Luke, one of Paul’s Gentile converts, a doctor (Col 4:14) writes this carefully researched and ordered gospel, having done extensive study of the current documents and having taken interviews of many eye-witnesses (Luk 1:1-4). The gospel of Luke is the first of two volumes he writes, the second one being Acts. The two books are clearly linked, not least by their common addressee (Luk 1:1-4, Acts 1:1). Luke probably did his research and writing when Paul was imprisoned for 2 years in Ceasarea (57-59 AD) and then in Rome (60-62 AD).
Luke writes to “most excellent Theophilus”, a title otherwise used on Roman proconsuls (Acts 23:26, 24:3, 26:25), which suggests that Theophilus was a high Roman official himself, possibly a Roman judge or lawyer involved with Paul’s court case in Rome (Acts 22-28). The Romans considered the Jews religious fanatics who were a major cause for continued unrest in the Roman Empire, threatening the beloved ‘Pax Romana’ (‘Roman peace’).
In order to convince a Roman of the truth of what he is writing, or even to get a hearing for what he has to say, Luke has to overcome strong Roman prejudice, pride and hatred of the Jews. Luke has to convince Theophilus that Jesus is not just a Jewish local figure, he is the Savior of the world. Luke has to convince Theophilus that Jesus is not ‘one more Jewish fanatic’, that he in fact was opposed and killed by precisely those Jewish fanatics. Luke has to show that Jesus was no rebel rouser or military messiah. He had no Jewish pride or superiority, but rather he reached out to non-Jews, as a matter of fact he reached out to everyone: foreigners, outcasts, sinners, poor, sick, women and children. Jesus challenged Jewish pride and superiority, he challenged their ideas of rebellion against Rome being the solution to their problems but rather showed that it is the sinful human heart that needs to be dealt with.
So it is not surprising to find in this gospel very careful dating of events and linking them to historical data that can be checked (Luk 2:1-2, 3:1-2); details on Jesus origin and upbringing (Luk 1-2); a very detailed record of Jesus’ teaching (for example more of his parables than in any other gospel); a careful record of Jesus’ many miracles and people’s responses to them; a record of Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus (showing that this is a universal religion with age-old roots); a very detailed record of how Jesus reached out in love and grace to everybody, especially those that the religious Jews looked down on; a record of how Jesus was executed by exactly those religious leaders, in a process in which no less than 6 times Jesus’ innocence is attested (Luk 23:4,14-15,22,41,47,51).
In describing Jesus’ teaching, character and attitude in detail, Luke paints for Theophilus a picture of Jesus’ integrity, humility, self-control, consistency and character quality. As a Roman official Theophilus would be well aware of the alarming corruption and wilfulness of the government under the current Roman emperor, young Nero. Theophilus would have to admit that Jesus’ leadership was of an unbelievably different kind, really what Rome would need itself.
Luke with his evangelistic and apologetic piece of writing powerfully convinces and woos Theophilus, so that he ‘may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed’ (Luk 1:4).
A carefully researched gospel
Luke, one of Paul’s Gentile converts, a Greek doctor (Co 4:14) writes this carefully researched and well-ordered gospel. Luke makes it clear that he is not himself an eye-witness to Jesus’ ministry, rather a later convert (and in that sense in the same situation as his reader), but he has done an extensive study of the documents already written about Jesus (Luk 1:1) and he has taken interviews of many eye witnesses (Luk 1:1-4), among them Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luk 1:29, 2:19,51), which results in a detailed account of the childhood of both John the Baptist and Jesus. The very way Luke opens his gospel is a standard style of introduction, used by Greek writers of that time (for example: Josephus Flavius).
The gospel of Luke is the first of two volumes Luke writes, the second one being Acts. The two books are clearly linked:
• the same addressee: Theophilus (Luk 1:1-4, Acts1:1)
• Acts refers back to Luke: ‘In the first book… I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught’ (Acts 1:1)
• Luke ends with the command to wait for the promised Holy Spirit (Luk 28:49). Acts starts with the same command (Acts 1:2).
• Luke and Acts share a common geographical structure, linking the two books like mirror pictures:
Luk 1:1 Galilee Acts 13:1 the ends of the earth
Luk 9:51 the way to Jerusalem Acts 8:1 Judea, Samaria
Luk 19:28 Jerusalem Acts 1:1 Jerusalem
Luke probably did his research and writing when Paul was imprisoned for 2 years in Ceasarea (Acts 24:27, 57-59 AD) and then in Rome (Acts 28:30-31, 60-62 AD).
The author of Luke and Acts
Luke doesn’t state his name in the text, so how do we know he is the author of these two books? There is internal evidence (meaning from the Bible itself) and external evidence (meaning from writings of early church fathers and church historians).
The author of Acts, when telling the story of Paul, switches between talking in “they” -form (the author not being part of the team at the time) and in “we”-form (the author being part of the team at the time). This gives clues as to who the author can be:
The “we” passages in Acts, indicating that the author was with Paul:
Acts 16:10 2nd Missionary journey, the writer joins in Troas, left behind in Philippi
Acts 20:5-15 3rd Missionary journey, writer rejoins Paul at Philippi, together travel to Miletus
Acts 21:1-18 3rd Missionary journey, the writer is with Paul when returning to Jerusalem
Acts 24:23 Paul is allowed visitors while in prison in Caesarea
Acts 24:27 Paul in prison for 2 years in Caesarea. What did Luke do during this time?
Acts 27:1-28:16 With Paul on journey to Rome (author, Paul & Aristarchus), so the author was in Rome with Paul
People mentioned in Paul’s prison letters from Rome:
Col 4:10,11 Jews: Aristarchus, Mark, Jesus Justus. Gentiles: Epaphras, Luke, Demas
Phm 23,24 Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus (Macedonian from Thessalonica), Demas, Luke
2 Tim 4:11 Luke alone with Paul. Mark is somewhere else. Demas fell away.
The possible candidates are:
Aristarchus No. He is traveling with the author (Acts 27:2)
Mark No. He was not with Paul on 2nd journey when the author joined Paul in Troas. Mark is off with Barnabas. He is the author of another gospel, unlikely to write 2
Epaphras He came from Asia, but Paul did not go there until his third Missionary Journey. Col 1:7 indicates that he came to Rome after Paul got there.
Demas He fell away, unlikely that he would write it.
Jesus-Justus not mentioned anywhere else.
Luke The most likely candidate.
More evidence in support of Luke, the doctor, being the author is that fact that there are over 400 medical terms in Luke and Acts, often more accurate terms as in the other gospels. Examples: high fever (Luk 4:38), full of leprosy (Luk 5:12), indicating an advanced stage of leprosy.
External Evidence from the writings of the church fathers
• Justin 160 AD calls it the ‘memoirs of Jesus’, says he was Paul’s companion
• Muratorian Canon 170-180 AD attributes it to Luke, a doctor, who is Paul’s companion
• Irenaeus 175-195 AD says it’s Luke, follower of Paul, says the ‘we sections’ suggest link
• Tertullian early 3rd cent calls the Gospel a digest of Paul’s gospel
• Eusebius early 4th cent Luke, companion of Paul, was from Antioch, author of Luke & Acts
• Origen 184-254 AD has a reference
• Clement of Alexandria 150-215 AD has a reference
We can conclude with reasonable certainty that the Greek doctor Luke, Paul’s long-term fellow missionary, is the author of both Luke and Acts.
Luke writes to ”most excellent Theophilus”, a title otherwise used of high Roman officials (Acts 23:26, 24:3, 26:25), like Festus and Felix, both Proconsuls of Judea (as Pilate was earlier). This strongly suggests that Theophilus was a high Roman official himself.
The name ‘Theophilus’ means ‘lover of God’, from which some people conclude that Theophilus is not a real person but a code word for the church in general, and that Luke wrote for the church. Definitely Luke would have kept a copy of his extensive study and made it available to the church, but this does not mean that Theophilus wasn’t a real person. The research nature, the evangelistic and apologetic thrust of Luke seems to indicate something else.
The Romans considered the Jews religious fanatics who were a major cause for continued unrest in the Roman Empire, threatening the beloved Pax Romana (‘Roman peace’). The Romans also generally considered themselves more developed, more civilized, more just and superior to the people they conquered. The Romans understood the extension of their empire as ‘making people developed’, as ‘bringing them Roman justice’ and ‘Roman peace’ and as ‘letting them have part of civilization and tolerance’.
They had a disdain for all who did not want to be part of this superior Roman empire, those creating unrest, unpeace, continual revolutions, fanatical, purist and intolerant people. Of course the Jews were very much part of this hated group. Their continual Messiah rebel movements angered the Romans. At one time half of the soldiers of the vast Roman empire were stationed in and around Judea. The Romans considered Judea and Syria as the ‘festering boil’ in an otherwise Roman world.
All of these prejudices would have strongly worked against Theophilus being able to even hear the gospel, far less believe it and respond to its claims. It is against all these prejudices that Luke carefully writes. Luke has to convince Theophilus:
• that Jesus is not just a Jewish local figure, he is the Savior of the world and has come even for the Romans
• that Jesus is not ‘one more Jewish fanatic’, that he in fact was opposed and killed by precisely those Jewish fanatics.
• that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, but he was no rebel-rouser or military leader; he never resorted to violence, he never thought the Roman presence the real problem, he stayed obedient to the government even when unjustly executed.
• that Jesus has no Jewish pride or superiority, but rather he reaches out to non-Jews, as a matter of fact he reaches out to everyone: foreigners, outcasts, sinners, poor, sick, women and children. Jesus instead challenges Jewish pride and superiority. He challenges their ideas of rebellion against Rome being the solution to their problems but rather shows that it is the sinful human heart that needs to be dealt with.
• That Jesus is in no way blind to his own culture’s faults and weaknesses, he is in no way intolerant, fanatical, exclusive or morally superior.
So Luke writes a detailed, carefully investigated, orderly written account that appeals to reason. Luke wants to prove that the events he describes are real, historical events, verifiable and true. Many of the Roman leaders who at one time or other dealt with Jesus (like Pontius Pilate) are still around and can be asked.
There is one more option that needs to be at least considered: it could be that Theophilus was the Roman judge or lawyer involved with Paul’s court case in Rome (Acts 22-28). There are several reasons why this is not unlikely:
• Theophilus, though definitely not part of any church, has already ‘been instructed about these things’ (Luk 1:4), possibly a reference to him seeing evidence concerning Paul’s case. Luke wants to convince him of the ‘truth’ concerning these things.
• More than half of Acts strongly focuses on Paul, which could be explained by Luke, being Paul’s traveling companion, knowing more about him than the other apostles. Yet we know from church history that the other 12 apostles were very active and spread the gospel far and wide, yet Luke doesn’t mention them at all after chapter 12. Why this strong focus on Paul? > if Luke writes to submit evidence for Paul’s case this makes sense: show the roots of the movement and then focus on the main figure.
• Paul’s arrest and court case, as it happened so far in Jerusalem and Judea gets a very large focus in Acts: chapter 21 to 28 are entirely devoted to this. They read like a ‘transcript of the case so far’. This would be surprising, given that Luke otherwise summarizes Paul’s work very shortly (like for example Acts 19:8-10, where he summarizes almost 3 years of ministry of Paul in two sentences), but if Luke writes to submit evidence for Paul’s case, this makes perfect sense.
• There is a strong focus on Jesus and later Paul meeting Roman officials, Roman military leaders and Roman proconsuls, more than in any other gospel. In the case of Jesus everybody who handles his case is convinced of his innocence, in the case of Paul everybody who handles his case is convinced that he has done nothing against the law. Luke shows judge Theophilus that nobody so far has been willing to condemn Paul.
• In the gospel of Luke there is a huge emphasis on the Pharisees, their attitudes, their words, their actions; all in all a very negative picture. These are exactly the type of people the Romans disdain and hate, fanatical, racially superior, intolerant, prone to violence. Why big emphasis?
• For two reasons: To show the Roman Theophilus that Jesus has conflicts with precisely these Pharisees, it is them who oppose and shamefully kill him.
• The second reason: Paul is one of them. Paul was a Pharisee of Pharisees. But then Jesus took a hold of him. Luke powerfully shows what happens when Jesus gets a hold of a fanatical, racially superior, intolerant, violent Pharisee – he becomes an apostle, one to endure great suffering and deprivation and laying down his life to bring the gospel not just to Jews, but to the Gentiles. The Pharisee has become the champion for the Gentiles – this is Jesus’ work. And this is the very man that now stands before Theophilus to be judged.
Major themes in Luke
Understanding all this, it is not surprising to see what Luke focuses on in his gospel:
Luke gives – where possible – very accurate dates, like in Luk 2:1-2 (mentioning the decree of Caesar Augustus, the first enrollment, Quirinius governor of Syria) and in Luk 3:1-2 (mentioning the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate governor of Judea, Herod (Antipas) tetrarch of Galilee, Philip (brother) tetrarch of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene and the High priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas). Through these highly specific time elements Luke challenges Theophilus: ‘you know these events, you know these people, check this out!’
Eye witness accounts
Luke includes things like Mary, mother of Jesus’ thoughts at what is happening (Luk 1:29, 2:19, 2:51), clear evidence of the eye-witness interviews he did. The detailed childhood account of John the Baptist and Jesus must have largely come from Mary (Luk 1-2).
People stating Jesus’ innocence
First Pilate (Luk 23:4), then Pilate and Herod (Luk 23:14-15), then again Pilate (Luk 23:22), then the one crucified with Jesus (Luk 23:41), then the Roman centurion (Luk 23:47) and finally Joseph of Arimathea (Luk 23:51) all call Jesus innocent and do not agree to Jesus verdict. He was no revolutionary, nobody ever thought that. Theophilus would definitely know about Pilate, possibly he knows him personally, and the centurion could be found.
Jesus brings salvation for all
From the very beginning Luke focuses on the universal aspect of Jesus: he is not just a local Jewish guru, he is the Savior of the world: Jesus is a ‘joy to all people’ (Luk 2:10), a ‘light for revelation to the Gentiles (Luk 2:32), ‘all flesh will see the salvation of God’ (Luk 3:6) and this ‘gospel wil be preached to all nations (Luk 247:4).
Many Romans mentioned respond well to Jesus: a centurion who is highly commended by the Jewish elders and by Jesus for his faith (Luk 7:3-9) and the centurion overseeing the crucifixion says ‘certainly this man was innocent’ (Luk 23:47).
Jesus challenges Jewish racial pride: he commends Gentile Tyre and Sidon over Jewish Chorazin (Luk 10:13-15), tells the stinging parable of the good Samaritan, not the good Jew (Luk 10:33), the Queen of Sheba and the people of Nineveh will judge this generation of Jews (Luk 11:31-32), and more.
Jesus reaches out to the very groups in society the religious leaders look down on, for example women. Luke mentions more women than any other gospel: Jesus talks to women in public, has female disciples (Luk 8:1-3, 10:38-42), prefers places with equal access (open spaces over synagogues), teaches women, reveals himself to women, makes women carriers of truth, makes women teachers and sources of information. He opens doors and abolished gender specific roles of spirituality and redefines them in gender neutral terms (Luk 11:27-28). In his Gospel Luke addresses men and women very evenly:
Angel appearance: To Zechariah Luk 1:8 To Mary Luk 1:26
Prophetic song: By Mary Luk 1:46 ByZechariah Luk 1:67
Recognition of newborn in the temple From Simeon Luk 2:29 From Anna Luk 2:36
Healing amidst conflict on sabbath: woman with infirmity Luk 13:10,15 Man with dropsy Luk 14:1-5
Jesus related his teaching to men and women
1st sermon Nazareth ‑ two examples Widow who fed Elijah Luk 4:25 Naaman healed through Elisha Luk 4:27
Teaching on persistent prayer Friend at midnight Luk 11:5 Widow and unrighteous judge Luk 18:3
Judgment on “this evil generation” Queen of South judges Luk 11:31 Men of Nineveh judge Luk 11:32
Warning against anxiety ravens, sow or reap (men) Luk 12:24 lilies, toil or spin (women) Luk 12:27
Gospel causing division Father against son Luk 12:53 Mother against daughter Luk 12:53
Parables about Kingdom of God Man > mustard seed Luk 13:19 Woman adds leavens Luk 13:21
Parables of the lost Man lost sheep Luk 15:3 Woman lost coin Luk 15:8
Teaching about day of son of man Two men, one taken Luk 17:34 Two women, one taken Luk 17:35
Luke shows Jesus also focusing on the poor (Luk 4:18, 6:20, 6:24, 7:22, 12:13, 12:33, 14:13, 16:19, 18:18), on the outcast like lepers (Luk 5:12, 17:11), a sinful woman (Luk 7:36-50), a demonic (Luk 8:36), parables of the prodigal son (Luk 15:11-32), a blind man (Luk 18:35), a tax collector (Luk 19:1), a criminal crucified with him (Luk 23:39) and on children (Luk 7:11, 9:37, 9:47, 18:15).
Through this Luke shows that Jesus is so different from the religious fanatics and purists, he is in no way blind to the weaknesses of his own culture, he doesn’t share the Jewish pride and superiority, rather Jesus shows love and grace to all people equally. He is not a ‘local Jewish guru’, he is the Creator coming for all his creation. He also shows that Jesus thinks very differently from the Pharisees: our problem is not that idolatrous Rome rules Judea, but rather that we have sinful hearts and that we have made wrong choices. Equally the solution is not a rebellion with the goal of removing Roman rule, but Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross which deals with sin once and for all. The Jews will not achieve purity by being exclusive, separate and superior, but by submitting their hearts to Jesus, his Spirit, his attitude, his character.
The Jews, especially the Pharisees, reject Jesus
There are some forty-three references for Pharisees rejecting Jesus in Luke’s gospel. Why this overwhelming focus on the Pharisees? Probably for two reasons: these Pharisees are precisely the groups that a Roman like Theophilus would disdain, hate and fear. Luke says emphatically that Jesus is not one of them, is not in any way like them, rather he continually challenged them and ran into conflicts with them, and it is them who (in the natural) are responsible for Jesus’ death.
The other reason is Paul, Paul who once was a Pharisee of Pharisee. What happens when a Pharisee meets Jesus? He turns from being a racially superior, proud, intolerant and violent Pharisee into an apostle who suffers, sacrificially serves and lays down his life for the Gentiles.
Through the many parables mentioned in this gospel (some twenty-nine parables, of which thirteen are unique to this gospel) Luke shows the nature of Jesus’ teaching: always challenging sin, pride and wrong attitudes, always focusing on the heart, always hoping for an honest response. This is not the teaching of a revolutionary, but of a totally different nature. Jesus is not out to conquer in a military sense, he is out to conquer the hearts and by transforming hearts he will bring about change, inside out and bottom up.
In describing Jesus’ teaching, character and attitude in detail, Luke paints for Theophilus a picture of Jesus’ integrity, humility, self-control, consistency and character quality. As a Roman official Theophilus would be well aware of the alarming corruption and wilfulness of the government under the current Roman emperor, young Nero. Theophilus would have to admit that Jesus’ leadership was of an unbelievably different kind, really what Rome itself needed desperately at this point.
The kingdom of God
Luke mentions the ‘kingdom of God’ 45 times in his gospel, another highly repeated theme. At first Theophilus would understand a term like ‘the kingdom of God’ as a political or military concept, as a ruler who establishes his dominion – in competition to Rome. But Jesus stresses that the kingdom of God has a very different nature: it is not political or military, it is not a form of government that could stand in direct competition to Rome. Neither is it what the Pharisees and zealots are hoping for. It is different, it is an internal kingdom that shows itself externally, it is the rule of God, and the defeat of sin, selfishness, domination and violence. It is ‘not of this world’ but it transforms this world. The kingdom of God is already here (with Jesus appearing), but also the kingdom of God is coming (it will be fully established only when Jesus comes back). In the meantime, both kingdoms (the kingdom of Satan and the kingdom of God) co-exist and are in conflict. Every one must make a decision, to which kingdom he will belong.
The Holy Spirit
Luke has many references to the Holy Spirit in his gospel (some fifteen references) but even more so the book of Acts could rightly be called ‘The Acts of the Holy Spirit. Luke shows Theophilus the nature of God’s kingdom, the way he works. It is that same Holy Spirit that enables Luke to write with such authority, it is that same Spirit which has made Paul into such a powerful and also contested figure. And it is that same Spirit that is now tugging at Theophilus’ heart to respond.
Luke tries to argue for the truth of Christianity in his powerful appeal to Theophilus, so that he ‘may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed’ (Luk 1:4). His gospel is both evangelistic and apologetic. Luke woos his heart, showing him that to Jesus and this gospel everyone must respond.
Who wrote the gospel of Luke?
- Clearly there is the same author for Luke (1:1-4) and Acts (1:1) … Acts 1:1 refers to Luke as “the first book”.
- It is also written to the same reader, one Theophilus.
- Books connected & overlapping: End of suspense in Luke … “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you, but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high” (Lu 28:49) … and Acts begins with a reference to this command to wait in Jerusalem, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit (Ac 1:2) > Overlap and connection
Internal evidence for the Gospel’s authorship
The internal evidence comes not so much through the Gospel of Luke, but through Acts: There are some passages in Acts, where the author after writing the story using “they” and “them” suddenly writes “we”. These so-called “we” passages in Acts, indicate that the author was part of Paul’s team, therefore with Paul at those times. Here is a complete listing of the “we passages”:
- Acts 16:10 2nd Missionary journey, the author joins Paul’s team in Troas, is left behind again in Philippi
- Acts 20:5-15 3rd Missionary journey, the author rejoins Paul at Philippi, they travel together Miletus
- Acts 21:1-18 3rd Missionary journey, the author is part of the team when Paul is returning to Jerusalem
- Acts 24:23 Paul is allowed visitors while in prison in Caesarea
- Acts 24:27 Paul in prison for 2 years in Caesarea. What did the author do during this time?
- Acts 27:1-28:16 The author is again with Paul on his journey to Rome (author, Paul and Aristarchus), so the author was in Rome with Paul
So who was with Paul in Rome? When Paul writes the four prison letters from Rome, he sends greetings from people who are with him. Here is a listing:
- Co 4:10,11 Jews: Aristarchus, Mark, Jesus Justus. Gentiles: Epaphras, Luke, Demas. (Luke was a Greek).
- Phm 23,24 Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus (Macedonian from Thessalonica), Demas, Luke.
- 2 Ti 4:11 Luke alone with me. Mark is somewhere else.
By principle of deletion it can be deduced who is a likely author for the Gospel of Luke:
- Aristarchus can’t be the author since he is mentioned to be traveling with the author (Acts 27:2)
- Mark isn’t the author because he was not with Paul on 2nd missionary journey when the author joined Paul in Troas.
Mark is off with Barnabas (Acts 15:36-39). He is the author of another Gospel – not likely he would write two gospels.
- Epaphras is an option but he is from the Province Asia, where Paul did not go there until his third Missionary Journey. Col 1:7 indicates that he came to Rome after Paul got there.
- Demas He fell away, unlikely that he would write the Gospel.
- Jesus-Justus is an option but he is not mentioned anywhere else.
- Luke is the most likely candidate. In support of this: There are over 400 medical terms in Luke and Acts. Examples: high fever (Lu 4:38), full of leprosy (Lu 5:12)
External Evidence for the Gospel’s authorship
- Church father Justin 160 AD calls it the “memoirs of Jesus” and says he was a companion of Paul
- Muratorian Canon 170-180 AD attributes it to Luke, a doctor, who is Paul’s companion
- Church father Irenaeus 175-195 AD says it’s Luke, follower of Paul. States that the “we sections” suggest the link
- Church father Tertullian early 3rd century calls the Gospel a digest of Paul’s gospel
- Church historian Eusebius early 4th century Luke was from Antioch, a companion of Paul and the author of Luke and Acts
- Church father Origen 184-254 AD mentions Luke as author.
- Church father Clement of Alexandria 150-215 AD mentions Luke as author.
- Phm 24 Paul’s fellow worker
- Col 4:14 the beloved physician and Gentile
- Ac 16:10 2nd Missionary journey, joins in Troas, left behind in Philippi
- Ac 20:5-15 3rd Missionary journey, rejoins Paul at Philippi, together travel to Miletus
- Ac 21:1-18 3rd Missionary journey, returning to Jerusalem
- Ac 24:23 Paul is allowed visitors while in prison in Caesarea
- Ac 24:27 Paul in prison for 2 years in Caesarea. What did Luke do during this time?
- Ac 27:1-28:16 With Paul on journey to Rome (author, Paul and Aristarchus), so author was in Rome with Paul
- 2 Ti 4:11 Paul’s only companion during his last imprisonment
His birthplace is not known. One manuscript of Acts 11:27-28 reads, “When we were gathered together, one of them stood up and said …”. This would indicate that Luke was at Antioch during the stay of Saul and Barnabas before the first missionary journey. Eusebius said that Luke was by birth of those from Antioch and Jerome called him the physician of Antioch.
The only “deacon” in Acts 6:5 who has a home town mentioned is Nicolaus of Antioch – perhaps Luke knew him. It appears that Luke was familiar with Antioch, as it is mentioned several times in the book.
In Acts 16:12 Luke calls Philippi the leading city of the district of Macedonia, a title which both Philippi and Thessalonica competed over. Luke’s bias maybe because it is his birthplace, or because he studied there, or because he spent a long time with that church.
Luke could also well be the ‘yoke-fellow’ mentioned by Paul in Philippians 4:3.
Who is the Gospel written to?
- It is witten to “most excellent Theophilus”. “most excellent” a term of honor the author also uses on Roman Governors Felix (Ac 23:26, 24:3) and Festus (Ac 26:25)
- Possibly Theophilus held some high official position in government, which then would probably mean he is quite surely a Roman.
- The name “Theophilus” means ‘friend of God’, ‘lover of God’ and can be understood as a cryptic reference to the church in general. So some conclude the gospel was written to the church in general.
- Luke surely kept a copy of his labor-intensive research, which came into the hands of the church, but there are reasons to think Theophilus is an actual person, for there are very specific emphases in the book and why is it so evangelistic if everyone is already a believer? And it is also striking just how much space is given to Paul and on his court case.
- Who was Theophilus? Some points can be gathered:
- Theophilus is not a Jew … Lu 2:23, 5:14, 22:1 are explanations to a Gentile, huge anti-Jewish and pro-Gentile theme
- Theophilus is not of the area … Lu 1:26, 8:26 are explanation of geography unnecessary for anyone of the area
- Theophilus is a political officer … ‘most excellent’ and a huge Roman-Gov-Officials theme in Luke and Acts
- Theophilus is not a believer… Lu 1:4 and overall evangelistic and apologetic message
- Theophilus may be Syrian … no other obvious reason why Quirinius of Syria is mentioned in Lu 2:3, maybe acquainted?
- Theophilus may be Greek … Name is Greek, but also common. And Greek names are common among many groups
- Theophilus may be Romans … huge theme of Romans in Luke and Acts
The prologue of the gospel (Lu 1:1-4), follows the style of introduction used by Greek writers of that time. For example,
Jewish historian Josephus Flavius’ introduction:
“In my history … most excellent Epaphroditus, I have made sufficiently clear … the antiquity of our Jewish race. Since, however, I observe that a considerable number of persons … discredit the statement …, I consider it my duty to devote a brief treatise to all these points.” (C. Apion – vol 1)
“In the first volume of this work, my most esteemed Epaphroditus, I demonstrated the antiquity of our race” (C. Apion vol 2)
In Luke 1:1-4 the author introduces his gospel like a master’s thesis: present all material up to now, quote your sources, present your findings:
- “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative”. There were many narratives of the life of Christ in circulation at the time of writing of this gospel.
- “of the things which have been accomplished among us”
Perhaps the author and Theophilus were eyewitnesses to some of the events of Luke and Acts.
- “just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word”.
The author got his information from those who were there at the beginning and who were eyewitnesses (the 12 apostles, Mary, Jesus’ family, other disciples) or preachers, teachers or ministers of the word (like Paul, Barnabas, …).
- Luke carefully investigated > he uses the records of eyewitnesses show that the Christian faith is rooted in historical reality. He uses original material, both oral and written. When did he do his research? probably during the two years Paul is stuck in jail in Caesarea
- “it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you”. The author had done a careful, precise, accurate study, over a period of time, not something done quickly. He has written an orderly, systematic account, not necessarily chronological.
- “For you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed”. Theophilus has already been told the Gospel but the author is writing it down so that he can examine it for himself in detail. Perhaps the author has been the one to tell Theophilus the gospel story and now he is taking the time to write this all out for this special individual. Or Theophilus had heard some heretical teaching, with Luke writing to correct his understanding.
When was the Gospel written? From where was it written?
- Acts ends hanging without a court decision on Paul. Since the gospel ends this way it was probably written before 62 AD.
- The author probably compiled and wrote the Gospel of Luke and and Acts during the 2 years imprisonment of Paul in Caesarea 57-59 AD or possibly still during the 2 years imprisonment of Paul in Rome 60-62 AD.
- It could well be that Theophilus has a role in Paul’s court case, as an attorney, lawyer or judge: Luke provides a write up of “the case so far”, giving excellent evidence in favor of the accused
- Highly tense Roman-Jewish relationship, written maybe as shortly as 4 years before the start of the Jewish-Roman war (66-70 AD).
- Romans hated Jews for non-integration, non-tolerance of pantheism, continual riots & uprisings, keeping half of the Roman soldiers tied to Judea / Syria, for stubborn Messiah-deliverance hopes, for spiritual contempt, for ruining the Pax Romana … > Judea, the abscess of the empire
- The Jews hated the Romans for conquering and occupying them, for continual use of violence, for humbling their pride, for corruption of Jews (Sadducees, Herodians, tax-collectors), for imposed taxes
- The Roman empire is suffering under the ‘worst Emperor yet’ Nero … > instability, unpredictable changes, arbitrariness, unhappy military, most likely higher taxes, worse administration, neglect of matters of state, most likely great nepotism, sycophants and therefore corruption
- Bad reputation of the Jews rested on the Christians as ‘Jewish sect’ as well
Church founding? Church strengths? Church Weakness?
- Since Theophilus is likely a person, this is not applicable. Luke’s concern for one individual, Theophilus, left us with the biggest chunk of New Testament by any one author.
- mostly prose > literal interpretation, little OT quotes in poetry > figurative interpretation. Of the best Greek in the NT (only eclipsed by Hebrews).
- gospel, arranged geographically
- interchange (John <=> Jesus in ch 1-3, etc.)
Main Ideas or Topics
- Jesus the Jew is truly the Savior of all men and all nations and his gospel is spreading in the entire world > believe in him! (evangelistic).
- Christianity is universal, true, peaceful, transforming and beneficial for all. Though is started from the Jews, is has no Jewish self-righteousness, racial pride and separateness, rather it reaches out to all (apologetic).
- God and his Messiah do not share Jewish self-righteousness, racial pride and separateness … Roman prejudice are understandable, but not appropriate in the case of Jesus.
- God is loving, accepting, saving all nations and all humans (sinners, outcast, poor, unclean, women, children)
- Jesus has the message, the integrity, the leadership caliber that Rome would desperately need (contrast to Nero).
Main Reasons or Goals
- evangelistic > to win Theophilus for Christ by giving him orderly, accurate, hard facts about Jesus & Christianity so he can decide for himself
- apologetic > to overcome Roman prejudice against the Jews and prove that Jesus is different:
- Jesus is the Messiah, but not a revolutionary, rather in support and obedience to authority
- Jesus is precisely not like the typical Jews (self-righteousness, racial superiority & separation, hatred of Romans)
- Jesus is indeed God and Savior of all nations, a God of love, acceptance and peace, abolishing differences
Thoughts about Theophilus
- Theophilus is most likely a high Roman government official.
- Luke is clearly trying to win him to the Christian faith. What obstacles would there be in his mind?
- Illustration: If someone said “The Savior of the world is born among the local migrant group!” Nobody will believe that person, since they view the migrants as low class, undeveloped, petty criminals, illegal, trouble.
- Theophilus might well be Paul’s judge and Luke by this ‘background paper’ is trying to ensure that Paul is not lumped with the average Jewish bigot-revolutionary.
What obstacles in a Roman’s mind is Luke trying to overcome?
- disdain for less developed, barbaric peoples (Jews in general)
- disdain for those causing un-peace, continual revolutions (Zealots, Messiah movements …)
- disdain for all things exclusive, intolerant, fanatical, purist (Pharisees)
- superiority politically, pride in Roman justice & peace
- superiority morally, giving the world civilization, tolerance
To counter this Luke is writing a carefully investigated, orderly written, appealing to reason account to prove that the events are real, historical events, verifiable, true.
Luke is trying to prove that Jesus, though a Jew is not at all like the Jews that the Romans so disdained:
- Jesus is in no way racially prejudiced or displaying racial superiority
- Jesus is in no way blind to his own culture’s faults and weaknesses
- Jesus is in no way intolerant, fanatical, exclusive or morally superior
- Jesus is in no way a revolutionary, anti-Roman, stirring up un-peace, deliverer-Messiah
- Jesus loves and cares not only for Jews but for all peoples equally, including Romans.
- Jesus is the true fulfillment of the Jewish religion, that has always had a view of blessing and including all peoples.
Passages Unique to Luke
It is always very telling to look at the elements and passages that one gospel writer mentions but that are not found in the other gospels, as this gives clues about the author, what he majors on, about his audience and his intention for writing. Following a list of passages are given that Luke mentions and that are not found in Matthew, Mark and John:
Luke 1:1-4 Dedication to Theophilus *
Luke 1:46-56 Song of Mary (Magnificat) *
Luke 1:5-25 Prediction of John’s birth *
Luke 1:57-66 Birth and naming of John *
Luke 1:26-38 Prediction of Jesus’s birth *
Luke 1:67-80 Song of Zechariah *
Luke 1:39-45 Mary visits Elizabeth *
Luke 2:8-20 Angels appear to shepherds
Luke 2:36-38 Anna’s thanksgiving *
Luke 2:21-24 Circumcision and dedication *
Luke 2:39-40 Return to Nazareth *
Luke 2:25-35 Simeon’s song and prophecy *
Luke 2:41-52 Jesus found in temple *
Luke 3:1-2 Dating of John’s ministry
Luke 3:23-38 Genealogy from Adam
Luke 3:10-15 John’s instructions
Luke 5:1-10 Miraculous catch of fish
Luke 6:24-26 The woes
Luke 7:11-17 Raising of widow of Nain’s son
Luke 7:36-50 Woman anoints Jesus’s feet
Luke 8:1-3 Women who helped Jesus
Luke 9:51-56 Rejection by Samaritans *
Luke 10:1-12,17-20 Mission of the seventy
Luke 10:25-37 Parable of good Samaritan *
Luke 10:38-42 Mary and Martha *
Luke 11:5-8 Parable of friend at midnight *
Luke 11:37-41 True cleansing *
Luke 11:27 True blessedness*
Luke 13:1-5 Repentance *
Luke 13:22-30 Who are in the kingdom? *
Luke 13:6-8 Parable of barren fig tree *
Luke 13:31-33 That fox Herod *
Luke 13:10-17 Healing of crippled woman *
Luke 14:1-6 Healing of man with dropsy *
Luke 14:7-14 Parable of banquet invitation *
Luke 15:8-10 Parable of lost coin *
Luke 15:11-32 Parable of prodigal son *
Luke 16:1-9 Parable of unjust steward
Luke 16:19-31 Parable of rich man & Lazarus *
Luke 16:14-15 Covetous Pharisees *
Luke 17:7-10 Worthless slaves *
Luke 17:11-1 Healing of 10 lepers *
Luke 18:1-8 Parable of unjust judge *
Luke 18:9-14 Pharisee & tax-collector *
Luke 19:1-10 Zacchaeus *
Luke 19:41-44 Lament over Jerusalem *
Luke 19:11-27 Parable of the pounds *
Luke 22:35-38 The two swords
Luke 23:6-12 Jesus before Herod
Luke 23:27-31 Daughters of Jerusalem
Luke 24:13-35 The road to Emmaus *
Luke 24:44-49 Fulfillment of Scripture *
Luke 24:36-43 Appearance to the disciples
Luke 24:50-53 Ascension *
* Notice how many of these unique passages are in: the birth narratives (ch 1-2), the “travel narrative” (ch 9-19), and the Resurrection appearances (ch 24)
Invitations to check out the evidence
Historical references in Luke
Many events are given a precise historical date:
- Birth of Jesus Lu 2:1-2
- Decree of Caesar Augustus
- First enrollment
- Quirinius governor of Syria
- Beginning of John’s ministry Lu 3:1-2
- 15th year of Tiberius Caesar
- Pontus Pilate governor of Judea
- Herod (Antipas) tetrarch of Galilee
- Philip (brother) tetrarch of Ituraea and Trachonitis
- Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene
- High priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas
These time elements literally cry out for verification. Luke challenges Theophilus: you know these events, you know these people, check this out!
Luke clearly states where he knows accurate dates, and where he doesn’t (Lu 3:23 ‘Jesus was about 30 years old when he began his work’). He lays down solid evidence, calling for it to be checked out and verified. He puts himself into the tradition of historical writers.
Luke can be compared to Josephus Flavius, another history writer writing at that time, roughly 10 years after Luke.
Josephus Flavius was a Jew, first part of a zealot movement but then joined the Roman side and declared General-Emperor Vespasian to be the Messiah.
Mary, mother of Jesus’ thinking and pondering
- Lu 1:29 Mary pondering what sort of a greeting this might be
- Lu 2:19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.
- Lu 2:51 His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
This clearly shows that Luke did solid research during the 2 years Paul was in prison in Caesarea, he interviewed various eye witnesses, among them the aging Mary, mother of Jesus. Her internal thoughts way back then are thus described in Luke’s gospel. This shows the importance Luke placed on eyewitnesses, on women, on individuals, on research.
Jesus is stated repeatedly to be “no guilty” – Apologetic to Theophilus
- Lu 23:4 Pilate
- Lu 23:14-15 Pilate and Herod (twice)
- Lu 23:22 Pilate
- Lu 23:41 one crucified with Jesus
- Lu 23:47 Roman centurion at crucifixion
- Lu 23:51 Joseph of Arimathea not agreeing to Jesus’ verdict
Luke is very careful to assure Theophilus that Jesus is not guilty of the crime is was accused, he was not a rabble-rouser, a zealot, a revolutionary like so many that have been crucified in Jerusalem.
Fully 7 times (!) Luke records somebody stating that Jesus is innocent, 4 of these are Romans (!), Roman government officials at that, one centurion and three times by Pilate.
This is a strong message to Theophilus: judicially Jesus is clearly a victim of different pressure groups, whom he refused to please. He refused to be an acceptable religious Pharisee … and he refused to become the Messiah-insurgency leader. Both he could have been, both he refused to be.
Theophilus would most definitely know about Pontius Pilate, possibly even know him personally in one degree or other … Pilate’s age, if assumed 45 at the death of Jesus would now be around 75 years old.
What can we learn from Luke’s careful statement of the historicity of what he writes?
- need for apologetics
- need to present material in such a way that a person can understand it
- need to understand and do active work on overcoming prejudice is needed
- the importance and value of the individual
- need for science, historical records, quality research, quality presentation
- individualized sharing of the gospel
Gospel to all / Focus on Gentiles
All men are regarded as sinners, and Jesus is the Savior of them all. The word ‘sinners’ is found in 5 times in Matthew, 5 times in Mark, 4 times in John, but 16 times in Luke. Luke stresses the common nature of both Jews and Gentiles: both are sinners. The gospel and salvation of Christ is for the whole world:
- Lu 2:10 angels to shepherds: good news of great joy for all the people
- Lu 2:14 angels to shepherds: God’s peace and goodwill are to be among men / those he favors
- Lu 2:32 Simeon in the temple: Jesus is a light for revelation to the Gentiles, proving him as true prophet, having God’s view not the normal Jews’ view of the day. Prophets see things with God’s eyes, declare God’s word. Message to Theophilus: there are people who are true followers of the true root of Jewish religion. There are spiritual leaders among the Jews who are not agreeing with the current racial pride & rebellion.
- Lu 3:6 Quoting Is 40:3-5: All flesh is to see the salvation of God, referring to John’s job to prepare for Jesus. Message to Theophilus: The true root of the Jewish religion is very different, and has always had the view of the blessing going out to the Gentiles. Current Jews are unfaithful to that.
- Lu 7:3-5 A centurion is highly commended by Jewish elders for his love of Jewish people & building synagogue
- Lu 7:2, 6-9 Centurion highly values a slave, understands and accepts that Jesus won’t want to go to his house, humility, respect for culture … and then great faith: ‘But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed’, acknowledging Jesus’ full authority. This is one of the most positive stories in this gospel, a Roman centurion upheld for his integrity, love, respect, faith, response to Jesus. A Roman appreciating the Jewish faith, a Roman having faith in Jesus. Luke holds him up as a example to Theophilus, to understand, to imitate. Theophilus is not the only Roman with his different view on Jesus.
- Lu 9:54-5 Jesus travels through Samaria, is willing to lodge in Samaria. He rebukes his disciples for wanting to call fire down on a Samaritan village refusing to host Jesus. Even though Jesus here becomes undeserving victim of a cultural battle, he chooses not to take offense but bears it graciously. Theophilus is shown Jesus different attitude and behavior, him as a victim of this divide he never wanted nor supported.
- Lu 10:13-15 Gentiles of Tyre and Sidon would have repented if deeds of power of Chorazin were done there. Jesus at odds again not with the Gentiles but with the unwilling Jews. Theophilus is shown Jesus fairness, his own conflict with the very Jews Romans have a problem with.
- Lu 10:33 Parable of the good Samaritan. Jesus catches his Jewish audience in their racial pride (2 Ki 17:24-41)
- Lu 11:31-32 Queen of Sheba (Ethiopians), people of Nineveh (Babylonians) will judge this generation. God doesn’t measure by race or blood or chosenness, but by response to his word, by righteousness. God has no blind preference for Jews, he will hold them accountable.
- Lu 17:16 Out of ten lepers healed by Jesus only a Samaritan leper returns to give thanks. Another story showing that Jesus made no differences, ministered to all, commends a Samaritan. No cultural blinders, no racial superiority
- Lu 23:47 When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.” Another Roman eye witness, who recognized Jesus as of God – and as innocent. Theophilus may well be in the position to track down a centurion like this. He would know what the senior army leaders in Judea were at that time and inquiring of one of them may well produce this centurion. Here is a ‘convicted rebel’, a ‘Messiah’, officially labeled as such and executed – but even an average Roman centurion could tell the difference.
- Lu 24:47 Gospel is to be preached to all nations
This undeniably beyond-Jewish-thinking strongly is a strong proof of the universality of this faith, not steeped in local superstition, not influenced by local pride and hatred, clearly a voice from beyond and above human conflict. God himself speaks, God’s greater perspective is displayed.
What can we learn from this?
- This was probably what drew the Gentile scientist Luke to the Christian faith … and he is well positioned to write this.
- One reason we must work so hard on our blind spots, petty offenses and cultural prides is because it dishonors God and takes away attractiveness of the gospel.
• Fairness, good judgment, overcoming of own blind spots are a powerful witness to other people.
Individuals in Luke
- Parables like The Good Samaritan, The Friend at Midnight, The Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son.
- Named individuals like Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, Simeon, Anna, Martha and Mary, Simon, Levi, (the Centurion, the Widow of Nain, the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet,) Anna, Chusa, Joanna, Susanna, Mary Magdalene.
Luke had a special interest in the poor, the outcasts and women. Each of these groups were looked down upon by Jewish men. Women were particularly regarded as second class citizens. The Rabbis asserted the privileged position of the man in the religious sphere with the greatest emphasis:
- A woman was regarded as the morally inferior of man
- A woman was not allowed to bear witness in court, except in the rarest instances
- Her place was with the slaves and children, not with her husband
- A father but not a mother could promise his young daughter in marriage
- If men ate together they were obliged to say grace. For women it did not matter (as with slaves and children)
- Women did not need to recite the Sch’ma (The Jewish Creed, Deut 6:4-5)
- The study of the law (Torah) was the privilege of men
- The father instructed his sons in the law but not his daughters
- One rabbi regarded it as positively disreputable to speak to a woman in public, saying it could earn him hell.
- Rabbi Eliezer said,”Rather should the words of the Torah be burned than entrusted to a woman”.
- The Mishna declared, “two men to be worth 100 women”
It was in this cultural setting that Jesus showed a radically different attitude:
- He speaks to women in public continually
- He has women disciples (Luke 8:1-3, 10:38-42).
- When sending out the 70, there were likely women among them (Lu 10:1)
- He prefers places that have equal access (not synagogues but marketplaces, hills, sea side)
- He teaches women, often specifically women and often a woman alone (to Martha: ‘I am the resurrection’; to the Samaritan woman at the well: ‘I am the messiah’, ‘worshipers must worship in Spirit and in truth’)
- He makes women carriers of truth, makes them teachers, sources of information
- He makes them carriers of news, like the resurrection (the highest of all news!)
- He opens doors, abolishes gender specific roles of spirituality and redefines them gender neutral (Lu 11:27-28)
Couplets (Pairs mentioned)
Luke does another interesting thing: almost every instance a woman is mentioned it is one part of a couplet that also mentioned a corresponding incident with a man. Luke does this both in his narrative and in the mention of Jesus’ teaching:
- Angel appearance: to Zechariah Lu 1:8 … to Mary Lu 1:26
- Prophetic song: by Mary Lu 1:46 … by Zechariah Lu 1:67
- Recognition of newborn in the temple: from Simeon Lu 2:29 … from Anna Lu 2:36
- Healing amidst conflict on sabbath: of a woman with infirmity Lu 13:10,15 … of a man with dropsy Lu 14:1-5
Jesus related his teaching to men and women
- 1st sermon Nazareth ‑ two examples: of the widow who fed Elijah Lu 4:25 … of Naaman healed through Elisha Lu 4:27
- Teaching on persistent prayer: parable of the friend at midnight Lu 11:5 … and of the widow and unrighteous judge Lu 18:3
- Judgment on “this evil generation”: by the Queen of South Lu 11:31 and by the men of Nineveh Lu 11:32
- Warning against anxiety by the illustration of ravens, not sowing or reaping (men’s work) Lu 12:24 … and lilies, that don’t toil or spin (women’s work) Lu 12:27
- Gospel causing division: of father against son Lu 12:53 … and of mother against daughter Lu 12:53
- Parables about Kingdom of God: of a man > mustard seed Lu 13:19 … and of a woman who leavens meal Lu 13:21
- Parables of the lost: of a man who lost a sheep Lu 15:3 … and of a woman who lost coin Lu 15:8
- Teaching about the day of the son of man: illustration of two men, one taken Lu 17:34 … and of two women, one taken Lu 17:35
Luke is meticulous in including women and women’s issues, lifting up their value. Luke challenges both the restrictive Jewish view as well as the lewd Roman view of women. Maybe he is again showing Theophilus just how unbiased, how not-culturally-blinded Jesus is to prove his goodness and the universality of his claim. Maybe Luke is challenging Theophilus to recognize his own Roman culture’s inferiority to Jesus’ standard.
- Lu 4:18 good news preached to the poor
- Lu 6:20 poor are blessed
- Lu 6:24 the rich are not
- Lu 7:22 message to John: the poor have the good news preached to them
- Lu 12:33 disciples are to sell and give, treasure in heaven
- Lu 14:13 the poor, lame, blind are invited
- Lu 12:13 requesting help in dividing family inheritance … Jesus refuses … warns of greed
- Lu 16:19 rich & poor Lazarus
- Lu 18:18 rich young ruler
- Gabriel came to a lowly maiden and to humble shepherds.
- Jesus tells stories of the rich ruler, the rich fool and of the rich man and Lazarus.
- Luke teaches that poverty is not a spiritual handicap, whereas wealth can be.
- Luke challenges both the Jewish and the Roman view of people, of rich and poor with God’s eternal value placed on the individual of all and any backgrounds.
- Lu 5:12 man covered with leprosy: Jesus is touching him, making him clean
- Lu 7:36-50 sinful woman anointing Jesus at the house of Simon the Pharisee … Jesus affirming her, forgiving
- Lu 8:36 Gerasene demoniac living among tombs … delivered, clothed, in his right mind
- Lu 10:25-37 Parable of the good Samaritan to challenging lawyer
- Lu 15:11-32 Prodigal son parable
- Lu 17:11 10 lepers from area between Samaria and Galilee … only Samaritan comes back to praise, thank Jesus
- Lu 18:35 blind man at Jericho, crying out … Jesus stopping, healing him
- Lu 19:1 Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector at Jericho
- Lu 23:39 Criminal crucified with him, speaking out … assuring him of salvation
This would challenge the Jews and their supposed superiority to people like that and their racial pride. It would also challenge Roman pride in the superiority of their government, empire and culture. It would show a Roman that Jesus in no way shared the bigotry of the radical Jews, this is apologetics to Theophilus.
- Lu 1:57-80 birth, infancy and childhood of John the Baptist
- Lu 2:16 Jesus as baby
- Lu 2:27 Jesus as little child
- Lu 2:40 Jesus as boy
- Lu 7:11 the widow of Nain’s only son
- Lu 9:37 the epileptic boy was an only child
- Lu 9:47 Jesus puts a child in front of his disciples
- Lu 18:15 parents brought children to Jesus
Again the focus on the individual, those who are not (yet) full adults, who are told to stay in the background and keep quiet, challenging Jewish thinking. Romans had a very low view of marriage, family and children. Luke challenges this showing God’s very different view.
Some important Repeated Themes in Luke
Jews rejecting Jesus / Repeated theme “Pharisees” or “opposition”
Luke gives a lot of space to the Pharisees and scribes opposing Jesus:
- Lu 2:34 Simeon: “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed”
- Lu 3:7-9 John the baptist: “You brood of vipers. Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”
- Lu 4:24-30 Synagogue in Nazareth: Jews filled with rage, trying to push Jesus down the cliff on which city is built
- Lu 5:21 Healing of the paralytic: Pharisees think Jesus blasphemes when forgiving sins
- Lu 5:30 Pharisees complaining: why Jesus eats with sinners?
- Lu 7:30 By refusing to be baptized the Pharisees and lawyers rejected God’s purposes for themselves
- Lu 6:2 Pharisees: why disciples plucking grain on sabbath?
- Lu 6:6-11 Scribes and pharisees watching: healing man with withered hand on sabbath: lawful to do good or harm?
- Lu 7:39 eating at a Pharisee’s house: sinful woman. If this man was a prophet, he would know what woman this is
- Lu 9:22 announcement of suffering and rejection at the hand of elders, chief priests, scribes
- Lu 10:13-15 Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, woe to you, if the deeds done in Tyre & Sidon, they had repented
- Lu 10:31, 32 Priest, Levite in the parable of the good Samaritan
- Lu 11:15 some people (in Mk 3:22 scribes from Jerusalem) claiming Jesus to cast out demons by Belzebul
- Lu 11:40 Pharisees amazed at Jesus not washing before dinner: Inside versus outside: Fools
- Lu 11:42 Woe to you Pharisees … tithe mint and rue and herbs, but neglect justice and the love of God
- Lu 11:43 Woe to you Pharisees … love seat of honor, be greeted with respect
- Lu 11:44 Woe to you Pharisees … unmarked graves
- Lu 11:46 Woe to you lawyers … you load people with burdens hard to bear, and yourselves do not lift a finger
- Lu 11:47 Woe to you lawyers … build tombs of prophets … kill the prophets
- Lu 11:52 Woe to you lawyers … you have taken away the key to knowledge, did not enter, hindered others
- Lu 11:53-54 scribes & Pharisees very hostile, cross-examine and try to catch him
- Lu 12:1 Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, their hypocrisy
- Lu 12:11 disciples will be brought before synagogues, rulers, authorities
- Lu 13:10-17 healing the crippled woman on the Sabbath in the synagogue
- Lu 13:33-35 Lament Jerusalem: impossible for a prophet to be killed outside. Desired to gather children, not willing
- Lu 14:1-5 healing a man with dropsy on Sabbath: lawyers and Pharisees
- Lu 14:15-24 Parable of the great dinner: invited don’t come
- Lu 15:1-26 Three Lost parables: to Pharisees & scribes, grumbling over Jesus eating with sinners
- Lu 16:1-15 Parable of dishonest manager: Pharisees, lovers of money, what their heart prizes = abomination to God
- Lu 16:19-31 Parable of Lazarus: rich suffering in hell
- Lu 18:9-14 Parable of 2 praying: Self-righteousness condemned
- Lu 18:32 Announcement of suffering: Jesus will be handed over by Jews to Gentiles
- Lu 19:7 Jesus the guest of Zacchaeus: All grumbling
- Lu 19:45,46 Jesus cleanses temple
- Lu 19:47 Chief priests, scribes and leaders looking for a way to kill him
- Lu 20:1-8 Chief priests, scribes, elders challenging Jesus’ authority
- Lu 20:9-19 Parable of the wicked tenants: Scribes, chief priests enraged
- Lu 20:20-26 Scribes, chief priests sending people to test Jesus: question about taxes
- Lu 20:27-38 Sadducees about resurrection
- Lu 20:45-47 Jesus denounces scribes for wanting respect yet devouring widows’ houses, for appearance long prayers
- Lu 21:12 prophecy: they will hand you over to synagogues, kings
- Lu 22:4-5 chief priests, officers of temple police: pleased at Judas’ offer of betrayal
- Lu 22:47 the passion, elders, chief priests, scribes as movers behind crowds, Romans
Why this overwhelmingly big Pharisee and scribe theme in Luke? And that to a Roman who does not really know nor care too much about Jewish groups and doctrinal fights?
- One part of the answer is that the Pharisees, beside the zealots are precisely the groups that Romans would hate and fear, the ideological superiority preachers, the extremists, purists, unwilling to cooperate, unwilling to compromise. Jesus is emphatically not one of them, he is not in any way like them, actually he continually challenged them and ran into conflicts with them, and it is them who are in the natural are responsible for Jesus’ death.
- The other part of the answer we will not get till we really study Acts. The main figure of Acts is Paul, Paul who once was a Pharisee, an extreme Pharisee … what happens when a Pharisee meets Jesus? Starts believing in Jesus? Has his life transformed by Jesus?
- The answer is this: Paul the religious bigot, racially superior and violent, turns into an apostle who is championing, sacrificially serving and laying down his life for … the Gentiles!
Repeated Theme – Luke’s focus on Jerusalem
Luke mentions Jerusalem 33x, more than Matthew and Mark together. Luke mentions the temple 20x, as Matthew does, and much more than Mark or John.
Comparison of Gospels on “Jerusalem”:
- Transfiguration: Lu 9:31, Mt 17:1-8, Mrk 9:2-8. Luke only has the detail that Moses, Elijah and Jesus discuss Jesus’ death (‘departure’) about to be accomplished in Jerusalem
- Lu 9:51-62 Only Luke tells the story of the Samaritan village refusing to host Jesus. Jesus rebukes John and James for wanting to call down fire and peacefully goes on to another village.
- Lu 13:1-9 accidental deaths, parable of the fruitless tree that gets manure and another chance are only found in Luke: Galileans whose blood mingled with their sacrifice by Pilate, tower of Siloam fell on 18. Not special, all will perish unless they repent.
- Lu 13:22-35 narrow door, do not know where you are from, the lament over Jerusalem are found only in Luke
Distinctive is also the detail in Lu 13:28 that Jerusalem kills prophets. Also distinctive is Lu 13:35 “Your house is forsaken, you will not see me until you say ‘Blessed is the one who comes'”
- Announcement of suffering: Lu 18:31-34, Mt 20:17-28, Mrk 10:32-45. Only Luke adds the detail that the prophets predicted this (Luk 18:31) and that the disciples do not understand (Luk 18:34).
- Luk 19:11-27 the parable of the talents only in Luke
“He proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem . . .”. Though the parable is in other gospels as well, Luke adds distinctive details: Luk 9:14,27 his citizens hated him, sent a delegation saying “we do not want this man to rule over us” … them being slaughtered.
- Triumphal Entry: Lu 19:28-44, Mk 11:1-11, Mt 21:1-11, Jn 12:1-11. The details only Luke adds are Lu 19:41-44 Jesus weeping Jerusalem and the prediction of Jerusalem in this context.
- Prophecy about destruction of Jerusalem: Luk 21;20-24, Mt 24, Mk 13. Luke adds distinctive details of Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, falling by edge of sword, taken away as captives among all nations, Jerusalem trampled on by the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles fulfilled.
- Jesus on the way to the cross: Lu 23:26-31, Mt 27:31-34, Mk 15:20-23, Jn 19:16-17. Luke adds the distinctive detail of Jesus telling the daughters of Jerusalem to weep for themselves and their children
Luke shows Jesus as the scorned messenger of God. The ultimate messenger – the Messiah – is treated by Jerusalem as all the other prophets (Luke mentions prophets 32 times, a quite significant focus).
Jesus will die there because Jerusalem kills prophets (Lu 13:28). This fulfills the predictions of the prophets of the Old Testament: Luke quotes or alludes to prophets 127 times; 78 verses are predictive Old Testament prophecy. The result is that the daughters of Jerusalem should weep for themselves, because Jerusalem will be destroyed as a judgment on them and on their children.
The consequences of personal or corporate rejection of a prophet are fearful – especially if the prophet is also the Messiah.
Jerusalem in the Old Testament
- Ps 102:21 “when people gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the LORD original calling”
- Ps 116:19 “I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice … in the courts of the house of the LORD center of worship”
- Ps 137:5,6 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither!
- Is 52:1 “Jerusalem, the holy city, for the uncircumcised & unclean shall enter you no more protection, separation”
- Is 62:7 “remind the LORD, take no rest … until he establishes Jerusalem, makes it renowned throughout the earth”
- Is 65:18-19 “I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight restoration to calling”
- Zec 14:17 “On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem … and the LORD will become king over all the earth”
Prophesy against Jerusalem:
- Lu 2:34 Simeon child set for fall & rising of many in Israel
- Lu 13:35 Jesus I must be on my way because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See your house is left to you, forsaken … you will not see me until …
- Lu 19:11-27 Parable of the pounds, slaughter of the king’s enemies
- Lu 19:41 Jesus As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “if you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! … the days will come upon you when your enemies will set up ramperts around you and surround you … hey will crush you to the ground, you and your children … not one stone on another … because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.
- Lu 20:9 Parable of vineyard > wicked, unfaithful, persecuting tenants destroyed
- Lu 21:20 Jesus Prophecy of destruction: Jerusalem trodden down by Gentiles
- Lu 23:28 Jesus (on the way to the cross) Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves & children… for if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?
- Luke’s gospel begins (Zechariah seeing an angel) and ends in Jerusalem, in the temple (disciples meeting blessing God)!
- The city God chose to let his name dwell there, the place of his footstool, the temple, the spiritual center of the Jews, meant to be a light to all nations around … > the true Jerusalem
- Yet also the place of self-righteous Judaism, of lawfulness gone legalism, of spiritual leadership turned dominant, external, manipulating, self-pleasing, proud, ethno-centristic, unwilling to let anybody but Jews get the blessing.
- It has examined, judged and opposed Jesus, schemed against him, killed him … > Jerusalem has become false
- Remember Mark? … the temple, the priesthood, the center of Judaism has turned on Jesus, has turned against God
- Remember Galatians? … this is the ‘present Jerusalem’, enslaved (really), yet persecuting Jesus & his church
- Jerusalem, the place where God submitted to death, the place where salvation was accomplished, the cross, the focal point of history, the place from where the new faith will spread … living waters go out
Repeated Theme – Jesus’ Popularitry
- Lu 5:26
- Lu 7:16-17
- Lu 11:14
- Lu 13:17
- Lu 14:25
Jesus is popular with the normal people, but unpopular with the critical Pharisees and eventually with the disappointed zealots.
Jesus is popular with good people, and unpopular with the very people (Pharisees-zealots) that the Romans have a problem with
Repeated theme – Contrasts in Luke
- Lu 1:18,1:45 Doubting Zachariah and believing Mary
- Lu 10:38-42 Anxious Martha and listening Mary
- Lu 18:9-14 Proud Pharisee and humble tax collector
- Lu 16:19-31 Indulgent rich man and destitute Lazarus
- Lu 10:25-37 Callous priest and Levite and compassionate Samaritan
- Lu 17:11-19 nine ungrateful Jewish lepers and one grateful Samaritan leper
- Lu 15:11-32 Prodigal son and older brother
- Lu 7:36-50 Self righteous Pharisee Simon and repentant woman kissing Jesus’ feet
- Lu 5:33-38 New cloth and old garment, new wine and old wine skins
- Luke’s parable House on rock and house on sand
- Lu 15:1-7 Lost sheep and secure 99
- Lu 1:24 Helpless baby and exalted Savior
Repeated Theme – Holy Spirit
- John the Baptist will be filled with Holy Spirit Lu 1:15
- Holy Spirit will come upon Mary Lu 1:35
- Elizabeth filled with Holy Spirit, baby leaped in womb Lu 1:41
- Zechariah filled with Holy Spirit, Lu 1:67
- Holy Spirit upon Simeon Lu 2:25-26
- Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit Lu 3:16
- Holy Spirit descended like a dove at Jesus’s baptism Lu 3:22
- Jesus, full of Holy Spirit went to be tempted Lu 4:1
- Jesus returned in power of Spirit Lu 4:14
- Spirit of the Lord on Isaiah Lu 4:18
- Jesus rejoice in the Holy Spirit when 70 returned Lu 10:21
- Father will give Holy Spirit to those who ask him Lu 11:13
- Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit Lu 12:10
- Holy Spirit will teach you what to say Lu 12:12
- Wait to be clothed with power from on high Lu 24:49
- Acts = Acts of the Holy Spirit
Repeated Theme in Luke: Prayer
Luke describes nine instances where Jesus prayed on important occasions (7 of these are only in Luke):
- Jesus’ baptism Lu 3:21
- After a day of miracles, withdrew into wilderness Lu 5:15,16
- All night on mountain before choosing the twelve Lu 6:12
- Before predicting his death, at Peter’s confession Lu 9:18
- At his transfiguration Lu 9:29
- After the 70 returned Lu 10:17,21
- Before teaching the disciples to pray Lu 11:1
- In Gethsemane Lu 22:39-46
- On the cross Lu 23:34,46
Only in Luke are parables to illustrate the need of prayer:
- The friend at midnight – ask! Lu 11:5-13
- The widow and the judge – persist! Lu 18:1-8
- Only Luke says that Jesus prayed for Peter Lu 22:31-32
- Only Luke says that Jesus told his disciples to pray in Gethsemane Lu 22:40:46
Jesus taught prayer by exhortation:
- Pray for those who abuse you Lu 6:28
- Pray for laborers Lu 10:2
- Pray when you have need – ask, seek, knock Lu 11:9-13
- Pray and don’t loose heart Lu 18:1-6
- Pray to be delivered from temptation Lu 22:40,46
Jesus taught prayer by illustration
- Friend at midnight – prayer of need always heard Lu 11:5-8
- Unrighteous judge – persevere in prayer Lu 18:1-8
- Pharisee & tax collector – acceptable prayer Lu 18:9-14
Repeated Theme in Luke: Praise
In Luke’s gospel there are many of the well-known praise prayers used by the church:
- The Ave Maria angel to Mary Lu 1:28-31
- The Magnificat Mary Lu 1:46-55
- The Benedictus Zechariah Lu 1:68-79
- The Gloria in Excelsis angels to shepherds Lu 2:14
- The Nunc Dimittis Simeon Lu 2:29-32
Luke mentions people glorifying God (Lu 2:20, 5:25, 7:16. 13:13, 17:15, 18:43), praising God (Lu 2:13,20, 19:37), blessing God (Lu 1:64, 2:28, 24:53). He also uses words like joy, rejoice, leap for joy, laughing.
Repeated Theme – Angels
Luke mentions angels 20 times. Why this strong focus? Because it simply is part of the story, God’s miraculous intervention and guidance by way of angels. But also Romans with their idolatrous, spirit worshiping and superstitious culture would be impressed with angelic visits.
Repeated Theme – The Kingdom of God in Luke
The Kingdom of God is a major repeated theme, in Luke, some 45 times. He mentions Jesus saying both that the kingdom has come now and that it will come soon.
The kingdom has come now:
- Lu 10:9,11 preach and know this: “kingdom of God has come near”
- Lu 11:20 casting out demons > “the kingdom of God has come to you”
- Lu 17:21 “for in fact, the kingdom of God is among you”
The kingdom will come, has not yet come:
- Lu 12:32 “do not be afraid, little flock, it is your father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”
- Lu 1:33 “he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end”
- Lu 22:18 “I will not drink of the vine until the kingdom of God comes”
- Lu 11:2 pray for the kingdom to come
- Lu 21:27,9:26 “they will see the Son of man coming with power and great glory”
- Lu 12:40,18:8 “be ready, for the Son of man coming at an unexpected hour”
Who is and is not in the kingdom?
- Lu 19:10 the son of man came to seek and save the lost
- Lu 6:20 blessed are you poor … for yours is the kingdom of God … also hungry, weeping, hated
- Lu 14:15-24 Parable of the great dinner … poor, crippled, blind, lame, but not those rejecting invitation
- Lu 10:12 It is more tolerable for Sodom than for those who reject the “Kingdom of God”
- Lu 13:28-29 you see Abraham, the prophets in the kingdom and you yourselves thrown out
- Lu 18:24 how hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God
- Lu 16:16 the good news proclaimed, and everyone tries to enter it by force
- Lu 18:16 to children … the kingdom of God belongs
- Lu 18:17 kingdom must be received as a little child, otherwise never enter it
- Lu 13:28-29 you see Abraham, the prophets in the kingdom … people will come from E,W,N,S
- Lu 24:47 repentance & forgiveness preached to all nations
How does the kingdom look?
- Lu 6:20-49 sermon on the mount description
- Lu 11:20 demons are cast out the “Kingdom of God” has come upon people
- Lu 11:9 Healing is a part of the “Kingdom of God”
- Lu 16:16 Good news is preached concerning the “Kingdom of God”
- Lu 16:15 Pharisees: no self-justification in the sight of others = abomination in the sight of God
- Lu 22:24-27 greatest among you must be like one who serves
- Lu 13:18 like a mustard seed … growing from small to very large
- Lu 13:20 like leaven… working its way invisible into all areas
We have missed this. We preach salvation, Jesus preaches the kingdom. We preach the entry door, Jesus preaches a life that will continue and grow in all eternity. We make converts, Jesus makes disciples. We guarantee people a ‘ticket to heaven’, Jesus gives people a changed life.We reduce the gospel to ‘access’, Jesus makes the gospel about living the abundant life: obedient, fulfilling and fruitful. We preach how to get to heaven, Jesus preaches how to bring heaven here … your kingdom come on earth!
Kingdom of God means ‘where God is king’ = ‘where God reigns’ = where he is obeyed. Salvation without obedience is nothing, it’s a caricature, a gross misunderstanding. Once saved, do not dance on the threshold and make up theology of how much you can sin and still keep your ticket to heaven. Once saved look to the throne and ask: how does my king run his kingdom?
Parables in Luke
Passages on the use of parables
- Lu 8:9-10, Mk 4:33-34 “to you is given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand'”, quoting Is 6:9-10.
- Mk 4:10-12 those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. All who ask get answer
Why does Jesus use parables?
- Does Jesus not want people to understand? … no, rather is is a teaching tool
- All who ask get explanations, so it’s not initiate special knowledge, but a thought engagement, a filtering by interest: one must ask, must engage, must want
- A certain willingness and humility is needed to understand a parable right.
- Parables are easily remembered, very appropriate & effective in an oral culture (prodigal son vs sermon on the mount)
- Parables keep working in one’s mind, stir up thinking, also much later …
- Parables don’t spoon feed conclusions. Sometimes straight answers short-cut true thinking, for first the question must be understood, only then the answers help
- Parables are close to normal life, they encourage evaluation and application
Types of parables
Those parables that are mentioned only in Luke are given a * sign.
I. Parables of the Kingdom “The Kingdom of God is like …”
- Luke 8:5-8,10-15 Sower and soils and explanation
- Luke 13:18-19 Mustard seed
- Luke 13:20-21 Yeast mixed with flour
II. True parables told to or against the Pharisees
- Luke 7:41-43 * Creditor and debtors
- Luke 10:30-37 * Good Samaritan
- Luke 14:16-24 Great banquet and reluctant guests
- Luke 15:4-6 Lost sheep
- Luke 15:8-10 * Lost coin
- Luke 15:11-32 * Prodigal son
- Luke 18:10-14 * Pharisee and tax collector
- Luke 20:9-16 Wicked tenants
III. Teaching parables told mostly told to disciples to illustrate teaching
a) Teaching on prayer
- Luke 11:5-8 * Friend in need
- Luke 18:2-5 * Persistent widow and unrighteous judge
b) Teaching on riches
- Luke 12:16-21 Rich fool
- Luke 16:1-8 * Dishonest steward
- Luke 16:19-31 * Rich man and Lazarus
c) Teaching on final judgment
- Luke 12:35-40 Alert servants
- Luke 12:42-48 Faithful steward
- Luke 19:12-27 * Pounds
- Luke 21:29-30 Fig tree as herald of summer
IV Illustrations of Jesus’ Teaching
- Luke 5:36 New cloth on an old garment
- Luke 5:37-38 New wine in old wine skins
- Luke 6:47-49 Houses on rock and sand
- Luke 8:16-17 Lamp under a jar
- Luke 11:33 Lamp in cellar
- Luke 13:6-9 * Fig tree without figs
- Luke 14:8-10 * Places of honor at wedding feast
- Luke 14:28-33 Counting the cost
- Luke 17:7-10 * Master and servant
How not to understand parables: allegorical approach. Historically, parables have been interpreted in an allegorical manner. Because Jesus said that the meaning of parables would be hidden to those outside (Mark 4:10-12), parables have been considered to be simple stories in which “mysteries” are hidden. The way to uncover the hidden meaning was thought to be an allegorical approach.
As an example of an allegorical interpretation, the interpretation of the parable of ‘the Good Samaritan’ (Luke 10:30-37) by Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) is given below:
- a man was going down = Adam
- Jerusalem = heavenly city of peace, from which Adam fell
- Jericho = the moon, therefore Adam’s mortality
- thieves who rob him = Satan and his angels
- stripped him = stripped him of his immortality
- beat him = by persuading him to sin
- leaving him half-dead = lives as man, but died spiritually, therefore half-dead
- priest, Levite = priesthood, ministry of the Old Testament
- Samaritan = guardian, therefore Christ
- bound his wounds = binding restraint of sin
- oil = comfort of good hope
- wine = exhortation to work with a fervent spirit
- own beast = flesh of Christ’s incarnation
- inn = church
- the next day = after the resurrection
- two denarii = promise of this life and the one to come
- inn keeper = Paul
Remember that the context of this parable was to understand human relationships (who is my neighbor?), not salvation history. Also: this would constitute a quite obtuse way to predict the church and Paul!
How to understand parables right
- Who is the audience?
- What is the context?
- What are the points of reference for the audience?
- What are the main points / events of the story?
- What is the twist of the story?
- Who is being caught?
- What response does the parable call for?
- What response is the audience giving?
- What timeless truths are taught in this parable?
- What can I learn from this parable?
Complete list of parables in Luke (29 parables)
- Lu 5:36 New cloth on an old garment
- Lu 5:37-38 New wine in old wine skins
- Lu 6:47-49 Houses on rock and sand
- Lu 7:41-43 Creditor and debtors
- Lu 8:5-8 Sower and soils
- Lu 8:16-17 Lamp under a bushel
- Lu 10:30-37 Good Samaritan
- Lu 11:5-8 Friend in need
- Lu 11:33 Lamp in cellar
- Lu 12:16-21 Rich fool
- Lu 12:35-40 Alert servants
- Lu 12:42-48 Faithful steward
- Lu 13:6-9 Fig tree without figs
- Lu 13:18-19 Mustard seed
- Lu 13:20-21 Yeast mixed with flour
- Lu 14:7-14 Places of honor at wedding feast
- Lu 14:16-24 Great banquet and reluctant guests
- Lu 14:28-33 Counting the cost
- Lu 15:4-6 Lost sheep
- Lu 15:8-10 Lost coin
- Lu 15:11-32 Prodigal son
- Lu 16:1-8 Dishonest steward
- Lu 16:19-31 Rich man and Lazarus
- Lu 17:7-10 Master and servant
- Lu 18:2-5 Persistent widow and unrighteous judge
- Lu 18:10-14 Pharisee and tax collector
- Lu 19:12-27 Pounds
- Lu 20:9-16 Wicked tenants
- Lu 21:29-32 Fig tree as herald of summer
NOTES ON LUKE’S GOSPEL – VERSE BY VERSE
- Lu 1:6-7 Zechariah and Elizabeth, what the Jews and priestly families were meant to be … righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all commandments … these are good, God-fearing, peaceful Jews do exists, they are true expressions of the Jewish religion, not the Pharisees and zealots … but had no children, which in a Jewish mind is a contradiction. If they were righteous, why would God not have blessed them?
- Lu 1:25,36 God has taken from me the disgrace I endured among my people …this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren … outcast of shame, implicit societal pressure, she is considered the problem … still today.
- Lu 1:11 angel appears to Zechariah … in the temple, while on normal duty … at the right side of the incense altar, which as per Jewish tradition was where a judging angel would appear if a priest did something wrong … Zechariah is terrified for that reason also.
- Lu 1:18 Zechariah: how will I know that this is so? … this is quite humorous … asking for a sign of an angel!! … doubt. The angel pronounces that the thing will still happen (assurance), but that he will be mute (punishment). His punishment is of the kind of the offense: now that he really has something to tell > he can’t tell it. He spoke against God’s word > now he can’t speak. He didn’t believe > now he can’t convince others. He didn’t rejoice > now he can’t express his joy … The punishment is a clear message to him, with a smile, the long-a-waited will still happen, in spite of unbelief, joy prevails over the mute issue. The whole story is quite comic, and definitely overshadowed by joy
- Lu 1:51-53 Mary’s Magnificat … quite clear revolutionary undertones, of the kingdom that will put on its head all other kingdoms … the kingdom that will be different.
- Lu 1:65-66 Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Juda. All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” … those who want to hear, see, pick up clues, conclude
- Lu ch 1-2 only because Mary kept, pondered, recalled, taught others … Luke investigating … women as teachers, messengers, speakers of the word of God
- Lu 2:1 the registration or census: a very unpopular business, imposed by the Roman overlords. Census ment taxes, meant military drafting, meant control, meant pride … census were times of even increased unrest, not only because everybody was inconvenienced … God does not seem to mind to inconvenience his chosen couple and the messiah … who would want to do a journey a few days before Eid-ul-Azha highly pregnant?
- Lu 2:8-14 think where the birth is announced and where not (shepherds, backyard, but not with the powerful) > this is a message about the kind of kingdom and the kind of God that is coming.
- Lu 2:24 Two turtledoves or pigeons … quoting from Lev 12:8 … if she cannot afford a sheep > two turtledoves or pigeons … at this point the family is rather poor, probably financed their travel into Egypt and back till business established in Nazareth from the gifts of the magi / kings.
- Lu 2:25-35 Simeon is what the Jews were meant to be. Truly prophetic, seeing with God’s view, seeing the role of the Messiah untainted by local pride, prejudice or blind spots … He predicts trouble also, the Messiah is destined for the falling and the rising of many … falling: those who reject, Pharisees, scribes, Herod, unbelieving Jews, … rising: those who will respond, normal people of faith and humility, prostitute Mary Magdalene, tax-collector Zacchaeus, fisherman Peter, Pharisee Simon or Arimathea, …
- Lu 2:36-38 what the Jews were meant to be … Hanna, a godly woman, following God’s call as a widow against cultural pressure, “self-appointed” worshiper and intercessor, and prophetic … she is neither a man, nor of priestly family, nor of the Levites, nor of anything special.
- Lu 2:42 Mary and Joseph are normal, practising, law-abiding Jews, going regularly to the festivals. Do not presume being parents of the Messiah exempt them from anything. But also stick with normal life.
- Lu 2:43 Jesus 12y old, staying in Jerusalem > close knit relatives, families … parents are clearly not overprotective! Only after a day’s travel do they start worrying … who would want to lose the son of God :-)??
- Lu 2:46-47 Jesus listening, asking questions, answering … amazed at his understanding and answers
- Lu 2:49 Jesus’ answer is almost a rebuke: Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be about my father’s business / in my father’s house? … how does Joseph feel? Mary? First pains of what is to come …
- Lu 2:51 Jesus obedient to parents, even though they don’t understand
- Lu 3:10-14 John the Baptist’s advice to different people: all down-to-earth, spiritual = practical. He does not tell soldiers to not be soldiers, and tax-collectors to not be tax-collectors, but how to act right within any profession. These two professions would have been particularly resented.
- Lu 3:17 John about Jesus: winnowing fork in his hand > chaff burnt with fire … predictions of the stumbling block, the one which will cause to rise and fall, the Messiah who will split humanity, around whom decisions will fall … challenge the system, opposition predicted
- Lu 3:20 Herod Antipas, adds to all evil things the jailing of John … Luke letting Theophilus know of the face of local corrupt rulers by the grace of Rome.
- Lu 3:23-38 Jesus’ genealogy all the way to Adam, the one in Matthew till Abraham > Luke writes not to Jews but to Gentiles … they all branch off way before Abraham. Jesus is the Son of Man before he is a Jew. (Jesus’ preferred self-description in Luke’s gospel, 25x). He is the son of man, the son of Adam, he represents humanity, has taken humanity on himself, acts as a human … he is also the descendant of Eve prophesied in Ge 3:15.
- Lu 4:18-19 quoting from Is 61:1-2 … good summary of Jesus’ ministry … was considered a messianic passage by the Jews
- Lu 4:21 today fulfilled in your hearing > meaning the Messiah is now here, Jesus claiming the fulfillment, him being God’s messenger … this is one of the most direct claims of Jesus in all of the New Testament
- Lu 4:22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth … this is not for miracles, but for his teaching, the teaching with authority … it won’t take long to change that opinion: one only needs to prick Jewish racial pride:
- Lu 4:25-27 Elijah sent to no Jewish widow but Phoenician widow in Zarephath, Elisha cleansed no Jewish leper but Naaman, the Syrian … we go from Lu 4:22 amazed at gracious words > to Lu 4:28 filled with rage > Lu 4:29 attempt at hurling him off the cliff … this is the Jewish attitudes Theophil would be worried about, fear of hate. Here they hit Jesus. Jesus makes himself an enemy by not sharing Jewish racial pride.
- Lu 4:31 teaching on a Sabbath in Capernaum’s synagogue … demon possessed man present > demons crying out > deliverance > all amazed, with authority and power he commands the demons > reports spreading across region
- Lu 4:40 after sun-down (Sabbath finished) bring the sick and possessed
- Lu 4:43 after prayer crowd wanting to prevent his leaving > I must proclaim the good news to other cities as well … not need-driven, or popularity-driven
- Lu 5:8 Peter: go away from me, for I am a sinful man … Peter putting 2 and 2 together, there is more than a man present > fear of God … Jesus: don’t be afraid, fisher of people … showing Theophilus the impact Jesus had on good people.
- Lu 5:17 Pharisees and teachers of the law from every village of Galilee, Judea and from Jerusalem … official check-out
- Lu 5:21 forgiving sins > God’s prerogative. Either Jesus blasphemes or he is God. Which message does the miracle send?
- Lu 6:17 Jesus drawing great multitudes from Judea, from Jerusalem, the coast of Tyre and Sidon > geographical spread … Jesus is attractive far beyond Jewish borders, – if he was a bigot Jew, that would not be so.
- Lu 6:20-23 Blessed the poor, hungry, persecuted … a total inversion of typical Pharisee theology
- Lu 6:24-26 Woe to you rich, full, laughing, well-respected … how would Theophilus feel about these? A man in a very corrupt and opportunist system … this is a totally different approach, offensive to the Pharisees, and to most Romans … Jesus did not come to please, he came to change the world
- Lu 6:27-49 Sermon on the plain … to Theophilus: this is a completely different kingdom, no grab-power revolutionary movement … this is something altogether different, a very high standard, the challenge of an inner attitude
- Lu 7:18-23 Upon John’s disciples communicating John’s anguished question: “Are you the one or shall we wait for another?” Jesus points them to the evidence of his ministry.
He quotes and alludes to well known messianic passages like:
- Is 61:1-2 good news to oppressed, bind up broken-hearted, proclaim liberty to captives, release to prisoners, comfort
- Is 35:5-6 blind, deaf, lame, dumb
- Is 42:6-7 light to the nations / blind / prisoners / those in darkness
- Is 49:8-9 time of favor, day of salvation, covenant to the people, establish land, say to prisoners ‘come out’
- Is 58:6 fast that I choose: loose bonds of injustice, undo yoke, let oppressed free, hungry, homeless, naked …
- Jesus is deliberately skipping the “prisoners let free” bit is his medley, which is a direct message to John, …and blessed who will not take offense at me
- Lu 7:24 Jesus’s high recommendation of John, but only after the departure of his disciples! This comfort will not reach John
- Lu 7:16 Jesus about John: … more than a prophet … Is 40:3 messenger ahead of the Lord … no one greater than John … yet least in the kingdom greater than he …
- Lu 7:29-30 Comment by Luke: by refusing John’s baptism the Pharisees and lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves
- Lu 7:31-35 unhappy with John and his fasting … unhappy with Jesus and his eating
- Lu 7:18-35 What would the John the Baptist passage tell Theophilus? Again, John is what Jews were meant to be, Judaism at its best, upright, serving others, high moral standards, not impressed with power, speaking out truthfully. John is a towering figure of integrity and righteousness.
- Lu 7:36,44 Simon invites Jesus alright, but leaves out some of the customary politeness (no foot washing, no kiss). Is he congratulating himself to his liberal mindedness? His open approach? His experience and ability to handle a wanna-be-upstart prophet? Is he testing Jesus out?
- Lu 7:38 Jesus lets the woman touch him, kiss him, in quite an intimate way, totally visible, in everyone’s eye
- Lu 7:39 Simon judges Jesus for not getting away from the sinful woman: if this man were a prophet … actually you definitely don’t need to be a prophet to know that a woman doing things like this is beyond all lines … the issue really is not one of knowledge, but of the Pharisee judging Jesus for not distancing himself vehemently from this woman. All of this is unspoken … but Simon’s face would have hardened, he would have thought himself a fool for even inviting Jesus … 7:40 Jesus opens communication
- Lu 7:41-43 Parable of the two debtors. The parable is simple and powerful. Simon would not like to see himself identified with a debtor at all, self-righteousness being his main problem now exposed by Jesus, and he wouldn’t want to see himself put in the same category as a prostitute.
Through the parable Jesus says in fact: I do know she is a sinner, but so are you. The difference may be in how much she sinned, but there is much more difference in the that she has repented, and Simon has not, he is still pouting and raging in his self-righteousness. Jesus convicts him of him sin, his false pride, his lack of love, his lack of wishing well to anyone he considers a sinner. Legalism has no expectancy of repentance, no help for repentance, no grace for it, nor joy for it … a Pharisee should rejoice at one repenting!
- Lu 7:44-45 Jesus seems to be calm, but also very straight, and says something much more daring than the parable itself: He praises the woman who has loved much over the Pharisee.
- Lu 7:48 And then he makes things even worse by speaking forgiveness to her, an issue which he well knows will call further opposition, which promptly happens:
- Lu 7:49 Those at the table with him (fellow Pharisees most likely) began to say among themselves “Who is this who even forgives sins?” They all would be shaken, possibly challenged, but definitely angry. Jesus on collision course.
- Lu 7:36-50 To Theophilus this would show the very very different and very very courageous attitude of Jesus. This is what got him killed in the end, and he knew it. A voice of grace and integrity is a self-righteous judgmental Judaism.
- Lu 8:1-3 women disciples, even Johanna, the Herod’s steward Chuza’s wife, providing for him … Jesus accepting help and support from women, accepting their presence, traveling with him and the group
- Lu 8:19-21 Jesus not taking pressure from his family would speak volumes to Theophilus about Jesus’ integrity, his refusal to prefer or promote his own family (nepotism). No politics, a very different attitude than by now corrupt Roman govt.
- Lu 9:12-17 feeding the 5000. Context is disciples returning, Jesus wanting to withdrew with them, crows coming > teaching & miracles … disciples telling him to dismiss the crowds … Jesus challenge: you feed them. More challenge after successful mission trip, stretching their faith. … baskets of broken pieces > miracles don’t entitle to waste, and will not be the normal thing.
- Lu 9:21-22 announcement of suffering, death and resurrection in Jerusalem. This shows Theophilus that Jesus is not a rebel leader who didn’t have the astuteness to understand his lack of support. He walks committedly and with eyes open into the trap. Jesus is divine in his foreknowledge and control of history. Jesus knew and chose crucifixion. He gave his life, nobody took it from him.
- Lu 9:23-27 Exhortation to take up your cross … showing Jesus’ way of the cross, his different way of conquering, what his followers now are bearing (like Paul), what it will mean to become a follower of Christ even for Theophilus.
- Lu 10:1-12 sending out the 70, outer disciple circle, among these most likely there are women … whoever rejects you, rejects me, rejects the Father = authority of the witnesses (also female)
- Lu 10:17-24 Seventy returned with joy, Jesus excited … power / authority given … rejoice at names I heaven … Jesus rejoiced … thanks the Father for hiding / revealing … all authority given to Jesus by Father, only Son knows the Father, and whom the Son chooses to reveal it to
- Lu 11:24-26 return of the unclean spirit … dealing with spiritual warfare / exorcism, but also: being freed from evil is not enough, you must choose the good …. rejecting lies is not enough, you must embrace truth … not doing evil is not enough, you must do good … telling people what not to believe is not enough, tell them what to believe … Don’t just empty, fill with good … for vacuums don’t long stay vacuums, something will fill it … humans are horses ridden, the question is by whom.
- Lu 11:27-28 praising woman
- Lu 11:29-32 demanding a sign … Jesus did any amount of miracles, if only you stick around a bit of time, it’s not that he doesn’t give any evidence. What then is demanding? Wanting a certain display of power, according to my parameters, according to what I choose will convince me, forcing God, defining the box. God will not stay in your box, if he did, he would confirm all your other wrong thinking with it, which he won’t. Judgment according to amount of revelation, the queen of Sheba and the people of Nineveh will judge, for they did more with less revelation. … Again a word of integrity, no cultural or racial blindness
- Lu 11:42-44 Woe to you Pharisees, by obeying the details loosing the important, the heart. Wrong is not the detailed tithing, but the attitude, the competition and thinking ourselves better, the accepting honor, though not clean inside, the discrepancy of inward attitude and outward appearance.
- Lu 11:45-52 Woe to you Scribes, load people with burdens hard to bear, do not lift a finger to ease them. Build tombs of prophets … have taken away the key of knowledge, you did not enter yourselves, and hindered those who were entering … Showing how different Jesus is to Pharisees & bigoted Jews, how he is constant conflict with them, how he is finally executed by them … showing how unbelievable the transformation of Paul in Acts is.
- Lu 12:34 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also … giving God priority
- Lu 12:49-53 Jesus bringing fire, division … not because Jesus is divisive, but because he is the one with the winnowing fork (Lu 3:17), he is the stumbling block. … Theophilus’ conversion would bring conflict with family
- Lu 13:1-5 deaths hitting random people (Pilate killed some Jews giving sacrifices / tower of Siloam falling on 18) … Do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others? No, but unless you repent, you all will perish just as they did. … Jesus denying personal guilt as source of accidents. But he stresses all guilty (and eventually suffering, if not now than soon, in the hereafter) unless they repent. No grand difference between those dying now by accident or those dying later natural deaths, all equally lost, unless they repent. Focus away of the ‘how about the others’ to ‘what will you do’?
- Lu 13:23 Will only a few be saved? … Strive to enter the narrow door, many will try to enter and won’t be able. > Jesus focuses away from the ‘how many others’ to ‘what will you do’? … People come from E, W, N, S and eat in the kingdom of God, and you will be thrown out. > Strong pictures of the ax at the fruitless tree, the Jews loosing their calling … if you don’t go for it, you won’t make it. Others will … again no racial or cultural blindness, a truly universal faith.
- Lu 13:31-35 Pharisees warning him from Herod, trying to kill him. Actually, Herod trying to see him (?), and Pharisees trying to kill him. Pure motives? Trying to keep him away? Manipulate him by fear or special information? Or honestly concerned and not so aware of reality? Believing the Pharisees official version? … Jesus is not need-based, he is also not fear-influenced or risk-driven. Listening to the Spirit, obeying the Father … not easily shaken, not easily worried, not easily influenced … but fully aware of the ‘third day’, of Jerusalem and what it will do.
- Lu 13:34-35 crying over Jerusalem … female pictures of God, especially in connection with cities / peoples (?) … you were not willing. > ultimately dependent on human will. … you will not see me until: ‘blessed is the one’ … fulfilled either at Psalm Sunday, or else at his second coming … to Theophilus a glimpse of God’s frustration with the Jews, what an insight! A perspective Theophilus could relate to. A perspective which is coming true now before their very eyes: Jerusalem is a chaos and only 4 years away from the Jewish Roman war. Theophilus can see this coming.
- Lu 14:26 whoever does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes even life itself cannot be my disciple … Figure of speech Hyperbole (otirikto bola rupok) … Jesus well knows about the 5th command, but he also clearly states that God must have priority over family in our lives. Family is a very high value, but not the highest value.
- Lu 16:1-9 parable of dishonest manager … He loses his job over unfaithfulness, but then uses ‘debt reduction’ on his master’s debtors to obtain favor from them, coming in handy later.
This doesn’t commend his unfaithfulness, not his word breaking, but his shrewdness is using money for the more important thing: favor or good relationships. Make money your servant, do not give it priority. Money is a good servant but a bad master. Use money, don’t serve money.
16:11 faithful in little > faithful in much (a bit a funny lesson to draw from that parable) … if not faithful over dishonest wealth (mammon), not entrusted with true riches, probably meaning again to make sure money is my servant for the more important interests (true riches)
- Lu 16:12 if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? … meaning: if you can’t serve, you can’t lead. We say: if only I had leadership, money, possession, a ministry, then I would prove myself faithful. God says unless you can serve somebody else’s vision, you won’t fulfill your own.
- Lu 16:13 no one can serve two masters, you cannot serve God and wealth … also to us: if money becomes a motivation, your ministry will slowly become ‘onno rokom’ …Do not make your decisions by money, do not be overly concerned about getting money, do not make ministry decisions by whether this brings money (inviting speakers, presenting projects, which projects)
- Lu 16:11-15 This whole money passage would be a challenge to Theophilus, who well knows the corruptions of his own government.This is a standard, an integrity, an allegiance which would do Rome good.
- Lu 16:14-15 Pharisees, lovers of money, ridiculed him … they come from an overdrawn OT perspective: the righteous are financially blessed. Jesus: God knows your hearts, you justify yourselves in the sight of others … what is prized by humans is an abomination in the sight of God … What is the thing prized by us which is an abomination to God?
- Lu 16:16-17 law in effect till John … good news of kingdom proclaimed, and everyone tries to enter it by force … law ill not pass away … a totally new thing happening … unprecedented, unparalleled, unstoppable.
- Lu 16:18 Anyone who divorces his wife … why this passage here? Probably as another typical conflict topic with the Pharisees (which is the context before and in the parable after). Also a sore challenge and high standard to a Roman … but a needed one.
- Lu 16:19-31 Lazarus … asking for a messenger from the dead … let them listen to Moses and the prophets, won’t be convinced if someone returns from dead > the problem is not with God not speaking loudly or not clearly, the problem is with humans, who don’t want to hear.
- Lu 17:1 occasions for stumbling are sure to come, but woe by whom they come! … perfect environment doesn’t exist, temptation will come even if tried to avoid. BUT this doesn’t take cancel guilt of anybody who will make people stumble. > Full responsibility for making people stumble, though absence of occasion cannot be demanded or accomplished > full responsibility of the one stumbling.
- Lu 17:3 be your brother’s keeper … if one sins, you must rebuke the offender, if repents > forgive, repeatedly … very difficult in this culture, and it should be. A sign to tell whether a team is healthy: can objections be made without it turning into a minefield of a witch hunt?
- Lu 17:20-21 Pharisees: when will the kingdom come? … he is referring to the day of restoration, when God will put things to right, cleanse Israel and the temple, put David’s son on the throne, throw out the Romans, bring the Jews to dominion over the Gentiles … Jesus: Kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed, nor will they say, “Look, here it is” … in fact the kingdom of God is among you … Jesus basically refers to himself: he is the kingdom come, with him the kingdom comes, him in our hearts is the kingdom come. To Theophilus: again: no follower-collecting, revolutionary movement … rather a movement of internal transformation! … available to everyone, even Theophilus, evident in Paul.
- Lu 17:22-36 Prophecy about end times, Jesus 2nd coming (not so much destruction of Jerusalem … or mixed in only verse 31)
- Lu 18:18-25 ruler … sell all you own and distribute the money, come, follow me … not: donate it to my ministry! Basically: once you have nothing to give me anymore, join me 🙂 … again a voice of financial integrity, also showing that Jesus is entirely unmotivated by money. Impressive, for revolutionaries do need money to run revolutions. Also a sore challenge to Theophilus: becoming a follower of Christ will mean choosing against popularity, against wealth, against opportunity.
- Lu 18:26-30 Following discussion … it is possible by God to be saved, though it’s harder for the rich … anti-Pharisee-philosophy. challenging to a rich Roman
- Lu 19:11-27 parable of 10 talents …. … but the citizens of his country hated him, sent a delegation after him, saying ‘we do not want this man to rule over us’ … as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king > slaughter … these parts are unique to Luke. Jesus would have told parables many times and in differing ways … Context: parable is told in answer to them thinking that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately … like us today who think Jesus will come tomorrow > applicable to us also. Focus is not on speculations over dates and arrivals, but on faithfulness to God’s revealed command ‘do business’ in the meantime.
- Lu 19:28-40 Triumphal entry … Jesus for the first time behaving a little bit like people want him to: a king appropriating a donkey, a Messiah about to reveal his power and kingdom. The quote is Ps 118:26, understood to be messianic. People must have held their breath: ‘Finally, it’s coming!’ … why the donkey? It fulfills a prophecy in Zech 9:9 … “see your king comes to you, triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a cold, the foal of a donkey’ … This is a mixed signal, and Theophilus understood this: entering on a horse would have been a declaration of war in Roman eyes. Horses are high and tall, to ride a donkey is much less impressive, you are on the same height as the people.
- Lu 19:41-44 Jesus’ attitude in the middle of this ‘triumph’ is a very different one, as revealed by the next few verses. He is neither elated, not proud, nor flattered, nor riding on the crest of the emotion … rather he weeps over Jerusalem. He is not fooled by the current popularity, nor about where he will be in a week from now (the cross).
But he even in this is not busy with himself, rather with those people who are entirely missing the point, missing God by missing Jesus … this Jerusalem will condemn him, try him, find him guilty, torture him and execute him gruesomely. Jerusalem is missing God when he really does come, and it will suffer destruction for it. Fulfilled in 70 AD.
- Lu 19:45-48 Jesus cleansing the temple … another two-edged symbol, like the triumphal entry … on the one hand he does fulfill a hope Jews had about the Messiah: that he would cleanse the temple and re-instate it properly (not with corrupt priests) … but he only speaks against corruption (some concern) and the neglect of the witness to the nations (about which the Jews couldn’t care less) … he doesn’t remove priests, he doesn’t do anything else.
- Lu 20:1-8 Jesus’ authority questioned … counter question: was the baptism of John from heaven or from humans? … they refuse to answer, refuse to be honest … Jesus also doesn’t answer
- Lu 20:9-19 Parable of the wicked tenants … vine & vineyard is an old testament picture for Israel … destruction of tenants > they react: “Heaven forbid!” … it’s not what heaven does, it’s what you do! … Jesus quotes Ps 118:22 “the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls” … Jesus is the stone that makes them stumble, he is the person by whom the world will be divided, the ax is laid at the tree (Lu 3:9), he has the winnowing fork in his hand (Lu 3:17) … They realize this parable is against them, but they don’t get the message: they plot on arresting him that very hour (Lu 20:19) but don’t find the courage … doing exactly what the wicked tenants in the parable are doing: killing the son.
This would show Theophilus just how opportunist and abusive the scribes and priests are … this would be confirmed to Theophilus in ‘today’s newspaper’ as the Jewish-Roman war moves closer … it would also show just why Jesus was executed, though in no way a revolutionary.
- Lu 20:20-26 serious scheming has started: sending spies, trapping him in his words, making him unpopular by tax questions … this is a smart move on behalf of the scribes / priests … Jesus is not fooled. They come with a binary question, yes-no … give taxes or not? … if he says ‘no’ he is a revolutionary, if he says ‘yes’ he will be very unpopular … Jesus breaks open the binary question by asking for a coin, and asking questions about it … whose image? … ‘give to caesars what is caesar’s and to God what is God’s … government and God are not enemies of each other … government has a legitimate right to taxes … but it cannot demand loyalty or obedience or worship as this is due God. They are stunned. Coin of Tiberius … one side of the coin is ‘Ti(berius) Ceasar Divi Aug(usti) = emperor Tiberius, son of Augustus … the other side had the symbol of an idolatrous cult, calling the Emperor Pontifex Maximus (High priest of the Roman religion) … Jesus affirms the governments right to tax but denies the governments demand of worship of itself, the emperor or exercising pressure over questions of faith and conscience.
- Lu 21:5-36 prophecy on Jerusalem’s destruction and Jesus’ second coming
- Lu 22:24-27 dispute about greatness … don’t lord it over … I was among you as one who serves
- Lu 22:28-30 I confer on you, as the Father has conferred on me, a kingdom > eat and drink at my table … sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel > does and will give authority and power. So authority or power is not evil in itself, only our attitudes with which we wield them. Jesus doesn’t ridicule or cut off their desire for greatness, but redirects it.
- Lu 22:36 sell cloak and buy sword … figuratively, which the disciples are not getting. > Lu 22:51 ‘no more of this!’ after Simon’s sword stroke
- Lu 22:31-32 Jesus praying for Peter, that your faith my not fail, once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers … > prevention not of failing but of despairing afterward > wide open door to return, re-instituting into leadership and role of giving
- Lu 22:44 sweat became like drops of blood > extreme emotional distress, capillaries ripping
- Lu 22:51 healing slave of the high priest’s cut off ear … attitude of serving, Jesus extending forgiveness while plotting, scheming, injustice done to him … use of power for healing the enemy, not for self-defense
- Lu 23:8-9 Jesus before Herod … happy, hoping to see a sign … Jesus refuses, gives no answer … Jesus doesn’t accommodate fascination with the supernatural, will not abuse his power to gain him advantage, will not enter scheming nor trying to save his skin … clearly unimpressed with the powerful … > no sycophant, pleaser, manipulator, rebel > not seeking power, not using power, not escaping
- Lu 23:28-31 daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children … literally come true in another 40 years (children = next generation, will literally experience this)
- Lu 24 it takes a lot to convince the disciples, they are not schemers, trying to keep up a lie, because they don’t want to have been wrong and skillfully manipulate the happenings and invent the lie of the resurrection.
- Lu 24:44-47 all predicted, now fulfilled, without anybody understanding, yet truly … this spreading witness has now come as far as Rome, as far as Theophilis, putting the question before him: will you call him Lord and Savior?