The Apostle Luke authors 2 books in the bible: the book of Luke and the book of Acts. Both he addresses to Theophilus. In Luke 1:3 he states, “it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus” and in Acts 1:1 he writes, “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach.”
I became curious, who is this Theophilus dude? The name only appears twice in the bible, in these 2 verses. There is no clue or indication of the actual persona of this individual or even whether it is a real name, a nick name or a descriptive name. As BSF would say, “answers may vary,” and scholars have as many opinions as there are options.
So I fell back to my experience of the scriptures. What I have found and believe is that when a specific fact or name is presented in the bible, it is there for a reason. When further information to specify the fact or name is not disclosed it is because that is not relevant. So why is this name here?
Strong’s Greek translates the name into 2 parts: Theo, Strong 2316 (Theo), God, the Creator and owner of all thing and Philus, Strong 5384 (phílos), expresses experience-based love. So the name literally means someone who loves God, with an expressed, experience based love, as one who knows and shares the love of God because of a personal relationship with Him.
This struck me because of the quote I so vividly remember of Dr. Chuck Mesfeldt at the BSF conference in Denver a few years ago. Chuck took the podium and, I remember it so clearly to this day, said, my name is Chuck Mesfeldt, I love Jesus and I love BSF. Clearly, this is not an introduction you hear most men state today, but what a wonderful statement and succinct testimony!
To me, the emphasis becomes less whether Luke’s Theophilus was a specific person, group, pseudonym, or some other fundamental explanation. What is more important to Luke and to us is that he had a Theophilus in his life to write to. He had a Theophilus to share his faith, his love, his observations, his joy, his fears and his uncertainty. What a blessing it must have been to Luke.
How amazing our lives and our world would become if we Christians introduces ourselves: My name is _____________ and I love God.
As you read this, I encourage you to give it a try. I’m doing it. It still feels strange, but I like it. I love it. At our first BSF meeting I tried it when I introduced myself. I encourage you to try it to. What an amazing and changed world this would be if we become each others Theophilus!!!