Thursday, February 8, 2007

A Layman's Commentary on the Gospel of Luke - Lesson I Intro

A Layman's Commentary on the Gospel of Luke - Lesson I Intro by T.O.D. Johnston

Preface 1:1-4 - Luke's Preface.
Only Luke addresses his readers and relates his reason for writing. This is a style of classical Greek historians and medical writers. His purpose is to record the Gospel story.

Up to this time the spoken word of the Apostles and other eyewitnesses was the method of delivering the Gospel message to the Church. As the church reached further distances and as those original witnesses died there became an ever increasing need for the essential and complete Gospel record to be written and circulated. Luke perceived this need. He refers to the fact that others had already set forth such a record. He indicates, however, that he sees a need for a specific record of events that those already written did not fulfill.

It is generally accepted that Mark was one of these writers. Luke emphasized that all the writings were based upon accounts related by eyewitnesses, specifically the Apostles. Thus these records are not fables or ritualistic traditions, but the authoritative information of observed fact. Mark is credited as recording the message that Peter taught and preached. Luke, as a companion of Paul had ample opportunities to interview those that were eyewitnesses of the life and ministry of Jesus, both in Jerusalem and in other locations.

Verse 3. He states that he has gotten the information from the beginning of the life of Jesus, as well as the promise of the Forerunner, John the Baptist. Luke reports that he looked at all available information to be certain that what he recorded here would be as complete and detailed as necessary. We must assume that, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he wrote the most important and necessary data to record the words and events of the Gospel narrative.

He also set his task to relating these events in chronological order. Of the four Gospels, Luke's is the most comprehensive. It includes many things not mentioned in the others.

Luke addressed himself to Theophilus, otherwise unknown, but a 'most excellent' person, most likely of high official rank, in the Roman Empire. Since 'Theophilus' means 'dear to God', some have suggested that this was a pseudonym given to a convert to Christianity. It was a not uncommon practice of the time to dedicate a writing to a specific person, and plan it for a wider circulation of readers.

Verse 4. Luke stresses the need for Theophilus (and other readers) to have a complete account of what they have already been taught in part to firmly ground their faith.

In the original Greek, these 4 verses are written in one sentence. In the rest of his writing he follows the pattern of Hebraizing style of the Greek translation of the Old Testament, both Aramaic idiom, and colloquial style of the time. His object was clear commmunication, not classical or ornate skillful language. He did not want to distract the reader from the message.

The uniqueness of Christianity is the recording over many centuries of how God has dealt with man both prophetically, and practically. In the Old Testament, this is shown through the whole sacrificial system, especially the Passover and the Day of Atonement. This was to prepare them for the coming of Jesus. This redemption was completed in and through the Incarnation and finished work of Jesus the Christ. In other words, it tells how God, through His mercy and grace, made a way to save the lost. Luke justly emphasizes the trustworthiness of his Gospel narrative.

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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