Summary: A topical study on Luke, the author of the third gospel.
Is There A Doctor In The House?
George W. Bush took the oath of office as the 43rd president of the United States. It was an interesting election-to say the least! Newspapers and magazines had been flooded with articles analyzing the election results, especially the recount in Florida. Even Gary Trudeau’s Doonesbury comic strip poked fun at the "chad dilemma."
But there have been other close presidential races in American history. John Adams won a narrow victory over Thomas Jefferson to become our second president. Adams secured 71 Electoral College votes to Jefferson’s 68. But, of course, Jefferson won the next presidential election four years later. Thomas Jefferson-now there’s a unique president!
Ten years ago I was in Charlottesville, Virginia. Since I was so close to Monticello, I decided to take a tour of Thomas Jefferson’s house and museum. I learned that Jefferson was a remarkable figure. He was highly educated and skilled in many areas-a true Renaissance man.
Jefferson was the son of a well-to-do landowner. He attended the College of William and Mary and then studied and practiced law. He began his political career in 1769 and among the offices he held were governor of Virginia, US minister to France-living in Paris for 5 years, secretary of state, vice president, and president of the United States from 1801-1809.
Jefferson was a master architect. He designed every detail of the building of his Monticello home. He was also an accomplished naturalist, linguist, and farmer. The major accomplishment of the last 17 years of his life was the founding of the University of Virginia. He conceived it, planned it, designed it, and even supervised its construction and hiring of faculty.
I marvel at people like Thomas Jefferson-people who are multi-talented and able to perform a variety of skills. Another remarkably gifted individual was the author of the third gospel-a man by the name of Luke.
Please turn with me to Luke chapter 1 in your Bible.
Today we begin a systematic, expository study of the gospel of Luke. During my first year of ministry at Shiloh I preached through the book of James. James, of course, is 5 chapters in length. My second year I preached through the book of 1 Peter, which is also 5 chapters. It took me almost all of last year to get through Philippians, which is only 4 chapters. And now we come to Luke-24 chapters. I think we’ll be camping out in this book of the Bible for a while! It may take us a few years to get through it, but that’s okay! We’ll trust the Lord to teach us life changing truth as we study the words and works of Jesus Christ.
In this first, introductory message to the third gospel, I’d like us to consider the man behind the book-the author Luke. He was a multi-talented man who was involved in a variety of endeavors. For example,
1. LUKE WAS A SKILLFUL WRITER
In 1:3 we discover that Luke wrote this book to a man named Theophilus. Theophilus is a compound Greek word which means "lover of God." Some Bible teachers conclude that the name represents a group of Christians, since believers are lovers of God. But I think it’s better to read it as a proper name, especially since Luke addresses Theophilus as "most excellent"-a title used for a person of high social standing. That title is also used in Acts 23:26, 24:3, and 26:25 for the Roman officials Felix and Festus.
Verses 1-4 reveal several interesting facts about this skillful biographer. Luke writes, "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. 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."
From this prologue we discover that Luke was not an eyewitness to these events. So, where did he get his information? He says from several sources, one of which was earlier written accounts. Some believe he is referring to the gospel of Matthew or the gospel of Mark. This is possible, although it may have come from noncanonical stories about Jesus which were circulating at that time. Luke also said he made a careful investigation. So another source of information may have been personal interviews. That makes sense to me. I can envision Luke sitting down with Mary, Jesus’ mother, and asking her to describe the events surrounding the birth of Christ. And Luke could have interviewed a few of the apostles. They could tell him in detail about the miracles and parables of Jesus. And it’s also possible that Luke consulted genealogical records as a source of information. In Luke 3 we find the ancestry of Christ traced back to Adam. Perhaps Luke got this list from records kept in the temple in Jerusalem.