The Gospel According to Luke

The Gospel According to Luke

According to historical sources, Luke was a native of Antioch. The Gospel of Luke was written by a physician, who also was a friend of the Apostle Paul. Luke was highly educated and literate in the tradition of Greek and Roman composition. According to most scholars, the Gospel of Luke reflects that.

Luke’s Gospel does not specifically say that it was written by Luke, but the tradition of his authorship is recorded in numerous ancient documents as early as the 2nd century AD. In addition, corroborating evidence from other books of the New Testament strongly suggests Luke as the author.

While the Gospel of Luke is the longest of the four Gospels, it’s actually only the first part of the story. Luke wrote a lengthy two-volume work, containing both his Gospel account and the continuation of the story called, “the Acts of the Apostles.” Some scholars suggest that the Gospel of Luke and its continuation volume - Acts - were written as a defense for the Apostle Paul at his trial in Rome.

Scholars vary on the date of composition for Luke’s Gospel. Many critical scholars date the composition quite late - often between 80 and 100 AD. However, indicators within the Luke-Acts volume suggest that it was written before 70 AD, since the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple is not mentioned. Additionally, if the volume was written for the defense of Paul, its final composition date would be approximately 61 to 62 AD.

With specifics pertaining to Roman officials, such as their names, positions, and periods of rule, it’s obvious that Luke was writing a detailed account in the tradition of Hellenistic histories. The primary audience of Luke’s Gospel, then, would have been the Hellenistic culture and perhaps those most interested in a detailed history written in a linear, chronological scheme.

Luke tells us that he used eyewitness accounts as sources for his Gospel, as Luke himself was not present during the ministry of Jesus. However, several passages in Acts contain “we” phrases, demonstrating that Luke was himself an eyewitness and participant in many of the later events associated with Jesus’ earliest followers.

The opening of Luke’s Gospel establishes that he was an historian with an eye towards presenting the evidence:

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1-4)

 

We really don’t know who this Theophilus was - maybe a politician or a publisher - but Luke obviously did his research in order to deliver an orderly account of Jesus’s life to this historical figure. In a sense, we’re all Theophilus - since we all need to know the facts underlying our faith.

- Dave Stotts, host of Drive Thru History - “The Gospels”

Drive Thru History®:

The Gospels

"The Gospels" tells the story of Jesus from the actual locations recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

We travel to over 50 sites in Israel to deliver the Gospels in a fresh way, show the evidence for the truth of scripture, and encourage families to get excited about reading the Bible again.

Drive Thru History®:

The Gospels

"The Gospels" tells the story of Jesus from the actual locations recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

We travel to over 50 sites in Israel to deliver the Gospels in a fresh way, show the evidence for the truth of scripture, and encourage families to get excited about reading the Bible again.

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