Colossians 4:

10 My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) 11Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me.

With Paul at the time, Aristarchus, Mark, Justus were the only Jews among his co-workers.

12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings.

With Paul at the time, Epaphras was a gentile from Colossae.

He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.

Besides Epaphras the gentile, Luke and Demas, were with Paul.

How likely is it that Luke was a gentile?

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    The actual word used is περιτομῆς (circumcised) not Ἰουδαῖος (Jew). So "only Jews" confuses what Paul has written. The first issue is to determine what significance Paul intends by using περιτομῆς rather than Ἰουδαῖος. For example, Timothy could have been considered Ἰουδαῖος since his mother was Jewish but he could not be called a περιτομῆς until later when Paul performed that act. Commented Sep 22, 2021 at 15:25

6 Answers 6


The balance of evidence suggests that Luke was a gentile. To believe otherwise would require one to think that Luke was a Hellenized jew who was not circumcised, and Paul's reference to "of the circumcision" is a biological reference only and did not include jews who weren't circumcised - which is a bit silly, as Paul wasn't asking anyone to drop their pants. "of the circumcision" is way of saying "jewish".

The counter to this argument, that "unto them were [aorist past tense] committed the oracles of God" [Rom 3.2 LEB], is a reference to the old testament which is what most in the early church viewed as 'scripture' and to Christ, the word of God that is the revelation of God in the world, being jewish.

It is not meant to suggest that gentiles after the cross and especially after pentecost, when the spirit of God was rained on all flesh [Joel 2.28] do not have revelation or cannot share that revelation with others. Indeed, all believers are a light to the world and share the revelation of God to those who are perishing. Moreover Paul clearly states "in Christ there is neither jew nor greek" (Gal 3.28).

Spiritually, there is no distinction now and so there can be no distinction for revelation either. Indeed, one can argue that spiritually, humanity itself died on the cross [2 Cor 5.14] and there is now only the bride and the whore, Christ and Anti-Christ. Only two people are left after the cross, one bound in chains and the last Adam, that is, Christ, living within the hearts of believers, giving them new life. This could well be why Paul used the phrase "of the circumcision" as this is merely a physical, not spiritual, distinction.


I think you are correct. Luke was presumably a Greek physician from Antioch of Syria which means his education would have been in accordance with a Greek world view. One theory suggests Luke may have been a Hellenized Jew with a Greek name, but from Paul's statement in verse 11, I believe this lends strong support to Luke being a Gentile.


Colossians 4: Was Luke a gentile?

The scriptures are silent on the matter but we can make some logical deductions.

The topic "Luke" in the Insight on the Scriptures mentions the following:

Some hold that Luke was a Gentile, basing this mainly on Colossians 4:11, 14. Because Paul first mentioned “those circumcised” (Col 4:11) and later referred to Luke (Col 4:14), the implication is drawn that Luke was not of the circumcision and hence was not a Jew. But this is by no means conclusive. Romans 3:1, 2 states that God entrusted his inspired utterances to the Jews. Luke is one of those to whom such inspired utterances were entrusted.

The Scriptures likewise furnish no basis for identifying Luke with the Lucius mentioned at Acts 13:1 or Paul’s ‘relative’ of the same name referred to at Romans 16:21.

[All scripture quotations from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)]


In Colossians 4:10 and 11, Paul is noting his fellow workers, his close associates. Who also are 'of the circumcised'.

Of note is Mark, John Marcus, who is named with a Latin name and had a Jewish-named mother, Mary, and may have been the son of a mixed marriage. But he was 'of the circumcision'.

Paul then moves on to note Epaphras who, although being somewhat associated with Paul, is not, exactly, a fellow-worker but is 'one of you (Colossians)' a servant of Jesus Christ. There is an independence regarding Epaphras, he is not solely in service with Paul.

Then Luke is mentioned, then Demas.

I do not see how the way in which Paul, here, lists a number of people, can be used as any evidence, or not, of Luke being a Jew or a Gentile. I think the evidence will lie elsewhere.


In the narrative of Acts, there was a sudden change of subject from "they" to "we", occurred in chapter 16 - the Vision of the Man of Macedonia. Luke 16:6-10 read;

6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.

7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.

8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.

9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”

10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. (NIV)

It was common the author hid his identity in the scripture. Luke was likely the man of Macedonia, who joined Paul's missionary journey at Troas, and the subject became "we". Furthermore, in Colossians 4, Luke was not in the list of the three only Jews (Col 4:10).

Consider the above a reasonable deduction, then Luke should be a gentile.


Jews were entrusted with the Oracles of God. Only Jews were present at the day of pentecost in Acts 2. Peter's first sermon was to Jews that traveled to Jerusalem from the countries they resided in. They heard in their own languages (of the countries they were citizens of) the wonderful works of God,that was spoken in tongues; but Peter preached to them in Hebrew which they understood. The gospel was first to the Jews, then to the Samaritans, and lastly to the gentiles. This was directed by the Lord and is played out in Acts. Luke was very well aquatinted with the religion of the Jews and the temple, the Law, etc. It is also unreasonably assumed physicians were gentiles, but not Jews. The EVIDENCE he was Jewish far out weighs he was not. It is a stretch to conclude he was a gentile. Further, such teaching does nothing more than cast doubt, chipping away on the authenticity, therefore authority of the scriptures. So, it DOES matter whether Luke was Jew or Gentile.

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    "The EVIDENCE he was Jewish far out weighs he was not." — Explicitly listing that evidence, both for and against, would improve this answer. Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 16:13

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