by Ezekiel Bozikis
St. Luke the Evangelist is the writer of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles and is one of the most important of the New Testament writers. Without the book of Acts, little would be known about the beginnings of the Church. Yet, at one time, this book of the Bible was considered to be historically inaccurate and written by someone who lived 100 years later.
William Ramsay was one of the foremost archaeologists of the nineteenth century - and an avowed atheist. He did not believe the Bible to be true and he set out to disprove the Book of Acts. In 1880, he embarked on his first archaeological expedition to the sites described in Acts. He spent many years travelling, digging, and studying ancient writings in that part of the world. He was certain that he could prove that Acts was full of mistakes and could not be believed.
However, to his surprise, his discoveries proved that the Book of Acts was right! He was most impressed with how St. Luke got those small, seemingly "insignificant" details exactly right. That, Ramsay claimed, was the mark of a writer who knows what he is talking about and is careful to tell everything correctly. In fact, Ramsay became so impressed with the truth of St. Luke's account that he became a Christian!
Yet, in spite of the historical detail of Acts, we know little about the St. Luke, because he, in his humility, hardly refers to himself at all (even though he travelled extensively with the Apostle Paul).
We know that St. Luke was a Gentile from Asia Minor. He was a doctor, for St. Paul calls him "Luke, the beloved physician" (Col. 4:14). St. Luke's writings reveal that he was a very well educated man, especially in medicine, literature, historiography, geography and sociology. Also, according to Church tradition, St. Luke painted the first icon of the Virgin Mary. He certainly must have met her, for only his Gospel records the Annunciation, the Magnificat and the story of the birth of St. John the Baptist (things that no one else living would know).
St. Luke was the Apostle Paul's companion on many of his missionary journeys. He gave constant comfort and support to the Apostle, especially when the latter was imprisoned.
As St. Paul painfully writes to Timothy, " Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica - Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me" (2 Tim. 4:9-11).
Voice in the Wilderness, Aug-Sept 1996, vol 4/4
published by Greek Orthodox Church of Saint George, Brisbane QLD