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Reference: Luke, The Gospel According To


In the preface to his Gospel Luke refers to "many" who before him had written accounts of what the "eye witnesses" and "ministers of the word" transmitted. This implies the "many" were not themselves eye witnesses or ministers of the word. Matthew's and Mark's Gospels therefore are not referred to in the term "many." But as the phrase "they delivered them to us" (paredosan) includes both written and oral transmission (2Th 2:15) Luke's words do not oppose, as Alford thinks, but favor the opinion that those two Gospels were among the sources of Luke's information, especially as Matthew was an "eye-witness," and Mark a "minister of the word." Luke himself applies" minister" (Ac 13:5, hufretees) to John Mark. Luke differs from the "many" in that his work is: (1) "in order," (2) with a" perfect understanding of all things from the first" (pareekoloutheekoti anoothen akriboos, "having traced all things accurately from the remote beginning.")

Luke begins with earlier facts of John the Baptist's and of our Lord's history than Matthew and Mark, he writes methodically and in more chronological Order. Ancient testimony assures us that Paul's teaching formed the substratum of Luke's Gospel (the Muratorian Fragment; Irenaeus, Haer. iii. 1,14; Tertullian, Marcion iv. 2; Origen, Eusebius, H. E. vi. 25; Jerome, Vir. Illustr. 7). Compare as to the special revelation to Paul 1Co 11:23; 15:3; Ga 1:1,11-12. Paul was an "eye-witness" (1Co 9:1; Ac 22:14-15); his expression "according to my gospel" implies the independency of his witness; he quotes words of Christ revealed to him, and not found in the four Gospels (Ac 20:35). Thus, besides Matthew and Mark, to whose Gospels the "many" as well as Luke had access, Paul is the chief "eye witness" to whom Luke refers in the preface. Luke and Paul alone record Jesus' appearing to Peter first of the apostles (Lu 24:34; 1Co 15:5).

Luke's account of the Lord's Supper, making an interval between His giving the bread and the cup to the disciples, accords most with Paul's in 1Co 11:23, which that apostle says he received directly from the Lord Jesus. Luke (Lu 22:43) records the appearance of an angel unto Jesus during His agony; as no one else is mentioned as having seen the vision, (indeed the disciples were sleeping for sorrow), it must have been especially revealed by the Lord after His resurrection. Who so likely a person to have communicated it to Luke as Paul, who "received the gospel, not of man but by the revelation of Jesus Christ"? The selection of gospel materials in Luke, exhibiting forgiveness for the vilest, grace, and justification, is such as accords with Paul's large views as to the Gentiles and free justification by faith (Lu 18:14).

The allusion in 2Co 8:18, "the brother whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the churches," may be to Luke. The subscription of this epistle is "written from Philippi by Titus and Luke." Possibly during Paul's three months' sojourn there (Ac 20:3) Luke was sent to Corinth, and it is to his evangelistic labours the reference is. As being chosen of the churches of Macedonia to be their "messenger," traveling with Paul, the "brother" meant must have been one of those mentioned in Ac 20:4-6 as accompanying Paul into Asia with the alms. Now all the rest sailed away, leaving Paul to follow alone with Luke. Luke either by his written Gospel or by his evangelistic labours was one "whose praise in the Gospel was throughout the churches." Luke must be the "brother" meant. Paul in 1Ti 5:18 seems directly to quote and canonize the Gospel according to Luke (Lu 10:7), "the labourer is worthy of his hire" (as both passages ought to be translated, not "reward," the word being the same, misthou); compare also Lu 24:26-27,46 with 1Co 15:3.

Alford rejects ancient testimony that Paul's teaching constitutes the substance of Luke's Gospel, on the grounds that the evangelist asserts that his Gospel is drawn from those who "from the beginning" were eye witnesses of Christ's ministry, among whom Paul cannot be reckoned. But Luke's drawing information from persons who had been with the Lord from the begining is quite consistent with Paul's revelations (Eph 3:3; 1Co 9:1; 11:23) forming a prominent part of the substance of Luke's Gospel. Paul's words correspond with Luke's (Lu 10:7 with 1Co 10:27; Lu 17:27-29; 21:34-35; with 1Th 5:2-3,6-7). Luke's choice of materials accords with the new light in which "the apostle of the Gentiles" was inspired to set gospel facts, e.g. the parable of the prodigal son, the tracing of Christ's genealogy up to Adam the common parent of Jew and Gentile, not only to Abraham, as Matthew. Also Lu 2:32, "a ... Light to lighten the Gentiles"; Lu 4:25, Christ's reference to Elijah's mission to the Gentile widow of Sarepta; Lu 9:52; 10:30, the good Samaritan; Lu 17:18, the only grateful one of the ten cleansed lepers, a Samaritan; the mission of the seventy, a number typical of the nations, as the twelve represent the twelve tribes of Israel.

Theophilus, to whom he writes, was a Gentile believer, as appears from the geographical and other explanations given of many things, which would have been needless had he been a Jew (Lu 1:26, Nazareth; Lu 4:31, Capernaum; Lu 23:51, Arimathea; Lu 24:13, Emmaus; Ac 1:12, Olivet). In the inscription over the cross the Greek and Latin are put before the Hebrew, in John the Hebrew is first. Matthew refers to Old Testament as what "Moses said," Luke as what "is written." The name Theophilus ("friend of God") is Greek Matthew calls Jerusalem" the holy city" and its temple "the temple of God"; but Mark and Luke omit these titles, doubtless because they were writing to Gentiles, after Jerusalem by continual persecutions of the church had sunk in the esteem of Christians, and when the temple made without hands, "the temple of the Holy Spirit," the church, was fully understood to have superseded the temple of stone.

STYLE. Luke's writing is classical and periodic. The pure Greek of the preface shows that he could have written similarly throughout, but he tied himself to the Hebraistic language of the written records and perhaps also of the received oral tradition which he embodied. In Acts too his style is purer in the latter parts, where he was an eye witness, than in the earlier where he draws from the testimony of others. The sea of Gennesaret is but a "lake" with him, as having seen more of the world than the Galilee fishermen. Peter is often called "Simon," which he never is by Paul, who uses only the apostolic name Peter, a proof that some of Luke's materials were independent of and earlier than Paul. Paul and Luke alone have the expressive word (atenizoo) "stedfastly behold" or "look" (Ac 1:10; 14:9; 3:4; 2Co 3:7,13).

Awkward phrases in Matthew and Mark are so evidently corrected in Luke as to leave no doubt he had their Gospels before him. Compare the Greek in Mr 12:38 with Lu 20:46, where filounton is substituted for thelonton; Lu 7:8, where the insertion of "set" removes the harshness of Mt 8:9, "a man under authority." He substitutes the Greek foros ("tribute") in Lu 20:22 for the Latin census, which Matthew (Mt 22:17) as a taxgatherer for, and Mark (Mr 12:14) writing to, Romans, use. He omits Hosanna, Eli Eli lama sabacthani, Rabbi, Golgotha (for which he substitutes the Greek kranios, "calvary:' or "place of a skull".)

The phrases (parakoloutheoo, katecheoo, pleroforeo) "having perfect understanding," "instructed" (catechetically and orally), "most surely believed" (Lu 1:1-14) are all used similarly by Paul (1Ti 4:6; Ro 2:18; 2Ti 4:17). "Lawyers" six times stand instead of "scribes"; epistatees, "master," instead of rabbi six times, as more plain to Gentiles. "Grace" "favour" is never used by Matthew and Mark, thrice by John, but frequently in Luke. "To evangelize" or "preach the gospel" is frequent in Luke, once in Matthew, not at all in Mark and John. The style of Acts is less Hebraic than that of Luke's Gospel, because for the latter he used more of Hebraic materials and retained their language.

CANONICITY. The oldest reliable testimony to the Gospel according to Luke is Marcion, whose Gospel so called (A.D. 130) is Luke's, abridged and mutilated

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