The Book of Luke, Introduction, Part II – Lesson II
In our first lesson on the book of Luke we discussed we said that the author of this book is the same author who wrote the book of Acts, namely Luke, a doctor and a fellow missionary with Paul, the Apostle.
The book of Luke is one of three synoptic Gospels, meaning that its synopsis is similar in contents, order and statement as the Gospels of Matthew and Mark.
Luke had never seen the Lord Jesus Christ personally but he has done by his own words, detailed and skillful research of the accounts of his birth, life and death and resurrection and then communicated then in a most orderly and skillful way.
Although similar in content, order and statement to the other two synoptic Gospels we learned that the book of Luke is unique in many ways since it contains many events and accounts of the life of Christ that the othe Gospels do not contain.
It is the most comprehensive of the Gospels as far as the life of Christ is concerned.
(1) Most likely Luke was a Gentile and he wrote his gospel to a Gentile, therfore this gospel slants toward a Gentile perspective.
Interesting Note from a commentary is this: It is interesting to note that Luke has very little emphasis on the fulfillment of Old Testament (Jewish) prophecies, which would have less impact on a Gentile, since they had not been taught these promises from childhood, as a Jewish child would have been. Thus, it is in Matthew, a very "Jewish" gospel, that we frequently find the expression, "that the Scriptures might be fulfilled." In Luke, for example, even when it would have been very noteworthy to point out that Jesus must be born in Bethlehem in order to fulfill Micah 5:2, this is not pointed out, even though it would have been very easy to do so (cf Luke 2:1-7).
The patron or sponsor of the book, Theophilus appears to be a Gentile man of some position:
Apparently he was an official of some kind, for Luke called him most excellent.
(2) Luke's gospel. is derived from eye witness accounts and a diligent and careful acculmulation of information concerning Christ that was gathered during his ministry with Paul.
Luke also tells us about his sources.
He informs us that while he was not a witness to all these events, he has obtained his information from eye witnesses and "ministers of the Word" (v. 2).
Eye witnesses could include individuals such as Mary, and the "ministers of the Word" would be the apostles, who were God's accredited witnesses (cf.; 2:32; 6:2,4; Heb. 2:3-4).
Luke most likely was a contemporary of many of the men mentioned in:
Acts 1:21-22, Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
But to get a better understanding of what Luke means by this lets look at how several different versions translate verses 1-4 of Chapter 1.
King James Version
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among
us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect (exact) understanding (to follow near) of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
understanding par-ak-ol-oo-theh'-o Prom G3844 and G190; to follow near, that is, (figuratively) attend (as a result), trace out, conform to:-attain, follow, fully know, have understanding.
American Standard Version
Luke 1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus; that thou mightest know the certainty concerning the things wherein thou wast instructed.
New American Standard
Luke 1 In as much as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.
Darby's New Translation
Luke 1 Forasmuch as many have undertaken to draw up a relation concerning the matters fully believed among us, as those who from the beginning were eye-witnesses of and attendantsO on the Word have delivered them to us, it has seemed good to me also, accurately acquainted from the origin with all things, to write to thee with method, most excellent Theophilus, that thou
mightest know the certainty of those things in which thou hast been instructed.
Young's Literal Translation of the Bible
Luke 1 Seeing that many did take in hand to set in order a narration of the matters that have been fully assured among us, zas they did deliver to us, who from the beginning became eye-witnesses, and officers of the Word, it seemed good also to me, having followed from the first after all things exactly, to write to thee in order, most noble Theophilus, that thou mayest know the certainty of the things wherein thou wast instructed.
The Amplified Bible
Luke 1:1-3 Since (as is well known) many have undertaken to put in order and draw up a [thorough] narritive of the surely established deeds which have been accomplished and fulfilled in and among us, Exactly as they were handed down to us by those who from the [official] beginning [of Jesus ministry] were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word [that is, of the doctrine concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God] It seemed good and desirable to me, (and so I have determined] also after having searched out diligently and followed all things closely and traced accurately the course from the highest to the minutest detail from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, [My purpose is] that you may know the full truth and understand with certainty and security against error the accounts (histories) and doctrines of the faith of w~ich you have been informed and in which you have been orally instructed.
Can we then believe that Luke was chosen by God to write the book of Luke from the first and from the first he diligently sought to acquire everything he could concerning the life of Christ so that God could successfully use him in this effort.
So Luke begins his narrative of the life of Christ at verse 5,
The Entrance of John and Jesus
Luke 1: 5-38, 5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course,9 According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. 20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.