Luke Gospel of
Luke, Gospel of. The third Gospel is ascribed, by the general consent of ancient Christendom, to “the beloved physician,” Luke, the friend and companion of the apostle Paul.
1. Date of the Gospel of Luke.—From Acts 1:1 it is clear that the Gospel described as “the former treatise” was written before the Acts of the Apostles; but how much earlier is uncertain. Perhaps it was written at Cæsarea during St. Paul’s imprisonment there, a.d. 58–60. 2. Place where the Gospel was written.—If the time has been rightly indicated, the place would be Cæsarea. 3. Origin of the Gospel.—The preface, contained in the first four verses of the Gospel, describes the object of its writer. Here are several facts to be observed. There were many narratives of the life of our Lord current at the early time when Luke wrote his Gospel. The ground of fitness for the task St. Luke places in his having carefully followed out the whole course of events from the beginning. He does not claim the character of an eye-witness from the first; but possibly he may have been a witness of some part of our Lord’s doings. The ancient opinion that Luke wrote his Gospel under the influence of Paul rests on the authority of Irenæus, Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius. The four verses could not have been put at the head of a history composed under the exclusive guidance of Paul or of any one apostle, and as little could they have introduced a gospel simply communicated by another. The truth seems to be that St. Luke, seeking information from every quarter, sought it from the preaching of his beloved master, St. Paul; and the apostle in his turn employed the knowledge acquired from other sources by his disciple. 4. Purpose for which the Gospel was written.—The evangelist professes to write that Theophilus “might know the certainty of those things wherein he had been instructed.” ch. 1:4. This Theophilus was probably a native of Italy, and perhaps an inhabitant of Rome, for in tracing St. Paul’s journey to Rome, places which an Italian might be supposed not to know are described minutely, Acts 27:8, 12, 16; but when he comes to Sicily and Italy this is neglected. Hence it would appear that the person for whom Luke wrote in the first instance was a Gentile reader; and accordingly we find traces in the Gospel of a leaning toward Gentile rather than Jewish converts. 5. Language and style of the Gospel.—It has never been doubted that the Gospel was written in Greek. Whilst Hebraisms are frequent, classical idioms and Greek compound words abound, for which there is classical authority. (Prof. Gregory, in “Why Four Gospels,” says that Luke wrote for Greek readers, and therefore the character and needs of the Greeks furnish the key to this Gospel. The Greek was the representation of reason and humanity. He looked upon himself as having the mission of perfecting man. He was intellectual, cultured, not without hope of a higher world. Luke’s Gospel therefore presented the character and career of Christ as answering the conception of a perfect and divine humanity. Reason, beauty, righteousness, and truth are exhibited as they meet in Jesus in their full splendor. Jesus was the Saviour of all men, redeeming them to a perfect and cultured manhood.—Ed.)