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Who wrote the book of Luke? Who was the author of Luke?

author of Luke

Luke, the third book in the New Testament canon, was written by Luke, a physician and companion of Paul on some of his journeys. Often referred to as the “Gospel of mercy,” the book portrays Jesus as showing compassion toward the marginalized, poor, and outcast. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is presented as the Savior of all people, not exclusively the Jews, suggesting that the author is a Gentile. The Gospel of Luke distinguishes itself by providing many historical and chronological details. Notably, Luke also includes much information on the women who followed Jesus, mentioning them about 45 times. A large section of Luke contains material unique to that book, including 14 parables not found in the other Gospels.

The author of the third Gospel does not explicitly identify himself. The recipient is indicated as “most excellent Theophilus,” the same person who received the book of Acts (Luke 1:1–4; Acts 1:1). As Acts is obviously a sequel to Luke, the same author likely wrote both books. Christian tradition attributes them to Luke, a physician and close companion of Paul. In his letter to Timothy, Paul mentions Luke as someone who stuck with him through hard times (2 Timothy 4:11). The use of the first-person we in Acts (e.g., Acts 27:1) confirms that the author witnessed the events firsthand. It is probable that Luke was a Gentile, making him the only non-Jewish author in Scripture. His purpose for writing the book of Luke was both theological and apologetic, aiming to reinforce Theophilus’ faith (Luke 1:4).

Luke’s awareness of other disciples’ accounts indicates that Mark and Matthew were likely already written when he compiled his account, alongside other reports and sermons the Twelve probably left. This places the Gospel of Luke sometime after the writing of both Matthew and Mark. Since Acts concludes before Paul’s death in AD 68, Luke-Acts and the first two Gospels were likely written before then.

In alignment with his goal of reinforcing Theophilus’ faith, Luke diligently conducted his research. Although not an eyewitness to the life of Jesus, he had access to eyewitness testimony and various sources, including songs, letters, speeches, and trial transcripts. Leveraging his physician’s eye for detail, he crafted an extensive and orderly account.

The early church unanimously attributed the third Gospel to Luke, and all the ancient manuscripts we have of the Gospel bear his name. Early church fathers like Irenaeus, Ignatius, Clement, and Tertullian affirmed Luke’s authorship, considering his account of the life of Christ authoritative and inspired Scripture.

We have no reason to doubt the traditional attribution of the book to Luke, and Luke is properly acknowledged as the author of the Gospel bearing his name.

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This page last updated: March 14, 2024