THEOPHILUS (thē-ŏf'ĭ-lŭs, Gr. Theophilos). It is reasonable to suppose that Theophilus, to whom Luke dedicated both his gospel (1:3) and the Book of Acts (1:1), was a real person. The title “most excellent” demands this, while the name and title together suggest a person of equestrian rank who became a Christian convert. Theophilus is most probably a baptismal name (see W. M. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller and Roman Citizen, pp. 388-89). Nothing is known of the man. He was certainly not Seneca, as one rash conjecture would have it. It is impossible to decide whether he was pure Roman, Greek, or Jew, or whether the omission in Acts of the honorable title used in the Gospel indicates a deepening friendship when the second book was dedicated, the abandonment of office, or dismissal from office for professing the Christian faith.——EMB
LATE SECOND CENTURY. Christian apologist and bishop of Antioch. Of his works only his Apology, addressed to a pagan friend Autolycus, has survived. This work is in three books and seeks to show the superiority of the Christian revelation over pagan mythology. Although Eusebius called this apology “elementary,” it cannot be denied that Theophilus's doctrine of the Godhead marks an important advance on his Christian predecessors. Proceeding from a theology influenced by Middle Platonism, he distinguished between two phases of the Logos: the logos endiathetos is the Logos innate in God, and the logos prophorikos is the Logos expressed from God for the purpose of creation. Theophilus is reticent concerning the person of Christ, but he clearly regarded him as the second Adam. However, there is no special emphasis on the redemptive work of Christ. The stress instead is upon the disobedience of the first Adam and the obedience of the second Adam by following whose example we may be saved. Theophilus was the first theologian to use the word Triad (trias) of the Godhead.
THEOPHILUS the ŏf’ ə ləs (Θεόφιλος, G2541, friend of God or lover of God). The one to whom Luke addressed his gospel (1:3) and the (
On the other hand, books intended for the general public were sometimes dedicated to a friend and patron who might be able to contribute to the cost of disseminating an otherwise unknown work, or who had suggested its composition. Furthermore, in the gospel Theophilus is called kratiste, “most excellent,” a title of conspicuous rank or office as used of Felix the governor of Judaea (
Theophilus is found as a proper name as early as the 3rd cent. b.c. both in the papyri and inscrs. (J. H. Moulton and G. Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, 288) and as a Jewish name in the Flinders Petrie Papyri (II, 28 ii 9), also 3rd cent. b.c. Theophilus may well have been a baptismal name used among Christians, since a Rom. official in the 1st cent. could hardly be expected to be known in public by such a name. If this is the case, it is the only instance of such in the Acts and may be the same as a pseudonym to conceal his real identity, due to the need for secrecy under tense conditions between church and state (W. M. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller and Roman Citizen, 388). According to Eusebius and Jerome, Luke was a Syrian of Antioch. A Theophilus who held some high distinction at Antioch is mentioned in the Clementine Recognitions. This may be the person for whom Luke wrote.
There remains the possibility that Theophilus was a pagan and not a Christian at all. This depends on the significance of katēchēthēs, “You have been informed” (
W. M. Ramsay, St. Paul The Traveler and Roman Citizen, 3rd ed. (1898), 388, 389; T. Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament, III (1909), 42; F. H. Colson, “Notes on St. Luke’s Preface,” JTS, XXIV (1923), 300-309; J. H. Moulton and G. Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament (1930), 288, 358; R. B. Rackham, The Acts of the Apostles, 14th ed. (1951), xxxvii; E. W. Beyer, “κατηχέω, G2994,” TDNT, edit. by G. Kittel and tr. by G. W. Bromiley, III (1965), 638-640; J. Munck, Introduction to the Acts of the Apostles, rev. by W. F. Albright and C. S. Mann in The Anchor Bible (1967), xvi.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
The one to whom Luke addressed his Gospel and the Ac of the Apostles (compare