“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.” Luke 1:1-4 (ESV)
What’s Going On?
The book of Luke is the first of two letters written by Luke to Theophilus. The second is the book of Acts, or The Acts of The Apostles. Little is known about Theophilus other than what we learn in the opening verses of the book. He was a wealthy Gentile who had little background in the customs of the Jews and this book, unlike the book of Mark, doesn’t spend much time explaining things to a Gentile audience but instead, tells the stories in a way that needs no explanation. We also know he loved God! His name, when interpreted from the Greek, actually tells us “Theo” meaning God, and “Philus” from the word “Phileo” which means Love. So Theophilus literally means God-Love. It is likely that Theophilus asked Luke to put together a full report of all of the events concerning the life and teachings of Jesus and as his patron, Luke took great care to collect the information and compile it into the version we now place right along with the other three Gospel accounts. I imagine him interviewing, much the same way a reporter would, all of the people who had been witnesses to the events that he records. He takes great care in recording the PARABLES and includes some of the most familiar that weren’t found in Matthew or Luke – the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son, for example. He also pays special attention to the many PRAYERS that are found throughout the account.
Matthew was a Jew talking to other Jews. Mark was a Jew who is talking to Gentiles and Luke is a Gentile talking to other Gentiles. In fact, Luke is likely the only Gentile author in the New Testament – perhaps even the whole Bible! In this account of the life of Jesus, Luke isn’t presenting Jesus as the fulfilment of Jewish prophecy. He unfolds the story not just as the Savior for the Jews, but the One come to save ALL. My guess is that most in the Greek and the Roman world weren’t sitting around waiting for a Savior. So Luke tells the stories and records the words of Jesus in a way that shows us that everyone who comes to believe in Jesus will be set free – not necessarily from sin or eternal separation from God, or from a powerful government, but from ourselves and our own human nature.
We also know that Luke is a doctor from Paul’s closing in the book of Colossians: “ Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.” He will join Paul and become part of the story in the book of Acts and will also be mentioned as one of Paul’s fellow workers in the book of Philemon, along with Mark. So it’s possible that Mark and Luke shared some of their writings and most assuredly drew from some of the same resources.
I think it’s interesting the way Luke records the MIRACLES, especially the healing miracles. Luke would have been fascinated by the physical aspects of the miracles and records them with awe and wonder. Starting with the virgin birth and then including healings of a paralytic, a crippled woman, a blind man, several demon possessions, and two separate resurrections – the widow’s son in chap 7 and a girl in chap 8. He also goes into more detail about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus! These are all things that would have captured the attention of a doctor, even a Gentile doctor who had no background in the promises of the Old Testament.
As you read this Gospel account, pay special attention to the humanity Luke brings to the story. We see that Luke also records the genealogy of Jesus, but doesn’t connect Him with Abraham the way Matthew did, but connects Him with Adam, the first man. He also shows the lineage of Mary where Matthew showed the lineage of Joseph. He also takes great care to record the story of Jesus birth and Mary’s song – Luke surely would have asked Mary to tell the story herself! Luke, the tender-hearted, curious physician who notices the things so many others might miss surely records the stories of Jesus and those whose lives touched His in a way that no other could possibly have captured.
Weekly Reading Assignment:
- Monday: Luke 1-4
- Tuesday: Luke 5-8
- Wednesday: Luke 9-12
- Thursday: Luke 13-16
- Friday: Luke 17-20
- Saturday: Luke 21-24