Who wrote Acts of the Apostles and to whom was it addressed?



Two books of the New Testament have been attributed to Saint Luke: Luke's Gospel, and Acts of the Apostles. They were both written anonymously, so we do not really know who wrote them, although they were attributed to the apostle Luke later in the second century. Both were written in Greek Koine, with the Gospel written in the nineties of the first century or early in the second century, and Acts written some time later.

Luke 1:1-2 tells us what the author actually knew about the lfe and mission of Jesus, and how he knew it:

"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;"

The gospel is therefore an account of those things that were believed among Luke's group of Christians, which were delivered to them and which seemed to have come from eyewitnesses. The traditional attribution to Paul's companion Luke assumes that Paul and others actually taught Luke about Jesus, and that Luke then wrote down what he was taught, but this introduction clearly says that the information was 'delivered' to Luke and his fellow-Christians. This statement alone would seem to rule out Luke, the companion of Paul, as the author of either book.

Using a parallel reading in the Greek language, scholars have demonstrated that the main source delivered to and used by the author of Luke was Mark's Gospel. This tells us clearly that, whoever the author was, he had to rely on a document that began to circulate after 70 CE. Acts is believed to have been written no earlier than the end of the first century, so the author was a person alive at that time. Apart from this, and the fact that he was fluent in the Greek language, we will probably never know who the author really was.

Verse 1:3 of the Gospel and verse 1:1 of Acts address an otherwise unknown Theophilus. Theophilus could have been a real person or, since the name means 'lover of God', could refer to all Christians. It could also be a mimesis flag indicating that the author drew some of his material from the works of Josephus, just as modern authors use citations when drawing material from other authors.