Bible Study Thread: Luke

It's time to continue our study of the gospels and move on to Luke.

Many thanks to everyone who joined the discussion on the Matthew and Mark threads. I enjoyed them very much and will use the same approach for Luke's gospel. I will post a chapter (or maybe part of a chapter) every day . . . a brief summary and a personal reflection.

My posts will generally be based on the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. I accept the liberal scholarship which identifies Mark as the first gospel to be written. I believe Matthew and Luke used Mark as a basis for their own gospels. I also accept the hypothesis of a second common source for Matthew and Luke.

The gospels I consider to be faith testimonies, open to a variety of interpretations. I view the bible as foundational to Christian faith.

I am interested in discussion about my summaries & reflections and you are also encouraged to comment on the biblical text itself. If you bring other scriptures into the conversation, please identify where and why you are doing this

I am not opposed to minor tangents. But if we stray too far from the text we are studying, I will suggest starting a spin-off thread or do so myself. Off topic posts and any posts which are not reasonably clear will be Reported for a ruling by the moderators.

Let us begin!
 

Comments

The mods have approved this bible study thread for the newly created WC2 Study Groups forum.

As soon as it is moved over, I will start posting my summaries and reflections.

Looking forward to it!
 
Summary: Luke 1: 1- 4

Luke's gospel begins with his dedication to Theophilus. He notes that there have been many efforts to set down an orderly account of events. Luke has received information from eyewitnesses and servants of the word and will write this down so that Theophilus will know the truth about what he has been instructed.
 
Reflection: Luke 1: 1 - 4

Luke begins his gospel by establishing his credentials, claiming to be one step away from actual eyewitnesses to his narrative. Tradition holds that Luke was a physician and traveling companion of Paul. Many scholars have stated he was the lone Gentile among the four evangelists.

He is widely considered to be the author of Acts.

Any thoughts about the authorship of this gospel?

Or overall impressions before we delve into it?
 
It is a very Greek opening. You often find these sorts of addresses and dedications at the beginning of classical Greek and Roman writing. Which would tally with him being a Gentile, though it isn't a lock. Paul was a Jew and still clearly had a classical Hellenistic education.
 
Looking forward to the study paradox 3. Here are thoughts on Luke 1:1-4...

Many had taken into their own hand to set forth in a narrative the things that'd been fulfilled, brought to their consummation in their midst in time's fulness. The Gospel had been transmitted in episodes.

Many who wished for a whole account about the events which now lay before the missionaries wrote on their own initiative, and Dr. Luke censures them. The things that form belief shouldn't be left to scribes that wrote without authority and divine truth.

The missionaries had been the witnesses of Christ's ministry. The Gospel engrossed them. What they'd taught had been the divine truth, since the Spirit had led them into all truth. Their Gospel's report should be the one to have validity among missionaries.

That was Dr. Luke's notion. So he'd made inquiries, followed up the matter from the beginning and informed himself in things with the teachers' aid. He was ready to write a continuous Gospel, from the beginning of Jesus' life.

Dr. Luke then addresses the man for whom his investigations were intended: Theophilus, a Roman nobleman. Luke wants him to know the certainty of the truth. It was for that reason that the writing of Jesus' history was desirable.

☆ The explanation which Dr. Luke here gives does not in any way weaken verbal inspiration. It may be remarked that this preface of Luke's gospel breathes meekness, such as should characterize every missionary. ☆
 
Many who wished for a whole account about the events which now lay before the missionaries wrote on their own initiative, and Dr. Luke censures them.
I don't read these four verses as censure. Luke says many have undertaken to write down an orderly account, he investigated everything carefully & will write his own orderly account.

Here is the interpretation from the Message:

Luke 1:1-4 The Message (MSG)
1 1-4 So many others have tried their hand at putting together a story of the wonderful harvest of Scripture and history that took place among us, using reports handed down by the original eyewitnesses who served this Word with their very lives. Since I have investigated all the reports in close detail, starting from the story’s beginning, I decided to write it all out for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can know beyond the shadow of a doubt the reliability of what you were taught.
 
Where are you getting that from? It's a Greek name. In fact, it means "God lover" roughly so could be a "character" rather than a real person.
There are various theories about who Theophilus was. I happen to side with those who think he was a Roman nobleman.

While I did not first hear of this theory from GotQuestions.org (rather I picked it up at some point during my education) they write...

"Luke addresses him as “most excellent,” a title often used when referring to someone of honor or rank, such as a Roman official. Paul used the same term when addressing Felix (Acts 23:26; Acts 24:2) and Festus (Acts 26:25). Therefore, one of the most common theories is that Theophilus was possibly a Roman officer or high-ranking official in the Roman government...

Yet another theory about the identity of Theophilus is that he was the Roman lawyer who defended Paul during his trial in Rome..."
 
Many theories about the identity of Theophilus.

Does his identity shape your reading of Luke's gospel in any way?

The claim of the gospel writer to be only one step away from eyewitnesses interests me more.
 
It is a very Greek opening. You often find these sorts of addresses and dedications at the beginning of classical Greek and Roman writing. Which would tally with him being a Gentile, though it isn't a lock. Paul was a Jew and still clearly had a classical Hellenistic education.
I am reading from my NRSV Harper Study Bible. The intro to Luke supports this Mendalla - indicating "Luke was a Gentile Christian converted in Antioch less than 15 years after Pentecost". He was a companion of Paul; He was "well educated, wrote flawless Greek, and was well versed in the culture of the Roman World" ... "Luke was no armchair historian, but a fell-fledged missionary."

This also references Theophilus as a wealthy citizen of Antioch, possibly a government official, "may or may not have been Christian at this point, for the gospel seems directed to convince him of the truth of Gesus as God's Son & Savior of the world. .... In any event, it was intended for all people everywhere, even though specifically directed to Theophilus".

I hope I will be able to keep up with discussion - looks like Luke may be pretty interesting.
 
Many theories about the identity of Theophilus.

Does his identity shape your reading of Luke's gospel in any way?
I don't think it does shape mine - though perhaps it should more.

paradox3 said:
The claim of the gospel writer to be only one step away from eyewitnesses interests me more.
One person who highly esteemed Dr. Luke was the missionary Paul. On Paul's 2nd journey, Luke joined him at Troas and accompanied him to Philippi. On the 3rd journey, Luke was again with Paul, going with him from Philippi to Jerusalem. Afterwards, Luke made the voyage from Caesarea to Rome with Paul, and was with him in Rome. During the second captivity Luke was again with Paul.
 
One person who highly esteemed Dr. Luke was the missionary Paul. On Paul's 2nd journey, Luke joined him at Troas and accompanied him to Philippi. On the 3rd journey, Luke was again with Paul, going with him from Philippi to Jerusalem. Afterwards, Luke made the voyage from Caesarea to Rome with Paul, and was with him in Rome. During the second captivity Luke was again with Paul.
Yes, I accept that Luke and Paul traveled together.
 
Yes, I accept that Luke and Paul traveled together.
I believe not just that they travelled together, but that they indeed were friends. The missionary writes, "Luke, the leech most dear, and Demas, greet you well." - Colossians 4:14 (WYC).
 
I hope I will be able to keep up with discussion - looks like Luke may be pretty interesting.
I really like Luke's gospel and it is probably my favorite one. I moved very quickly through Matthew because I wanted to get a sense of the developing narrative & then slowed down a little for Mark. I feel inclined to take Luke at an even slower pace but we will see how the discussion unfolds in this new forum.
 
Summary: Luke 1: 5 - 25

Luke opens his narrative by foretelling the birth of John the Baptist.

There was a priest named Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, a descendant of Aaron. They were righteous people who lived blamelessly according to all the commandments. They were getting on in years and had no children.

Once when Zechariah was chosen by lot among the priests to offer incense, the angel Gabriel appeared on the right side of the altar. The angel told Zechariah not to fear, that their prayers were answered & Elizabeth would bear a son. He is to be named John and he will have the spirit and power of Elijah. He will turn many people of Israel to God.

When Zechariah questioned the angel, he is rebuked for his disbelief and made mute until the child is born.

The people wondered at Zechariah's delay in coming out of the sanctuary, and when he emerged, they realized he had seen a vision. He kept motioning to them and remained unable to speak.

Elizabeth conceived and remained in seclusion for five months.
 
Reflection: Luke 1: 1 - 25

This passage has given rise to many a joke about men remaining silent throughout their wives' pregnancies. :)

Since Zechariah belonged to the priestly order of Abijah and Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron, these are not ordinary folk like those who become the earthly parents of Jesus. John is predicted to have great influence over the people of Israel. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous. (v. 17)

Is the stage being set here for the One who will come as a child?

Why did Luke say the disobedient will turn their hearts to the wisdom of the righteous? Why not to the wisdom of God, God's self? It might be a stretch for this passage, but I am thinking about the notion that we all contain a spark of the divine.

Elizabeth is thankful for her pregnancy and says God has taken away the disgrace she endured among her people. In those times infertility was quite shameful and assumed to be the responsibility of the woman. Even Luke, the physician, calls Elizabeth "barren". (v. 7)
 
Thoughts on Luke 1:5-7...

Since Dr. Luke's accurate in his references to history, his statements are trustworthy.

In the days when Herod the Great was Judea's king, Zacharias, a priest, was living in one of the cities set aside for the priests' use. He belonged to Abia's.order.

The 20,000 Jewish priests of Jesus' day were divided into orders. These orders took turns serving at the Jerusalem temple. There were 24 orders, of which the eighth was Abia's.

Zacharias' wife Elisabeth was also of Aaron's descendants, a priest's.daughter.

There was a sorrow that burdened Zacharias and Elisabeth. No child had been given them. Elisabeth was barren. God had denied her motherhood. And at this time they were both old, beyond the days when they might expect children.

For the barren were considered cursed. The Jews urged the words that God had told people to, "Be fruitful and multiply!" They that had no child weren't blessed. Thus Elisabeth might also have complained since she was barren.
 
@Jae Yes, it is very possible that Elizabeth had internalized that sense of shame about their infertility. Although it is biblical, I am not comfortable with the term "barren". One reason for my discomfort is that biologically speaking, the failure to conceive is just as likely to have been the man's problem.

But I digress. I think Elizabeth probably felt a great deal of shame that she had not conceived.

Many will rejoice at John's birth, Luke tells us.

And no doubt Zechariah will be happy to get his speech back. :cool:
 
Like Sarah and Hannah, two childless women getting on in years, a miraculous birth is coming, that will change things up. This seems to be a theme through biblical history. A child is promised who will do great things.
 
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