Luke, the Beloved Physician

Friday, April 19, 2013

“Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you” (Colossians 4:14 KJV).

As I sat in the emergency room early this morning, I could not help but think about today’s Scripture, Paul’s friend and co-laborer in the ministry….

The Bible only mentions Luke by name in three verses—today’s Scripture, 2 Timothy 4:11, and Philemon 24. Let us look at these verses to learn more about this Christian in the Bible.

In today’s Scripture, we learn that Luke is a medical doctor, described by the adjective “beloved” (dearly loved). Actually, today’s Scripture is one of the closing verses of Paul’s epistle to the Christians in Colosse. Paul writes that Luke says “hello” to them (remember, in biblical times, unlike today, long-distance communication was very limited and just as slow). In fact, Paul is writing from his prison in Rome (Colossians 4:3,18)—Colosse is over 600 miles (966 kilometers) away!

When Paul writes to Philemon sometime later, he refers to “Lucas” (Luke) as one of his “fellow-labourers” (24).

Not too long after writing his epistles to the Colossians and Philemon, Paul pens his last letter, his second letter to Timothy. Paul’s ministry is coming to a close, and he writes, “Only Luke is with me” (2 Timothy 4:11). The beloved physician is still with Paul, right to the end of the apostle’s life. Actually, Luke is a great comfort to Paul in that dank, dark, lonely prison cell.

Although not explicitly stated in Scripture, it is highly likely that Luke wrote the third of the Four Gospels, the book we call “the Gospel according to St. Luke,” and its companion volume, the book of Acts (Luke 1:1-4; cf. Acts 1:1). Furthermore, the pronoun “we” throughout the book of Acts indicates that its author followed the Apostle Paul during his apostolic journeys (Acts 16:10,12,16; Acts 20:5,13; Acts 21:17; Acts 27:1,27; Acts 28:16); it may have very well been Luke.

What happened to Luke after Paul’s writing of 2 Timothy, we do not know. All we know is that this intelligent man was a great friend of the Apostle Paul, his brother and helper in Christ, the “beloved physician….”