St. Luke is the author of one of the Gospels, the others being Matthew, Mark and John. When we hear the word “Gospel” we understand it to be one of these four books and this is true in a sense. But our English word “Gospel” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “God-spell”, meaning “Good News”. In Greek the word is “Evangelion” which also means good news. In this sense the Good News refers not so much to the four books, but rather the good news of what God has done for men and women through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So for example, St. Mark’s Gospel beings this way “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mk 1:1). In this passage the Gospel is the Good News about Jesus which follows in the rest of the Gospel.
St. Luke, unlike, the authors of the other three Gospels was a Greek by upbringing and education, Matthew, Mark and John all being Jews. Luke was an educated man and a doctor. In fact, some scholars have detected a professional medical use of language in St. Luke’s Greek, although this is only held by a minority of scholars. St. Luke was one of the Seventy Apostles, a larger group than the twelve we usually think of. During Our Lord’s lifetime, St. Luke was sent out on preaching trips like the other apostles. After the Resurrection, Jesus Christ appeared to St. Luke and Cleopas (also an apostle of the seventy) on the road to Emmaus, where he was “made know to them in the breaking of the bread.” This passage is found in the twenty fourth chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel which is read in turn with the other Resurrection Gospels in the Matins service, usually served on Saturday night. After Pentecost, St. Luke worked as a missionary and accompanied St. Paul during parts of St. Paul’s travels, going together with him to Rome. St. Luke’s travels with St. Paul are found in the Book of Acts, the second part of St. Luke’s writing. Actually, St. Luke’s description of St. Paul’s journeys by sea around the Mediterranean are considered by some to be rather accurate descriptions of sailing conditions in those places. After St. Paul’s martyrdom, St Luke continued preaching the Good News of Christ. He wrote his two volume work “The Gospel According to Saint Luke” and the “Book of Acts”. St. Luke, being an educated man, prefaced his Gospel with remarks about how he set about researching and writing his Gospel. Although the Gospels are not biographies in a modern sense, St. Luke is proceeding in the best tradition of Greco-Roman historiography. “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed.” (Lk 1:1-4) St. Luke’s Gospel begins with the birth stories of St. John the Baptist, Jesus hrist and ends with Christ’s Ascension. The Book of Acts begins with the Ascension and tells the early history of the Church.
According to tradition, St. Luke was the first iconographer and painted an icon of the Mother of God and some of the Apostles. St. Luke died as a martyr in Greece. His relics were kept in Constantinople until 1204 when the Crusaders took them to Padua.
Troparion — Tone 5
Let us praise with sacred songs the holy Apostle Luke, the recorder of the joyous Gospel of Christ and the scribe of the Acts of the Apostles, for his writings are a testimony of the Church of Christ: He is the physician of human weaknesses and infirmities. He heals the wounds of our souls, and constantly intercedes for our salvation!
Kontakion — Tone 2
Let us praise the godly Luke: he is the true preacher of piety, the orator of ineffable mysteries and the star of the Church; for the Word, Who alone knows the hearts of men, chose him, together with wise Paul, to be a teacher of the gentiles!