Edited by Hovey, Alvah
Introduction to the Gospel of Luke
The name Luke occurs three times in the Epistles of Paul — Col. 4:14; Philem 24; 2 Tim. 4:11. In all these it represents some faithful and highly esteemed fellow -laborer of the apostle, in the gospel. In the first passage the latter associates him with himself in the salutations to the Church at Colosse: "Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, salute you." Here we learn that he was by profession a physician, to whom the apostle was tenderly attached; and, from the description of those named with him, that he was engaged in the furtherance of the gospel. It is also extremely probable, in fact almost certain, from the way in which Paul, in verse 11, distinguishes those previously mentioned as "of the circumcision," that Luke, with Epaphras and Demas, was of Gentile birth. This perfectly agrees with all the other indications concerning him. The reference shows that he was with the apostle in Rome at the date of the letter to the Colossians, A. D. 63 or 64. The mention of him in Philemon 24 only adds evidence that he was in Rome about that time, as a fellow-laborer with Paul, with Mark also, and Aristarchus. That he is not mentioned in the salutations of the letter to the Philippians, written also from Rome during that imprisonment, renders it probable that he was not with the apostle, although it cannot show whether this was earlier or later. Second Timothy 4:11, was written three or four years later, and proves Luke to have been in the same place, as the only helper present with Paul, in his second imprisonment, and at the last stage of his life.
This Luke has been recognized, from the earliest times, and still is, by a great majority even of the most unrestrained Biblical critics, as the author of our third Gospel.
While he is not named elsewhere in the New Testament, he presents himself freely in those parts of the Acts of the Apostles, where the writer speaks in the first person plural ("we came," etc.) 16:11-17; 20:5, and passim. We see plainly, from such passages, that the author of the Acts traveled with the apostle on his second missionary journey, from Troas to Philippi. There he appears to have tarried until Paul, after six or seven years, returned from Achaia through Philippi, on his last visit to Jerusalem. After that we find him in company with Paul as far as to Jerusalem. At the close of the two years' imprisonment in Caesarea, the author again appears as one of the company of Paul, ready to sail for Rome. Although it is not distinctly stated, we may well suppose him to have been in the neighborhood of his teacher during the whole two years; the more readily as we are told that Paul's friends had free access to him all the time, and as Luke's profession would, if he were dependent on it, in any town secure him the means of subsistence. Thenceforth he was with the apostle on the long and eventful voyage to the capital, and through the first two years of his captivity, as we have seen, and again in a probable second imprisonment.
Those, indeed, who assume that the writer of the whole work has only incorporated into it the passages containing "we," from the travels of some companion of Paul, escape the conclusion that the actual author was such a companion. But the assumption involves an impeachment of his literary skill, entirely gratuitous and inconsistent with his manner in general, or a slander on his honesty, which, considering the spirit of the writing, is little creditable to the morality of such critics themselves. Few deny any longer that the obvious and long received interpretation of these passages is the correct one.
The interest to us of this information lies in the fact that the writer of the Acts (1:1) represents himself as being, and is universally admitted to have been, the author of the Gospel bearing the name of Luke. We thus gain some incidental knowledge of him beyond, and strikingly congruous with, the import of Paul's allusions before cited. This renders us morally certain that the writer of our Gospel accompanied the great apostle, or acted in co-operation with him, for the promotion of the gospel, during ten or twelve years of his life. The relation between them was affectionate, and so close and confidential as to give Luke a most favorable opportunity to acquire whatever knowledge his teacher could impart, concerning the earthly history of our Lord. We may be sure, also, that from his intimacy with the apostle to the Gentiles, as well as from his own personal and professional character, he enjoyed special advantages, in their long journeyings together, at Antioch, Corinth, Caesarea, Jerusalem, Rome, to meet eye-witnesses of the Saviour's work, who could give him exact knowledge of the facts of the Gospel.
Of the life of Luke prior to the time when he joined Paul, at Troas, nothing is certain; and it is scarcely possible to repeat the conjectures embodied in early traditions, still less to hazard new ones, without danger of leading many minds to ascribe greater probability to them than they at all warrant. That he was of Greek origin, is supported not only by the natural interpretation of Col. 4:11, and by his name, but by the purity of his Greek style, free from Hebraisms, except where he is apparently handling Aramaean reports, which he may have needed to have translated by others. Of his family, we do not know that there is even any tradition. Some later stories located his birth at Antioch, others, in southern Italy. Both suppositions are backed up with about equal force by modern writers, when they respectively urge the evidence from his special acquaintance with places in and near Italy, Acts. 28:11 ff, on the one part, and with the affairs of the Church at Antioch, on the other, as indicated in Acts 11:19, and the chapters following. We think these latter passages might justify the hypothesis that he had resided at Antioch, and there become acquainted with Paul, whom he afterward met, by design or otherwise, at Troas. His name cannot be identified with that of Lucius of Cyrene, Acts 13:1, by any legitimate process of transmutation. That he was converted to Christianity through Paul, is extremely probable, and that he must have sympathized with the latter in his distinguishing views of the gospel, is not only practically certain from what we have already seen, but is put beyond question by the character of the Gospel before us. So clearly was this seen, at an early day, that Eusebius, and Origen before him, assumes that when Paul used the phrase "my gospel," he meant the Gospel according to Luke, as expressing his particular view. This, however, was mere fancy. That Luke was "the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches" (2 Cor. 8:18), is a supposition, plausible at least, considering that Paul was probably writing from Macedonia, during the time that Luke seems to have tarried in Philippi, and that we hear of no other one in that region likely to have merited that description. As a physician, he would naturally have had an education above that which was common. We cannot, however, hence infer any superiority of birth, since trained freedmen, or even slaves, sometimes practiced medicine. His company in this character might be a special help and comfort to the apostle who suffered much with bodily infirmity, the pain of which was to him sometimes as "a thorn," or, more properly, "a sharp stake," "to the flesh."
Of the fortunes of the evangelist, after the date of Paul's second letter to Timothy, we can with certainty say nothing, nothing at all, of the time, place, or manner of his death.1
OCCASION AND DESIGN.
The occasion was, primarily, the religious need of a convert to Christianity, of the name of Theophilus, whose name (repeated by Luke, 1:3; Acts 1:1), is all that we know concerning the man. Of this, and of his apparent station and character, as we may infer from the prologue of the Gospel, we have spoken in the Notes on 1:3. It is commonly assumed that he had embraced the gospel as presented by Paul and those who sympathized with him; a doctrine, namely, of perfectly free, gratuitous, and complete salvation, on the ground of faith in Jesus, the Son of God, as crucified for sin and raised again from the dead. At all events, within the sphere of Paul's evangelical labors, any thoughtful man would be exposed to the disturbing influence of Judaizing legalists, who would tell him that he ought to be circumcised also, and to keep the Mosaic law. Heathen skepticism also, the current philosophy, habits of early thinking, might, if he were of Gentile origin, as his name of Theophilus slightly intimates, suggest doubts and perplexities in his new faith. These, in the absence of documentary information as to the origin and history of the Christian doctrine, when, moreover, the testimony of apostles, or other eye-witnesses, was for him a rare and transient privilege, might become a serious temptation. Whatever the reason of his necessity, whether external or from within, from Jewish bigotry or from heathen associations and prejudices, our author addresses him as needing to have his faith clarified and confirmed in those teachings on which he had rested his eternal hope. He may have requested the assistance of Luke, as a friend and well known teacher, toward this end. The latter indicates (1:1-4) that he thought a good way to supply the want of Theophilus would be to set forth, first, in a narrative, well ordered, chronologically, and according to rational sequence of the facts, those teachings, works, sufferings of the Founder of Christianity which the apostles were wont to present to men, as best suited to prove him the fulfillment of prophecy and the Author of salvation for the world.
We need not suppose that Luke was moved to this work simply to do a favor to Theophilus. He had probably, from what he says, been long engaged in researches for something of this kind, and dedicated his work to his respected friend, not as a private letter, but with the expectation that an extensive section of the church, in the same necessity as he, would share the same help. He intended to give not only a truthful, full, consistent view, but also a somewhat different view from what others had attempted in writing, of the history of Jesus and, ultimately, of the Christian cause.
Such being the occasion, as we confidently infer, the design, as plainly stated by Luke in his Preface, was simply involved in that His object in writing at all, and in writing as he did, was that Theophllus might thereby "know the certainty," the "unshakable truth," (ἀσφάλεια), concerning the words in which he had been instructed. Of course, he designed that the same benefit should accrue to as many as possible, to whom, through Theophilus, the knowledge of his Gospel should come. The full accomplishment of his purpose would require the carrying forward of the work begun by Jesus, through the Book of the Acts. This, we think, was distinctly in his mind from the first, but not so as to hinder the Gospel, as introduced by its Preface, from being intended as a separate work.
This, on a particular examination, seems admirably suited to accomplish such a design, and lends powerful support to the views already expressed, by its perfect consistency with the supposition of such an author writing to such a friend.. We note —
(1) Special familiarity with the Greek language. The first sentence of the Gospel presents us a finished period, worthy of any classical writer of the time, and such as can hardly be thought of from the hand of any other New Testament writer, unless it be the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. This quality appears, as might be expected, more commonly in the Acts, in those parts, as the journey to Rome, where there was least of Jewish fact or discourse. In the Gospel, the subjects were so exclusively Palestinian and Hebraistic; the records of them, and the oral accounts, were so entirely in Aramaean, or in Aramaic Greek, that the faithful delivery of them to his readers, whether through his own translations or those furnished by others, would leave little room for his own unhampered style. Still, the general character and literary spirit of the Gospel may strike the mind even through a translation, as more free and flowing than that of either of the other evangelists. The narrative frequently bespeaks an intellectual as well as a doctrinal catholicity, born of the liberty of Greek thought and utterance, rather than of the stereotyped and meagre formality of Aramaean, or the rigorous inflexibility of Roman speech.
(2) The influence of Luke's profession, as a physician, on the literary character of his Gospel, is less obvious from special traits than is the case with the Book of Acts. In that, several observations occur which are very likely to have been suggested by his medical experience. The judgment of Jerome that his education for his calling contributed to the superiority of his Greek style, is very probable. And scholars have noticed the coincidence of his mention of " a great fever" in the case of Peter's mother-in-law (4:38) with the language of Galen, Hippocrates, and Celsus, in distinguishing fevers and other diseases. See the citations in Wetstein on the passage. The mention of the " sweat like clots of blood" (22:44) has been thought to evince the intelligence of a physician, in selecting the particulars of Christ's agony in the garden. Yet he does not hesitate, in the account of the woman with the issue of blood (6:43), to tell us that the physicians had not been able to help her, though he does not add, like Mark, that, besides spending her fortune in vain, she had grown worse.
It is more in the general tone of his writing, the wide interest which he betrays in people of every quality, of both sexes, and of all ages and conditions, that we seem to see the spirit of a physician, experienced, genial, and kind, according to the epithet "beloved," (Col. 4:14). It was, to be sure, Christ's own universality of concern for all humanity which Luke is faithfully relating; but it is because he also thinks nothing human foreign to himself that he, pre-eminently, is led to bring forward these traits of the Saviour's ministry and life. He must, probably, have obtained from Mary, or other members of the family of our Lord, the particulars of the birth, infancy, and boyhood of Jesus, and of John the Baptist, which he gives as additional to those presented by Matthew. In his case, too, it is not from a necessity to show the fulfillment of prophecy, and the evidence of a divine origin, so much as to satisfy a human interest in the complete history of the Son of man. He, too, preserves the language of Jesus which shows him attentive to the sports of children, (7:31 ff). He alone mentions that when Jesus commended the example of a child to his disciples (9:47), " he took the little child and set him by his side." In Luke alone (10:38-41), we have treasured for us that gem of the Gospel, the fireside scene with Jesus in the midst, at the house of Martha and Mary. He also tells, what we should not otherwise know, of the ministry of certain faithful women, who cared for the comfort of Jesus and his disciples in their journeys, following him even to Jerusalem, to the cross, to the tomb, (8:1 ff; 23:49, 55). These and other women, as Luke informs us, Jesus addressed — "daughters of Jerusalem" — while on the way to Calvary, although his lips were sealed toward every one besides, (23:28). His social quality appears in the easy affability of some of the parables and instructions of the Saviour, as reported by him, (7:40ff; 14:7-14; 18:2-6). The gentleness of Christ, his consideration for the deficiencies and failures of men in their imperfect piety, his charity, in short, toward such as others would condemn, appears in several peculiar traits of Luke's narrative, and reflects its light on the disposition of the compiler. See 5:39; 9:54-56; 12:48; 15:28-32; 22:24-30; 23:34; comp. Acts 3:17.
(3) The indications of intimate companionship and co-operation with Paul. It is not strange that some of the Fathers, as was said, suspected that the apostle referred to Luke's writing, when he said "my gospel." The character and training of Luke led him, in providing for the satisfaction of the inquiries of Theophilus, to produce just such an account of Jesus Christ as is pre-supposed in all the Pauline doctrine of salvation. The indispensableness to all men of God's righteousness through faith in Jesus; the provision of salvation for all; and the free offer of it to all, — appear as distinctly in our Gospel as in the Epistle to the Romans. It is not, as has been sometimes represented, a Gospel specifically adapted to the Gentiles — Marcion had to mutilate it to render it such — still less, perhaps, is it for the Jews, although dwelling much on the teachings and institutions of the Old Testament. It refers to "the law" more frequently than Matthew; Mark does not once name it. Particular expressions in unusual number might suit the views of a Gentile, but others would please a Jew, even a Pharisee. As a whole, the writing was for neither, but for both. It was for and against Jew; for and against Gentile; because it was for the human race.
Not only as between Jew and Gentile, but between the various classes, grades of society, and temporal conditions within those two comprehensive sections of humanity, the Christ of Luke maintains the most complete impartiality of good will. To high and low, to master and slave, to rich and poor, to Pharisee and publican, to man and woman, to parent and child, the offer of sympathy, instruction, physical cure, and soul salvation, is held forth with absolute freeness and benevolence of desire. In this respect the Gospel is fully in the spirit of Paul. Christ's blessing is here "unto all and upon all them that believe." There is also to be seen in Luke something of the Pauline qualification, "to the Jew first "; but yet this does not in the least impair the sufficiency and accessibleness of salvation to men of every sort. Nay, we easily trace the peculiar warmth of our author's interest in the welfare of the least favored of human beings, the least happy, the least good. The grace of God "which bringeth salvation to all men" is celebrated by him in its beneficient bearing on the most deeply lost — even on the corrupt and benighted heathen. Our Gospel welcomes every one to the rich provision of eternal life, but goes forth most intensely toward the needy, helpless, diseased, and outcast of the earth, rejoicing, with the angels in heaven, over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine righteous, who have no need of repentance.
This Pauline universality of the theory of salvation, with a preponderance of personal interest in the classes and individuals who seemed most to need the gospel, determines to some perceptible extent the selection and distribution of material throughout Luke's narrative. This opens with an account of the birth of our Lord's forerunner, of a priestly stock, in connection with the national temple, yet far removed in character and station from the Sadducaic magnates, or the religious nobility of the time. Jesus himself is born of a humble maiden, in circumstances below those of ordinary poverty; and angels celebrate the fact as one of supreme joyfulness to heaven and earth, in the presence of humble shepherds. The Genealogy traces back his line, beyond the beginning of the Hebrew stock in Abraham, through the whole course of humanity, and thence to God, whom it binds, through Jesus, to all mankind. Zacharias had dimly seen (1:79) that his coming was to "give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death," and Simeon, with the infant in his arms, thanked God for him as "a light (Revision) for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel." The infancy, childhood, and early maturity of Jesus were spent, as Luke causes us to see, in the retirement of domestic village life. His first reported discourse, 4:16-27, revealed him as the Messiah promised in the prophecy, and implied, at its close, that God might send the salvation which he had announced to their dull, though wondering ears, to heathen sinners as well as to them. The Sermon on the Mount (ch. 6) omits all that concerned the law (comp. Matt. 5:17-43). In the house of a Pharisee he receives the adoration of a repenting woman "which was in the city, a sinner" (7:36-50), and shows the proud and self-righteous, how her faith and love won blessings unattainable for them. In the instructions to the twelve apostles (9:1-6), no prohibitions against crossing the boundaries of the Jews are recorded; and the mission of the seventy (10:1-11), at a time when access to the fields which he had so faithfully striven to occupy in Galilee seemed to be cut off, might indicate that their rejection of his salvation (10:12-16), was preparing for the wider diffusion of the blessing in other lands. He had no scruple against entering the territory of the Samaritans, in the course of his journeys (9:52); and when he would picture brotherly love such as the law required (10:25-37), he presents it in the conduct of a worse than heathen — a Samaritan. By the parable of the barren fig-tree (13:6-9), he warned the Jewish nation that the mercy which yearned over them would soon turn to condemnation; and solemnly predicts their sorrow and dismay when they find themselves shut out of the banquet of his kingdom, where men from every quarter of the earth will be the guests. The lesson of the great supper (14:15-24), should have impressed the truth that the privileges which they had scorned and forfeited, would be given to people whom they despised. The three beautiful parables in chapter 15, although they do not directly celebrate the joy of God in the conversion of heathen men, yet refer directly to men who were worse than heathen in the view of Pharisees, and indirectly might well suggest the widest application to all mankind. Of the ten lepers who desired cleansing (17:12-17), Jew and Samaritan shared alike in the physical blessing, but the Samaritan alone is shown to have received spiritual cure. The parable of the vineyard (20:9-17), reveals in startling terms that the theocracy, which had been entrusted to the unwilling Jews, was about to be taken from them and given to others — but to whom? The ominous word " Gentiles," in the solemn prophecy uttered on the Mount of Olives, that same day at evening, showed to whom:' ' and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (21:24). In his parting charge (24:47), the risen Master orders that "repentance and remission of sins should be preached among all nations. " We need not quote evidence that Jesus in this Gospel offered salvation to the seed of Abraham of every class. None of the Gospels could prove this more plainly. The above passages, additional, for the most part, to what it has in common with the rest, may serve to show the peculiar sympathy of the writer with the sentiment of Paul, that the blessing was provided and sent to the Jew first, indeed, but also and unstintedly to the Greek.
SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE.
Our author himself has happily given the needed explanation on this point, in his opening sentence. That is discussed in the Commentary. A few remarks may here be allowable, to show how the present writer conceives of the circumstances attending the origin of this Gospel. Luke probably knew nothing of the writing of Matthew, or of Mark, (of course not of John's). As a Greek (in the wide application of that name), he would feel none of those scruples, and be liable to none of those hindrances which naturally kept the original apostles from early attempting written memoirs of their glorified Lord. Some interested hearers of the apostles (Mark was such toward Peter), probably first put in writing what they heard told of the works and words of Jesus. The apostles, laboring together, principally in Jerusalem, for several years, had, in the absence of written records, fixed upon such parts of the boundless subject of Christ's mission as experience had proved most useful in bringing men to believe in him as their Saviour. His most striking words would be repeated with literal exactness, and his language, generally, would be more nearly stereotyped in a common form, than the accounts of facts. The discourses would, some of them, be illustrated by connection with the related events in Christ's life. Thus groups of associated facts and discourses would become crystallized in combinations such as we may see in our Synoptic Gospels, substanstantially the same with all, yet not precluding liberty in the individual relators, according to their several recollections of the subject matter. The foundation of all this, to a great extent the execution of all, was the work of the apostles. Its use was not intended as a history of Christ's life, or a biography, in any proper sense, but for practical instruction — "preaching," or the relation of such truth from and about Jesus, as would on each occasion be best suited to produce faith and conversion. Such was for many years the preached "gospel." When it came to be written, each recorder would take down more or less of it, from the lips now of one, now of another apostle, and his work might grow to be of considerable length. Before any one of the original apostles had accomplished the writing of a complete narrative (it was early believed that Matthew did this first, in the Aramaean tongue), "many" had, according to Luke(l:1), done something of this preliminary work, whose attempts, though only partially satisfactory, were known to him. In regard to these, he had opportunity during his travels through the scenes of Christ's life to learn how far they presented the apostolic teaching. He saw, doubtless, different apostles personally, and other eye-witnesses, as Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers, with whom he could compare and complete the accounts which he was gathering. These included some not communicated to us in other Gospels, but specially suited to his purpose, and interesting to his turn of mind. Finally, let us recall what we have seen of his close association with the Apostle Paul, and we may be at no loss as to how Luke, though not an apostle, or one directly acquainted with Jesus, acquired the rich store of truth which has rendered his charming narrative a treasure of the Christian world. His account of the Lord's Supper, compared with 1 Cor. 11:24-26, shows an identity of view, as does his mention (24:34) of the Lord's appearance to Peter after the resurrection (comp. 1 Cor. 15:5). It is doubtful whether Paul ever saw a complete Gospel in writing, but we cannot doubt that if he had read that of "the beloved physician," it would have answered to the conception of his own heart.
The limit below which this cannot fall, is indicated by Luke himself It must have been earlier than the composition of the Acts (see Acts 1:1), and the Acts may have been completed about A. D. 64 (see Hackett, Commentary on the Acts, Intro, p. 19). However the Gospel could not have been written later than about A. D. 70, when Jerusalem was captured and the temple destroyed. This appears from the eschatological discourse in 21:20 ff. In the other Synoptics Jesus appears to associate directly the destruction of Jerusalem with his second advent for the full, eternal redemption of his followers, so that the latter shall follow "immediately" upon the other. In Luke, the report of the discourse, differing in other respects from Mark, and still more from Matthew, makes a period of the subjugation of Jerusalem by Gentiles (v. 24) to intervene after its capture, before the redemption shall draw nigh. But that Luke does not understand this to mean any long period, is evident, since he also gives, in ver. 32, the declaration: "This generation shall not pass away, till all things be accomplished" (Revision). Compare for a like understanding of what naturally seems to be a long period, 2 Thess. 2:3-8, with 1 Thess. 4:15, 17. We might suppose, in consistency with this, that Luke wrote a short time after A. D. 70; but the general identity, in matter and form, of his work with that of the other Synoptics, its contrast with that of John, which was written later; the fact that neither in the Gospel, nor even in the Acts, does he make allusion to any thing of later date than Paul's first captivity; that he was ignorant of Matthew's Gospel, in its present form, and of Mark's, so far as appears; lastly, that his representation of the state, organization, and officers of the church in his day, is so widely different from what we find existing in the second half of the second century, all render it decidedly more likely that the Gospel was written not later than the destruction of Jerusalem. As to the place of the writing, conjecture has ranged from Caesarea, through Asia Minor and Greece, to Rome.
There was never any question of the authorship of this Gospel, until within about the last one hundred years. The skeptical disposition which has so largely prevailed in Biblical criticism during this period, has taken offence at the miraculous account of the origin and of the apostolic history of Christianity, and both writings of Luke, like the rest of the Bible, have been subjected to violence. Some have labored to show that this Gospel was only an adaptation of that which the heretic Marcion fabricated toward the middle of the second century. Others have supposed that as late as that, or later, some entirely unknown person, desiring to appease an assumed belligerency between a strong Jewish and Pauline party in the early church, had palmed himself off as a companion of Paul while the latter was alive, and had made up a narrative concerning Jesus and his first followers, pretending that they taught essentially in the spirit of Paul, when, in reality, it was far otherwise. The view underwent many modifications, being refuted at every new turn, as one may see in Fisher's Beginnings of Christianity, or Güder, Art. Lukas, in Herzog and Plitt's Real Encyclopädie. The latter writer, after stating the chief suppositions of recent criticism on the subject, reverent and irreverent, concludes with the judgment that the reasons for the authorship of the Acts, and so of the Gospel also, by Luke, are incomparably stronger than for any other supposition which has been advanced; and even that the very working out of these suppositions, tends ever still to confirm the hereditary view of Christendom. That view began to find distinct and formal expression soon after the middle of the second century, when the Muratorian Canon plainly refers the third Gospel to Luke, a companion of Paul. Justin Martyr had still earlier quoted from the Gospel in passages conveniently copied by S. Davidson in his Introduction to the New Testament (2:19-22), and had been used by Marcion, as we have already seen, probably Basilides also (about A. D. 125). See Sanday, Gospels in the Second Century, p. 382. Before this time it had been translated in the Old Latin, and in the earliest Syian version of the New Testament. The Muratorian Canon is rightly supposed to have expressed the judgment of the Church at Rome, and its extensive dependencies, as the Syrian did that of the Eastern Church, and the Old Latin that of all Northern Africa. A little later, Irenæus names Luke as the author (Adv. Hæres, 1. 14. Enseb. E. H. 5. 8), see Davidson Ibid p. 24. '' Clement of Alexandria adopts the same opinion, and the Fathers generally follow it." Ibid. When Davidson adds: "It (the Gospel) does not appear to have been known much out of Rome in their time; nor was it preferred by them to an extra-canonical gospel or gospels which they employed along with it," he probably does not intend to place it on any other footing than our other Synoptical Gospels, and has no authority for denying that it was already, as in the Muratorian Canon, separated from all books of other than apostolical authority. Enough that before the middle of the second century, while Christian teachers were yet living who had conversed with the apostles and their associates, and were deeply interested in whatever was of importance to the cause of Christ, the Gospel of Luke was familiarly known and ascribed to Luke as its author. As such it has been used by the whole church ever since. It has been often said, and will bear repetition, that for no writing of classical antiquity have we anything like the same proof of its genuineness as we have for the Gospel of Luke. On the basis of the New Testament itself, Godet, in chapter 3, sect. 3, of his Conclusion, makes out a convincing argument for Luke's authorship, from a comparison of the proem to the Gospel with other information from the Gospel, the Acts, and the Epistles of Paul. In that Conclusion will be found also a very full, able, and generally satisfactory discussion of most of the questions pertaining to an Introduction to the writings of Luke.
That Luke followed a distinct aim in the arrangement of his material, is indicated beforehand, by the "in order" (καθεξῆς), of his Preface, and a plan was obviously necessary to reach that aim, in giving immovable certainty to Theophilus. The aim was to be reached by showing the divine origin of Jesus the Christ; his manifestation in humanity, as a babe, a boy, a young man (conversant with all these experiences of men); his external inauguration to his public office by his baptism; the intrinsic, personal inauguration by his triumph over Satan in the great temptation. This portion of the Gospel we have, in the Commentary, treated as Part First (1:5 — 4:13). Then follows his ministry in Galilee, Part Second (4:14 — 9:50); by which he gave the people abundant proofs of his Messiahship, and desire to save them; was believed on temporarily by multitudes without a true appreciation of his real character; but was distrusted, by degrees hated and persecuted by the ruling classes, and abandoned by the deluded masses, only a few of whom remained faithful. In Part Third (9:51 — 19:11), the author has gathered a mass of most valuable material, from a source or sources not used by the other evangelists, without apparent chronological or geographical sequence; but treated as pertaining to a slow journey toward Jerusalem, on which Jesus had resolved (9:59), that he might, through his sufferings, be raised to the position of a universal and an eternal Saviour.
The present incorrigibleness of the Jews, as a body, has now become hopelessly manifest; but he is, if possible, still more abundant and earnest in endeavors to save some. He takes care for an increase of laborers in the field from which he is about-to be removed, and rejoices that through the ministry of such, the reign of Satan over men is in effect broken. He teaches his servants much about the work before them, the dangers and pains to which they are appointed; but assures them of ever present, effectual help from on high, of a success that shall fill the world, and of a glorious recognition by himself when he shall return (as he will) in royal majesty, for the full and eternal blessedness of his kingdom, and the separation from it of those who would not have this man to reign over them.
Part Fourth relates his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem as acknowledged Lord of the Temple; his victorious contests with the ruling sects and authorities; his clear testimonies to the truth; his provision for the fellowship of his followers in remembrance of him; his propitiatory death; accompanied with fresh and amazing proofs of his divine mission; his resurrection from the grave; his charge that the gospel should be proclaimed in his name among all the nations; and his ascension to glory (19:12; 24:53).
The evangelist thus leaves the Author of Christianity where, through the very unbelief and murderous cruelty of the Jews, he can, without respect of persons, save all alike who call upon him, and carry forward to the ends of the world that glad announcement, which has already reached as far as Rome. What could be better suited to give Theophilus that "certainty " in regard to the elementary teachings of the Gospel which he desired?
1) It may be worth the space here to append some of the things reported, anciently, without any tangible ground of credibility, respecting Luke. Among them are, besides those just mentioned concerning the place of his birth, etc., that he was one of the seventy disciples; the companion of Cleopas on the way to Emmaus; that he labored in the gospel in Dalmatia, Italy, Gaul, Africa; that he was a painter, and painted pictures of the virgin Mary and others named; that he died when eighty-four years old, in Constantinople, in Achaia, in Bithynia; that his remains were taken to Constantinople by the Emperor Constantine, and buried in the Church of the Apostles; that lie suffered martyrdom, by decapitation, by crucifixion, etc.. etc. Of course, there may have been a grain of truth in some of these legends— in some of them there could not be; but without any contemporary evidence to distinguish between the true and the fictitious, we most safely leave it all in the region of fables.