The book of Luke (Luke 1)

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The openings of Luke (Luke 1:1-4) and Acts (Acts 1:1-2) make clear that the two books are to be regarded as a single work in two volumes. Neither names its author, but the “we” sections of Acts (e.g. Acts 16:10-17, 27:1-28:16), in comparison with what can be known from Paul’s letters about who was with him at various points in his career, point to Luke as the author of this work. Justin Martyr (ca. 160), the Muratorian Canon (ca. 170-180) and Irenaeus (ca. 175-195) all supported the ascription of Luke – Acts to Luke.

Luke was one of Paul’s most loyal followers (Colossians 4:14, 2 Timothy 4:11, Philemon 24). Well educated in Greek culture and a physical by profession (Colossians 4:14). Luke may have been a Gentile convert; if so, his knowledge of the Old Testament was extraordinary. Syrian Antioch and Philippi are among the sites posited as his hometown.

It has been suggested that Luke wrote his Gospel from Caesarea or (more probably) Rome. A logical conclusion is that Luke began writing Luke at some point during Paul’s Roman imprisonment and continued writing until his story caught up to his present situation, at the end of two years awaiting the conclusion of Paul’s case in Rome. In this scenario, we may confidently date the Gospel to A.D. 61-62.

Luke directly addressed someone named Theophilus (Luke 1:3), possibly a non-Christian Roman official but definitely a person of high position and wealth. Yet underlying Luke’s overt greeting, his Gospel, the most comprehensive of the four, was written to strengthen the faith of all believers and to answer the attacks of cultured non-Christians.

In his prologue to the Gospel, Luke articulated his desire to give his readers a clear and coherent presentation of the words and deeds of Christ (1:1-4). By A.D. 62 there were undoubtedly many oral and some written accounts of Jesus’ miracles and teachings, so there is no reason to question Luke’s stated purpose.

As you read, notice that Luke’s account gives prominence to Jesus’ concern for the poor and oppressed. Pay particular attention to Jesus’ interest in diverse ethnic, religious, economic and social groups.

Did you know that each priest was responsible for a week’s service at the temple once every six months (1:23)? Did you know that thirty was the age at which a Levite undertook his service (Numbers 4:47) and at which a man was considered mature (Luke 3:23)? Did you know that in ancient times it was often assumed that a calamity would befall only those who were extremely sinful (13:2)? Did you know that synagogues were used not only for worship and school but also for community administration and for confinement of accused persons while awaiting trial (21:12)?


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