The Book of Luke is commonly known for the story of Jesus’ birth that is recounted in chapter two. But this Gospel unfolds as a journey that Luke has recorded in chronological order. Luke, writing to a student named Theophilus, wrote the story of Jesus’ life based on interviews with eyewitnesses, and he set forth his Gospel in an orderly narrative. As you walk through the Book of Luke, you can rejoice in the central truth that is proclaimed—that Jesus Christ is Lord of all!
Introduction to Luke
The Gospel of Luke unfolds as a journey—the journey of Jesus Christ from heaven to earth and back to heaven again. Within that journey, Luke follows the earthly life of Jesus Christ as it revolves around the temple of God. He begins with an angel’s visit to a priest offering incense in the temple, then returns to the temple for Holy Week. As Jesus is rejected, tried, and condemned, Luke shifts his focus from the temple building to the temple of Jesus’ body as He is crucified and buried, but then rises from the dead and ascends into heaven. God no longer dwells in the temple in Jerusalem, but in the body of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Relationship of Luke to the Other Gospels
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are not merely fact-filled biographies of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Each is written and inspired by the Holy Spirit to convince readers that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, our Savior. The evangelists don’t simply write “what” happened to Jesus, but “why” it happened. Each of the four evangelists emphasized different points as they wrote to different audiences according to their Holy Spirit-inspired purpose.
- Matthew, one of Jesus’ Twelve, wrote to Jews. According to early church historians, Matthew wrote his Gospel to the Hebrews so they would have a witness when he went to share the Gospel with other people groups.
- Mark, a helper to Peter in Rome, wrote to Romans. Early church historians claimed that Mark composed his Gospel from his recollections of sermons Peter had preached while in Rome.
- Luke, a companion on St. Paul’s missionary journeys, was well acquainted with other Apostles. As Luke makes clear in his dedication (Luke 1:1-4), he knew many narratives of Jesus’ life had been hastily written, were incomplete, and in some cases uncertain. So after interviewing eyewitnesses, Luke set out to organize the material and set it forth in his orderly Gospel narrative.
- John, another of Jesus’ Twelve, is said to have written his Gospel after the other three. His purpose was to fill in gaps left behind by the other evangelists—especially the early events of Jesus’ ministry, and certain discourses omitted from the other Gospels.
Purpose of Luke
Luke wrote his Gospel to a student named Theophilus (“lover of God”) who had been taught the Christian faith. Luke’s purpose is “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.” Through his careful interviews with eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus, and arranging that material under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Luke grounds the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, in human history.
Outline of Luke
- Prologue (1:1–4)
- The Infancy of John the Baptist and Jesus (1:5–2:52)
- Preparation for Jesus’ Public Ministry (3:1–4:13)
- Jesus’ Galilean Ministry (4:14–9:50)
- Events during His journey to Jerusalem (9:51–19:27)
- Jesus’ ministry in Jerusalem (19:28–21:38)
- The Passion of Jesus (22:1–23:56a)
- The Resurrection of Jesus (23:56b–24:53)
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