THE GOSPEL OF LUKE
I. Background Issues
This report will be focused on the Gospel of Luke, however Luke authored both the Gospel bearing his name and the Book of Acts, which is said to be the sequel to the Gospel. Through his authorship of both books Luke’s contribution to the New Testament equals out to 27 percent of it.1 Both books were written for and sponsored by a man named “Theophilus” (Luke 1:3). Luke, a physician and an educated man, used his knowledge to write in an assortment of classical Greek genera and styles, making his Gospel “the most literary of the Gospels.”2 It is written in the literary form of secular Greek historians. It is arranged in an orderly account from Jesus’ birth and life, to his death and resurrection. Buttrick states that, “the book of Luke explains what Jesus dealt with, all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up to heaven.”3 The successive presentation of events make the Gospel of Luke one of the easiest and clearest of the Gospels to read and to follow.
The nature of Luke’s Gospel is indicated by the role of those from whom he got his materials, “those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word” (Luke 1:2). Luke was setting out to preach the Christian message in a form that would capture the attention of various minds of the first century. Luke emphasized that Jesus not only wanted the Jews to know the word, but also the gentiles. His objective was to edify everyone about salvation and about Jesus’ love for them. This Gospel was written with a point of view in mind, symbolized by the calf, which to Luke meant that Jesus was sacrificed for the world to be save from heir sins. The depths of Luke’s Gospel are to be plumbed by the response of faith. 2 Authorship
The Gospel according to Luke carries no direct statement about who wrote it. However, there are internal and external indications that it was written by the one whose name it bears. Luke was a gentile, and the only gentile author in the NT. Luke is mentioned by Paul as his beloved physician who loved people (Col 4:14) and is also mentioned in epistles of the NT traditionally ascribed to Paul (2 Tim 4:11; Phlm 24). If the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts is a two volume set, which seems true from the similar introductions and writing styles, then the “we” sections of Acts (16:10-17; 20:5-16; 21:1-18; 27:1-28:16) imply an eyewitness account of Paul’s missionary activity.4 Luke states that he gathered first-hand information from eyewitnesses of the word, and does not make many claims to have witnessed any of the accounts (Luke 1:1-2). He does state that he analyzed and then arranged them in an orderly account of events, although some accounts may not necessarily have been written from a chronological point of view.5
External sources also provide proof of Lucan authorship. The Muratorian Canon is the first (c. 180-200) that names Luke as the author and calls him the physician companion of Paul. It is followed by Irenaeus, (c. 175-195, Against Heresies 3.1.1; 3.14.10) states specifically that Luke recorded in a book the gospel preached by Paul. The Anti-Marcionite Prologue to Luke (c. 175) affirms Luke as the author. With countless accounts confirming Luke’s authorship, an argument arouse in the mid-ninetieth century questioning Luke’s “historical and theological accuracy”6 and “his relationship to Paul, and the relationship between Acts 15 and Galatians 2.”7 They both question Luke as a disciple of Paul based on the substantial differences in theology and historical accounts of the Speeches and Miracles in Acts and the Jerusalem Council. Date
The date of the Gospel is not quite clear with events such as the Synoptic Problem and the date of Mark influencing it.8 It is speculated that the mostly likely date is c. 58-60. The reason behind this date is believed that the book of Acts was written shortly after Paul’s imprisonment and it postdates the...
Bibliography: Brown R. E., Birth of the Messiah, (Garden City: Doubleday, 1979), 483.
Cadbury H. J., “Commentary on the Preface of Luke”, The Beginnings of Christianity, ed. F.J Foakes and K. Lake (London: Macmillan, 1922), 2:489-520.
Conzelmann H., The Theology of St. Luke (New York: Harper, 1960), 16-17.
E. Renen, The Gospels, E.T. (London, 1890), 147.
Fitzmyer J.A. The Acts of the Apostles. Anchor Bible, (New York: Doubleday, 1999), 127.
Wilson S. G., Luke and the Pastoral Epistles (London: SPCK, 1979), 139-140
Kummel W.G., Introducation to the New Testament, (Nashville: Abingdon, 1975), 130-138.)
Liefeld, W. L., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 8:12.
Marshall I. H., Luke: Historian and Theologian, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989), 266.
Morris L., The Gospel According to St
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 14.
Stein R. H., The Method and Message of Jesus’ Teachings (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978), 60-79.
Witherington B. III., The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 1998), 439.
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