Acts 1:1

"In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach"

Who was he?

Is it also possible that, since Theophilus means, "friend of God", as Richard states, that Acts is written to all believers?

  • in this case it was better to either edit this into your question or ask an entirely new question. I have edited it in for now.
    – wax eagle
    Oct 4, 2011 at 19:57
  • @waxeagle, I added it as a separate answer to get community feedback. Did you base your decision on a policy e.g. on meta? Oct 4, 2011 at 20:01
  • no, I based it on a "not an answer" flag I got.
    – wax eagle
    Oct 4, 2011 at 20:01
  • Oh, thanks. But I think it was an answer. I'm not going to make a big issue of this, but I don't think it was the right decision. Oct 4, 2011 at 20:06
  • If you want that to be an answer, you should write it up as an answer and both word and defend it as such. As you wrote it, it appears as an extension of the question.
    – Caleb
    Oct 4, 2011 at 20:48

1 Answer 1


Theophilus was the person addressed in both the Gospel of Luke and in the Acts of the Apostles (ie "Luke" and "Acts"). The identity of Theophilus is unknown. Per Wikipedia there are multiple possible options:

  1. He was a specific individual

    Theories say that it could have possibly referred to a Jewish priest, a Roman official, or a lawyer friend of Luke's.

  2. They were a group of people

    In this case, it would be addressed to a generic group of academics (since it was an honorary title, it would apply to anyone reading it--academics of the day).

  3. It was a generic person

    This idea is that Luke was writing to someone unknown to him, or just writing to a generic person so that the letter could be used for anyone and everyone.

Unfortunately, we don't really know.

What we do know, however, is that Theophilus, in the original Greek, means "friend of God", "loved by God", or "loving God". This was a common name back then, but it was also an honorary title used among the academics of the day.

Wikipedia has much more info on the subject.

  • 1
    Uh.. the sentence "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach", it implies that Theophilius is actually a book. Or am I wrong? Oct 5, 2011 at 0:33
  • 1
    @SonicTheHedgehog No, it is common in English to address someone by name in the middle of a sentence. Such as, "Now let me tell you, Bill, about the cats I saw last night."
    – a_hardin
    Oct 5, 2011 at 2:44
  • Specifically, the Greek words are theos and phileo. Theos means "God". Phileo means "love", albeit not quite as strong as Agape. (Philadelphia is from phileo (love) and adelphos (brother), so it's the city of brother love because of its name--not because the people there are extraordinarily loving to each other.
    – Narnian
    Dec 6, 2012 at 14:42

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