Heidegger's Bible Handbook: Luke: Theophilus, the Recipient

5. It is inscribed to the most excellent Theophilus, that is, as fit on account of his piety, for the keeping of the autograph and the propagation of copies.



The Gospel is inscribed to Θεοφίλῳκρατίστῳ, mightiest, or most excellent, Theophilus.Where is indicated, not whatever Christian, a lover of God God,[1] as some of the ancients thought, but a certain person, a Man loving God, a Man of the highest worthy, great in dignity, and perhaps also bearing the magistracy.It was certainly the custom that the Roman governors were called κρατίστους, most excellent, as in the case of Felix, Acts 23:26,[2] and Festus, Acts 26:25.[3]But who, and of what country, he was, whether Roman, Antiochian, or some other, is uncertain, and is not important to know.Nevertheless, Luke inscribed and sent his Gospel to him, and afterwards the Acts of the Apostles also, as one especially fit on account of piety, zeal, and dignity, both for the keeping of the autograph, and for the faithful propagation of copies from that among the faithful.

[1] Θεόφιλος/Theophilus is a compound of Θεός/God and φίλος/lover. [2] Acts 23:26: “Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix (τῷ κρατίστῳ ἡγεμόνι Φήλικι) sendeth greeting.” [3] Acts 26:25: “But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus (κράτιστε Φῆστε); but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.”

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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