Who Was Luke? and The Introduction to Luke
June 20, 2021
Some of you might be wondering how or why we are in the book of Luke now having just finished the book of Ephesians. It is because we are following a chronology of the order the books of the NT were written.
Before discussing the Gospel of Luke I want to ask how many are familiar with the book, The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel? Or the film of the same title? Well, The Case for Christ written by Lee Strobel, who was the former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune. He cross-examined scholars to uncover, to his surprise, incontestable evidence supporting Jesus’ claims. His initial purpose was to disprove Jesus’ existence, then disprove His miracles, then disprove His resurrection. Having failed on all three he instead wrote The Case for Christ providing great evidence for believing in Jesus, His miracles, the purpose of His death on the cross, and His resurrection.
As we read through the first four verses of Luke, we will discover his purpose in writing was what Lee Strobel’s ending up being – the proof and evidence of Jesus as the Lord and Savior of all mankind.
Who was Luke? His name is from the Latin Lucanus; Lucas.
He was not one of Jesus’ apostles as many think or believe. Instead, tradition has it that he was a Gentile. Paul appears to confirm this in Colossians 4:10-11 where he names Aristarchus, Mark (cousin of Barnabas), Jesus who is called Justus as the only Jews among his co-workers. Then in verse 14 writes Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. So, Luke was not a Jew, but a Gentile and a doctor.
Luke is the only Gentile to write anything in the New Testament penning both Luke and Acts which were at one time a single book. Both were written to Theophilus, but meant for general consumption.
Who was Theophilus? No one knows for sure. Theories abound. But the one that makes the most sense to me is that he is the former master and owner of Luke. And when the both became Christians, followers of Jesus, he freed Luke and perhaps became his benefactor, financing his time gathering all the eye witness accounts and time with Paul. It is believed Luke may have written his gospel and the book of Acts while spending time with Paul while Paul was in prison in Rome from 60-62 AD.
When we get to the book of Acts we will notice Luke writing about Paul and those traveling with him as they or them and later after he joins Paul, he writes of we or us as he is now part of the traveling contingent.
A few notes about the Gospel of Luke
When he quotes the OT he uses the Septuagint Greek translation from the third century BC by the 70/72 or LXX when many Jews no longer knew Hebrew or did not know it very well.
The first four verses are in ‘high’ Greek, formal Greek, but the rest of his gospel is in common or everyday Greek, thus written for any and all to understand.
Finally, as a physician Luke had a fine eye for detail, so we have details in his gospel not found in the other gospels.
The first four verses NIV
1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us,
2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.
3 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,
4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught
Now let us look at them in different versions and see how alike the versions are.
Next let us take a look at the emphasis Luke provided we might miss in each verse and talk about them.
Now before leaving, a few more details about the gospel of Luke, it has much more information about Mary than the other three do. He shows her initial surprise at the arrival of the angel Gabriel and her subsequent acceptance of her role as the Mother of the Savior. He includes the story of Mary visiting her pregnant cousin Elizabeth. Thus, it is with some excitement that we will look at Luke’s gospel with his eye for detail throughout.