Why Should We Think That Mark, Luke, and Acts Were Written Before AD 62? Part 2

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

In part 1 we looked at three reasons that Mark, Luke, and Acts were probably written before AD 62. However, J. Warner Wallace, in his book Cold-Case Christianity, provides several more pieces of evidence.

The fourth piece of evidence is that Luke said nothing about the death of James.

Luke featured another important figure from Christian history in the book of Acts. James (the brother of Jesus) became the leader of the Jerusalem church and was described in a position of prominence in Acts 15. James was martyred in the city of Jerusalem in AD 62, but like the deaths of Paul and Peter, the execution of James is absent from the biblical account, even though Luke described the deaths of Stephen (Acts 7: 54– 60) and James the brother of John (Acts 12: 1– 2).

The fifth piece of evidence is that the Gospel of Luke predates the Book of Acts. It is clear from the introductions of these two books that Acts is the sequel to the Gospel of Luke.

The sixth point is that Paul quotes from the Gospel of Luke in his letter to Timothy.

Paul appeared to be aware of Luke’s gospel and wrote as though it was common knowledge in about AD 63– 64, when Paul penned his first letter to Timothy. Note the following passage:

“The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,’ and ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.’ (1 Tim. 5: 17– 18)

Paul quoted two passages as “scripture” here— one in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament. “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing” refers to Deuteronomy 25: 4, and “The laborer is worthy of his wages” refers to Luke 10: 7. It’s clear that Luke’s gospel was already common knowledge and accepted as scripture by the time this letter was written. To be fair, a number of critics (like Bart Ehrman) have argued that Paul was not actually the author of 1 Timothy and maintain that this letter was written much later in history. The majority of scholars, however, recognize the fact that the earliest leaders of the church were familiar with 1 Timothy at a very early date.

We will pick up the seventh piece of evidence in the next part of this series.