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GOSPEL OF LUKE—TESTIMONIES OF THE FATHERS RESPECTING IT.
THE third gospel is that of Luke. He is mentioned in Scripture as the companion of Paul in his travels; and when that apostle was sent a prisoner to Rome this evangelist accompanied him, and continued with him during his two years’ confinement in that city, as may be gathered from Paul’s Epistles, written during this period. Whether he was the same as “the beloved physician,” Col. iv. 14, mentioned by Paul, is uncertain, but the general opinion is in favour of it. It is also disputed, whether or not he was one of the seventy disciples. Without undertaking to decide these points, I will proceed to lay before the reader the principal testimonies of the Fathers respecting this gospel and its author.
Irenæus asserts, “That Luke, the companion of Paul, put down in a book the gospel preached by him.” Again, he says, “Luke was not only a companion but a fellow-labourer of the apostles, especially of Paul.” He calls him, “a disciple and fellow-labourer of the apostles.” “The apostles,” says he, “envying none, plainly delivered to all the things which they had heard from the Lord.” So likewise Luke, envying no man, has delivered to us what he learned from 174them, as he says, “even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eye-witnesses, and ministers of his word.”6161“The gospel according to Luke, being of a priestly character, begins with Zacharias the priest offering incense to God.”
Eusebiuss informs us, that Clement of Alexandria bore a large testimony to this, as well as to the other gospels; and he mentions a tradition concerning the order of the gospels, which Clement had received from presbyters of more ancient times—That the gospels containing the genealogies were written first.”
Tertullian speaks of Matthew and John as disciples of Christ; of Mark and Luke as disciples of the apostles; however, he ascribes the same authority to the gospels written by them as to the others. “The gospel,” says he,’ which Mark published, may be said to be Peter’s, whose interpreter Mark was; and Luke’s digest is often ascribed to Paul. And indeed it is easy to take that for the Master’s which the disciples published.” Again, “Moreover, Luke was not an apostle, but an apostolic man; not a master but a disciple: certainly less than his master; certainly so much later, as he is a follower of Paul, the last of the apostles.”
Origen mentions the gospels in the order commonly received—“The third,” says he, “is that according to Luke, the gospel commended by Paul, published for the sake of the Gentile converts.” In his commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, which we now have in a Latin version only, he writes, “Some say Lucius is Lucas, the evangelist, as indeed it is not uncommon to write names, sometimes according to the 175original form; sometimes according to the Greek and Roman termination.”
Eusebius has left us the following testimony concerning Luke the evangelist—“And Luke who was of Antioch, and by profession a physician, for the most part a companion of Paul, who had, likewise, more than a slight acquaintance with the other apostles, has left us, in two books, divinely inspired, evidences of the art of healing souls, which he had learned from them. One of them is the gospel which he professeth to have written, as they delivered it to him, who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of his word.” “With all whom,” he says, “he had been perfectly acquainted from the first.” And in another place, he says, ” Luke hath delivered, in his gospel, a certain account of such things as he had been assured of by his intimate acquaintance and familiarity with Paul, and his conversation with the other apostles.”6262Ecc. Hist. lib. iii. c. iv.
In the Synopsis ascribed to Athanasius, it is said, “That the gospel of Luke was dictated by the apostle Paul, and written and published by the blessed apostle and physician Luke.” Gregory Nazianzen says, “That Luke wrote for the Greeks;” and Gregory Nyssen, “That Luke was as much a physician for the soul as the body.”
The testimony of Jerome concerning Luke is as follows: “Luke, who was of Antioch, and by profession a physician, not unskilful in the Greek language, a disciple of the apostle Paul, and the constant companion of his travels, wrote a gospel, and another excellent volume, entitled, the Acts of the Apostles 176. . . . It is supposed that Luke did not learn his gospel from the apostle Paul only, who had not conversed with the Lord in the flesh, but also from other apostles, which likewise he owns at the beginning of his volume, saying, ‘Even as they delivered them unto us who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word.’ Therefore, he wrote the gospel from the information of others; but the Acts he composed from his own knowledge.”6363Book of Illustrious Men.
The same writer in his preface to his commentary on Matthew, says, “The third evangelist is Luke the physician, a Syrian of Antioch, who was a disciple of the apostle Paul, and published his gospel in the countries of Achaia and Bœotia.” In another place he observes, “That some said that Luke had been a proselyte to Judaism, before his conversion to Christianity.” Chrysostom, in his first homily on the gospel of Matthew, has this remark: “Luke had the fluency of Paul, Mark the conciseness of Peter, both learning of their masters.”
Isidore of Seville, says, “Of the four evangelists, the first and last relate what they had heard Christ say, or had seen him perform. Matthew wrote his gospel first in Judea; then Mark in Italy; Luke, the third, in Achaia; John, the last, in Asia.” And again, “of all the evangelists, Luke, the third in order, is reckoned to have been the most skilful in the Greek tongue. For he was a physician, and wrote his gospel in Greek.”
In Theophylact’s preface to Matthew’s gospel, it is said, “There are four evangelists, two of whom, Matthew and John, were of the apostles; the other 177two, Mark and Luke, were of the number of the seventy. Mark was a disciple and companion of Peter; Luke of Paul . . . . Luke wrote fifteen years after Christ’s ascension.”
In his commentary on Luke he observes, “That it appears from Luke’s Introduction, that he was not from the beginning a disciple, but only afterwards. For others were disciples from the beginning, as Peter, and the sons of Zebedee, who delivered to him the things which they had seen or heard.”
Euthymius says, “Luke was a native of Antioch, and a physician. He was a hearer of Christ, and, as some say, one of his seventy disciples, as well as Mark. He was afterwards very intimate with Paul. He wrote his gospel, with Paul’s permission, fifteen years after our Lord’s ascension.”
Eutychius, patriarch of Constantinople, has handed down the following account: “In the time of the same emperor, (Nero) Luke wrote his gospel in Greek, to a notable and wise man of the Romans, whose name was Theophilus; to whom also he wrote the Acts, or the history of the disciples. The evangelist Luke was a companion of the apostle Paul, going with him wherever he went. For which reason the apostle Paul, in one of his epistles, says, ‘Luke the physician salutes you.’”
The same arguments by which the canonical authority of the gospels of Matthew and Mark were established, apply with their full force to the gospel of Luke. It was universally received as canonical by the whole primitive church—has a place in every catalogue of the books of the New Testament, which was ever published—is constantly referred to and cited 178by the Fathers as a part of sacred Scripture—and was one of the books constantly read in the churches, as a part of the rule of faith and practice for all believers.
Marcion, the heretic, it is true, had a gospel according to Luke, which differed essentially from that in the Canon, but his authority has no weight.179
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