A Layman's Commentary on the Gospel of Luke - Introduction by T.O.D. Johnston
The Writer of the Gospel
It is a generally accepted fact that Luke was the author of the 3rd Gospel, as well as the book of Acts. From the evidence in his epistles, Luke was a frequent companion of Paul - especially in Rome.
Very early in the Christian Church (160-180 A.D.), a straight-forward record of evidence recorded Luke is Paul's companion who wrote the Gospel and Acts. A prologue to the Gospel recorded:
"Luke was an Antiochian of Syria, a physician by profession. He was a disciple of the apostles and later accompanied Paul until the latter's martyrdom. He served the Lord without distraction, having neither wife nor children, and at the age of 84 fell asleep in Boeotia, full of the Holy Spirit. The Gospels of Matthew and Mark were already in existence. In his prologue Luke makes this clear but he felt moved to record an account specifically for the Gentile believers so that they would not be deceived by any mixture of Jewish distractions that could cloud the truth. At the beginning Luke relates the nativity of the Baptist - the Lord's forerunner in preparation by the baptism unto repentance. This ministry had been foretold by Malachi. After writing this Gospel, Luke also wrote the Acts of the Apostles."
About 300 A.D., Eusebuis wrote, "Luke who was by race an Antiochian, and a physician by profession, was a long companion of Paul, and had careful conversation with the other Apostles, and in two books left us examples of the medicine for souls which he had gained from them.
He was not an eye-witness of Jesus' life on earth, but he had the best opportunity to talk to and record the witnesses of those who had seen and heard Jesus. He was closely connected with Paul, who also in turn had come in contact with many eyewitnesses of Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and ascension (Peter, James, and others).
While in Jerusalem from 57-59 A.D., Luke had ample opportunity to speak to James (Jesus' brother), the elders, and other members of the Palestinian congregations (especially at Caesarea and Jerusalem). As an educated man, he would carefully record all information valuable in getting a full and clear knowledge of everything he could find out from these eyewitnesses.
According to Acts, Luke stayed with Philip the evangelist, traveled with Silas of the Jerusalem church, and was closely associated with Mark. Mark authored the second Gospel and had most likely been eyewitness to some of the later events in Jesus' life. He was known as the close follower of Peter, whose preaching concerning Jesus is generally recognized as the main source of his Gospel.
Luke had been together with Mark during Paul's captivity in Rome (mentioned in Colossians 4:10,14 and Philemon 24).
Though without doubt many eyewitnesses would have written down their knowledge concerning Jesus, it was not until the eyewitnesses, especially the Apostles, began to die that the necessity of recording all that was known about Christ became essential. It is also likely that the Apostles and other early preachers recorded notes of their messages to aid their memory and delivery.
In his own preface, Luke remarks that he had traced the course of all things from the first. He wrote to make certain that Theophilus had the best record of those things concerning Jesus that he had been taught. It has become a precarious assumption of some modern critics, that the art of writing was not widely known and practiced in the time of Jesus. 2 Timothy 4:11,13 gives the careful reader the idea that Paul was then helping Luke in the composing of the third Gospel and/or the Book of Acts.
No certain date has been suggested that can be corroborated within the Gospel or the Acts. It is assumed that the Gospel was written first. Both are generally regarded as being written before 70 A.D.
Luke's writing shows a mastery of the Greek language. In his two books he records with a vocabulary of about 800 words which do not occur anywhere else in the New Testament.
The author taught from the Gospel of Luke at Paran Baptist Church on Highway 341 / Johnsonville Hwy in Lake City, South Carolina. Read more from the above lesson at T.O.D.'s Online Bible Commentaries.
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