Bible Commentary in 8 Volumes
The Gospel According to St.
With a short
account of his life
THERE is little certain known of this evangelist: from what is spoken in the Scriptures, and by the best informed of the primitive fathers, the following probable account is collected:
Luke was, according to Dr. Lardner, a Jew by birth, and an early convert to Christianity; but Michaelis thinks he was a Gentile, and brings Colossians4:10, 11, 14, in proof, where St. Paul distinguished Aristarchus, Marcus, and Jesus, who was called Justus, from Epaphras, Lucas, and Demas, who were of the circumcision, i.e. Jews. Some think he was one of our Lordís seventy disciples. It is worthy of remark that he is the only evangelist who mentions the commission given by Christ to the seventy, Luke 10:1-20. It is likely he is the Lucius mentioned Romans 16:21, and if so he was related to the Apostle Paul, and that it is the same Lucius of Cyrene who is mentioned Acts 13:1, and in general with others, Acts 11:20. Some of the ancients, and some of the most learned and judicious among the moderns, think he was one of the two whom our Lord met on the way to Emmaus on the day of his resurrection, as related Luke 24:13-35; one of these was called Cleopas, Luke 24:18, the other is not mentioned, the evangelist, himself, being the person and the relator.
St. Paul styles him his fellow-laborer, Phm 24. It is barely probable that he is the person mentioned, Colossians4:14, Luke, the beloved physician. All the ancients of repute, such as Eusebius, Gregory Nyssen, Jerome, Paulinus, Euthalius, Euthymius, and others, agree that he was a physician, but where he was born, and where he exercised the duties of his profession, are not known. Many moderns have attributed to him the most profound skill in the science of painting, and that he made some pictures of the Virgin Mary. This is justly esteemed fabulous; nor is this science attributed to him by any writer previously to Nicephorus Callisti, in the fourteenth century, an author who scarcely deserves any credit, especially in relations not confirmed by others.
He accompanied St. Paul when he first went into Macedonia, Acts 16:8-40; 20:1ff; 27:1ff; 28:1ff. Whether he went with him constantly afterwards is not certain; but it is evident he accompanied him from Greece through Macedonia and Asia to Jerusalem, where he is supposed to have collected many particulars of the evangelic history: from Jerusalem he went with Paul to Rome, where he stayed with him the two years of his imprisonment in that city. This alone makes out the space of five years, and upwards. It is probable that he left St. Paul when he was set at liberty, and that he then went into Greece, where he finished and published this Gospel, and the book of the Acts, which he dedicated to Theophilus, an honorable Christian friend of his in that country. It is supposed that he died in peace about the eightieth or eighty-fourth year of his age. Some suppose he published this Gospel fifteen, others twenty-two years after the ascension of Christ.
See much on this subject in Lardner, Works, vol. vi. p. 104, etc., and in Michaelisís Introduction to the New Testament.
Some learned men think that Luke has borrowed considerably from St. Matthew: collate Luke 3:7-9, 16, 17, with Matthew 3:7-12; also Luke 5:20-38, with Matthew 9:2-17; also Luke 6:1-5, with Matthew 12:1-5; Luke 7:22-28, with Matthew 11:4-11; also Luke 12:22-31, with Matthew 6:25-33. It is allowed that there is considerable diversity in the order of time between St Matthew and St. Luke, which is accounted for thus: Matthew deduces the facts related in his history in chronological order. Luke, on the contrary, appears to have paid little attention to this order, because he proposed to make a classification of events, referring each to its proper class, without paying any attention to chronological arrangement. Some critics divide this history into five distinct classes or sections, in the following manner:
CLASS I. Comprehends all the details relative to the birth of Christ; with the preceding, concomitant, and immediately succeeding circumstances. Luke 1:1ff, and 2:1-40.
CLASS II. Contains a description of our Lordís infancy and bringing up; his visit to the temple when twelve years of age; and his going down to Nazareth and continuing under the government of his parents; Luke 2:41-52.
CLASS III. Contains the account of the preaching of John Baptist, and his success; the baptism of Christ, and his genealogy. Luke 3:1ff.
CLASS IV. Comprehends the account of all our Lordís transactions in Galilee, for the whole three years of his ministry, from Luke 4:1ff to Luke 9:1-50. This seems evident: for as soon as Luke had given the account of our Lordís temptation in the deserts Luke 4:1-13, he represents him as immediately returning in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, Luke 4:14; mentions Nazareth, Luke 4:16; Capernaum, Luke 4:31; and the lake of Galilee, Luke 5:1; and thus, to Luke 9:50, goes on to describe the preaching, miracles, etc.; of our Lord in Galilee.
CLASS V. and last, commences at Luke 9:51, where the evangelist gives an account of our Lordís last journey to Jerusalem: therefore this class contains, not only all the transactions of our Lord from that time to his crucifixion, but also, the account of his resurrection, his commission to his apostles, and his ascension to heaven. Luke 9:51, to Luke 24:53, inclusive.
A plan similar to this has been followed by Suetonius, ln his life of Augustus: he does not produce his facts in chronological order, but classifies them, as he himself professes, cap. 12, giving an account of all his wars, honors, legislative acts, discipline, domestic life, etc., etc. MATTHEW therefore, is to be consulted for the correct arrangement of facts in chronological order: Luke, for a classification of facts and events, without any attention to the order of time in which they occurred. Many eminent historians have conducted their narratives in the same way. See Rosenmuller. It must not, however, be forgotten, that this evangelist gives us some very valuable chronological data in several parts of the three first chapters. These shall be noticed in their proper places.