Luke's Treatise To A Convert
by Wayne Blank
"The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:1-3 KJV)
"The treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach"
A stated in the quotes above, Theophilus, in Greek meaning lover of God, was the man to whom Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. Amazingly, both Luke and Acts were originally a "Bible study" to one convert, a "treatise" meaning a formal explanation (treaty is related to the same root word as treatise) of something.
Nothing else is recorded about Theophilus, however from the formal manner that Luke addressed him in Luke, he was likely a Roman official of some sort, since Luke's referring to him as "most excellent" was an apparent Roman title (Christians did not use pompous titles for their teachers or leaders, such as the utterly blasphemous modern-day use of "The Holy Father" for a mere human) that was recorded by Luke for only two others in the Scriptures, both non-Christian Roman Procurators (governors) of Judea - "most excellent" Festus (Acts 26:25) and "most excellent" Felix (Acts 24:2).
It is interesting however that in the later-written Acts, Luke refers to him simply and less formally as "O Theophilus," which, although could be the result of a number of things, or nothing at all, may also have been an indication that Theophilus gave up, or was removed from, his Roman position in favor of his obviously-strong interest in Christianity. To the Romans, their Emperor was idolized as a god (just as some modern-day political leaders are revered as divine), something that no Christian could ever accept (a great many Christians, and Jews, were martyred by the Romans for that very reason, and will be again - see Revelation 13).
"The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which He was taken up, after that He through The Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen: To whom also He showed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me. For John truly baptized with water [see The Origin of Baptism]; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence."