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Paul called Luke the “beloved physician,” Colossians 4:14. He is also well-known as an associate of Paul, accompanying him on some of his journeys and going with him to Rome and staying with him, II Timothy 4. He wrote both Luke and Acts which together, make up more than half of the New Testament. The two books by Luke are a 2-volume work common in that era such as Josephus’ two-volume apology for the Jews. Luke, a skilled researcher, had a real concern for historical reliability. Sir William Ramsay, who initially sought to discredit the book of Acts, wrote, “St Paul the Traveller and Roman Citizen,” and concluded that Luke was a careful historian of remarkable ability, a “historian of first rank.” Archaeology and history confirm that Luke accurately detailed those in leadership with correct official titles, correctly identified army units, routes, and all places, that is, 32 countries, 54 cities, and 9 Mediterranean islands, and accuracy in matters of chronology. Luke had the time to access Jewish sources and do interviews when Paul returned to Jerusalem and when Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea for two years. Luke has been labeled a Gentile. However, this widespread opinion may not be correct. Luke, whose name was Greek, was likely a Hellenistic Jew, that is, a Jew with a strong Greek background unlike the Hebrew Jews. Evidence shows that he was a Jew. Romans 3:2 strongly indicates that through the Jews, God gave revelation of truths. It is most likely that the whole New Testament was written by Jewish men. There is no reason to think God made an exception with Luke. Throughout his writings, Luke displays an understanding of Jewish worship and institutions. The account in Acts proves that Luke was a Jew. In Acts 16:11, when Luke joined up with Paul, there was no problem raised that Luke was not a Jew. In Acts 21, Luke described the arrest of Paul who was charged with bringing Gentiles into the Temple, a crime deserving the death penalty. There were no Gentiles in the Temple which meant that Luke, an observer who was probably in the Temple as well, was not a Gentile. In an article, “Was Luke a Gentile?” Thomas McCall postulated that Luke’s knowledge of Mary’s experience showed some close relationship with her that a Gentile would not likely have had. He asked, “How would Luke have discovered what she had hidden in her heart without some interview with her?” He noted that a Gentile did not necessarily care or have a need to contact her to glean this information. The reference to Jews, in Colossians 4:11, suggests Luke was a Gentile. The ones mentioned in verses 10 and 11 were specifically fellow workers of Paul, probably in the sense of preaching along with Paul. Luke was not preaching, but an associate, perhaps Paul’s personal physician. So, this does not prove he was not a Jew. Luke was a physician, historian, and a believer serving and laboring for the Lord.
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