As we enter into this Advent and Christmas season, this is a great opportunity to go deeper into Luke’s account of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Also, be sure to watch our newest Exploring the Bible Together videos on our YouTube channel, which walk us through Luke’s gospel from start to finish.
Some Important Characteristics of Luke’s Gospel:
• Length: 24 Chapters (that’s perfect for reading one chapter a day in a month!)
• Authorship: Early Church tradition suggested that “Luke” was the physician and travelling companion of the Apostle Paul. We do know that “Luke” was not one of the original disciples of Jesus.
• Luke is known as one of the three “synoptic” gospels in the New Testament (the others being Matthew and Mark), meaning there is quite a bit of overlap of material between the three of them.
• Luke is the only gospel to identify its audience (Theophilus), and its purpose (Luke 1:1-4). The name “Theophilus” means “one who loves God”, and could be referring to an actual historical person, or perhaps as an address to anyone who reads the gospel writing and who loves God (you and me!).
• Luke carefully sets the historical context of his writing (Luke 1:5; 2:1-3; 3:1-2), help-ing us to understand exactly when in human history these events occur.
• Luke is one of two gospels which include the story of Jesus’ birth (the other is Mat-thew). Luke contains a genealogy of Jesus, going all the way back to Adam (3:23-38).
• Luke contains several liturgical “hymns” which are often referred to today by Latin titles; the Magnificat (1:46-56), the Benedictus (1:67-79), the Gloria (2:14), and the Nunc Dimittis (2:29-32).
• Jesus prays and talks about prayer in Luke’s gospel more than any other. Jesus prays at his baptism, transfiguration, crucifixion and throughout his ministry. Jesus teaches his disciples the Lord’s Prayer (11:2-4).
• In Luke, the role and ministry of women are lifted up and receive special attention.
• Luke’s gospel emphasizes Jesus’ ministry to those on the margins of society (poor, oppressed, excluded).
• Salvation is an important theme in Luke, the only synoptic gospel to call Jesus “savior” (Luke 2:11). Luke emphasizes the present consequences of God’s saving action (2:21; 4:21; 5:26, 19:5, 19:9, 23:43).