October 18, 2020

Did the Apostle Luke Ever See or Hear Christ in Person?


By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite
There is a disagreement among historians regarding Luke the Evangelist.  Leo the Wise in his eothinon, and Christopher the Patrician in his iambic verses, and Theophanes the Graptos in his asmatic canon, and in the manuscript of the Synaxaristes, among others, reply that this divine Luke went to Jerusalem and saw Christ the Master alive, and he served Him. He was present at the miracles He performed. He was also at the Passion and the Resurrection. After the Resurrection he also conversed with Him and with Cleopas. He saw Him ascend into the heavens. He was also found worthy of the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Chrysostom in his first discourse on Acts and his fourth homily on Matthew, as well as Theophylact of Bulgaria in his interpretation at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke the Evangelist, and the published Synaxaristes, as well as others, say that Luke was never an eyewitness and disciple of the Lord, nor did he ever see Him alive on earth. Rather, he was a disciple of the Apostle Paul, who he met and came to believe in Christ through at Thebes of Boeotia. This is confirmed by the words of Luke himself. At the beginning of his Gospel he testifies as follows: "...just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the Word" (Lk. 1:2). This confirms that he did not see the Lord on earth.

Paul, the teacher of Luke, by seeing in person and hearing the Lord after the Resurrection, through his vision of the flash in the sky brighter than the sun, says however that he did not listen to the Lord, but he became an Apostle of the Lord from those who had listened and saw and heard Him, and they confirmed to him the common salvation of mankind. In his Epistle to the Hebrews he writes: "...how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard" (Heb. 2:3). How can it be considered that Luke the disciple of Paul saw and heard the Lord, as described? Therefore, Luke the Evangelist, in all that he wrote in his holy Gospel, received his information from Paul as well as the other Apostles, such as Peter and James and John, who had seen and heard the Lord. When did he receive this information from them? When he went with Paul to Jerusalem and he met the Apostles. He himself says: "And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the presbyters were present" (Acts 21:17).

For these reasons we also follow the latter as being true and precise, and from this testimony of divine Scripture, we translated the Synaxarion, as it was in the published Synaxaristes. The newly-published Ekatontaeterida of Eugenios also agrees with the latter. There he says that the fellow traveler of Cleopas, according to Origen in his works on Jeremiah, John and Against Celsus, as well as Basil in his work on Isaiah chapter six, name Simon as the fellow traveler of Cleopas. Epiphanios, in his work on heresies chapter 23 number six, thought it was Nathanael. Although these are doubtful due to the silence of the Evangelist.

Translation by John Sanidopoulos.