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What is Acts?

Acts is a book of the Bible written by Luke.


Who was Luke?

  • Luke is the author of the gospel that bears his name.
  • Paul identifies Luke as a physician (Colossians 4:14) which would explain Luke’s use of medical terms as well as his interest in healings and even the details of these healings.  Much more on this in HobartHarnack argues that Paul in Colossians 4:14 means to say that Luke was his physician.
  • From Colossians 4:12-14, we conclude that Luke was not a Jew.  Paul lists Aristarchus, Mark, and Jesus Justus as being “of the circumcision” (Colossians 4:11). Then he goes on to list Epaphras, Luke, and Demas presumably because they are not “of the circumcision.” Robertson points to Acts 28:2, 4 where Luke identifies the residents of Malta as “barbarians” which was a Greek way of speaking.  Ramsay says that if Luke was Roman, he would have been a freed slave working as a physician which was common.  If Luke is a brother of Titus, then he is Greek.
  • From those passages in Acts where Luke uses the first person, plural pronoun “we” (Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1–28:16), we conclude that Luke was a companion and a disciple of Paul.  Luke was also with Paul in his final imprisonment. (2 Timothy 4:11)
  • Many interesting speculations also exist such as that Luke was one of the Seventy sent out by Jesus (Luke 10:1), or that Luke was one of the Greeks who came to Philip for an introduction to Jesus (John 12:20).  Others have suggested that Luke was one of the two men walking to Emmaus. (Luke 24:13)  Robertson quotes Souter who suggested that Luke was the brother of Titus; see the very bottom of this page.


In what city was Luke born?

There is a solid body of evidence that Luke was born in the city of Antioch; see Robertson.


How do we know that Luke wrote the book of Acts and the gospel?

The gospel and Acts do not bear the name of Luke.  Harnack says this is exactly what we would expect if Luke was the author.  Robertson documents the long history of thought on this question.


How do you know that the same man who wrote the gospel also wrote Acts?

First, both books are addressed to the same man. (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1)  Second, the author mentions in Acts 1:1 a “former treatise” which he wrote about Jesus.  This treatise is undoubtedly the gospel of Luke.


Was Luke an eyewitness of the ministry of Jesus?

Luke himself was not an eyewitness of the ministry of Jesus as appears from his comment in Luke 1:2.


To whom was the book of Acts written?

Luke addresses both his gospel and the book of Acts to a man named Theophilus.  Luke addresses this man as “most excellent Theophilus” which implies that he was a man of some social rank. (Luke 1:3)  Note that Governors Felix and Festus are addressed using the same title. (Acts 23:26; 24:3; 26:25)  Further, Luke says that Theophilus had been taught (Luke 1:4) which implies that he had received some instruction in the Christian religion.  Some have speculated that Theophilus was a wealthy man who paid for Luke’s education and/or the research and writing of the gospel and the book of Acts.




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