Now all that brings us down then to Luke the physician. What do we know about him? Well, first of all, look at Colossians chapter 3, let’s just take him for who he was. We don’t know anything about what he did. All those years traveling with Paul never tells us what he did, doesn’t tell us whether he preached a sermon or taught a class or arranged travel arrangements, I don’t know what we…we would just have to speculate on that because there’s nothing there. But in Colossians 4 and verse 14 this is the only…this is the only real personal characteristic that we know about. It just says this, “Luke the beloved physician sends you his greetings.” So all we know about him in terms of his own life is that he was a physician…he was a physician, not just a physician but a beloved physician.
If you go back to verse 11, we’ll take it a little further cause we’re going to dig into his medical background, at least as far as we can. Back in to verse 11 of Colossians 4 it mentions in the middle of the verse “those who are from the circumcision…those who are from the circumcision.” Paul had some companions who were Jewish. He names them, verse 10, Aristarchus, Mark, a man in verse 11 named Jesus Justus, but he says there, “These are the only fellow workers for the Kingdom of God who are from the circumcision.” That is they were the only Jewish ones, so we therefore conclude that the rest are…what?…are Gentiles. And he names them, verse 12 is Epaphras who would have been a Gentile, and verse 14, Luke the beloved physician. He set apart from those that were Jewish of the circumcision as a Gentile. So we know this, he was a physician, he was a Gentile physician.
He was a Gentile physician. There are four other indications of that. His name is Lucas which is a Greek word indicating his Greek origin, his Gentile origin. He writing language and style, as I told you, is distinctively Greek and it is that of a Greek with a high level of education, it is a vocabulary similar to classic Greek writers. Furthermore in writing his gospel Luke does something very interesting, we’ll see it as we go through it. He avoids common semitic or Hebraic expressions and substitutes for them expressions out of the Septuagint which is a Greek translation. So he’s much more at home with Greek than he is with Hebrew. And even when there is a Hebrew or semitic expression, Matthew, Mark and John would use the Hebraic version where Luke would use the Greek version of that same expression.
Also, he makes a major point out of showing how God’s salvation and reaches Gentiles…both in the book of Luke and the book of Acts. He reveals his concern for his people, the Gentile people. So we conclude then that he was a Gentile, he was therefore a Gentile physician trained in some Gentile environment. We don’t know where he came from although there are some traditions back to Eusebius and Jerome, early church fathers, that he came from Antioch…Antioch and Syria, Antioch in the north and Syria. And Antioch was a great center of civilization in ancient times where you remember the first church outside Jerusalem was planted in Antioch. And it may have been that when that church was planted there he heard the gospel in that church. And it was that church eventually pastored by Paul who was sent from that church on his first missionary journey. So if it is true that he came from Antioch, he might have received his medical training in the culture, the Roman/Greek culture, the Hellenistic culture of Antioch.
The beloved aspect just indicates to us that he was an endearing man, that he was a man who had charmed, as it were, the heart of the apostle Paul and come to be to him a beloved man. Obviously if he left his practice to be a missionary and travel all those years with the apostle Paul, we can assume that he continued to be Paul’s personal private physician. And for the oft ill and oft injured Paul, that was some luxury. And to have a man who was not only a physician but beloved was a double blessing. And isn’t it interesting that as often as Luke must have ministered to Paul, he never ever mentions that he did that? Again you see the heart of this man is a heart of humility. So he was a beloved physician. And we can surmise that he may have come from training in Antioch, he may even have heard the gospel and been converted to Christ in that place. He became the beloved physician of the apostle Paul.
Now if you’re expecting to go through Luke and find all kinds of sort of secretive medical lingo like we have to deal with today, you’re not going to find it. Today medical terminology is usually formatted in some way related to Latin or Greek and it’s different than our normal common language. You go to the doctor and the doctor says, “Here’s what’s wrong with you, you have…in my case it was blood clots in your lungs…but the real name for that is pulmonary emboli.” Well that’s a kind of a contemporary phenomenon. In ancient times there was not a unique technical vocabulary for those who practiced medicine and so Luke will refer to things the way the other gospel writers will refer to them. In that day if you went to the doctor and you said, “Doctor, I have a pain in my elbow,” he would say to you, “Yes, you have elbow pain.” It was just the way it was. So I don’t want you to think it’s going to get technical when we get in to the gospel of Luke.
Now Luke is mentioned there in Colossians. That is…that’s the first time he is mentioned in our little look at this. Go to Philemon, the little book, Philemon. This is the second time he’s mentioned and there’s only three. He’s only named three times and the most that is ever said about him you just read. In Philemon, Philemon is a…was a man who had a slave who had run away and Paul wrote him a little letter to take him back because he had become a Christian and he wanted the man to embrace him as a brother and not a returning slave. But in the letter that he writes, at the end of the letter, he just says this, verse 23 he mentions Epaphras, he always had these guys with him, Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers. That’s all we know. That’s it. He was a fellow worker.