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Preface to the Gospel of Luke
by Blessed Theophylact

The divine Luke, an Antiochian and a physician, had a great knowledge of natural philosophy; but he was also much practiced in Hebrew learning. He lived in Jerusalem at the time when our Lord was teaching, so that some say that he himself became one of the seventy apostles, and together with Cleopas, met the Lord after He rose from the dead. After the Lord ascended, and Paul believed, Luke became a close companion and follower of Paul. He wrote his Gospel with great accuracy, as his preface makes clear. He wrote the Gospel fifteen years after the Lord’s Ascension. He writes it to a certain Theophilus, a senator and perhaps a magistrate as well, calling him most excellent. Magistrates and governors are addressed in this fashion, as when Paul said to the governor Festus, O most excellent Festus.1 Everyone who loves God and exercises dominion over his passions is a Theophilus and most excellent, and it is he who is truly worthy to hear the Gospel.

1 Acts 26:25. The single Greek word kratiste, translated in Acts 26:25 by the KJV as O most noble, is the same word used in Luke 1:3 to address Theophilus, but rendered in this case by the KJV as O most excellent. It is the superlative form of an adjective derived from the noun kratos, meaning might or dominion. In the next line Blessed Theophylact makes a play on the meaning of this word, and on the meaning of the name Theophilus, he who loves God.

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