Luke to  Acts

Jesus leaves the planet.


The first connection between Luke-Acts is the ascension of Jesus. Luke ends with this event and the first verse of Acts refers to it.

50He FA took them as far as Beth Any and lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51It came to pass when he had blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to the skies. Luke 24:50-53 (Luke 24:50-51 BRB)
1The 1st writing I have written FA , Theophilus, on all those things which FA our master Joshua FA the anointed began to do and teach 2until the day he was taken up, after he had given commandments to the apostles whom he had chosen FA by the spirit of the holy. Acts 1:1-3 (Acts 1:1-2 BRB)

Wait for the Spirit

One step away in the symmetry is Jesus telling his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the holy spirit.

49I will send on you the promise FA of my father, but stay in the city of Jerusalem until you are surrounded with the army from Rome. (Luke 24:49 BRB)
4When he ate bread with them he commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to continue toward the promise FA of the father, that which you have heard from me. 5For John baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the spirit of the holy Q Acts 11:16 not many days from now. Acts 1:4-5 (Acts 1:4-5 BRB)

Witnesses to Jesus

One more step away in the symmetry Jesus tells his disciples they will witness to him in the whole world, beginning in Jerusalem.

46He said to them, Thus it is written, and it was right, that the anointed would suffer and rise from the house of the dead on the 3rd day 47and repentance would be preached in his name FA for the forgiveness of sins among all peoples and the beginning would be from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:46-48 BRB)
6When they were assembled they asked him saying, Our master, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? Acts 1:67He said to them, It is not for you to know the time nor times which the father has set by his own authority. 8When the spirit of the holy comes on you you will receive power. You will be witnesses to me in Jerusalem and in all Judah and also in the house of Samaria and to the ends of the land. Acts 1:7-8 (Acts 1:6-8 BRB)


The authorship of Luke-Acts appears to be possible to determine from scripture. That they are written by the same author(s) is clear from the way both are addressed to one called Theophilus.

1Since many have desired to have in writing the story of those events with which we are familiar, 2according to what was handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, 3and since these were also seen by me because I was near and considered them all very carefully, I will therefore write to you everything in its order FA , honorable Theophilus, 4so that you may know the truth of the words by which you were instructed. Luke 1:1-4 (Luke 1:1-4 BRB)
1The 1st writing I have written FA , Theophilus, on all those things which FA our master Joshua FA the anointed began to do and teach 2until the day he was taken up, after he had given commandments to the apostles whom he had chosen FA by the spirit of the holy. 3To them he also showed himself alive FA , after he had suffered, in many wonders in 40 days while appearing to them and talking with them concerning the kingdom of god. Acts 1:1-3 (Acts 1:1-3 BRB)

The identity of Theophilus is unclear as he's never mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. It's also unique for a Gospel, like Luke, or a book with a large scope, like Acts, to be addressed to an individual. Normally shorter letters are addressed to a group or an individual and large, sweeping narratives, are not addressed to anyone in particular.

One theory for why Luke-Acts is addressed to an individual is that this two volume work is Paul's court case for his hearing in Rome. I like this theory because, if right, it not only explains that the recipient is someone in Rome, but it makes Paul the author, which explains a lot of things.

Not an Eyewitness

First, the author of Luke-Acts was not an eyewitness of Jesus, but instead, had to investigate the stories and interview the eyewitnesses before writing his/her account. Since Paul was not an eyewitness of Jesus' life or ministry, this makes sense.


After laying the foundation of Jesus' life and ministry, the author takes the story forward to the point when Paul arrives in Rome. If Paul is the author and he's explaining his story to someone in Rome, perhaps as part of his trial, it makes sense that he would end the story at his arrival in Rome.

Caesar's Saints

It's traditionally believed that Paul wrote the Philippians from Rome, but this idea is supported by the way Philippians follows Acts in the book order. Paul's period under house arrest in Rome, told us at the end of Acts, is the backdrop for reading Philippians and makes sense of various details in the letter like mention of the saints in Caesar's house.

22All the holy salute you, especially those who are from the house of caesar. (Philippians 4:22 BRB)

We know Theophilus is a convert, or saint, because of the address at the beginning of Luke, and we know Paul was in contact with believers in Caesar's house from Philippians. It's likely, if not provable, that Theophilus is one of those "in Caesar's house." This in and of itself does not prove Paul wrote Luke, but it increases the odds that he is the author.

This argument is perhaps stronger for me than most because of the proximity of Philippians to Luke-Acts in the book order. I'm learning to trust nearby books to contain the clues needed to unpack the book in question. Context across books if you will.

My Gospel

Another scriptural clue that Paul is likely the author of Luke-Acts comes from several references he makes to "my gospel." Here's one.

FA 8Remember Joshua the anointed who rose from the dead, he who was a son from David according to my gospel. 9Because of him I suffer hardships even to chains like an evil doer, but the word of god is not chained. 2 Timothy 2:8-10 (2 Timothy 2:8-9 BRB)

To summarize, Paul writes Timothy and says that according to "my gospel" Jesus rose from the dead and was a descendant of David.

The first realization here is that Paul is probably actually referring to a written account when he says "my gospel" and not just his way of talking to people about Jesus. He means he authored one of those four books that tell the gospel.

Of the four Gospels Luke is the best candidate to have been authored by Paul because he was not an eyewitness, because it comes with Acts, which is primarily Paul's story, and because of this statement he makes to his disciple Timothy. He says my gospel is special because of the way it deals with the descent of Jesus from David. Does Luke do that uniquely? Yes.

26In the 6th month the king Gabriel K Exodus 2:10 was sent from god to Galilee to a city called Nazareth 27to a virgin who was acquired for a price for a man named Joseph FA of the house of David. The name of the virgin was Mariam. L 1 Samuel 1:2 28The king went in and said to her, Peace be to you full of grace. Our master is with you blessed among women. Luke 1:26-2829When she saw him she was disturbed at his word and wondered what kind of salutation this could be. 30The king said to her, Do not fear Mariam. You have found grace with god. 31You will conceive and give birth to a son. You will call his name, Joshua. FA 32He will be great and he will be called, The son of the highest. Master God will give him the throne of his father David. 33He will rule over the house of Jacob forever and there will not be a limit to his kingdom. Luke 1:29-33 (Luke 1:26-33 BRB)

On the strength of the words of the angel Gabriel Jesus is descended from David. This is unique to Luke. Luke also has a genealogy, but Matthew does as well, so that is not unique, but does increase the odds again.

Orderly Account

The author of Luke says to his recipient Theophilus that he's written an orderly account. What does that mean? Whatever all the various possible meanings, one explanation that makes lots of sense is the way Luke-Acts continually hangs the narrative on the times and reigns of different caesars or government officials. For example...

1It happened in those days that there went out a decree from Augustus Caesar to take a census of all the people in his empire. 2This 1st census took place during the governorship of Quirinius in Syria. Luke 2:1-3 (Luke 2:1-2 BRB)


1In the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, during the governorship of Pontius Pilate in Judah, when Herod was tetrarch of Galilee and his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Traconitis and Lysanius tetrarch of Abilene, 2during the high priesthood of Hanan and Caiapha, the word of god came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. Luke 3:1-2 (Luke 3:1-2 BRB)


281 of them named Agabus stood up and foretold FA by the spirit that a great famine was to come throughout the land, FA the famine which occurred in the days of Claudius Caesar. (Acts 11:28 BRB)

None of the other Gospels refer to Caesar or other governmental people to frame their narrative. This makes sense, though, in Luke-Acts if Paul's providing a written account of his story for Caesar.

Peter's Encounter with Jesus

Paul tells the Corinthian believers that the Gospel he preaches and they are to keep in remembrance says Peter was the first to see Jesus after the resurrection (this is excepting the women who saw him first).

FA 1My brothers, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you and which you have accepted and for which you have stood firm, 2and by which you have life if you keep in remembrance that very word which I have preached to you and if your conversion has not been in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:1-23For I delivered to you 1st of all what I had also received, 1|9 that the anointed died for our sins, as it is written, 2|9 4and that he was buried, 3|9 and that he rose again on the 3rd day, as it is written, 4|9 5and that he appeared to Peter, 5|9 and after him to the 12. 6|9 6After that he appeared to more than 500 brothers at once, of whom a great many are still living, though some are dead. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 (1 Corinthians 15:1-6 BRB)

The only Gospel that records Peter seeing Jesus before the 11 is Luke.

33They rose up that very hour and turned to Jerusalem. They found the 11 gathered together and those who were with them 34saying, Truly our master has risen and has appeared to Simeon. C Mark 16:13 C Matthew 28:9 C John 20:14 35They also reported those things that happened on the road and how they knew him as he broke bread. Luke 24:33-35 (Luke 24:33-35 BRB)

The context to this passage in Luke is that two men on the road to Emmaus had encountered Jesus after the resurrection and returned to Jerusalem to tell the 11, but upon their return found that Peter (Simon) had seen him as well. No details are given about Peter's encounter and it's unclear if Peter saw Jesus before or after the two, but it's likely he saw Jesus first given his role at the time. In any case, Luke is the only Gospel that tells us Peter saw Jesus before the others. The question is why is Paul so supportive of Luke as opposed to the other Gospels, but if he wrote it that way after much interviewing and investigating, then obviously he would preach it that way.


One more angle on this theory of authorship should include the likely role of Timothy as a co-author. There are a handful of clues that at least make this plausible.

First, there's the "we" pattern in Acts that begins after Timothy joins Paul's travels. The use of "we" does not prove Timothy, though, because others also traveled with Paul, but whoever wrote Acts and referred to "we" appears to have made it all the way to Rome with Paul, and it appears only one or two did so when the Acts narrative is read carefully.

That Timothy was in Rome with Paul is easy to establish to the extent that it's possible to establish that Philippians was written from Rome, because Timothy is named as a co-author of Philippians.

1Paul and Timothy FA , servants of Joshua the anointed, Philippians 1:1aTo all FA the holy who are in Joshua FA the anointed who are in Philippi FA together with the elders and deacons: Philippians 1:1b (Philippians 1:1 BRB)

Timothy also co-authored a number of other letters with Paul, which helps establish his fitfulness to the holy spirit for penning scripture.

1Paul and Silas and Timothy, 1 Thessalonians 1:1aTo the assembly of Thessalonica which is in FA god the father and in our master Joshua FA the anointed: 1 Thessalonians 1:1bGrace and peace be to you. 1 Thessalonians 1:1c (1 Thessalonians 1:1 BRB)
FA 1Paul and Silas and Timothy, 2 Thessalonians 1:1aTo the assembly of Thessalonica which is in god our father and our master Joshua the anointed: 2 Thessalonians 1:1b (2 Thessalonians 1:1 BRB)
1Paul FA an apostle of Joshua the anointed by the will of god and Timothy FA our brother, 2 Corinthians 1:1aTo FA the assembly of god which is in Corinth, with all FA the holy who are in all Achaia: 2 Corinthians 1:1b (2 Corinthians 1:1 BRB)
1Paul a prisoner of Joshua the anointed and brother Timothy, Philemon 1:1To Philemon our beloved and our fellow worker Philemon 1:1-2 (Philemon 1:1 BRB)
1Paul, an apostle of Joshua FA the anointed by the will of god, and Timothy our brother, Colossians 1:1 (Colossians 1:1 BRB)

In terms of a resume he also has this commendation from Paul about his knowledge of scripture.

14But you abide in those things you have learned and have been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and knowing that you have learned from your childhood the FA holy scrolls which are able to make you wise to life in the belief of Joshua FA the anointed. 2 Timothy 3:14-17 (2 Timothy 3:14-15 BRB)

More than just being a co-author of a New Testament letter, his knowledge of the Hebrew scriptures would have been particularly valuable in co-authoring Luke and Acts, which are fulfillments of prophecy and often quote and explain passages from the Hebrew scriptures.

And it's the case that Timothy was familiar with Paul's Gospel, for the only time Paul mentions it outside of his correspondence with Rome, is while writing Timothy. As quoted before.

FA 8Remember Joshua the anointed who rose from the dead, he who was a son from David according to my gospel. 2 Timothy 2:8-10 (2 Timothy 2:8 BRB)

If Paul wrote Luke-Acts for court, and Timothy was with Paul in Rome as a witness, then it stands to reason he helped Paul with the written account as well.

All the clues about authorship given above do not prove that Paul and Timothy wrote Luke-Acts, but they do support this theory. In contrast, the usual answer that Luke wrote Luke is not supported with scripture at all, but only by the shared name. This same mistake is made when identifying the author of the Gospel of John, but in that case it's easy to establish from scripture that the author was not the disciple John, but Lazarus. So the name of the Gospel, does not always share the name of it's author.