LUKE, GOOD NEWS ACCORDING TO
An account primarily relating the events of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Its purpose was to present an accurate record in logical order, verifying the certainty of what Theophilus had been taught orally. (Lu 1:3, 4) As suggested by its having a place in the Bible canon, this record was also to benefit many other persons, both Jews and non-Jews. Whereas topical arrangement appears to predominate at times, this Gospel follows a chronological order in general outline.
Writer and Time Written. Although not named therein, the physician Luke (Col 4:14) has generally been credited with the writership of this account. There is written evidence to this effect from as early as the second century C.E., the Gospel being attributed to Luke in the Muratorian Fragment (c. 170 C.E.). Certain aspects of this Gospel may also be viewed as pointing to a well-educated physician as its writer. The vocabulary found therein is more extensive than that of the other three Gospels combined. At times the descriptions of afflictions healed by Jesus are more specific than in the other accounts.—Compare Mt 8:14; Mr 1:30; Lu 4:38; Mt 8:2; Mr 1:40; Lu 5:12.
It was evidently before writing the book of Acts that Luke completed his Gospel. (Ac 1:1, 2) Since he had accompanied Paul to Jerusalem at the end of the apostle’s third missionary journey (Ac 21:15-17), he would have been in a good position to trace accurately the things pertaining to Jesus Christ in the very land where the Son of God had carried out his activity. Following Paul’s arrest at Jerusalem and during Paul’s later imprisonment in Caesarea, Luke would have had many opportunities to interview eyewitnesses and to consult written records. So it is reasonable to conclude that the Gospel may have been written at Caesarea sometime during Paul’s confinement there for about two years (c. 56-58 C.E.).—Ac 21:30-33; 23:26-35; 24:27.
Points of Uniqueness. As in the case of the three other Gospels, Luke’s account provides abundant evidence that Jesus is indeed the Christ, the Son of God. It reveals Jesus to have been a man of prayer, one who relied fully on his heavenly Father. (Lu 3:21; 6:12-16; 11:1; 23:46) It contains numerous supplementary details, which, when combined with what is found in the three other Gospels, furnish a more complete picture of the events associated with Christ Jesus. Almost all of chapters 1 and 2 are without parallel in the other Gospels. At least six specific miracles and more than twice that number of illustrations are unique to the book. The miracles are: Jesus’ causing some of his disciples to have a miraculous catch of fish (5:1-6), his raising a widow’s son at Nain (7:11-15), as well as his healing a woman bent double (13:11-13), a man afflicted with dropsy (14:1-4), ten lepers (17:12-14), and the ear of the high priest’s slave (22:50, 51). Among the illustrations are: the two debtors (7:41-47), the neighborly Samaritan (10:30-35), the barren fig tree (13:6-9), the grand evening meal (14:16-24), the lost drachma coin (15:8, 9), the prodigal son (15:11-32), the unrighteous steward (16:1-8), the rich man and Lazarus (16:19-31), and the widow and the unrighteous judge (18:1-8).
Chronological material appearing in this Gospel aids in determining when John the Baptizer and Jesus were born and when they began their respective ministries.—Lu 1:24-27; 2:1-7; 3:1, 2, 23; see REGISTRATION.
Authenticity. Indicative of the authenticity of Luke’s Gospel and the harmony between it and other Bible books are the numerous Hebrew Scripture references it contains and the quotations made therein from the Hebrew Scriptures. (Compare Lu 2:22-24; Ex 13:2; Le 12:8; Lu 3:3-6; Isa 40:3-5; Lu 7:27; Mal 3:1; Lu 4:4, 8, 12; De 8:3; 6:13, 16; Lu 4:18, 19; Isa 61:1, 2.) Further testifying to the book’s authenticity is the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple.—Lu 19:41-44; 21:5, 6.
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HIGHLIGHTS OF LUKE
Luke’s account of the life of Jesus, written to confirm the certainty of events surrounding the life of Christ and in a manner that would appeal to people of all nations
The second Gospel written; it was likely recorded between 56 and 58 C.E.
Events preceding Jesus’ public ministry (1:1–4:13)
Gabriel announces in advance to Mary that she is to bear the Son of God; at Jesus’ birth angels identify him as “Christ the Lord”
At 12 years of age, Jesus questions the teachers at the temple
At his baptism by John, holy spirit comes upon Jesus and a voice from heaven identifies Jesus as God’s Son
Satan fails in repeated efforts to tempt Jesus
Jesus’ early ministry, largely in Galilee (4:14–9:62)
In a synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus reads his commission from the scroll of Isaiah; hearers attempt to kill him
He teaches in a synagogue in Capernaum, expels a demon, and cures many who are sick
He is challenged on issues such as the forgiveness of sins and healing on the Sabbath
After praying all night, Jesus chooses his 12 apostles
He delivers the Sermon on the Mount
He heals an army officer’s slave and resurrects a widow’s son
Jesus tells the parables of the two debtors and the sower; he performs more miracles, including the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter
The apostles are sent out to preach the Kingdom of God
Peter identifies Jesus as the Christ; soon after, he and two other apostles witness the transfiguration
Jesus’ later ministry, largely in Judea and Perea (10:1–19:27)
Jesus sends out the 70 to preach
He tells the parable of the neighborly Samaritan
He teaches his disciples how to pray, then refutes the charge that he expels demons by means of Beelzebub
Jesus warns against materialism and urges disciples to seek God’s Kingdom; he speaks of the little flock and the faithful steward
He heals a woman who is bent double and answers objections because this is done on the Sabbath
He shows that those who would be disciples must face up to what it involves
He relates parables, including the ones about the prodigal son and the rich man and Lazarus
Jesus warns his disciples about stumbling others; he illustrates the need for humility
He heals ten lepers, but only one, a Samaritan, returns to thank him
Jesus compares “the days of the Son of man” to the days of Noah and of Lot
He again stresses the need for humility—especially for the rich—then travels to Jericho, where Zacchaeus is converted
Using the parable of the minas, he shows that the Kingdom is not going to come at that time
Jesus’ final public ministry, in and around Jerusalem (19:28–24:53)
Jesus rides into Jerusalem and is hailed by the people, but he weeps over the city and foretells its desolation
He ejects those selling from the temple; then he is confronted with tricky questions about taxes and the resurrection
Foretelling the destruction of the temple and the fall of Jerusalem, Jesus speaks also of the end of the appointed times of the nations
He institutes the Memorial of his death, and afterward he is betrayed; when Peter strikes off the ear of the high priest’s slave, Jesus heals the man
Arrested, Jesus is led to the house of the high priest, to the Sanhedrin, and to Pilate; then he is sent to Herod and finally returned to Pilate
Jesus is impaled; on the stake he speaks about Paradise to an evildoer hung with him; as he dies, darkness falls over the earth and the curtain of the sanctuary is rent down the middle
His body is buried, but within three days the resurrected Jesus appears to his followers
Finally, Jesus starts his ascent to heaven before their eyes