Gospel of Luke
About the Author
Luke (aka "Luke the Beloved") was a Gentile Christian
Syrian from Antioch
Non-Palestinian writing to non-Palestinian audience
Elimination of specifically Jewish Christian concerns from sources
Incomplete knowledge of Palestinian geography, customs, and practices
Substitution of Greek names for Aramaic or Hebrew names
Not a contemporary of Jesus - not an eyewitness to the historical Jesus
- Could have possibly accompanied Paul on his missionary tours - highly debated
- Also wrote Acts of the Apostles
About the Audience
Greek-speaking Gentile Christians represented by Theophilus
Theophilus - means lover of God, may have been a Greek/Roman official, perhaps a well-to-do patron, who underwrote the expenses of publishing his work
Non-Jewish audience who were not accustomed to Jewish beliefs or practices and lived in a society dominated by Greek culture and language
- Non-Palestinian audience (Greek)
The animal symbol for Luke is The Ox. This animal was used during sacrifices, connecting to the beginning of the Gospel when Zechariah was in the Temple.
Date of Writing
The original text is written in Greek, and was written c. 80-85 CE.
Symbol Unique to Gospel
The sharing of a meal is meant to symbolize the Kingdom of God.
Portrait of Christ
Gospel that portrays Jesus mostly as savior.
Savior for all peoples: merciful, compassionate, with a special concern for poor people, women, and gentiles
God wants to reverse situation/treatment of the poor and lowly so Jesus becomes the suffering servant Messiah
Focus on compassion and mercy: all repentant sinners will be welcome in the Kingdom
Many accounts of people being forgiven in this gospel than others
Jesus is ‘eschatological prophet’: prophet bc misunderstood and opposed, died a faithful prophet. doesn’t reform the world but fulfills
Portrait of Mary: Model Disciple
Mary image for Catholics comes from this Gospel
Free from original sin from the moment of her conception because she was the "favored one" and "The Lord was with her"
She said yes to God's will for her; agreeing to listen to God begins Jesus' mission
Magnificat is a statement of God's faithfulness, mercy and fulfillment of promises
Mary is model of faithful servant waiting for God's salvation and new life as disciple of Jesus
Receives the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit as a Character
In the Gospel, Holy Spirit guides Jesus in all that he does
Whenever God the Father sends his Son, he always sends the Holy Spirit with him
Holy Spirit and Jesus share mission: to bring us back to God
Present at Baptism, the beginning of his ministry, present with him throughout ministry
Spirit usually expressed as spirit, breath, or wind, often expressed in nature (i.e. dove)
Sets Holy Spirit up to play a big role in Acts of the Apostles
Luke Chapter 2 & 3
Interesting Facts about the Gospel
- Luke is the only synoptic gospel writer to call Jesus savior.
- Because Luke spoke Greek, it is thought that he used more extensive vocabulary and richer language.
- Throughout the gospel various canticles are included. For example Mary's Magnificat or Zechariah's Benedictus. They are believed to be traditional Jewish Hymns and not written by Luke. Below is a video of the hymn 'Holy is His Name' which is largely influenced by Mary's Magnificat.
- Luke includes an intense and specific genealogy of Jesus that links his ancestry not to Joseph, but through Adam. This links Jesus, not only to the house of David, but to the entire human race.
Forgiveness for Everyone
Luke emphasizes that everyone has the opportunity to be forgiven no matter how much they sin.
Everyone is Invited
Luke wants everyone to know that Jesus the Messiah will not only save the Jewish community and the men, but also cares for Gentiles and women.
Spirituality & Discipleship
Prayer is important to get in touch with God and the Spirit; disciples must give up everything and discard worldly possessions and say yes to God's word, be humble & faithful
Forgiveness for Everyone
Everyone is Invited
The Gospel according to Luke has a lot of well known parables. Some of which are unique to this Gospel though closely related to parables in other Gospels.
The Good Samaritan: The Samaritan who showed mercy was called the neighbor. The Samaritan serves as an example to the model disciple Luke illustrates.
The Rich Fool: The Rich Fool thinks he is set for life with his material wealth but God explains that he is not. God says that the fool's earthly treasure will not follow him to heaven and that the fool lacks what is important to God.
The Lost Coin/ The Lost Son: These parables are similar to Matthew's Lost Sheep but have a focus on God/ Jesus' focus and love for the lost and lowly as well as God's invitation to repentance for all.
The Raising of a Widow's Son: Jesus shows love for a widow whose only son has died, shows his caring for the ones low in society.
The Cleansing of Ten Lepers: The non-Jewish man was the only one to give thanks for his healing. The foreigner had faith and was saved because of it. This miracle goes hand in hand with the parable of The Good Samaritan, Luke uses these stories to emphasize that Jesus does not only call Jews to follow him but everyone who has faith is welcome to his table.
Many well known and loved stories are unique to the Gospel of Luke.
-Zacchaeus the Tax Collector: Although Zacchaeus has a bad reputation as a tax collector his repentance and decision to give away his wealth to those who need it makes him a model disciple. Using his wealth to help those who are in need of assistance and not hoarding it for himself shows how wealth should be used in accordance with the ministry of Jesus. Zacchaeus proves that wealth in and of itself is not evil but what the owner choses to do with their money may not always be good, he shows that though he is wealthy he recognizes the greater value of giving his wealth and following Jesus. Zacchaeus changes his behavior and proves that even someone thought to have evil intentions such as a tax collector can be forgiven and saved by the Messiah.
-The Crucifixion (Lk 23:39-42): The story of penitent sinner guaranteed a place in heaven only appears in this Gospel. While the first criminal is cruelly teasing Jesus about his title and powerlessness as the Messiah the second criminal continues to have faith in God and feels that killing Jesus is an unjust act. Because of his faith in God's judgment and acknowledgment of his own sins he is told that he will be welcomed into Heaven with Christ. Like Zacchaeus even this criminal has proven that everyone is welcome into God's Kingdom.
Prayer as a Motif
One of Luke's great teachings through this Gospel is that prayer is at the center of Christianity. Prayer connects us to God and Jesus acted as a great example of that strong bond.
Before important points in Jesus' ministry Luke describes Jesus as praying. For example in The Baptism of Jesus Luke writes, "After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the holy Spirit descended upon him in a bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased" (Lk 3.21-22).
This Gospel mentions Jesus praying when he chooses his disciples, the transfiguration, at the Last Supper, at the Mount of Olives and while he is on the cross. With these impactful moments Luke also includes the Lord's Prayer and canticles in the Infancy Narrative as different forms of prayer to show that anyone is welcome to have a relationship with God.