Who is the Author of Acts?

25 Aug

It is apparent from the prologue of Acts that its author is the same as that for what we refer to as the “Gospel According to Luke!” Both were written about the Lordship of Jesus and the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3; cp. Luke 4:43) to someone by the name of Theophilus. Moreover, Acts refers Theophilus to his former treatise or account (logos – G3056) concerning all that Jesus began to both do and teach (Acts 1:1; cp. Luke 1:3). Many modern critics try to tell us that, because neither work is signed, we cannot know the author of either.

One thing seems certain; if we know the author of either work, we will have found the author of both. Tradition tells us the name of the author is Luke, but is this accurate? Is it possible to find out with relative certainty who the author might be for both works? Yes, I do think there is enough evidence in antiquity that would point to our author. To whom do the earliest witnesses point as the author of both the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts?

Luke also, the companion of Paul, set down in a book the gospel preached by him. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3:1:1; cir. 180 AD)

The Acts of the Apostles, however, were written by Luke in one book addressed to the most excellent Theophilus; and he makes it clear that these events took place in his presence, for he omits the passion of Peter, as also the journey of Paul when he went from the city to Spain. (Muratorian Fragment, A.D. 200

These two witness show that the author of both works were believed to have been written by a man named Luke. Both Irenaeus and the Muratorian Fragment tell us that Luke was a companion of Paul, and both witnesses come down to us in less than 200 years after the works were written. Furthermore, that the author of both works was a companion of Paul’s is acknowledged in the Book of Acts, itself, through what have become known as the “we” passages. For example, in Acts 16 we find Luke saying of Paul’s missionary group: “And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas” (v.8). It is in Troas that Paul seems to link up with the author of Acts, because he says “…the Lord had called us…” (v.10) and then “Loosing from Troas, we came… to Samothracia” (v.11). There are more such passages in Acts 16 and also in chapters 20, 21, 27 and 28. So, we are able to conclude from Scripture that the author of Acts was indeed a companion of Paul.

Scripture doesn’t tell us very much about Luke. There are only three passages in the New Testament that specifically refer to a man by the name of Luke (G3065), and it does seem as though he was a companion of Paul. Colossians 4:14 says he was a beloved physician and names him among two gentiles (Colossians 4:12-14) over against Paul’s kinsmen mentioned in Colossians 4:11. To many scholars, this Luke appears to be a gentile. The other places in Scripture where the name Luke is mentioned is 2Timothy 4:11 where Paul writes that only Luke is with him; and Philemon 1:24 where Lucas (G3065) is mentioned as Paul’s fellow-laborer. The problem is that, although Luke is mentioned as a fellow-laborer, it is not specifically stated he labored in the word. Some of Paul’s fellow-laborers worked in the marketplace to support Paul’s fulltime ministry (see Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:25-26; cp. 3John 1:8). At least at times this phrase largely refers to that person or those people ministering to Paul’s physical needs as he preaches the Gospel. When he had no such fellow-laborers, he worked with his own hands to both support himself and his ministry.

Another candidate for Luke, the Gospel writer, is Lucius in Acts 13:1.[1] He is listed among the prophets in Antioch, and it is implied in Acts 11:20 that he was one of the original Jewish evangelists who founded the gentile church there. Lucius (G3066) and Lucus (G3065) are derived from the same root. They are essentially the same name. Saul was Paul’s name as a Jew, but he changed it to Paul later in Acts 13 (more about this when we come to that part of Acts). Paul is a Latin name, and he used it among the gentiles. People often went by more than one name in ancient times. Many of the Apostles had different names by which they were known. The point is: Lucius (Acts 13:1) was definitely given the gift of evangelism and was listed as one of the prophets and one of the leaders of the church at Antioch. Luke, the physician (if he is not the same person as Lucius) is never explicitly described as a laborer in the word of God. Elsewhere, we find Lucius listed among those at the Corinthian church (called Chenchrea in Romans 16:1) with Paul (Romans 16:21) where Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans. The city of Corinth had two harbors—one bordering westward on the Adriatic Sea and the other (Chenchrea) eastward, bordering on the Aegean Sea. Paul founded the Church of Corinth in the Chenchrea district.

In 2Corinthians 8:16-18 Paul’s letter is brought to Corinth by Titus and someone Paul describes as “the brother whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the churches.” Who might this be? Certainly Titus labored in the Gospel, but he is not the one described in this manner. Furthermore, it is presumed that this description alone would identify this man. I suggest that it is the writer of the Gospel of Luke and Acts. When Paul finally comes to Corinth to winter there (1Corinthians 16:6; cp. 2Corinthians 1:15-16 & 2:1) and from where he wrote the Epistle to the Romans, we find Lucius (Luke) mentioned with him at Corinth (Romans 16:21). So, it seems that the one traveling with Paul at this point and to whom the “we” passages of Acts 20, 21, 27 and 28 refer is Lucius. The name Luke is not specifically mentioned as being with Paul at Corinth. If he is there and Paul doesn’t mention him, and it would be a glaring oversight if a fellow laborer named Luke were there! That simply would not be done. Understanding this, if Luke (the beloved physician, a gentile to many scholars)[2] is not with Paul in Corinth at this time, he cannot be referred to in those “we” passages that show him to be the writer of Acts. Therefore, Lucius, the Messianic Jewish evangelist and co-founder of the Antioch church, must be the Luke to whom the 2nd and 3rd century church fathers refer.


[1] I first was introduced to the idea that the Gospel writer, Luke, is Lucius of Acts 13:1 in Richard Fellows blog HERE and HERE.

[2] NOTE: I do believe that Luke of Colossians 4:14 and Lucius of Acts 13:1 are the same person despite Luke being mentioned with two gentiles. I intend to show how this is so in a future blog-post, if or when I go through the Gospel of Luke sometime in 2016.



Posted by on August 25, 2011 in Acts of the Apostles


Tags: , , , , , , ,

17 responses to “Who is the Author of Acts?

  1. Eddie

    May 30, 2019 at 07:45

    Your link doesn’t work.

  2. Eddie

    May 30, 2019 at 07:31

    Woodrow, greetings! Your claim that Epaphroditus is pointed to in the “we passages” of Acts is without foundation. It is subjective reasoning. Neither is there any objective proof to your claims that he was the “apostle” of Phillipi or that he is the man Paul saw in a vision, which Paul had in Acts 16:9. Your argument is self-defeating, because the “we passages” begin before Paul met anyone in Philippi (Acts 16:10, 11, 12). How could Epaphroditus be behind the “we passages” if they appear in the text before you claim Paul met him?

    Your argument lacks even the least credibility and is certainly not convincing for me. Neither would it be for any serious Bible student. Of course, you are welcome to believe as you please. I have not come to your website to seek to change your mind. You have come to mine. I hope by now you can see that to continue arguing for these things would be a waste of your time.

  3. Woodrow Nichols

    May 30, 2019 at 00:06

    A good article on the location of Philippians is at

  4. Woodrow Nichols

    May 29, 2019 at 19:23

    You state that Epaphroditus is never mentioned in Acts, and I say that he is behind all of the WE passages. Okay. Epaphroditus is called by Paul the Apostle of Phillipi. He appeared to Paul as the Man from Macedonia. The we passages end after he takes them from Troas to Phillipi, then pick up again when Paul takes him to Jerusalem. These are the facts I rely upon.

  5. Eddie

    May 24, 2019 at 07:35

    Greetings Woodrow, its been awhile. Your saying that Epaphroditus is part of the “we” passages of Acts has no support whatsoever. He isn’t mentioned in Acts at all, nor is he mentioned in Romans, which was written from Corinth just prior to Acts 20. The fact is, Epaphroditus is mentioned only in Philippians. Your idea that he was among Paul’s companions as he traveled to Jerusalem is completely subjective, and has as much objective evidence as Donald Trump would have if you claimed he was among Paul’s companions.

    As far as Pilate, Festus and Felix being among Caesar’s household is concerned, that idea carries no weight whatsoever. They were not among the Julio-Claudio family and could not become Caesar upon Caesar’s death. Only one of the elite families such as the Flavian family could succeed a Julio-Claudio Caesar, and that only by violence, which is how Vespasian became Caesar in the first place.

    Anyway, you are welcome to believe as you wish, but your arguments are not even a little persuasive, from where I sit. Remember I haven’t come to your website to persuade you to my understanding. Rather you have come to my website to persuade me. You haven’t, but you are welcome to believe as you wish, I’m not at all concerned how that might be. Have a good day.

  6. Woodrow Nichols

    May 23, 2019 at 21:06

    The reason that Epaphroditus’s name is not mentioned in Acts 20:is because he is
    ‘we” in the passage. Pilate and Festus and Felix were members of Caesar’s household. You appear to be unable to grasp this fact. Does it produce cognitive dissonance in your mind?

  7. Woodrow Nichols

    February 5, 2019 at 13:46

    Caesar’s household is wherever the residency of his agents are at, which at the time of Paul was housed in Caesarea. He spent years there.

  8. Eddie

    December 20, 2018 at 21:05

    Greetings and thank you for reading my studies and for taking the time to offer a comment.

    Do you have evidence that Caesar’s family was in Caesarea, and that Epaphroditus was one of the men who went to Jerusalem with Paul with the offering from the gentile churches? I find no hard evidence in the scriptures for either of those two statements. We know Caesar’s family was in Rome, so at face value, there is more evidence in the scriptures that the Epistle to the Philippians was written from Rome than from Caesarea. Moreover, Epaphroditus isn’t among the brethren in Acts 20:4 who traveled with Paul to Jerusalem with the offering from the gentile churches.

    If you have something to add, please do, and Lord bless you as you consider these things.

  9. Woodrow Nichols

    December 20, 2018 at 17:19

    Caesar’s household would be where Paul was imprisoned in Ceasaria. Ephaphroditus, the apostle of Phillipi brought relief to Paul not counting that he was in Jerusalem with the offering of the Gentiles and when he got arrested. My argument has more facts than the traditional one stating it was in Rome or elsewhere.

  10. Eddie

    August 4, 2018 at 21:32

    Greetings Woodrow, and thank you for reading my blog study.

    I don’t believe Paul could have written from Caesaria, because he tells us in his epistle that brethren from Caesar’s household are with him and send their greetings to the Philippians:

    Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household. (Philippians 4:21-22)

    How would you understand those verses, if Paul wrote his letter from Caesaria?

    Lord bless you in the study of his word.

  11. Woodrow Nichols

    August 4, 2018 at 11:49

    Assume for argument’s sake that Philippians was written from Paul’s imprisonment in Caesaria, then that the vision of the man from Macedonia begins the ‘we” sections of Acts, and Epaphroditus is grounded in Philippi, then the author is obviously Epaphroditus. Keep an open mind.

  12. Eddie

    June 13, 2016 at 05:40

    Thanks for reading, and I hope what I had to say helped you and your friends. Lord bless you all.

  13. marita mahanga

    June 13, 2016 at 02:57

    thnx coz ws still arguing with my friends abt de book of acts,who wrote it exactly

  14. Eddie

    May 11, 2016 at 07:12

    Greetings Eleni, and thank you for reading and for your kind words. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

    Lord bless you in your studies and in your efforts to live for him.

  15. Eleni Brooks

    May 11, 2016 at 05:46

    I’m a 14 year old believer currently studying for my Religious Studies GCSE O Level and I am finding your blog very helpful! Thank you so much!

  16. Ed Bromfield

    August 25, 2011 at 09:45

    Hi Erik, thank you for your kind words. I am not an expert in the writings of the church fathers, but I do read a little and copy and categorize what I find interesting that may be helpful later. Also I take note when I read such comments in the scholarly commentaries we have on the Bible. It is great that we can be helped so much by folks who lived before us and took the time to record what the Lord helped them to know.

    Lord bless,


  17. youthguyerik

    August 25, 2011 at 07:59

    Great post. You handle the material in the scriptures well. I am particularly appreciate your references to the patristics. Thanks for sharing it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: