B 101).  Who was Luke’s Theophilus ?


Luke addressed his Gospel to:


‘Most excellent/ Excellency/ Noble [Greek: katististos] Theophilus.’ But when Luke addressed him again at the beginning of ACTS, he does so merely as: ‘O Theophilus’.


There was a well known man in Jerusalem named ‘Theophilus Ben Ananus’. He was a priest of the Temple, and served as High Priest from 37-41 AD. He was son of Annas and brother-in-law of the High Priest Caiaphas.


The first term of address used by Luke would be appropriate while Theophilus was serving as High Priest. (As High Priest he would have a title of honour). The absence of this title in ACTS suggests that by that time, Theophilus had stepped down from the position of High Priest.


This would mean Luke’s Gospel was written between 37 and 41 AD, and ACTS during the last half of 41 AD or after.



According to ‘The Israel Exploration Society’ an ossuary was acquired in 1984. It was inscribed: Yehohanah, daughter of Yohohanan, son of Theophilus the High Priest. (See: A woman named Joanna was the wife of Chuza, Herold’s steward. She was rich, had leadership qualities and a witness of the Resurrection (Luke 8:3, 24:18).


Was Joanna a personal link between Luke and the reigning High priest? Joanna was a common name, so we need more evidence before giving a definite: “Yes”. This would be a good subject for further research.


Version: 5th September 2015