121-101 Luke Introduction
The Gospel of Luke
The heart of the Bible is found in the four Gospels. The Gospels are the Good News of God and His revelation in Jesus Christ. All of the Old Testament has been preparatory for the coming of the Messiah and the New Testament declares and illuminates God’s revelation.
Each of the four Gospels teaches us and proclaims the same Good News given unto man. But each one presents the story in its own unique perspective. Each Gospel presents its own special appeal for the reader. Because of the uniqueness of each Gospel it is profitable for the hearer of the good news and brings its own special beauty in the portrayal of Jesus Christ. There are many who take a special preference to the Gospel of Luke. The author of this Gospel spent much energy in his research and was meticulous in presenting his Gospel as a complete and truthful account of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. This Gospel emphasizes God’s love for all people of all walks of life and wanting to leave none behind.
The title of this Gospel account comes from the author’s name as well as the other three Gospels. It is generally accepted that the author was Luke who, unlike the other writers of the Gospels, was a Gentile. A Gentile was a non-Jew. Luke was the only Gentile to write any of the books of Scripture. Luke not only wrote the Gospel of Luke but also the Book of Acts.
Author and Date
There is little known about Luke as he never included any personal information about himself in any of his writing. We know little about his background or of his conversion to the Christian faith. Luke is identified as a native of the city of Antioch by Eusebius and Jerome. Luke spent much of his time as a companion of the Apostle Paul from the time of Paul’s Macedonian vision, (Acts 16:9-10) to Paul’s martyrdom. (2 Timothy 4:11)
We know that Luke was not only a historian but also a physician as Paul referred to Luke. (Colossians 4:14) The medical abilities of Luke become evident in the high detail of his accounts of Jesus’ healing ministry.
It is clear to us that the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts were written by the same author. (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1) In neither book Luke does not identify himself as the author but his use of “we” in many sections of Acts shows that he was a close companion of the Apostle Paul. (Acts 16:10-17; Acts 20:5-15; Acts 21:1-18; Acts 27:1-28:16) Paul mentions Luke often and is the only one who fits the profile to be the author of the books of Luke and Acts. (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 1:24) The early Church Fathers agree unanimously that Luke was the author of Luke and Acts as well.
Both the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts appear to been have written about the same time with the Gospel being written first. They are a two volume work addressed to Theophilus. (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1) Luke’s work gives a sweeping history from the time of Jesus’ birth to Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. (Acts 28:30-31)
The book of Acts concludes with Paul’s imprisonment and leads us to believe that Luke wrote both books at that time. (AD 60-62) Luke recorded Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of Rome in AD 70 but he does not speak to the fulfillment of that prophecy. Luke usually did record the fulfillment of prophecy, (Acts 11:28) so it is unlikely that Luke wrote after his time in Rome with Paul.
Background and Setting
Both the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts were written and dedicated to Theophilus. Theophilus was a person and not an honorary title. The Coptic Church claims that the person was a Jew of Alexandria. Similarly, John Wesley in his notes on the New Testament recorded that Theophilus was “a person of eminent quality at Alexandria”, which he understood to be the tradition “of the ancients”. Others say that Theophilus was probably a Roman official of some sort, because Luke referred to him as “most excellent” (Luke 1:3), although in the parallel introduction to Acts he is simply referred to as ‘O Theophilus’. (Wikipedia)
Luke’s writing was not here say or second hand information. Luke states that his source was that of eye witnesses and stated that he himself was not a witness to these events in his Gospel. (Luke 1:1-2) Luke’s purpose was to give an ordered account of the events of the Life of Jesus. This does not mean that Luke was restricted to a chronological order in every instance. Luke claim to eyewitness accounts does not disclaim divine inspiration for his work. In all Scripture divine inspiration does not set aside personality, vocabularies, and styles of the human authors. Luke’s research for his work was also by divine providence. The writings of Luke were moved by the Spirit of God. (2 Peter 1:21)
In the Gospel of Luke we grasp the love that Jesus had for the Gentiles, Samaritans, women, children, tax-collectors, sinners, and others often regarded as outcast by the Jewish nation.
Luke often mentioned the Holy Spirit in his Gospel. (Luke 1:15, 35, 41, 67; Luke 2:25; 4:14, 18; Luke 11:13; Luke 12:12) Luke also emphasized the prayer life of Jesus. (Luke 3:21; Luke 5:16; Luke 6:12; Luke 9:18, 28-29; Luke 11::1; 22:32, 42; Luke 23:34, 46) Joyful praise is a distinctive theme in this Gospel. Three chapters have hymn like passages. (Luke 1:46-55, 67-79; Luke 2:29-32) Jesus had great concern for the poor and said much about possessions. (Luke 4:18; Luke 6:20, 30; Luke 14:13, 21) Jesus also had much instruction about how we are to use our possessions. (Luke 12:13-34; Luke 16:1-31; Luke 18:18-30)