The Gospel of Luke
Part 2: Who was Doctor Luke?

(These notes are prepared based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for Connection Class Leaders at Hoffmantown church.)


Last week we were setting the stage for the study of the Book of Luke by stepping back and reminding ourselves of the subject of the Bible, Jesus, and the structure of it -- 66 Books, but one integrated supernatural message, one source, The Holy Spirit, God.

As we wrapped up last week, we were looking at the New Testament to understand exactly where and how the Book of Luke fit in the fabric of the New Testament.

We saw that Luke was the only Gentile author in the New Testament and he was the only one that was writing to believers, both Jew and Gentile. The contrast here is that John wrote to unbelievers, showing them why they should accept Jesus as their Savoir.

We also saw that Luke is the most detailed of the books of history and that Luke includes most, but not all, of the parables of Jesus and the miracles of Jesus.

Today's Lesson:

This morning I want to finish that New Testament foundation that we started last week. Below (next page) is a map of the area and cities at the time of Jesus. He was conceived in Nazareth, born in Bethlehem, spent time in Jerusalem, spent his ministry around the Sea of Galilee and returned to Jerusalem to sacrifice himself for us. We will come back to this map several times as we go through the Book of Luke to follow his story in Luke.

Note some of the cities. Cana is where Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding feast. However, we will not see it in Luke, only John tells us about this miracle. We will see events in Capernaum, and Bethsaida. By the way, last week I mentally interchanged Beth Shein and Bethsaida. I said Bethsaida was south of the Sea of Galilee on the west side of the river. That is Beth Shein. Bethsaida is at the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee. Sorry for the confusion.


As we wrap up this survey of the New Testament and especially the Gospel, here are some other things to note.  (See the Parables chart on Page 3).

So it takes all 3 books to see all the miracles of Jesus, but Luke has most of them, 27 of the 39.




























Miracles: -  Here is a similar comparison of the miracles of Jesus. This time it takes the book of John to get them all. 

Here you see that John has the fewest -- eight.  But six of the eight are found only in John. Luke has the most, 22, followed by Matthew with 21, but Luke has 8 that are not in Mathew. Mark only has 2 that are not in Matthew or Luke, again supporting that Matthew and Luke may have had the Mark text when they wrote theirs.


Now let’s get more specific about the book of Luke.

Who was Luke?

Let’s see what the New Testament tells us about Luke.

Doctor and a close friend of Paul’s:

Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings… --Colossians 4:14
Luke had a long friendship with Paul. We see this because in Paul’s last letter, Paul references Luke still being with him. The New Testament does not specifically say so, but many assume that Luke was Paul’s disciple and his personal physician. Remember that Paul had some physical ailment which he was not able to get rid of, so Luke’s traveling with him may have been for assistance with that ailment also.

In Second Corinthians Chapter 12, Paul says he knew a man who was taken up into Heaven and given a peek into Glory. It appears that he is talking about himself. He then says that he is not bragging about it but then follows by saying:

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! --2 Corinthians 12:7
Traveling Companion:

It is clear that Luke traveled with Paul a lot and was apparently his most dependable traveling companion. When Paul was writing to Timothy he said:

Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service. --2 Timothy 4:11

Luke traveled widely with Paul. He was with him in Asia and Macedonia in Acts 16:10, when Paul had the vision of the man from Macedonia calling for him to come there, Luke writes (remember, it is Luke talking):

When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. So putting out to sea from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the day following to Neapolis. --Acts 16:10-11
Note the we.  This is Luke writing.

Luke went with Paul to Jerusalem. Luke tells us in Acts:

After these days we got ready and started on our way up to Jerusalem. Some of the disciples from Caesarea also came with us, taking us to Mnason of Cyprus, a disciple of long standing with whom we were to lodge. After we arrived in Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. --Acts 12;15-18
Luke went with Paul to Rome. Luke was with him on the great shipwreck.
When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, they proceeded to deliver Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan cohort named Julius. --Acts 27:1
And Luke was still with him during his imprisonment in Rome.
Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you,  as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers. --Philemon 1:23-24
A Gentile, writing to Greeks: We saw that Mark wrote to the Romans. We will see that Luke wrote primarily to the Greeks. Keep in mind, Luke is the only Gentile among the gospel authors. Because Luke was a Gentile writing to Gentiles, his gospel may be the easiest for most of us, as non-Jews, to understand. Luke actually wrote more of the New Testament than any other author, including Paul.

Luke was not a first hand witness of the life of Jesus:

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word... --Luke 1:1-2
We are not told when Luke accepted Jesus. There is some evidence that Luke may have been a physician in Troas and may have met Paul there and became a follower. Luke went to Philippi with Paul, but was not put in prison there with Paul. When Paul got out of prison in Philippi, Luke did not travel on with him then but was again with Paul on Paul’s third journey. On Paul’s third journey, when Paul returned to Philippi, we see Luke joining him again, so it may be that Luke stayed in Philippi from the time of the other visit. After that, Luke was Paul’s constant companion during his journey to Jerusalem. He again disappears from view during Paul’s imprisonment at Jerusalem and Caesarea, and only reappears when Paul sets out for Rome, where he accompanies him, and where he remains with him till the close of his first imprisonment in Rome. The last notice of the “beloved physician” is in Second Timothy 4:11.

Luke was also a co-worker:

It is clear in Paul’s writings that Luke was more than just a physician, he was his co-worker.

Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers. --Philemon 1:23
Luke’s writings indicate that he was:
an educated person, whose Greek was the most literary in the New Testament (along with that in Hebrews); a church member, profoundly interested in both the mission and unity of the Church;
a historian, showing interest in the life and times of Jesus and the early Church and using common techniques of Greco-Roman historiography (thus justifying Dibelius’s appellation of “the first Christian historian”);
an apologist, seeking to promote the faith by both explaining its main tenets and answering the criticism that the followers of “the Way” menaced imperial law and order;
an evangelist, preaching the gospel as he understood Jesus and the early Apostles to have preached it;
and a theologian, whose version of the story of Jesus and the early Church brought out his own theological concerns. He had a special interest in the poor and down-trodden of the world, prophecy and prophets, women, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, prayer, the relationship between Jews and Gentiles, and the special mission of Paul.

These features tell us something about Luke as a person and his understanding of Christianity. It is also interesting that early tradition adds that Luke was a physician of Antioch who wrote his Gospel in Achaia and died at the age of 84.

Luke’s purpose in writing the book is clearly stated in his introduction:

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught. --Luke 1:1-4
By the way, if you wonder who Theophilus is, his name is Greek means “one who loves God”. There are no other references to him in the New Testament. So apparently he was a follower who Luke knew would pass his message around and keep it safe.

As we study the book, you will see that it is a history book of the life of Jesus:

Here are some particular emphases found in the gospel of Luke:
1. Luke emphasized the universal message of the gospel more than the other gospel writers. He often wrote about sinners and frequently referred to the Gentiles.
2. Luke also has more to say about women - Jesus ministering to women and women involved in His ministry - than the other gospels.
3. Luke’s gospel has more references to prayer - Jesus’ example and teaching - than the other gospels.
4. Luke records more of Jesus’ teaching and references to money and material possessions than the other gospels.
5. Luke also emphasized the character qualities of forgiveness and joy.

Luke’s gospel has more unique information, found only in his book, than any of the gospels except John. Here are a few of the passages found only in Luke:

Luke 2  - the Christmas story
Luke 2  - the only reference in the Bible to Jesus’ childhood
Luke 10 - the story of the Good Samaritan
Luke 10 - Jesus in the home of Martha and Mary
Luke 15 - the story of the Prodigal Son
Luke 18 - the prayers of the Pharisee and the tax collector
Luke 19 - Jesus’ weeping over Jerusalem
Luke 24 - Jesus’ appearance on the road to Emmaus

Next week: - we will dive into the book, and see if the book lives up to the hype I have given it. To prepare for next week, please read the first three chapters.