Our human language is not wide enough to contain the riches of the Savior of the World. This is why the Holy Spirit led certain men to clarify the unique Gospel in several ways and to produce four distinctive portraits of the person Jesus Christ, also to proclaim his victory over distresses, diseases, sins, death, Satan, and the wrath of God.In the guidance of the inspiring Spirit, the evangelist Matthew proved to the Jews that Jesus of Nazareth who came from the despised Galilee was indeed the promised Christ who fulfilled the Old Testament predictions and the laws of God in his life and resurrection.The evangelist Mark, an associate of Peter, explained to the believers in Rome who were surrounded with thousands of gods and idols, that Christ Jesus was the true Son of God and the Lord of Lords who reigns over all the powers opposite to God. Luke, the Greek physician, presented Christ as a merciful Savior to all mankind, who established by his coming God’s peace on earth and a new era to the world.And the evangelist John expressed in the words of the Greek philosophy the deep love of God made incarnate in Christ to enable us to obtain eternal life though living faith.Each one of the four evangelists bore witness to a certain circle of people and conditions. Yet, Jesus Christ is the decisive answer to their numerous questions and abstract problems.
Who is the Evangelist Luke? The other three evangelists were Jewish believers, Aramaic speakers, of Hebrew standpoint. They all translated the words and historic events of Jesus into Greek. However, the evangelist Luke was Greek of Gentile origin. He did not belong to the culture of the Old Testament. This experienced physician and cultured man of travel had command in clarifying the message of the gospel in Greek. His fluent and effective use of language sometimes surpassed that of the apostle Paul.It is possible that Luke lived for a considerable period in Antioch and participated in raising the church formed of believers of Gentile origin (Acts 11:20-24). He knew Paul from the beginning of his missionary journeys and accompanied him personally on his second voyage from Troas to Philippi where he stayed to strengthen the new church (Acts 16:10). When Paul came back from his third journey and passed by Philippi (Acts 20:6), he took his spiritual brother with him on his long voyage to Jerusalem (Acts 21:17). During Paul’s imprisonment in Caesarea (AD 58-60) Luke drew together material, which he later used in the composition of his gospel. At last, the physician Luke accompanied the apostle Paul during his last journey to Rome sharing his shipwreck and remaining with him until he died by martyrdom. During those three periods of the apostle Paul’s company, Luke depicted the events employing the first person "we", as Paul’s student, eyewitness and companion. Paul himself mentioned Luke three times by name and called him his beloved and faithful fellow laborer (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 24; 2 Timothy 4:11), which clarifies to us the deep impression of Paul’s theological thoughts about justification by grace on Luke’s gospel which testified complete salvation to all mankind (2:14; 3:4-6; 24:26). This privilege of grace can only be obtained by faith (7:50; 15:1; 17:10; 18:14; 19:1-10; 23:34,43). Whoever enters into this grace finds in it the spring of everlasting joy (1:46-47; 6:23; 13:17; 15:5-10, 23; 19:6; 24:41,52).
How Did Luke Write His Gospel? The wise physician wanted to know more accurately about the life of Christ than he had heard from Paul and the early Christians in Antioch. He accompanied his teacher (in AD 58) to Jerusalem and met James, Jesus’ brother, whom he joined in companionship as a child in one family. Furthermore, the evangelist sought details from Peter and the other apostles also from many eyewitnesses of the life of Jesus about their experiences with the merciful Lord (Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8,21; John 15:26).First of all, Luke found in Jerusalem a collection of Jesus’ sayings and events compiled under supervision of the apostles and probably translated into Greek by Matthew, Andrews and Philips to establish the believers of Jewish pilgrims who did not learn Aramaic in their distant homes (Acts 2:42; John 12:20; Luke 1:1-4). Luke extracted verbally much of what was contained in that source common to the three earlier gospels, but unfortunately absent from us today. However these contents are made available to us through those three earlier gospels. This is why Luke’s account is in full agreement with that of the earlier evangelists. The characteristic of Luke’s gospel is that he who describes the person of Jesus is an experienced physician who was much interested to know the miracle of Jesus’ conception of the Holy Spirit and his birth of the Virgin Mary whom he had most probably met in person and inquired about these events. It is a special blessing, that the Holy Spirit guides a physician to discover through his own efforts this great mystery and to cover this unknown link of the history of Jesus Christ.We also find in his gospel an expert description of the miracles of Jesus, which the wise physician was completely unable to do by himself: giving sight to the blind, cleansing the lepers and raising the dead. Discerningly, Luke draws our attention to Christ’s great compassion and kind mercy so that we may see the source of his power originating only from the divine mercy.Luke was especially interested in the body of him who was raised from the dead that he questioned eyewitnesses about strange details which we do not find in such clarity in the other gospels: Christ asked his disciples to touch him with their hands in order that they might feel that he was not a ghost but flesh and blood. He also ate before their eyes to overcome their unbelief.
Who is the Receiver of This Message? Luke states the name of the receiver. It is Theophilus (lover of God) whom he calls (most excellent) or (noble), a magisterial designation also given to Felix, the Roman governor of Judea and Festus who succeeded him (Acts 23:20; 24:3; 26:25). Theophilus was probably a prominent Roman official of high rank who once ruled Antioch and knew that region and Italy accurately, but needed wide clarifications about all the places and customs of Palestine and Greece which were strange to him. Theophilus was probably near to the first church in Antioch and had consecrated, under the name of that church, his palaces and dedicated them to the meetings of the believers as we find in the traditional information about this person. Then he was transferred to Rome and there he wanted to gain a just conception of the progress of the gospel from Jerusalem to Rome, the capital. This is the historical password of Luke’s report which is composed of two parts: the first one is his Gospel in which he tells us how the Savior of the world completed his way from Bethlehem to Nazareth, Capernaum and Jerusalem where the salvation of the world was completed.And the second part of his report is the Acts of the Apostles in which Luke shows us how the kingdom of God spread out immediately from Jerusalem to Samaria, Antioch, Asia Minor, Greece and Rome and was also prepared to reach Spain.By these purposes, Luke did not compose a limited gospel for the believers of the Jewish nation, but preached all the nations with the divine salvation in the widest manner as Paul did. Luke did not present a Jesus Christ promised only to the Jews, but a Savior, Founder and Proprietor of the world, giving peace to the whole world, and preaching God’s pleasure with the repenting sinners, for the only true Savior has overcome all the distresses, diseases and the power of death with its cause that is sin as well as the temptations of the devil which prompt us to disobey God. Christ is the Victor and the Lord of Peace to all nations. This is the keynote of Luke’s gospel.The astonishing thing is that Luke’s gospel and the Acts of the Apostles were not written to the public, but to the edification of one person so that this official of high rank might continue in faith, receive new insight for his social duties, be just and merciful toward the poor and confine the carelessness of the rich who deserve God’s wrath because of their hard hearts. Luke shows us that Christ does not only save us from our sins, but also qualifies us to practice love and help to the poor. We therefore realize that Luke’s gospel has a practical social characteristic.
If you follow the steps of Jesus, through your deep penetration into Luke’s gospel, you will receive a great power and divine motive to preach the nations, for Luke was a preacher with the apostle Paul filled with love and the Holy Spirit. Pray and listen to the Spirit of the Lord through his servant Luke.