Saint Luke as the Roman Lucius and Famous Brother in the Gospel (2 Cor 8:18)

Saint Luke wrote the majority of the New Testament – even more than Paul.

The Gospel according to Saint Luke (the longest of the four Gospels) and Acts of the Apostles rank Saint Luke in first place as largest contributor to the New Testament. As I argued in my book The Catholic Perspective on Paul, Saint Luke is also the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Paul is the “author” and Luke is the “writer” or “drafter” Hebrews. (The Paul/Luke production of Hebrews is also the position of Saint Thomas Aquinas.)

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Saint Luke was Lucius and the Paul’s “Famous Brother”

Saint Luke as Loukas (3 mentions in NT)

This Luke (Λουκᾶς) is mentioned in Paul’s epistles three times:

Our dear friend Luke (Λουκᾶς) the physician, and Demas send greetings. (Col 4:14)

Saint Paul mentions Luke as his fellow worker along with Mark in Philemon:

And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers. Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers. (Philem 1:22-24)

And then again in 2 Timothy in connection with Mark yet again:

“Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you; for he is very useful in serving me.” (2 Tim 4:11)

Note here that Luke is Paul’s “dear friend,” Paul’s “fellow worker,” and Paul’s sole companion at the end of his life.

Saint Luke as Lucius (2 mentions in NT)

Lucius or Loukios (Greek: Λούκιος) appears two times in the New Testament, once in Acts (written by Luke) and once in Romans.

Lucius is the Romanized version of the name Luke. In a Roman context, Greek men would adapt their names to Latin by creating a -us ending so that their names would rightly decline in Latin. Hence, the way to give Λουκᾶς or “Loukas” a Roman ending is to modify the ending and render it as Lucius.

And wouldn’t you know it, we find this form of Luke’s name in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans!

Timothy, my co-worker, sends his greetings to you, as do Lucius (Λούκιος), Jason and Sosipater, my fellow Jews. (Rom 16:21)

Origen in his Commentary on Romans states that the “Lucius” in Romans is Saint Luke.

Lucius is also mentioned in connection with Barnabas and Paul in Acts:

In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene (Λούκιος ὁ Κυρηναῖος), Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. (Acts 13:1)

Note here the connection between Paul/Saul, Lucius, and Barnabas with…drumroll…Herod the Tetrarch. This proves that Paul/Saul was a Herodian. I’ll write more about this in a future post.

Luke as the “Famous Brother in the Gospel”

There is a unnamed man in 2 Corinthians that Paul refers to as a brother made famous in the Gospel:

But thanks be to God who puts the same earnest care for you into the heart of Titus. For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord. With him we are sending the brother who is famous in the Gospel among all the churches (τὸν ἀδελφὸν οὗ ὁ ἔπαινος ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ διὰ πασῶν τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν); and not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us in this gracious work which we are carrying on, for the glory of the Lord and to show our good will. (2 Cor 8:16-18)

Paul is sending Titus and another man who is famous “in all the churches.” Apparently, he is so famous that he doesn’t even need to be mentioned by name. The Corinthians know him already. Notably, he is famous “in the Gospel throughout all the churches” (ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ διὰ πασῶν τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν). Paul frequently speaks of the Gospel, but never in this way. Some English translations wrongly read “famous for preaching the Gospel,” but the Greek says “famous in/for the Gospel.”

Saint Thomas Aquinas suggests that this “famous brother” is Saint Luke and that he famous because Saint Luke has by this time published his written Gospel and that it has made him “famous throughout all the churches.” The date of 2 Corinthians is around AD 57 and so this would date Saint Luke’s Gospel before AD 57.

Modern scholars will laugh at this, but I think it makes great sense since Saint Paul cites the Gospel of Luke as Sacred “Scripture” in 1 Timothy 5:17-18.

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  • avnrulz

    These teachings are great, very helpful with understanding the early church!

  • Timothy Black

    Dr Marshall, have you heard or read that Hebrews is not really an epistle but more likely a homily? I just came across this and am trying to recall where I read it.

    • Patrick Bergin

      I think it says that in the NAB prefatory essay

    • All epistles were meant to be read in liturgical contexts, so they are homilies in that sense. Excepting maybe Philemon and the 3 Pastoral epistles.

  • Marlin Vrbas

    My understanding is that there is a general consensus that Mark was the first gospel, was written after the destruction of the temple circa 70 AD, and that Luke and the other gospels used the narrative from Mark. This would mean that Luke would have come after Mark vs. the 57 AD proposal in your article. Or could it be that most of Luke was written circa 57 AD as you suggest, and that some narrative from Mark was inserted later? Just curious.

    • Sam

      This consensus among scholars is based on the Greek language used in Mark’s Gospel but there is also a good argument for the primacy of Mathew’ s Gospel and some scholars even say that Luke wrote his Gospel after Mathew and after them came Mark who acted as Peter’s scribe.

    • emiliani

      I’ll let the experts figure it out, but a MAJOR reason for the later date of authorship is made for one simple reason: many textual critiques simply disbelieve that Christ could have predicted the destruction of Jerusalem — prophecy is evidence of revelation, and Enlightened man simply disbelieve this is possible; so he couldn’t have done it. They try to discredit Christ and the Bible by saying that the gospels were written after Jerusalem’s destruction (AD 70) and inserted into the text by the gospel writers as “convenient proof” to Christian readers that Christ had fore-knowledge of events. They do this because such a prediction is VERY strong evidence of the truth of his claims to divinity.

      This isn’t the only reason they do this, I don’t want to overly simplify things, but it is a very strong motivation for the explanation. The number of things I have read, frequently mention this exact rationale.

  • Mateus de Castro

    That’s a great topic. Really helpful. And if modern “catholic” scholars
    laugh, lets laugh back at them. Some are so ‘modern’ that forgot to
    remain Catholic…

  • Fr. Geoff Horton

    Isn’t St. Luke commonly thought to be a Gentile? If so, it is hard to read Romans 16:21 as referring to him unless “my fellow Jews” is meant to refer only to the last two names on the list. Given St. Paul’s occasionally tortured syntax, I guess that’s possible, but it’s unlikely.

    • Some have speculated that Luke is Gentile, but scholarship is leaning to him. Eing Jewish because he is so well informed of Jewish and priestly activity in Jerusalem.

  • emiliani

    Hmm, interesting. You state that Luke is from Cyrene, and there could even be a bit of internal, textual evidence for this — now that you mention it.

    I’m hardly an expert, but Luke, in his gospel, mentions that Simon, a Cyrenian, carried Christ’s cross to Golgotha. Could that possibly be a coincidence? No chance. Certainly the fact that Luke uses his actual name, along with their shared city of origin, indicates that he and his readers probably knew the man. I don’t know how populous Cyrene was back in the day, but does it seem possible that Luke didn’t know the man who carried Christ’s cross, and whose name he mentions? Obviously not.

    Might it not have been this Simon, in fact, who got the ball rolling for Luke’s eventual conversion to Christianity? I don’t know … but it seems more than possible. Luke’s specifying of his name would be natural if Luke wanted to give the man some props for the impact he had Luke’s conversion, in the same way Paul informs Luke of Ananias’s name in Acts.

    Seems more than plausible to me … which means hundreds/thousands Church Fathers and writers have made the exact same observations over the past two millennia!!!

    • I like where you are going.

      All 3 Synoptics have Simon of Cyrene. His family seems to have later been in Rome. See Mark 15:21 and Rom 16:13. Luke was also in Rome.

  • Mary Martha Pazos

    But didn’t Luke interview the Blessed Virgin in person and others who were protagonists during Christ’s ministry? So I would think his Gospel was ready by the year 57.

  • Pam Martin-Harney

    So how does this better our Christian belief? I don’t care what he helped do or not do. I don’t find it useful information to our Witness. Interesting, okay, but I have wasted a few minutes of my busy time reading this, when I could have been witnessing about Jesus, to my fellow man. I’ve also been told, lately, that “at least 2-3 apostles were Gay”. When I got up off the floor, with my mouth wide open, I took the time to study this, and read all kinds of things, besides the Bible,…so generally wasted my time, again…to decide this was Blaspheme, and the one who said it to me, was a Priest. A Gay Priest, who is now, just Gay. It is all “stuff”, as the scriptures say. Stuff to take our minds and actions away from the important message, in this day. Repent, accept Christ as your Saviour, and live to bring others to Christ, by your daily living. This is important. This IS the message, given in Matt. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things Whatsoever I have commanded you, and Lo, I am with you always. This in no way says, and pick and argue the small things. It’s taking your attention away from what you are here to do. We as Christians are here, to work, to share the Gospel. Leave the small things to the Atheists.

    • J Dub

      Pam. Dude. Chill out. It’s ok to learn more about our faith AND be a good Christian witness at the same time. It’s ok. Catholicism is a both/and faith. Let the church nerds like me geek out on stuff like this in peace please!