Here is an important question that I received recently, which I’ve addressed long ago on the blog, before living memory.  Time to address it again!  The basic issue: isn’t there good evidence that the book of Acts, which describes the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman world, especially through the missionary efforts of Paul, was written by an eyewitness, an actual traveling companion of Paul who was with him for a number of his endeavors?   (Whoever the author is, he wrote the Gospel of Luke as well – so he wrote more words than any other author of the New Testament!  Even more than Paul.)

Here’s the question and the beginning of a response, the totality of which will take two or three posts.   In this beginning, I explain how the tradition started that the author was someone named “Luke” the traveling companion of Paul.



Acts mentions Luke as a traveling companion with Paul. And in areas where it appears the Luke joined Paul, Acts point-of-view changes from “he” to “we”, and then at points where it seems that Luke may have left Paul or stayed behind, point-of-view then reverts back from “we” to “he”. Some historians believe this is a good indication of when Luke was with Paul, when speaking of “we”. This happens several times and must be significant.

Luke writing as “we” tells me that he is probably taking notes during their travels, or perhaps writing those segments of Acts while on the road, and then filling in the “he” blanks when speaking with Paul and others of his travelers. What is your opinion regarding the curious viewpoint changes, and might this indicate that Luke really is the author of both Gospel of Luke and Acts?



I made an off the cuff comment in a previous post that there was a certain logic that has led readers over the years to identify “Luke” as the author of the Third Gospe l.   Let me stress again that the book itself is written anonymously; the author never identifies himself in any way. Moreover, we do not have the identification of the author as Luke until some 100 years after he wrote, in a statement by Irenaeus in his book Against Heresies, where he names the four Gospels as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

So why Luke?  Irenaeus doesn’t tell us, but there appears to be a kind of “exegetical logic” that led to this decision.   The way it works is a bit complicated, but it goes like this:

I mentioned in the previous post that the author of this Gospel also wrote the book of Acts.  It too is anonymous.   But in four passages in the book of Acts, when the author is describing some of the journeys and activities of the apostle Paul, he …

This post deals with a topic most casual readers of the Bible have never thought of.  Surely Luke wrote Luke, right?  And the book of Acts?  And so they must be reliable — OK?  Good questions.  And much harder to answer than one would imagine.  If you want to see how scholars deal with the issues, join the blog!  Costs little, gives lots, all goes to charity.