Theo-philus

Theo-philus

“I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.” Luke 1:3-4

     Have you ever read the introduction to the gospel of Luke and wondered just who this “most excellent Theophilus” was? It’s an easy assumption that this person must have been important, because not only is the Gospel of Luke addressed to Theophilus but so is the book of Acts.
When you put those two books together, they make up nearly 30% of the New Testament, more than any other New Testament author (all of Paul’s writings in the New Testament are only a little over 20%). So whoever Theophilus is, Luke thinks it is important for them to have an orderly account of all that happened in the life of Jesus Christ.
There are two schools of thought on this topic. The first is that Theophilus was a real person, a leader of some importance, that converted to Christianity and who Luke felt deserved to have an account of everything he knew about Jesus. In that day, for such long letters to be written took a long time and were very expensive. That, more than anything, should tell us how important Luke thought Theophilus was.
The second, and where I hang my theological hat, is that Theophilus is a construct, a stand in as it were. The name “Theophilus” literally means “lover of God” (some translate “friend of God”). If Luke uses “Theophilus” as a construct for those who love God, well, that means the Gospel of Luke, and the book of Acts, were specifically written with us in mind. Luke may not have known when or where we would live, but he believed that we needed to know the good news, as this who love God.
When we read parts of the New Testament that are written to certain churches like Ephesians or certain people like First and Second Timothy, it can feel like we are eavesdropping a bit. But when it comes to Luke and Acts, we can read them with confidence that they were written with any who love God in mind. They were written for us.
During this time of Lent, I want to encourage you make the time to read (or re-read) these two wonderful works written with you, lover of God, in mind.

Friend of God,
Pastor Mike

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