was a Christian saint and one of the authors of the New Testament. He is traditionally recognized as the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. While not much is known about his early life, some details about his life and work are derived from the Bible and Christian tradition.
- Occupation: Luke was a physician by profession, which is mentioned in Colossians 4:14, where he is referred to as “the beloved physician.” He is the only one of the Gospel writers with a known secular occupation.
- Conversion: Luke was likely a Gentile (non-Jewish) convert to Christianity. He is not counted among the original Twelve Apostles but is mentioned in several passages in the New Testament as a companion and close associate of the Apostle Paul.
Travels and Work
- Companion of Paul: Luke is believed to have traveled extensively with the Apostle Paul during his missionary journeys, particularly during the second and third missionary journeys as described in the Book of Acts. He is often referred to as “Luke, the beloved physician” in Paul’s letters.
- Gospel of Luke: Saint Luke is traditionally attributed as the author of the Gospel of Luke, one of the four canonical Gospels in the New Testament. His Gospel is unique in that it emphasizes the compassion of Jesus and contains parables and stories not found in the other Gospels.
- Acts of the Apostles: Luke is also credited with writing the Acts of the Apostles, which is the fifth book of the New Testament. This book records the early history of the Christian Church, focusing on the actions and teachings of the apostles, particularly Peter and Paul.
- Historical Accuracy: Luke is known for his attention to detail and historical accuracy in his writings, which has made his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles valuable sources for understanding the early Christian Church and the life of Jesus.
- Role in Healthcare: Luke’s background as a physician has led to his association with healing and medicine in Christian tradition. He is often invoked as the patron saint of physicians and surgeons.
Saint Luke’s feast day is celebrated on October 18th in the Western Christian calendar (October 31st in the Eastern Orthodox Church). His contributions to the New Testament and early Christianity continue to be recognized and celebrated by Christians worldwide.
Saint Luke was Greek and the Gospel of Luke was originally written in Greek
It is widely believed that Saint Luke was a Greek, and his Gospel, the Gospel of Luke, was originally written in Greek. The New Testament of the Bible was written in Greek, which was a common language in the eastern Mediterranean region during the time when these texts were composed.
Luke’s Greek education and background as a physician likely equipped him with the necessary language skills to write in Greek. While he may have been a Gentile convert to Christianity, he was certainly fluent in the Greek language and used it to convey the teachings and stories of Jesus in his Gospel and the history of the early Christian Church in the Acts of the Apostles. These writings were intended to reach a Greek-speaking audience and have since been translated into numerous languages for wider dissemination and understanding.
Saint Luke is referred to as an “evangelist“
When Saint Luke is referred to as an “evangelist,” it means that he is recognized as one of the authors of the four canonical Gospels in the New Testament of the Bible. The term “evangelist” comes from the Greek word “euangelistes,” which means “bringer of good news” or “messenger of the Gospel.” In the context of Christianity, an evangelist is someone who proclaims or spreads the message of Jesus Christ and the Christian faith.
There are four Gospel writers or evangelists in the New Testament, each of whom wrote an account of the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These four Gospels are:
- Gospel of Matthew: Written by the Apostle Matthew, also known as Levi, who was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples.
- Gospel of Mark: Traditionally attributed to Mark, who was a companion of Peter, another of Jesus’ disciples.
- Gospel of Luke: Written by Saint Luke, who was a close associate of the Apostle Paul and a physician.
- Gospel of John: Attributed to the Apostle John, who was also one of Jesus’ twelve disciples.
These Gospels are considered central texts in Christianity, providing different perspectives on the life and ministry of Jesus. Saint Luke’s Gospel, in particular, is known for its emphasis on compassion, the role of women, and parables not found in the other Gospels. The evangelists played a crucial role in preserving and transmitting the teachings of Jesus to future generations of Christians, making Luke an important figure in Christian history as one of the evangelists who helped spread the “good news” of Jesus Christ.
It is said he was a painter as well
The tradition that Saint Luke was a painter is based on a long-standing belief, but it should be noted that this is a matter of Christian tradition and legend . There is no direct historical evidence to confirm that Saint Luke practiced painting.
The association of Saint Luke with painting primarily comes from two sources:
- Religious Art Tradition: In Christian art history, Saint Luke has often been depicted as a painter or portrayed alongside an icon or image of the Virgin Mary and Child. This association with painting likely developed in the context of Christian iconography, where Saint Luke is regarded as the first Christian iconographer, said to have painted an image of the Virgin Mary and Jesus. However, this is a legendary aspect of his life and not supported by concrete historical records.
- Eastern Orthodox Tradition: The Eastern Orthodox Church has a strong tradition of iconography, and Saint Luke is venerated as the patron saint of iconographers. The tradition in Eastern Orthodoxy holds that he painted icons of the Virgin Mary, and these icons are considered especially significant and holy.
It’s important to emphasize that the connection between Saint Luke and painting is primarily a matter of religious tradition and symbolism rather than historical documentation. While Saint Luke was indeed a significant figure in early Christianity as an author of the Gospel and Acts of the Apostles, his identity as a painter is rooted in tradition and the religious art of the Christian faith.
When and where exactly does Luke appear in the Gospel
Saint Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke, does not appear as a character within the Gospel itself. Instead, he is the writer or narrator of the Gospel, providing an account of the life, teachings, and actions of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Luke is written in the third person, with Luke serving as the author who compiled and recorded the events surrounding Jesus’ ministry.
Luke’s presence is evident in the “we” passages found in the book of Acts, the sequel to the Gospel of Luke. In these passages, Luke shifts from using the third person to the first person plural, indicating his direct participation in some of the events he describes. The “we” passages suggest that Luke traveled with the Apostle Paul during certain portions of Paul’s missionary journeys and recorded these events as an eyewitness.
An example of a “we” passage in Acts :
“10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. 11 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis.”Acts 16:10-11 (ESV)
These passages in the book of Acts provide insights into Luke’s role as a companion of the Apostle Paul and his involvement in the early Christian missionary efforts, but he does not make a personal appearance within the Gospel of Luke itself.
Do we know the exact place of Saint Luke’s origin
The exact place of Saint Luke’s origin is not definitively known, and historical records do not provide specific details about his place of birth. However, based on various sources and traditions, some theories and traditions have emerged regarding his possible origins:
- Antioch (Antioch in Syria): One tradition suggests that Saint Luke may have come from the ancient city of Antioch, which was a significant early center of Christianity. This tradition is partly based on the fact that Saint Luke is closely associated with the Apostle Paul, who had strong connections to the Christian community in Antioch.
- Achaia (Greece): Another tradition suggests that Saint Luke may have come from the region of Achaia in Greece. Some early Christian writings and traditions mention Achaia as his place of origin.
- Asia Minor: There are also speculations that he might have originated from Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), as he was known to have traveled extensively with the Apostle Paul, who had missions in various regions, including Asia Minor.
- Alexandria (Egypt): In some early Christian writings, there are claims that Saint Luke was from Alexandria in Egypt. However, this is a less common tradition compared to the associations with Antioch, Achaia, and Asia Minor.
It’s important to note that these theories are based on later Christian traditions and writings, and there is no definitive historical evidence to confirm Saint Luke’s place of origin. The focus on his contributions as an author of the Gospel and Acts of the Apostles has often overshadowed details about his personal background and origin in historical records. As a result, the question of his birthplace remains a matter of tradition and speculation within the Christian faith.
Acts of the Apostles through Saint Luke’s awesome introduction verses
The introduction to the Acts of the Apostles, which was written by Saint Luke, is found in the opening verses of the book (Acts 1:1-5). These verses set the stage for the entire book and provide a glimpse of its content and purpose. Here’s an explanation of these opening verses:
“In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.'”Acts 1:1-5 (ESV)
- “In the first book, O Theophilus“: Saint Luke begins by addressing the recipient of his Gospel, Theophilus. This same individual is also addressed at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:3). Theophilus is likely a patron or a person of importance to whom Luke is dedicating his work. Theophilus meaning friend or lover of God, it addresses you!
- “I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach“: Luke is referring to his previous work, the Gospel of Luke, in which he wrote about the life, teachings, and actions of Jesus during His earthly ministry.
- “Until the day when he was taken up“: Luke indicates that his Gospel covers events up until the ascension of Jesus into heaven, which is described in more detail later in Acts (Acts 1:9-11).
- “After he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen“: This highlights that Jesus, after His resurrection, continued to instruct His chosen apostles, and these instructions were given through the Holy Spirit.
- “Speaking about the kingdom of God“: During the forty days after His resurrection, Jesus focused on teaching His disciples about the kingdom of God, emphasizing the spiritual aspects of His message.
- “Wait for the promise of the Father“: Jesus instructs His disciples not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit, which He had previously mentioned. This promise would be fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, as described in Acts 2.
These opening verses serve as a bridge between the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, connecting the life and teachings of Jesus with the subsequent events in the early Christian Church, where the Holy Spirit would play a central role in empowering the apostles for their mission to spread the message of Christ to the world and fo baptise them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit