It is believed that
Luke was born a Greek and a Gentile. In Colossians 10-14 speaks of those friends who are with him. He first mentions all those
"of the circumcision" -- in other words, Jews -- and he does not include Luke in this group. Luke's gospel shows special sensitivity
to evangelizing Gentiles. It is only in his gospel that we hear the parable of the Good Samaritan, that we hear Jesus praising
the faith of Gentiles such as the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian (Lk.4:25-27), and that we hear the story of the
one grateful leper who is a Samaritan (Lk.17:11-19). According to the early Church historian Eusebius Luke was born at Antioch
In our day, it would
be easy to assume that someone who was a doctor was rich, but scholars have argued that Luke might have been born a slave.
It was not uncommon for families to educate slaves in medicine so that they would have a resident family physician. Not only
do we have Paul's word, but Eusebius, Saint Jerome, Saint Irenaeus and Caius, a second-century writer, all refer to Luke as
We have to go to Acts
to follow the trail of Luke's Christian ministry. We know nothing about his conversion but looking at the language of Acts
we can see where he joined Saint Paul. The story of the Acts is written in the third person, as an historian recording facts,
up until the sixteenth chapter. In Acts 16:8-9 we hear of Paul's company "So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. During
the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help
us.' " Then suddenly in 16:10 "they" becomes "we": "When he had seen the visi on, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia,
being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them."
So Luke first joined
Paul's company at Troas at about the year 51 and accompanied him into Macedonia where they traveled first to Samothrace, Neapolis,
and finally Philippi. Luke then switches back to the third person which seems to indicate he was not thrown into prison with
Paul and that when Paul left Philippi Luke stayed behind to encourage the Church there. Seven years passed before Paul returned
to the area on his third missionary journey. In Acts 20:5, the switch to "we" tells us that Luke has left Philippi to rejoin
Paul in Troas in 58 where they first met up. They traveled together through Miletus, Tyre, Caesarea, to Jerusalem.
Luke is the loyal
comrade who stays with Paul when he is imprisoned in Rome about the year 61: "Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus,
sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers" (Philemon 24). And after everyone
else deserts Paul in his final imprisonment and sufferings, it is Luke who remains with Paul to the end: "Only Luke is with
me" (2 Timothy 4:11).
and information for his Gospel and Acts came from his close association with Paul and his companions as he explains in his
introduction to the Gospel: "Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled
among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I
too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent
Theophilus" (Luke 1:1-3).
Luke's unique perspective
on Jesus can be seen in the six miracles and eighteen parables not found in the other gospels. Luke's is the gospel of the
poor and of social justice. He is the one who tells the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man who ignored him. Luke is the one
who uses "Blessed are the poor" instead of "Blessed are the poor in spirit" in the beatitudes. Only in Luke's gospel do we
hear Mary 's Magnificat where she proclaims that God "has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the
lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty" (Luke 1:52-53).