Scripture: Luke 1:1-4
Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having closely followed all things for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1-4)
Here are my notes for the reading. Share what you learned by commenting below.
Give this reading a title:
Luke’s Purpose for Writing His Gospel Account, or
A Faith Rooted in the Certainty of the Gospel of Jesus
Who are the main people?
Luke – Though his name is not mentioned as the author within the pages of the third gospel, Luke has been recognized as the writer of both Luke and Acts since the earliest days of the church. Scripture reveals little of his personal background; nevertheless, what we do know paints a picture of a faithful servant of the Lord and His church.
We do know he was a loyal and tireless companion of the apostle Paul (note the “we” passages in Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-21; 27:1-28:16) who affectionately called him my “fellow laborer” (Philemon 24). Furthermore, his medical talents coupled with a servant’s heart earned him the description, “the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14). Additionally, he is often considered to be the anonymous brother, “who [was] famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel” (2 Corinthians 8:18). Despite the fact that he was not a witness to Jesus’ ministry and resurrection, Luke assures his reader(s) that his record is faithful and true.
Theophilus – The addressed recipient of Luke’s gospel as well as his second work, Acts (1:1). Beyond the fact that Theophilus had been taught about Christ and the work of the Apostles, little else is known of Theophilus outside of Luke’s two introductions. Various theories as to his identity are often put forth:
1) That he was a Roman governmental official since Luke addresses him “most excellent Theophilus.” The same title he uses for the Roman governors, Felix (cf. Acts 23:26; 24:3) and Festus (cf. Acts 26:25). It should be pointed out the honorific title; “most excellent” is not used in conjunction with Theophilus’ name in Luke’s introduction to Acts.
2) Or that he was wealthy patron who perhaps had once owned Luke as a slave, but now helped pay the expenses of writing, copying, and distributing Luke and Acts.
3) Still others believe Theophilus is not a proper name, but a pseudonym for a community of Christians. This idea is based on the meaning of the name Theophilus, “lover of God.” However, the title “most excellent” seems to dispel this view.
Whoever he was, Theophilus was man who believed that Jesus Christ was God’s son, and Luke’s gospel served to strengthen that faith.
“eyewitnesses and ministers of the word” – “Eyewitnesses” and “ministers of the word” are parallel descriptions of the same group of people; namely, those who had handed down the gospel of Jesus Christ. At its core, this group would include the twelve apostles but also those who went about preaching the word such as Philip (ref. Acts 8:4-8, 26-40) and many others. These men, and women, were witnesses to the resurrected Jesus and faithful servants in their proclamation of His glorious gospel.
What is happening?
Luke artfully introduces his gospel of the life and teachings of Jesus with a formal dedication; following in the classical style of his day. In this long, winding sentence, Luke informs us that:
1) Others had sought to compile gospel narratives of the things believers had been taught by eyewitness and ministers of the word.
2) It seemed good to him, after careful research, to write his own “orderly account.”
3) Since he had “traced the course of all things accurately from the first,” Theophilus could have certainty concerning the things he had been taught about Christ.
When/Where do these events take place?
Luke does not mention when and/or where he composed his gospel. However, tradition holds that he wrote his narrative ca. 60-62 A.D. from Rome while Paul was imprisoned there.
Why do these events occur?
The overarching goal of Luke’s gospel is “That you might have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.” This perfectly aligns with the apostle John’s aim for his gospel as stated in John 20:30, 31: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Together, these verses supply us with our purpose for studying The Life and Teachings of Jesus.
What is one truth you learned from today’s reading?
God doesn’t say, “Close your eyes and believe,” but rather, He invites the seeker to investigate the truthfulness of the facts for themselves. He encourages us to thoroughly inspect the claims of His son Jesus with the simple invitation, “Come and see” (John 1:46; 4:29), because our conclusions about Jesus is a life-and-death matter.
How does this truth apply to your life?
As we begin this study through the life of Jesus know this, the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. We can read the accounts of His life with confidence, believing them to be factual, reliable, and faith-building. As we delve into the life of Jesus remember, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
Write a short prayer, asking God to help you respond to His truth.
Lord, as we read the gospel message of your Son, strengthen our faith by filling our hearts with the assurance that Jesus is Lord and Savior of our souls. And as we encounter the Him through the word, gives us humble hearts that will yield to His hands as He reshapes our hearts through His life and teachings; so that in time, we will become more like Him. Amen.
So, what did you get out of this week’s study? You can share your notes using the comments section. Thank you for reading and keep sharing the good news of the Lord.