Who was “the most excellent Theophilus?”

Ruch Biblijny i Liturgiczny. 2008;61(4) DOI 10.21906/rbl.365


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Journal Title: Ruch Biblijny i Liturgiczny

ISSN: 0209-0872 (Print); 2391-8497 (Online)

Publisher: Polskie Towarzystwo Teologiczne

LCC Subject Category: Philosophy. Psychology. Religion: Practical Theology | Philosophy. Psychology. Religion: Doctrinal Theology

Country of publisher: Poland

Language of fulltext: French, Polish, Russian, German, English, Spanish; Castilian, Italian

Full-text formats available: PDF



Paweł Marek Mucha (Poznań)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 12 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

The Gospel of Luke is addressed to “the most excellent Theophilus” (Łk 1, 3). “The- ophilus” was a high governmental Roman official. Both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles are addressed to this “Theophilus.” It could be addressed to Theophilus him- self or to “dear to God” (“loved by God”), as the word “theophilus” means “dear to God” (“loved by God”). The proconsul of Cyprus, Sergius Paulus, was “the most excellent Theophilus” or “loved by God” or “dear to God.” It explains a lot about Luke’s writing style: not only is his Gre- ek diction unusually elevated for koine, but also he is extremely careful throughout both of his books not to offend Roman sensibilities. Roman characters are always portrayed favo- urably. Luke’s Pontius Pilate declares Jesus’ innocence three times and the scene where Ro- man soldiers mock Jesus and crown him with thorns is removed. Luke’s writing aimed at placing Christianity in a favourable light with Roman officials. He expected these works to be spread and widely circulated. He wrote his works not only for the proconsul of Cyprus, Sergius Paulus (“the most excellent Theophilus”), but also for all people in all ages who think of themselves as “dear to God.”