Who Is the Author of the Third Gospel?

20 Mar
Who Was Luke

from Google Images

Most biblical scholars believe that both the Gospel of Luke and Acts were written by the same person. Both were written to a man named Theophilus, and in Acts 1:1 the author writes of a former treatise, written to the same recipient. One thing seems certain, if we know the author of either work, we have probably found the author of both. Tradition tells us the name of the author of both works is Luke.[1] The earliest witnesses we have, dating within 200 years of penning Luke and Acts, conclude:

Luke also, the companion of Paul, set down in a book the gospel preached by him. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3:1:1; cir. 180 AD)

The Acts of the Apostles, however, were written by Luke in one book addressed to the most excellent Theophilus; and he makes it clear that these events took place in his presence, for he omits the passion of Peter, as also the journey of Paul when he went from the city to Spain. (Muratorian Fragment, A.D. 200

These two witness show that the author of both works were believed to have been written by a man named Luke, who was also a companion of Paul. The well known “we” passages in the Book of Acts imply that its author was Paul’s companion on at least some of Paul’s journeys. Furthermore, Paul claims in 2Corinthians 8:18-19 that a certain brother was chosen by a number of the churches to travel with Paul and the other representatives of the gentile churches to Jerusalem with their offering for the poor there. Moreover, this person had become well known in all the churches for his labor in connection with the Gospel, and he was coming to Corinth to await Paul’s arrival.

When Paul wrote to Rome, he was at Corinth, specifically Chenchrea the city’s eastern harbor where the church was assembled (Romans 16:1). The letter was given to Phebe who delivered it to the brethren at Rome, and Paul lists the important people with him in Romans 16:21-23 – Timothy, Lucius,[2] Jason, Sosipater, Tertius, Gaius, Erastus and Quartus. Therefore, one of these people was Paul’s companion and was well known among all the churches for the sake of the Gospel, because that person was also to travel with Paul to Jerusalem with the gift from the gentile churches for the Jewish poor. The only two people of these eight who were not only Paul’s companions but were also well known among all the gentile churches for the sake of the Gospel were Timothy and Lucius. Of these two we can probably eliminate Timothy, because the person well known for the Gospel’s sake is placed alongside of Titus in 2Corinthians 8, showing this person’s fame in the Gospel, was not only an evangelistic preacher, but well known in another important way. I can think of only one other way besides preaching, and that would be writing. Therefore, if my logic is sound thus far, a man named Lucius is the person who is well known among all the gentile churches for the sake of the Gospel, and the labor for which he is especially known is probably a written account of the Gospel, since Lucius was also an evangelist like Paul, as was later Timothy and Titus (cf. Acts 13:1).

Nevertheless, who is this Lucius who is one of the leaders of the churches at Antioch and mentioned by Paul next to Timothy in Romans 16:21? Lucius of Acts 13:1 is listed among the prophets in Antioch, and it is implied in Acts 11:20 that he was one of the original evangelists who founded the gentile church there. If this is true, Lucius (from Cyrene) must have been one of the original Hellenist Jews who fled Jerusalem, preaching the Gospel to only Jews (Acts 11:19).[3] The implication is clear, for, if these men preached at Antioch to gentiles, those who preached the Gospel had to be Jews. Lucius (Acts 13:1) definitely had the gift of evangelism and was listed as one of the prophets, and one of the leaders of the church at Antioch. He is, therefore, the most probable candidate for being the well known brother among all the churches for his work in the Gospel.


[1] This study is the first of six blogposts, which I hope to use to not only show a man named Luke wrote the Gospel known by his name, but also to shed a little light upon who this person might be.

[2] Lucius (G3066) and Lucus (G3065) are derived from the same root. They are essentially the same name.

[3] If my studies are correct, Luke is not the ‘only’ gentile who wrote a book of the Bible. Luke isn’t a gentile at all. He was a Jew like every other writer of the New Testament, and I believe my studies will prove this beyond reasonable doubt.



Posted by on March 20, 2016 in Gospel of Luke


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2 responses to “Who Is the Author of the Third Gospel?

  1. Peggy

    March 20, 2016 at 20:44

    Hello, I am also presuming the author of Luke also wrote the book of Acts. Acts begins by the mention of a ‘former book’ which probably is the Gospel of Luke. Luke and Acts are a single work, and by and large anonymous. Acts 1:1-2, the text says the author is not an Apostle, but was present at various narrated events. The author is clearly well educated, writes Greek, and has good knowledge of the culture and politics during this period. This information would match what is known about Luke. The texts and passages using ‘we’ refers to Paul as Luke’s companion.
    Paul mentions Aristarchus, Tychicus, Timothy and Mark, being mentioned in ‘third person’, so not considered as authorship for Acts. Iranaeus and Tertullian has the inscription ‘According to Luke’.
    Acts makes no mention of the fall of Jerusalem, which happened A.D 70 or the death of Paul (between 62 and 67) so one can conclude these events had not yet happened. In Acts, Judaism is still considered a legal religion.

    • Eddie

      March 20, 2016 at 23:24

      Greetings Peggy, and thank you for reading and especially for taking the time to offer your own understanding of who the author of the third Gospel is. We agree in everything you have said above. Lord bless you in your own study of his word.


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