luke the historian

ancient bible, manuscript, vatican

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. director of family ministry at st. edward's episcopal church. president of fistbump media, llc.

November 11, 2011

ancient bible, manuscript, vatican


“History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquity.” – Cicero, Pro Publio Sestio

I can’t say that I’ve always been exactly a fan of history. I remember sitting in U.S. History classes in High School thinking that it was really dumb that I had to take a class like that (sorry History teachers!). I guess I never realized how much it was building a sense of identity within me. It’s in classes like that where we develop an understanding of where we came from and who we are.

Then I joined the United States Marine Corps. At first I thought it was odd that USMC History classes were a required part of Boot Camp. After all, they’re training us to be elite fighters. Warriors, really. Why did we have to learn about the battles that made it into the Marines’ Hymn?

From the Halls of Montezuma,
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean:
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.

These kinds of things connect us with those who have gone before us. They give us a legacy, and a greater sense of purpose.

Because I served in the US Marine Corps, I am forever connected with the Marines that fought in these and many other battles. I’m part of the brotherhood with thousands of others buried honorably in Arlington National Cemetery. And with the thousands of brave Marines who’s names appear on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall. History teaches me about the legacy that I am part of.

That’s why some of my favorite writings in the Bible are the historical records. I stepped into another legacy on the very day that I decided to turn my life over to Christ. The great, rich history of the Bible suddenly became my history.

Better yet, studying Christian History from the life of Christ through modern times has helped me discover some people and events that I’m proud to say that I’m a part of. Sure, there are also those embarrassing stories of people like Uncle Nicholas who should have sought wiser counsel before doing some of the dumb things that he did. But who’s family is perfect. All of our histories are marred by failures in addition to the feats of greatness that inspire us to keep going.

Good or bad, they are our stories.

We are part of this chain of incredible events that not only tell us where we came from, but also tell us who we are and what our purpose is here.

When it comes to the New Testament, no other canonical writer documented more history than Luke. In fact, depending on who you credit as the author of Hebrews, Luke may have written more New Testament content than any of the other writer including Paul.

New Testament words written (based on translated word count in KJV):

  • Luke (in his Gospel and the Book of Acts) = 49,869
  • Paul (if not the author of Hebrews) = 43,293
  • Paul (if he is the author of Hebrews) = 50,290

Luke’s work in documenting the beginnings of the New Testament Church is significant. It’s also just the start of a long, incredible journey of how a God-man named Jesus changed everything.


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luke the historian

by Dan King time to read: 3 min