The Gospel of Luke

Reading the title “The Gospel According to Luke” in our English Bibles we may never question whether or not the man who wrote Luke’s gospel was actually Luke himself. However this inscription is not in the original Greek, nor is Luke’s name ever mentioned in the text of the gospel attributed to him.

Having said that, we have good reason to believe it was the “beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14) and faithful companion of Paul (2 Timothy 4:11) that penned the words of this familiar book. First of all, no one in church history has ever attributed this gospel to anyone else but Luke and many church fathers’ record that he was, indeed, the author. Furthermore, the author does not claim to be an apostle but to have received his account from “eyewitnesses.” (Luke 1:2) Luke being a “fellow labourer” of the disciples of Jesus would certainly have been privy to much knowledge and information on Jesus life. 

We know even less about the person to whom Luke writes Luke & Acts. Theophilus appears to be either a new convert to Christianity or someone who is being instructed in the faith (Luke 1:4).[1] He is definitely, however, a Gentile and from a Greek background.

Thus Luke writes in a style very familiar to the Greco-Roman world. According to various scholars it bears the mark of a well-written account of the people and the events in question. However, we should not be quick to reduce it to a mere retelling of the proceedings that transpired in Jesus ministry. As one commentator notes, the Gospel of Luke is not a biography but a proclamation! For Luke often stresses the preaching of the Old Testament scriptures which supports the argument he makes in the beginning that these things “were fulfilled among us.” (Luke 1:1) 

After all for Luke the gospel is not just about facts but also about meaning; meaning to and in history that only God can create. Indeed, it is Jesus Christ who has come which brings certainty to the teaching of the church (Luke 1:4).[2] This is important because we must remember that the gospel of Luke is only the first part or half of the story. Luke continues his recounting in the book of Acts where we see that the New Testament church is established on the basis of what Christ has done in His earthly ministry. This proves that the church did not invent what she preached but that all she believes and holds dear is, indeed, real and true.

One more interesting focus of Luke’s gospel is how he makes it clear that salvation is for all people, not just the Jews. As a Gentile writing to a Gentile we very much get the picture that Christ has come to save all those who put their trust in Him, a theme very similar to that which we find in Paul’s writings (the apostle to the Gentiles – Romans 11:13) Furthermore, Luke often highlights Christ’s ministry to other ‘castoffs’ in Jewish culture: the poor, women and even the greatest of sinners. What we see in Luke is a Messiah who loves those whom no one loves; a friend of sinners and a merciful redeemer.

[1] The word translated there as ‘instructed’ is the Greek word from which we get the English ‘catechism’.
[2] 
This includes the prophecies of the OT which Luke often cites.

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