We will now continue with our series of the Men of Christmas. We begin with introduction of Luke and the first four verses of his Gospel since we plan on continuing in the book of Luke after Christmas.
Author: Luke was not one of the twelve original apostles, but he was a frequent companion of the Apostle Paul. He was most likely a gentile since Paul does not list him as being among “the circumcision” in Colossians 4:10-15. Tradition says he may have been from Antioch. If, as is widely accepted, Luke was a Gentile, his books are the only two out of the entire New Testament to be authored by someone who was not Jewish. Paul referred to Luke as a physician (Colossians 4:14) which explains his more educated literary style compared to the other gospel accounts. Luke does not give much information about himself in either his gospel account or the book of Acts, focusing rather on Jesus and those who spread His message to the world.
Recipient(s): Although Luke dedicates his gospel account to “most excellent Theophilus” which would indicate he wrote it for a prominent Roman official, it is obvious that he had a wider audience in mind. Theophilus literally means “One who loves God” which may have been a nickname or pseudonym for the high ranking Roman Christian, but Luke’s gospel contains information for all those who love God.
Focus of Luke’s Gospel
· Luke’s gospel is directed to a gentile audience
o Greek terminology rather than Hebrew
o Describes places Jews would be familiar with for those who are not
· Highlights Jesus’s ministry to Gentiles
· Only account of conception and birth of John the Baptist and the annunciation to Mary
· Most detailed account of Jesus’s birth, dedication, and childhood
· Gives prominence to Jesus’s healing ministry
· Points out Jesus’s love of the outcasts—women, poor, unclean—celebrates the “underdog”
· Gives prominence to women in many of the accounts
· Most detailed account of Jesus’s final journey to Jerusalem emphasizing the purpose for Jesus’s incarnation which was to die on cross as a substitute for those who would believe
· Points out the universality and inclusiveness of the gospel message, that it is not just for the Jews
PREFACE TO LUKE’S GOSPEL
Luke 1:1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
Susan: Luke acknowledged that he had predecessors in writing about the life of Jesus.
Susie: In this statement, Luke makes the assumption that many of his readers are Christians by stating these things are “most surely believed among us.”
Luke 1:2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
Susie: Luke states that others who wrote accounts of Jesus’s ministry were eye-witnesses and/or ministers of the word. Matthew and John were two of the original twelve apostles who followed Jesus for three and a half years on this earth, and Mark was another traveling companion of Paul. Tradition says that Mark was writing his gospel from Peter’s point of view.
Luke 1:3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
Susan: Luke wrote to make it easier for Gentiles to understand the gospel message. Luke was detail oriented. Therefore, he gave the most meticulous account of Jesus’s genealogy (tracing all the way back to Adam), His birth, and His final journey to Jerusalem. He also defined Jewish terms to make them understandable for a Gentile audience.
Susie: As mentioned in the introduction, Theophilus may have been a high Roman official, since Luke addressed him as “most excellent.” The Roman captain who sent Paul to the governor after his arrest in Jerusalem, addressed his letter to “most excellent governor Felix” (Acts 23:26). Therefore, many commentators believe Theophilus was a particular person.
Luke 1:4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
Susan: Luke gives his purpose in writing his own gospel account—that all who read could be confident in the truth they had heard proclaimed about Jesus.
Susie: Apparently, Theophilus had been discipled to some extent since Luke refers to him having received instruction. Luke’s purpose is to give a well-researched, orderly account of the Good News.
- 1. What clues indicate that Theophilus was a real individual rather than just a name meant to address all who loved God?
- 2. What audience did Luke target by using Greek rather than Hebrew terminology?
- 3. Why do you suppose the Holy Spirit inspired four individuals to each write an account of Jesus’s life as the God-man?