The third Gospel of the canon was also the third composed. Luke is written in an excellent style of Greek and many of the words Luke used were used only by him by New Testament writers. This means that the (anonymous) author of the Gospel was very well educated and very gifted as a writer.
Again, as with all the Gospels, Luke is an anonymous writing. The book was written around the year 85 by a man who used the Greek version of the Old Testament (the Septuagint). He was not an eyewitness of the events he records, so he made use of Mark and Q. To this he added some material unique to himself. Whoever the author was, he most likely was a Gentile and not a Jew. Among the writers of the New Testament, he was the only Gentile.
It is virtually impossible to know where the text was written, but in all likelihood it was composed in Syria or Greece.
Luke clearly sets forth his purpose in the opening 4 verses of his book (Lk 1:1-4). In this text Luke states that he is writing so that Theophilus (probably a Roman official) might have a clear account of Jesus’ deeds and words. At the end of the book Luke reiterates this purpose when he recounts the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24). In this story the disciples do not recognize Jesus while he is explaining the scriptures to them but they do recognize him when he breaks the bread in their presence. In other words, what Jesus teaches takes a back seat to what he does! To be sure, the words of Jesus are very significant to Luke and his community. But more important than the words are the deeds. Indeed, the words are important only because they interpret the deeds and give them a concrete setting in the Gospel. Luke tells us this at the beginning of the Gospel, as the Gospel unfolds this becomes evident again, and at the end of the Gospel reinforces this idea. Thus, for Luke, Jesus is preeminently the doer of the will of God.
A glance at the outline of the Gospel will help us appreciate Luke’s purpose.
1- The Birth and Early Years of Jesus the Teacher (1:5-2:52)
2- Jesus Prepares for His Ministry of Action (3:1-4:13)
3- The Ministry of Action In Galilee (4:14-9:50)
4- The Ministry of Action on the Way to Jerusalem (9:51-19:27)
5- The Ministry of Action in Jerusalem (19:28-21:38)
6- The End of the Ministry of Jesus (22:1-23:56)
7- The Beginning of the Minist(24:1-53)
It should be noted that this Ministry of the Disciples will continue in volume 2 of Luke’s work -- the book of Acts.
ASSIGNMENT: Read The Gospel of John, and Brown’s Introduction, Chapter 11.
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