An Overview of the Gospel of Luke
Topic: Gospel Verse: Luke 1:2–18:31
“An Overview of the Gospel of Luke”
Theme: The Gospel of Luke carefully investigates the accomplishment of God in providing salvation for sinners through the life and death of Jesus Christ.
I. THE INSTIGATION OF THE ACCOUNT
A. The Inclination of God
- From the beginning of creation, God’s predetermined purpose and plan was to save sinners through the provision of a Deliverer.
- God’s love and compassion produces the desire to rescue us – exceeding the limits of our sin with abounding grace to save us.
- This was not something that God had to be persuaded to do – it was not only His purpose and plan from before the foundation of the world – but He announced it on the same day that sin occurred – cp. Ephesians 1:4; Genesis 3:15
- This provision of a Messiah was accomplished when the fullness of time came – and the Gospels are the record of God keeping His long-awaited promise – Luke 2:29-32.
B. The Investigation by Luke
- Luke was prompted by the Spirit of God to write a carefully researched and crafted account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
- He declares that he “investigated everything carefully from the beginning” – a reference to his research.
- Luke’s investigation led him to write an account of the life of Christ targeting the Greek mind with a presentation of Christ as the “Son of Man,” the “ideal” of all the Greeks – Luke 9:22, 26,44,56,58; 19:10.
- Luke’s treatment is the most comprehensive treatment of the life of Christ of any biblical book – an elegant and sophisticated treatment.
- Luke is the lengthiest book in the New Testament and when coupled with the book of Acts, forms more than a quarter of the New Testament material and spans a little over 60 years.
II. THE INTRODUCTION TO THE AUTHOR
A. The Consensus of Luke
1. The great majority of scholars recognize Luke as the author of this Gospel.
2. The internal evidence of Luke as the author include:
- The author was clearly not an eyewitness, he declares that he had interviewed those who were eye-witnesses, possibly even the family members of Jesus (especially Mary) – cp. v. 2
- From the use of a prologue, we determine that the author was a cultured, well-educated man.
- The common recipient (Theophilus) with the book of Acts together with the stylistic similarities demonstrate that Luke and Acts were written by the same person.
- The author was a companion of Paul as demonstrated by the first-person references in the activities of Paul.
3. The testimony of tradition is consistent in attributing the Gospel to Luke – including Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian specifically.
B. The Credentials of Luke
1. Luke is mentioned by name only three times in the New Testament –
- Colossians 4:14 - where he is called the “beloved physician”
- 2 Timothy 4:11 – where he is credited with being a sole companion to Paul
- Philemon 24 – where he is called Paul’s “fellow worker.”
2. Luke was a Gentile – as he is differentiated from those who were of the “circumcision” – Colossians 4:11
3. Luke, as a companion of the Apostle Paul, has several unique theological emphases that distinguish him from the other Gospel writers:
- He is particularly interested in the ministry of the Holy Spirit to Jesus –
- He is also interested in including the Gentiles in the focus of the Gospel –
- He is interested in the way that participation in the community established by Jesus is to be understood.
4. Some of the early church fathers make the claim that Luke was from Antioch of Syria, and knew Paul as a fellow student at the University of Tarsus where he studied medicine.
5. Since it is understood that Acts follows up on the account begun by the Gospel, and that they were written by a companion of Paul, and since there is no mention in the persecutions under Nero, or the destruction of Jerusalem, it is appropriate to date the writing around the time of Paul’s imprisonment in Rome - AD 60-63.
III. THE IDENTITY OF THE AUDIENCE
A. The Explicit Recipient
1. Luke specifically addresses his Gospel to a man named “Theophilus” – Luke 1:3
2. The name itself means “friend of God” and some have claimed that it represents all of God’s people and not a specific person.
3. However, the description of “Theophilus” as “most excellent” is an ascription often reserved for people of rank who deserve particular respect – ranking government officials – cp. Acts 23:26; 24:3; 26:25.
4. It has been suggested that the name was the name chosen by a Gentile nobleman at his conversion and baptism who Luke desired to fully inform of the glories and dignities of Christ Jesus through the composition of both the Gospel as well as the book of Acts – Acts 1:1.
B. The Extended Recipients
1. The targeted audience of this Gospel is the Greek – those who valued the virtues of humanity in philosophy, art, literature, and general esteem.
2. Luke writes to a Gentile convert as a Gentile convert – seeking to present Jesus in a way that would be most impressive to the Gentiles – the perfect man, the Son of Man:
- Matthew writes to a Jewish audience presenting Jesus as the King of the Jews
- Mark writes to a Roman audience presenting Jesus as the perfect Servant
- John writes to the world at large presenting Jesus as the Son of God.
IV. THE INTENTION OF THE ARGUMENT
A. The Diversity of the Appeal
1. The Focus on Gentiles
- The Primary Recipient – Luke 1:3
- The Proclamation of the Angels – Luke 2:14
- The Prophecy of Simeon – Luke 2:32
- The Preaching of John – Luke 3:6
- The Promotion of the Samaritans – Luke 9:52-56; 10:33; 17:16
- The Precedent of the Old Testament – Luke 4:25-28
- The Provision of the Great Commission – Luke 24:47
2. The Interest in Individuals
- Social Outcasts – Luke draws attention to Jesus’ mercy toward prostitutes - Luke 7:37ff; tax collectors - Luke 19:2, 9-10; and, thieves - Luke 23:39ff;
- Women – Luke mentions 13 women not mentioned in other Gospels and includes the ministry of women at the birth, throughout the ministry, at the cross, and surrounding the resurrection.
- Children – Luke provides the most information re: both the childhoods of John and Jesus; he repeatedly noted the “only child” characteristic – cp. Luke 7:12; 8:42; 9:38; and, he includes “infants” in those being brought to Jesus for blessing – Luke 18:15
- Poor – Luke includes multiple parables dealing with the poor and destitute.
B. The Development of the Account
1. The Prologue – Luke 1:1-4
2. The Provision of the Messiah – Luke 1:5-4:13
- The Prophecies – Luke 1:5-56
- The Precursor – Luke 1:57-80
- The Provision – Luke 2:1-38
- The Progression – Luke 2:39-52
- The Presentation – Luke 3:1-38
- The Preparation – Luke 4:1-13.
3. The Promotion of the Messiah – Luke 4:14-9:50
- The Announcement of His Ministry – Luke 4:14-44
- The Authority of His Ministry – Luke 5:1-6:16
- The Attitudes in His Ministry – Luke 6:17-49
- The Activity of His Ministry – Luke 7:1-9:17
- The Aim of His Ministry – Luke 9:18-27
- The Awe in His Ministry – Luke 9:28-50
4. The Passage of the Messiah – Luke 9:51-19:27
- The Outreach to the Samaritans – Luke 9:51-10:37
- The Opposition by the Wicked – Luke 10:38-13:35
- The Orientation through Parables – Luke 14:1-16:31
- The Offer of Eternal Life - Luke 17:1-19:27
5. The Passion of the Messiah – Luke 19:28-23:56
- Monday – Luke 19:28-44
- Tuesday – Luke 19:45-48
- Wednesday – Luke 20:1-22:6
- Thursday – Luke 22:7-53
- Friday – Luke 22:54-23:56.
6. The Prevailing by the Messiah – Luke 24:1-53
- The Resurrection – Luke 24:1-49
- The Ascension – Luke 24:50-53