Luke 1:1-4 Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt
1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
In 1980, Janet Cooke, a Washington Post reporter won a Pulitzer Prize for what eventually was found to be a fabricated story. This is exactly what Luke worked to avoid.
He wants his gospel to be understood and accepted
He wanted people to trust this good news beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Who wrote the Gospel of Luke?
· Luke is credited with writing both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.
· The early church accepted Luke's authorship of both.
· The Muratorian Canon from 170 and Irenaeus in 180 AD called Luke the author of the gospel.
· The author of Acts was also part of Paul's missionary team as noted by the “We” statements made in Acts 16, 20, 21, 27-28. The first of the “We” statements happen during Paul's second missionary journey between 50-52 AD.
· The fact that Theophilus is mentioned at the start of both books while stating in Acts 1:1 “In my former book, Theophilus” gives proof to common authorship of the two books.
· Without any other evidence scholars have stayed with tradition and consider Luke the author of both.
So what do we know from Scripture about Luke? He is mentioned three time in the New Testament:
· In Colossians 4:14 Paul calls Luke “Our dear friend, Luke, the doctor”. We know that Luke is a Gentile and not Jewish because in verse 11 Paul tells us, “Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends his greetings. These are the only Jews among my co-works for the kingdom of God.” This was during Paul's third missionary journey. Luke is a Gentile.
· In Philemon 23-24 Paul includes greeting from those who are with him, “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.” Also during Paul's third missionary trip.
· In 2 Timothy 4:11 Paul in his personal remarks states, “Only Luke is with me.” This was during Paul's 2nd Roman imprisonment.
So the picture we get of Luke from Scripture shows Luke is a doctor, physician, which would make him trained in writing and who knows to pay attention to detail. He is a gentileLuke traveled with Paul from his 2rd missionary journey and stayed on with him through Paul's 2nd imprisonment in Rome, a period of about 16-18 years, so Luke is also a good friend and a trustworthy companion.
What else can the text tell us?
· First four verses written as a prologue or preface to the rest of the boo
· Written in the classic Greek style.
· Literary form provides the reader with the author's intended reason and direction for his writing.
· This leads us to consider him to be well educated, thoughtful, and knowledgeable in Greek
Verse 1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us,
• Draw Up-Others may have written up accounts of the life of Jesus but it was likely based on passed on or word of mouth stories
• the gospel of Mark may have been the first written gospel
• In a Columbia University study it is estimated only 10% of the population at the time was literate. In Roman Palestine the number was closer to 3%.
• People knew the importance of the life of Jesus and wanted to pass it on so there was a lot of information available to Luke
• Fulfilled=to have been fully convinced or persuaded or surely believed
• Written history was rare
Verse 2 “just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.”
• Handed down indicates oral tradition, something the Jewish people were very practiced at
• Eyewitnesses-people who actually saw what was reported, nothing second hand
• Testifying in court is oral
• Oral tradition, passing on by word of mouth, would be normal for that day
• Oral tradition accounts for most of history.
• We are servants of the word
Verse 3 “With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,”
• “Fully investigated”-he went to the source, interviewing those that were there, Luke avoided second hand accounts because the story may begin to change with each passing
• Accurate history was repeated through intricate details told in the story
• Luke investigated everything.
• Physician he would have been schooled in the details, been a trained observer.
• Luke went back to the beginning, before Mary even became pregnant.
• An orderly account does not mean a chronological account but instead he means in a logical way
• Theophilus - lover of God , likely a Gentile, probably a fairly new believer
• “Most Excellent” translates as Excellency, Theophilus may have been a person of position.
Verse 4 “so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”
• Taught=Greek is Katecheo
• English word is catechumen which means to receive training in doctrine and discipline before baptism.
• So Theophilus was likely a follower of Jesus but still young in the faith
What are some of the accounts that Luke discovered along his journey and passed on to us in his gospel?
· Chapter 1- foretelling of the birth of John the Baptist
· one prophesied to come before the Messiah by Isaiah 40:3-5
· A father's fear and doubt when given a message by the angel Gabriel in the temple during his priestly service
· The joy of a baby given to a barren couple who believed that message.
· The belief of a young, unmarried girl when told she would be the mother of the Messiah, Luke 1:31-34, as foretold in Isaiah 7:14.
· Chapter 2
· Luke shares the Christmas story found in Micah 5:2 and Isaiah 42:6.
· Chapters 5, 6, 7. “Are you the one to come?” Luke 7:21-22 Isaiah 29:18-19
· All the parables that Jesus spoke which many did not understand Isaiah 6:9 and Luke 8:10
The list of the good news continues on throughout Luke. He shares what he has been told by the eyewitnesses regarding the rest of Jesus' ministry, the people he touched and changed the lives of like Zacchaeus the tax collector; the sinful woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears and dried his feet with her hair.
Luke gives us the details of Jesus' betray by a friend, His beating at the hands of the Jews, His trial before Pilate, His death on the cross that brought the forgiveness of sin and His resurrection that brings eternal to lives to those that believe in Him.
This is the GOOD NEWS found in Luke. This is what he discovered when he set out to find the truth and when he set up his orderly account of what happened in the life, death, and resurrected life of our Savior Jesus Christ. We should be confident now, we have a gospel that is true by the standards of history. Let's share it with others. Now is a great time to do it. The Christmas season is all about Jesus, we hear songs singing about Him on secular radio. God is preparing hearts for people to enter into His kingdom so let's get ready to celebrate the start of the Advent season, the four weeks before Christmas when we celebrate the Good News of the coming and birth of the Messiah, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.