UB David + I'll B Jonathan, Inc.


Used with permission: Character by Character compiled by Selwyn Hughes and Trevor Partridge. Copyright © CWR (www.cwr.org.uk).




Scripture passages referenced and linked in this lesson are written out for your convenience on this page.

UB David + I'll B Jonathan, Inc.


Character by Character

Lesson 3: Luke


Scripture passages referenced and linked in this lesson are written out for your convenience on this page.

Luke: "Light-giving"

The author

Luke 1:1-14 & Acts 1:1 (click the link to read the passages)

accompanied Paul on one of his missionary journeys

Luke was a physician, who accompanied Paul on one of his missionary journeys and later became the author of both Luke’s Gospel and the book of Acts. Luke dedicated both of these documents to “the most excellent Theophilus”—a name meaning “loved of God” (Luke 1:3 & Acts 1:1). No one seems to quite know who Theophilus was; some believe the reference to mean the Christian reader in general, while others believe it to refer to one of the early Christians whose name does not appear elsewhere in the New Testament.

The strength of Luke’s writings lies in the fact that he was an eyewitness to many of the events which he records, and that he collected much of his information from other eyewitnesses.

For thought and contemplation:

A great writer once said that “the colour of our eyes creeps into the nib of our pen”. By that he meant that our character flows out through what we write—and, of course, the same principle applies to what we say. In all that Luke writes and says, Christ is clearly evident. Is it the same with you?

“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.” (2 Cor. 3:2, NIV)

The doctor

Colossians 4:1-14

Luke was the first in a long line of doctors

Hippocrates, who is regarded as the father of modern medicine, and who lived on the Greek island of Kos in the fifth century BC, founded a new approach to the treatment of sickness which has had great influence throughout the centuries. During the 500 years following his death, the insights he had recorded were added to by his successors, and by the first century AD there was a good deal of information readily available to bright young men who wanted to study medicine. Luke, it is safe to assume, must have been an intelligent young man, eager to study the effects of various remedies on human sickness, but it is obvious that as well as being intelligent, he was a caring and compassionate person. Paul refers to him as ‘the beloved physician’. Luke was the first in a long line of doctors who have combined Christian love and human skill in ministering to those with physical needs and problems.

For thought and contemplation:

In the Gospel of Luke, there are approximately 50 medical terms. One writer says, “Luke used more medical words than Hippocrates.” Read Luke 4:38, 8:43 and 14:2 to see just three of them. When reading through Luke’s Gospel, keep your eye open for others.

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10, NIV)

Companion of Paul

Acts 16:10-17

they set out for Macedonia in obedience to a vision

Luke first joins Paul at Troas, from where they set out for Macedonia in obedience to a vision which has been given to Paul. The question of whether Luke would have used his medical skills to assist Paul as they travelled together is one that is often debated among Christians. Some believe that as Paul seemed to possess so many spiritual gifts, he would have relied upon these to maintain his health, while others feel that he would have availed himself of Luke’s medical knowledge and assistance whenever his health was in jeopardy. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle. There were times, no doubt, when Paul would have used his faith to combat physical problems (see Acts 28:3-5), and times when he would have availed himself of his companion’s medical knowledge.

For thought and contemplation:

How do you feel about this often-debated issue of whether Paul would have relied upon faith and prayer to overcome sickness, or taken advantage of Luke’s medical knowledge? Think it through, using Scripture if you can, and come up with your own conclusions.

“Is any one of you sick? He should call the leaders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.” (James 5:14, NIV)


Acts 20:5-6 & 21:1-17

One has only to read the writings of Luke to realise that he was obviously an intelligent and educated man. He clearly possessed literary, historical, theological and medical abilities, and comes across in his writings as deeply caring and warm-hearted. This, of course, is what one would expect of a good doctor. He appears also to have resolved any ego problems that his accomplishments might have brought him, for we never read such statements as, “I was there and did this”, or “I was part of this great event”, but simply “we did” or “we saw”. This is why many commentators refer to Luke as being self-effacing; he had learned to put his ego in its proper place—at the feet of Christ. The humble anonymity which he preserves in his writing is something we would do well to emulate.

For thought and contemplation:

It’s important to realise that self-effacement is not self-belittlement. Many Christians get hung up over this issue. Can you discern the difference? Chat over the subject with a Christian friend today and see if you can identify some of the major differences.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NIV)

Luke 'the beloved physician'

Here standeth Luke, Physician once, and still;
Healer of souls whom God delights to save;
Wise-eyed in helpfulness; in pity brave;
For all diseases using blessed skill;
To halt, maimed, blind, beneficent; until
From town obscure by Galilean wave
Flashed forth the Day-Star, born of God, and gave
New life to suppliants with a sweet “I will.”
At whose appearing Luke was straightly dumb,
Lost in the greater Light; nor found it hard;
But knelt and worshipped; and afterward
For thy monition, O Theophilus,
Wrote large his gospel, and for help of us,
On whom the last days of the world are come.
(E.C. Lefrox)


Acts chapter 27 & 28:1-16

The apostle Paul, while in prison at Caesarea

The apostle Paul, while in prison at Caesarea, exercised his right as a Roman citizen and appealed to Caesar to override the verdict which had been reached in a lower court (see Acts 22:25 & 25:11). Paul was therefore dispatched to Rome in chains with a military escort, and during this journey Luke stayed with him, determined to support and care for him no matter what lay ahead. The great dangers through which they passed and the hardships they endured are graphically described in Luke’s account of this journey.

this disaster-prone apostle, who seemed to go through so many difficulties

One would have hardly blamed Luke if he had turned away from this disaster-prone apostle, who seemed to go through so many difficulties one after the other, but not Luke. His loyalty knew no limits. He was a man bound, not only by a Hippocratic oath, but by an even greater loyalty—the loyalty of love.

For thought and contemplation:

Are you a loyal person? Can others depend on you when they are under stress or in difficulty? Loyalty has been defined as “assuming responsibility for the needs of another person”. Check on yourself today, and try to evaluate the depth and degree of your loyalty.

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves.” (Roman 12:10, NIV)

A true friend

2 Timothy 4:1-13

Paul is feeling greatly in need of fellowship

In one of his last messages, written under the shadow of execution (v. 6), the apostle Paul writes to Timothy asking for a warm cloak to be brought to him, as well as some books and parchments. He also asks Timothy to bring John Mark with him when he comes, so that he can see him once again and renew their deep fellowship. It is obvious that Paul is feeling greatly in need of fellowship at this stage in his life as he lists the people who have departed from him, some no doubt for good and just reasons. Consider the words, “Only Luke is with me.” What friendship! No matter what happened, Luke was a man who was willing to stay to the end.

For thought and contemplation:

A publication once offered a prize for the best definition of a friend. Thousands of answers were received, but the one that was given the first prize was this: “A friend is someone who comes in when the whole world has gone out.” Are you such a friend?

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17, NIV)

His Gospel theme

Luke 19:10, 5:24, 6:5 & 22, 9:22

Luke probably wrote his Gospel somewhere around 60 AD during the time that Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea. He would then have had time to collect his material and perhaps visit some of the places where Jesus had ministered. The vivid style of Luke’s writings suggests that he was familiar with the setting of the events which he records, but which, of course, he did not witness personally.

his main emphasis in on His humanity

Luke, like the prophet Isaiah, presents Christ as Saviour and Lord, but his main emphasis in on His humanity. He refers to Jesus over and over again as “the son of Man”. Notice how he covers in great detail the genealogy of Christ, His growth into manhood, and the more human aspects of our Lord’s life on earth. Notice, too, how he emphasises our Lord’s care for the oppressed, the poor and the downcast. Luke tells it loud and clear that Jesus was truly human as well as divine.

For thought and contemplation:

Sometimes the best way to remember something is to write it down. As your hand moves to express a particular thought in writing, your mind takes hold of it in a greater way. Write down the words of Luke 19:10, which summarise the whole of Luke’s Gospel.

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.” (Philippians 2:8-9, NIV)

The lesson to be learned from Luke

Does it surprise you to be told that Luke is the major contributor to the New Testament and provides, through the two books which he wrote, more information about the times of Jesus and the apostles than any other writer? Luke was an important figure, a Gentile and a second-generation Christian who, as far as we know, never actually met Jesus in the flesh.

The main lesson we learn from Luke is the way he deliberately draws his pen through what someone has called “the perpendicular pronoun”—the letter “I”—and resorts instead to the other pronoun, “we”. Commentators often talk about Luke’s ‘we’ passages (Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1 and 28:16). Almost everything about Luke is self-effacing; he had learned how to overcome the tendency to put himself first and others second. And so must we!

Used with permission: Character by Character compiled by Selwyn Hughes and Trevor Partridge. Copyright © CWR (www.cwr.org.uk).

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