Monday, March 12, 2018

Luke's Purpose

"Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught" (Luke 1:3–4).

Luke states that his purpose in writing his gospel is to provide an orderly account for Theophilus and other believers. There were many stories and traditions already circulating in the decades after Jesus’ ascension, and Luke was determined to provide an accurate account. He mentions that “many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word” (vv. 1–2).

When Luke says that he is going to provide an orderly account, or a narrative “in order,” this may imply that his gospel will be chronologically accurate in every detail. In fact, however, that is not the meaning of the phrase. Luke is not quite as concerned with the exact sequence of events as a professional historian might be today. Luke is saying that he has arranged the material of his gospel in a coherent, systematic, logical, and readable structure so that we can easily make sense out of the patterns of Jesus’ teaching and out of the movement of His life.

Luke mentions the eyewitnesses who together with the apostolic servants of the Word have provided information to him. Here we see that Luke was a careful researcher. We can see him traveling around the land of Palestine and interviewing people like Mary or perhaps an old shepherd who visited the baby Jesus. Luke was not interested in rumor, hearsay, or legend. He was a physician and was interested in scientific accuracy in what he recounted.

Luke emphasizes the historical setting of God’s activity. It used to be fashionable for scholars to express skepticism about the trustworthiness of Luke’s gospel and his record in the book of Acts. Today, however, the scoffers are embarrassed and in disarray, for Luke’s credibility and accuracy as an historian have been confirmed by twentieth-century archaeology over and over again.

Following Luke’s example, commit today to a thorough and careful study of the life and ministry of Jesus. Anticipate blessing by asking God to bring you further spiritual growth and new understanding. Ask God to change your life, not just to increase your knowledge.