Paul had a great friend in Dr. Luke. On the Apostle Paul’s first mission trip he could have contracted malaria.
After leaving Cyprus, he traveled through Pamphylia, an area of lowlands known for malarial infestation. Acts 15 records that “they” (Paul and his companions) traveled quickly through Pamphylia and came to the highlands of Galatia where Paul ministered in Lystra and Derbe (Acts 14).
Paul later writes to the Galatians:
You know it was because of bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe… for I bear witness, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes. Galatians 4:12-15 NASB95
- Paul had a sickness upon arriving in Galatia, after having traveled through Pamphylia, which was infested with Malaria.
- Malaria can impact the eyes causing sight difficulties and even hemorrhages. Paul’s sickness seemed to impact his eyes and it could have been unsightly.
Paul later revisited Galatia (this time he did not travel through malaria-infested Pamphylia to get there but took an overland route from Antioch). Then in Acts 16:10 the “they” pronouns become “we” pronouns, indicating that the author of Acts was traveling with Paul.
Please note facts about Luke:
- Luke obviously began traveling with Paul in the region of Galatia.
- Luke is the accepted author of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. For books to be included in the New Testament canon, the authors must have had access to an apostle.
- Paul states that Luke is a doctor in Colossians 4:14.
- Paul describes Luke as a fellow worker in Philemon 24.
- Luke was with Paul in the final days of the Apostle’s life (2 Timothy 4:11).
Friendship and the co-working status of Paul and Luke? Consider, the OGVH historical speculation below (Old Guy Version of History):
- Paul had recurrent sickness. This sickness could have been the thorn in the flesh that Paul described in 2 Corinthians 12:7.
- Paul arrived in Galatia sick and the Galatians ministered to him through his sickness. Luke “the physician” lived in this area. He could have been Paul’s principal caregiver on the first trip and then began traveling with Paul after Paul’s second visit to Galatia.
- Luke became one of Paul’s traveling companions both in friendship and as his personal doctor. Luke was with Paul just before Paul was beheaded.
- Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke through his association with the Apostle Paul and the probable association with the Apostles Peter and John.
- Luke became, in a sense, Paul’s biographer, since most of Acts is the story of Paul’s missionary travels.
I would like to have a friend like Luke. Do you?
In fact, I have several friends like Luke – co-workers and traveling companions, sitting around a campfire (or in a restaurant in Russia) swapping stories, encouraging me through difficult times, preaching the gospel together, and building a church.
They have been a great blessing.
Some friendships don’t last for long, but there is one loving Friend who is joined to your heart closer than any other (Proverbs 18:24 TPT)!
Paul and Luke. You and who?