The Gospel According to Luke
The Gospel According to Luke is positioned as the third book of the New Testament and is the longest of the four Gospels, containing 24 chapters and 1151 verses. It is considered one of the three “synoptic” Gospels, written somewhere between AD 58-60. Luke is also attributed as the writer of the “Acts of the Apostles.”
Among most theologians and commentators, there is little doubt that Luke, the “beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14), is the author of the “Gospel According to Luke.” They also believe that Luke was a Gentile according to the Apostle Paul’s own hand. In the fourth chapter of Colossians, Paul differentiates between those “who are of the circumcision” and lists other fellow servants (who are not included in the circumcision, obviously Gentiles). It is in this group that Paul mentions Luke. It is believed that Luke was a native of Antioch.
He is mentioned as the travelling companion of Paul in Acts 16:10, and were close traveling companions during Paul’s second and third missionary journeys referring to Luke as his “fellow worker.” Luke was with Paul during his imprisonment at Rome (2 Timothy 4:11).
The introductory remarks (Luke 1:1-4) indicate that there were many written accounts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that he found to be wanting. Therefore, Luke, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, undertook writing a Holy Spirit inspired version of the life of Jesus Christ, presenting a complete and thoroughly verified account of the early history of the Christian Church. It is apparent that as Luke traveled with Paul, he talked with Paul, other Apostles, eyewitnesses and believers, gathering the content of this Gospel. Luke, as an educated man, provides a more detailed account of the life and ministry of Jesus than the other Gospels.
As a historian, Luke’s account can be easily established by the known historical events. Luke records Jesus birth taking place before the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC. Jewish history records the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus began approximately 27 A.D. (Luke 3)
Luke contains the lineage (from Mary’s point of view) and the events surrounding the birth of Jesus in great detail, confirming the fulfillment of prophecy of the birth of the Messiah. The announcement of the birth of John and Jesus, the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, the story of the announcement to the shepherds who came to worship Jesus at night, Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger, Jesus circumcision on the eighth day, all of which are not included in the other Gospels.
Luke, as an educated man and a doctor details the unusual conception of Jesus, “a virgin espoused to a man whose name is Joseph.” Luke includes the circumcision of Jesus (Luke 1:59, 2:21). The next time we meet Jesus, he is 12 years of age. It was when Jesus was not found in the caravan that Joseph, Mary and Jesus were traveling. Luke says; “after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.”
Luke shares much of the information found in the other two synoptic Gospels, Matthew and Mark, including the ministry of Jesus in His early Galilean ministry and his latter ministry centered on Jerusalem. Luke recognizes Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ, as a turning point in the lives of the Twelve as well as the ministry of Jesus. Luke details in the arrest of Jesus, His many trials, His passion and ends his Gospel centering on the resurrection of Jesus. He records 20 miracles of Jesus and lists 18 parables which only occur in his Gospel.
Only in Luke’s Gospel do we find the parables of the Money Lender and the Two Debtors, (Luke 7:41–43), The Good Samaritan, (10:25–37), The Friend at Midnight, (11:5–8), The Rich Fool, (12:13–31), The Vigilant Servants, (12:35–48), The Barren Fig Tree, (13:6–9), The Great Banquet, (14:16–24), The Unfinished Tower, (14:28–30), The Unwaged War, (14:31–32), The Lost Coin, (15:8–10), The Prodigal Son, (15:11–32), The Unrighteous Steward, (16:1–13), The Rich Man and Lazarus, (16:19–31), The Unprofitable Servants, (17:7–10), The Importunate Widow, (18:1–18), The Pharisee and Publican, (18:9–14), The Ten Pounds (19:11–27).
Only Luke includes the story of Zacchaeus, who climbed a tree in order that he might see Jesus (Luke 19:1-10). Luke shows love to the unlovable according to the Jews. Jews hated the Samaritans, Luke includes the story of the ten lepers whom Jesus healed, however, only the one expressed his gratitude for what Jesus had done, and he was a Samaritan. And we are all familiar with the parable of the man who fell among thieves on the road to Jericho. It was a Samaritan who came to his rescue, befriended the man and covering the cost for his care.
Another interesting point in Luke’s Gospel, is his special attention to prayer. In all of the Gospels, there are 15 different prayers captured by the writers. Luke records 11, each of the other Gospels highlight 4 or less. Luke records for us a significant portion of Christ teaching on prayer, not recorded in the other Gospels.
The manner in which Luke wrote his Gospel, appeals to the general populous, particularly to the intellectual Greek mind, even though it was written to Theophilus (Luke 1:3). Jesus is portrayed in the gospel of Luke as the long-awaited Messiah, the Savior of all mankind. Luke includes the intimate events of Jesus kindness toward women, the infirmed, poor, children, outcast, and those who were suffering.
Luke includes the raising of the dead servant of a Roman Centurion (leader over 100 men(Luke 7:1-10), and the calming of the sea in which the storm was filling their boat (Luke 8:23-24). Luke includes Jesus forgiving sins, which only God could do in Luke 7:48.
Luke’s Gospel could be generally acknowledged as portraying Jesus as the perfect man. Luke uses the phrase, “Son of Man” 26 times.