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Purpose of The Book of Luke:
To stress the anthropological inclusiveness of the gospel. Luke is obsessed with the gospel going to all kinds of people (children, women, the poor, and disenfranchised). The gospel of Luke was written, as its introduction states, "since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught." He records many historical facts that the other gospels do not, providing us with the most complete record of Jesus' birth and childhood. Luke places special emphasis on Jesus' social ministry -- to the poor, the oppressed, the lower class, the gentiles, the women, and the children. He shows that the gospel of the Kingdom should undo the inequalities present in society today, and gives hope to those who have little.
Summary of The Book of Luke:
The so-called infancy narratives in Luke 1:1-2:52 are unique to Luke. These passages include both the foretelling and the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus (1:5-25; 1:26-38; 1:57-66; 2:1- 21). Luke’s gospel emphasizes God’s fulfillment of his promises to his people. “The year of the Lord’s favor” had certainly come with Jesus’ compassionate ministry of deliverance for and acceptance of the poor and the helpless. Luke’s gospel makes clear that the good news of the kingdom is for all-Jew and Gentile alike. Jesus is the one promised in the OT (cf. Luke 24), who will live, die, and be raised to life to save his people.
Author and Dates of The Book of Luke:
This gospel was the first of Luke's two-part narrative of early Christianity. The second in the series is Acts. Therefore, the gospel must have preceded the book of Acts. It is thought that Acts was written about 63 AD because the narrative of Acts ends with events that date only up to about 62 AD. Therefore Luke must have been written prior to that, but after Mark (late 50s-early 60s AD). It is likely that Luke wrote his two volumes within a short time span, so somewhere around 62 AD is a good guess for the writing of Luke's gospel.
Luke was from Antioch, but traveled with Paul all over modern-day Southern Europe and the Middle East. It is written to "Most excellent Theophilus," a title usually ascribed to high-ranking Roman officials, which would suggest that it was sent to some Roman center of government like Rome or Antioch. Moreover, the emphasis Luke places on relationships between Jews and Greeks, rich and poor, etc., Make the diverse population of Antioch as likely a candidate as any.
Outline of The Book of Luke:
Themes of The Book of Luke:
God's Passion: Luke uses very emotional terms in describing God's relationship to His people, and their response to Him. There is more mention of singing in this gospel than any other, and God's tenderness and compassion is highlighted (1:78; 7:34; 12; 15:7-10).
The Poor: It is instructive to compare the Sermon on the Mount as it appears in Matthew (5-7) and Luke (6). Although Matthew's account is more extensive, Luke's is much earthier. Where Matthew says "Blessed are the poor in spirit," Luke records "Blessed are the poor." Luke emphasizes Jesus' concern for people's physical needs and station in life, as well as their souls and eternal destiny. Those who have little in this life, Jesus promises much in the next, because of his compassion for them and his desire to correct the inequalities and injustices that people suffer in this life (4:18-19; 7:22; 12:16; 14:21; 16; 19:9).
The Outcast: Matthew's description of Jesus' birth includes a visit from some very rich, very noble wise men from the east. Luke, in contrast, tells the story of the shepherds in the field coming to see the baby Jesus. And throughout his gospel Jesus is not a haughty ruler-type, but the common man's messiah, a servant leader. Luke emphasizes Jesus' tendency to hang out with the unfavorable in Israelite society. The prostitutes, the drunkards, and the tax collectors received more attention from Jesus than did the Pharisees and scribes. Luke shows that Jesus did not come to be honored, or respected, or successful. He came to show that God does indeed love ALL of His people, even though the religious establishment does not (2:8; 4:27; 13 - 14; 15:1,11; 18:13; 22:37).
The Foreigner: Israel had come to resent foreigners, and who could blame them? First the Babylonians, then the Persians, then the Medes, then the Greeks, and now the Romans, all took their turn at lording it over them and ruling them harshly. But Luke makes sure that his audience understands that Jesus didn't come to destroy the enemy, he came to win them over. That the Kingdom of God isn't about geographical boundaries, it's about loyalty to the one true King of all the lands, Jesus. Therefore he emphasized the essential unity of all national and ethnic groups, and God's love for every one of them (3:6; 3:38; 4:26-27; 7:9; 10:30; 13:29; 17:15).
Women: Luke makes it a point to show the prominent role that women played in Jesus' ministry. This was very countercultural, as women were not even allowed to be trained by a rabbi in these days. It serves as one more example of God's heart for the oppressed, and of the universal scope of the gospel: it was for all men, and all women, excluding no one from the reach of God's love (2:38; 7:36; 8:1-3; 10:38; 15:8-10; 18:1-5; 23:27-31; 24:1-11).
Children: Not only does Luke give us the most information about Jesus' own childhood, but his is the only record of this wonderful saying of Jesus: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." (10:21) Luke defines the gospel again as for the humble, the meek, the small, and the uninitiated -- even the little children, who cannot fully understand, but can still believe with all their heart that Jesus is the savior of the whole world.
Jesus’ Miracles: Luke records several miracles of Jesus in his Gospel (4:33-35, 38-39; 5:1-11, 12-13; 18-25; 6:6-10; 7:1-10, 11-15; 8:22-25, 27-35, 41-42, 43-48; 49-56; 9:12-17; 38-43; 11:14; 13:11-13; 14:1-4; 17:11-19; 18:35-43; 22:50-51).
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