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Intro to Luke


By Mark Silverthorn

Author:
The common conclusion that scholars have determined for the authorship of the third gospel is a physician named Luke, who was Paul’s missionary companion for much of his ministry. It is believed that this author is the same Luke that Paul refers to in Philemon 24, Colossians 4:14, and 2 Timothy 4:11. Luke is also the author of Acts. Luke and Acts combined make up one quarter of the NT. In Luke 1:1-4, the author makes it clear that he has undertaken this book to give an orderly account of his findings, that the audience “may know the truth” of the events of Jesus’ life.

Audience:
The immediate audience for Luke’s account was a man named Theophilus. Both Luke and Acts are addressed to a person named Theophilus. Luke makes his intentions clear in the statement “it seemed good for me also… to write an orderly account for you…” It appears that in a sea of other false accounts of Jesus, Luke set out to give an accurate record of what He has received from the apostles. The Greek grammar and syntax is much more sophisticated that the other gospels, so it appears Luke’s gospel was intended for a scholarly audience and possibly even as an apologetic in legal cases.

Date:
There is much debate on the date and source material for the book of Luke. Many scholars believe that Luke had access to both the gospels according to Mark and Matthew. This along with the probable dates of Luke’s journeys with Paul have led scholars to believe Luke was written sometime in the mid 60’s. The exact date is very difficult to determine, but it seems most likely this book was written before AD 70 when the Romans sacked Jerusalem.

Highlights:

  • Chapters 1-9– The book of Luke begins with the most detailed narrative we have of Jesus’ birth. Chapter 2 ends with the only episode of Jesus’ childhood in the Scriptures. One major theme in Luke is the city of Jerusalem, mentioned 33 times. This is important because this was the major epicenter of all Jewish heritage and religion. Because the Messiah was to be brought through Jewish lineage, Luke focuses on Jerusalem and Jesus’ presence there. In the middle of chapter 4, the focus transitions to Jesus’ public ministry in Galilee. The account of Jesus’ Galilean ministry is given through Ch. 9:27, where you see His direction shift back towards Jerusalem.
  • Chapters 9-19  – This section of passages marks Jesus descent from Galilee to Jerusalem. The material in this section is significant because much of it is unique to Luke’s gospel. These are very important and well-known passages about Jesus’ ministry including the parable of the Good Samaritan, the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, the parable of the prodigal son, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, and the parable of Zaccheus. The section concludes with Jesus arriving in Jerusalem.
  • Chapters 19-24 – The concluding section to Luke’s gospel is Jesus time in Jerusalem. The Son of Man came through the Jews to bring salvation to the world and He accomplished by entering in through Jerusalem. Instead of restoring the kingdom of Israel back to earth, He was crucified bringing restoration back to God and His creation. Other themes unique to Luke include the Holy Spirit, lesser of society (poor, sick, women, etc.), prayer, and poverty v. wealth.

 

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