THE WRITER OF THE THIRD GOSPEL
Very early Christian tradition says that Luke is the author of the third Gospel. Already in the Second Century A.D., Christian church fathers pointed to Luke as the author. We also have further evidence of Luke’s authorship. It is evident that the third Gospel and the Book of Acts were written by the same person. This is commonly accepted for the following reasons: 1) Both books are dedicated to the same man, Theophilus (Luke 1:3 & Acts 1:1). 2) The writer of Acts refers back to his first book written to Theophilus. 3) The style of writing in the two books seems to show that the same man wrote both books. If we can learn who wrote the Book of Acts, then we will know at the same time the author of the third Gospel. By carefully studying the Book of Acts and certain passages from three of Paul’s Epistles, we can discover that Luke must have been the author of Acts. It is the so-called “we sections” in Acts that point to Luke as the author. In these sections, the author shows that he is with Paul since he writes in the first person. He says, “We got ready … we put to sea … we traveled” etc. (The “we sections” of Acts are 16:10-17; 20:5 – 21:18; 27:1 – 28:16). Three passages from Paul’s Epistles say that Luke was with Paul at various times. (These passages are Col. 4:14;Philemon 24; and 2 Tim. 4:11). It seems that of all the various people who were with Paul on his journeys, only Luke could have possibly written the “we sections.” Since Luke wrote Acts, and Acts and the third Gospel were written by the same man, then Luke must have also written the third Gospel. We therefore have two good reasons for saying that Luke wrote the third Gospel: early Christian tradition and evidence within Acts and the Epistles. Luke’s name is mentioned just three times in the New Testament – in the three Epistle passages listed above. Those passages together with what we learn in the Acts “we sections” tell us all that we know for certain about Luke. Col. 4:4 tells us that Luke was a doctor and a dear friend of Paul. It seems that Luke was a Gentile; we gather this from the context of the Colossians passage. (Read Col. 4:10-14 where Paul sends greetings first from Jewish friends and then Gentiles.)
WHEN, WHERE, AND TO WHOM WRITTEN?
Luke probably wrote before 70 A.D., since he does not mention the actual fall of Jerusalem in that year but does prophesy it in his 21st chapter. He probably wrote his Gospel after Matthew and Mark, as the words in his introduction in 1:1-4 show. Sometime in the 60s A.D. might be a reasonable guess for when Luke wrote his Gospel. Many scholars think that Luke wrote his Gospel from the city of Rome, since Luke was staying with Paul while Paul was in prison in Rome. Other guesses have been Greece and Caesarea. From Luke’s introduction we know the first person for whom his Gospel was written – Theophilus. This man is called “most excellent,” a title showing that he was in a high position. He was probably a Gentile who was converted to Christianity sometime before Luke addressed his Gospel to him. It is commonly understood that Luke’s Gospel was intended first for Gentiles.
SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF LUKE’S GOSPEL
1.Luke stresses the theme that Christ and his Gospel are for all people. His genealogy in chapter 3 traces Jesus all the way back to Adam, the father of all nations. (Compare Matthew’s genealogy.) He dates Jesus’ life according to things in world history and not just Jewish history (2:1; 3:1-2). Special references are made in Luke relating to the Gentiles (2:32; 3:6; 4:25-27; 14:15-24). 2.Luke has the longest and most detailed account of Jesus’ Nativity. 3.Luke often presents Jesus as one who prays, suggesting the importance of prayer in the life of Christians (3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18; 11:1; 22:39-46 23:34 & 36 and others). 4.Luke gives special consideration to women in his Gospel (1:26-56; 7:11-17; 8:1-3; 8:43-48; 10:38-42; 13:16: 23:28 and others).
AN OUTLINE FOR LUKE
Theme: “JESUS IS THE SAVIOR OF ALL PEOPLE”
- The Savior’s Birth and Childhood (1-2)
- The Savior’s Ministry (3-18)
- The Events of Holy Week, the Resurrection and Appearances of the Savior (19-24)
Who is Moses and the prophets? More topics and answers found here.
Who is Jesus and why should I care? Here, you will find answers!
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