The Gospel According to Luke (Greek: Κατὰ Λουκᾶν εὐαγγέλιον,
kata Loukan euangelionτὸ εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Λουκᾶν, to euangelion
kata Loukan), generally shortened to the Gospel of Luke, is
the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This
synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of
Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his
birth to his Ascension. The author is traditionally identified
as Luke the Evangelist. Certain popular stories, such as
the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan, are found only in
this gospel. This gospel also has a special emphasis on
prayer, the activity of the Holy Spirit, and joyfulness.
According to the preface the purpose of Luke is to write a
historical account, while bringing out the theological
significance of the history. The author portrays
Christianity as divine, respectable, law-abiding, and
The third Gospel is ascribed, by the general consent of
ancient Christendom, to "the beloved physician," Luke, the
friend and companion of the apostle Paul.
1. Date of the Gospel of Luke. --From Ac 1:1 it is
clear that the Gospel described "the former treatise" was
written before the Acts of the Apostles; but how much
earlier is uncertain. Perhaps it was written at Caesarea
during St. Paul's imprisonment there, A.D. 58-60.
2. Place where the Gospel was written. --If the time
has been rightly indicated, the place would be Caesarea.
3. Origin of the Gospel. --The preface, contained in
the first four verses of the Gospel, describes the object of
its writer. Here are several facts to be observed. There
were many narratives of the life of our Lord Current at the
early time when Luke wrote his Gospel. The ground of fitness
for the task St. Luke places in his having carefully
followed out the whole course of events from the beginning.
He does not claim the character of an eye-witness from the
first but possibly he may have been a witness of some part
of our Lord's doings. The ancient opinion that Luke wrote
his Gospel under the influence of Paul rests on the
authority of Irenreus, Tertulian, Origen and Eusebius. The
four verses could not have been put at the head of a history
composed under the exclusive guidance of Paul or of any one
apostle and as little could they have introduced a gospel
simply communicated by another. The truth seems to be that
St. Luke, seeking information from every quarter, sought it
from the preaching of his be loved master St. Paul; and the
apostle in his turn employed the knowledge acquired from
other sources by his disciple.
4. Purpose for which the Gospel was written. --The
evangelist professes to write that Theophilus "might know
the certainty of those things wherein he had been
instructed." ch, Lu 1:4 This Theophilus was probably a
native of Italy and perhaps an inhabitant of Rome, in
tracing St. Paul's journey to Rome, places which an Italian
might be supposed not to know are described minutely, Ac
27:8,12,16 but when he comes to Sicily and Italy this is
neglected. Hence it would appear that the person for whom
Luke wrote in the first instance was a Gentile reader; and
accordingly we find traces in the Gospel of a leaning toward
Gentile rather than Jewish converts.
5. Language and style of the Gospel. --It has never
been doubted that the Gospel was written in Greek, whilst
Hebraisms are frequent, classical idioms and Greek compound
words abound, for which there is classical authority. (Prof.
Gregory, in "Why Four Gospels" says that Luke wrote for
Greek readers, and therefore the character and needs of the
Greeks furnish the key to this Gospel. The Greek was the
representation of reason and humanity. He looked upon
himself as having the mission of perfecting man. He was
intellectual, cultured, not without hope of a higher world.
Luke's Gospel therefore represented the character and career
of Christ as answering the conception of a perfect and
divine humanity. Reason, beauty righteousness and truth are
exhibited as they meet in Jesus in their full splendor.
Jesus was the Saviour of all men, redeeming them to a
perfect and cultured manhood. --ED.)
The five primary uncials (Codices Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus,
Vaticanus, Ephraemi, Bezae) are the chief witnesses for the
text of Luke's Gospel. This group is reinforced by L, Codex
Delta and the Freer (Detroit) MS; R, T, X and Xi are also
valuable in fragments. The other uncials are of secondary
value. The Latin, Egyptian and Syriac versions are also of
great importance. There are 4 Latin versions (African,
European, Italian, Vulgate), 3 Egyptian (Memphitic, Sahidic,
Bohairic), 5 Syriac (Curetonian, Sinaitic, Peshitto,
Harclean, Palestinian or Jerusalem). Many of the cursive
(minuscule) manuscripts are also of considerable worth, as
are some of the quotations from the Fathers.
Blass, Philology of the Gospels (1898), has advanced theory
of two recensions of this Gospel (a longer and a shorter),
such as he holds to be true of Acts. In the case of Acts,
theory has won some acceptance (see ACTS OF THE APOSTLES),
but that is not true of the Gospel to any extent. The
Western text of the Gospel is the shorter text, while in
Acts it is the longer text. In both instances Blass holds
that the shorter text was issued after the longer and
original text. His idea is that Luke himself revised and
issued the shorter text. In itself this is, of course,
possible, since the books are both addressed to an
individual, Theophilus. The other edition may have been
meant for others. Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in
Greek explain the omission in the Western text of the Gospel
as "Western non-interpolations," and often hold them to be
the true text. As samples one may note Lk 10:41; 12:19;
24:36,40,42, where the Western text is the shorter text.
This is not always true, however, for in 6:2 ff Codex Bezae
(D) has the famous passage about the man working on the
Sabbath, which the other documents do not give. In Lk 3:22,
D has the reading of Ps 2:7 (" Thou art my Son; this day I
have begotten thee") for the usual text. Zahn (Introduction,
III, 38) accepts this as the true text. There is no doubt of
the interest and value of the Western readings in Luke, but
it cannot be said that Blass has carried his point here. The
peculiar mutilation of the Gospel by Marcion has an interest
of its own...
was written by Luke. He does not claim to have been an
eye-witness of our Lord's ministry, but to have gone
to the best
sources of information within his reach, and to have
orderly narrative of the facts (Luke 1:1-4). The
authors of the
first three Gospels, the synoptics, wrote
independently of each
other. Each wrote his independent narrative under
of the Holy Spirit.
Each writer has some things, both in matter and
peculiar to himself, yet all the three have much in
Luke's Gospel has been called "the Gospel of the
of mercy and hope, assured to the world by the love
suffering Saviour;" "the Gospel of the saintly
Gospel for the Greeks; the Gospel of the future; the
progressive Christianity, of the universality and
of the gospel; the historic Gospel; the Gospel of
Jesus as the
good Physician and the Saviour of mankind;" the
"Gospel of the
Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man;" "the
womanhood;" "the Gospel of the outcast, of the
publican, the harlot, and the prodigal;" "the Gospel
tolerance." The main characteristic of this Gospel,
(Cambridge Bible, Luke, Introd.) remarks, is fitly
the motto, "Who went about doing good, and healing
all that were
oppressed of the devil" (Acts 10:38; comp. Luke
wrote for the "Hellenic world." This Gospel is
indeed "rich and
"Out of a total of 1151 verses, Luke has 389 in
Matthew and Mark, 176 in common with Matthew alone,
41 in common
with Mark alone, leaving 544 peculiar to himself. In
instances all three use identical language." (See
There are seventeen of our Lord's parables peculiar
Gospel. (See List of Parables in Appendix.) Luke
seven of our Lord's miracles which are omitted by
Mark. (See List of Miracles in Appendix.) The
are related to each other after the following
scheme. If the
contents of each Gospel be represented by 100, then
compared this result is obtained:
Mark has 7 peculiarities, 93 coincidences.
Matthew 42 peculiarities, 58 coincidences.
Luke 59 peculiarities, 41 coincidences.
That is, thirteen-fourteenths of Mark, four-sevenths
and two-fifths of Luke are taken up in describing
things in very similar language.
Luke's style is more finished and classical than
Matthew and Mark. There is less in it of the Hebrew
uses a few Latin words (Luke 12:6; 7:41; 8:30;
but no Syriac or Hebrew words except sikera, an
of the nature of wine, but not made of grapes (from
"he is intoxicated", Lev. 10:9), probably palm wine.
This Gospel contains twenty-eight distinct
references to the
The date of its composition is uncertain. It must
written before the Acts, the date of the composition
of which is
generally fixed at about 63 or 64 A.D. This Gospel
therefore, probably about 60 or 63, when Luke may
have been at
Caesarea in attendance on Paul, who was then a
have conjectured that it was written at Rome during
imprisonment there. But on this point no positive
It is commonly supposed that Luke wrote under the
if not at the dictation of Paul. Many words and
common to both; e.g., compare:
Luke 4:22; with Col. 4:6.
Luke 4:32; with 1 Cor. 2:4.
Luke 6:36; with 2 Cor. 1:3.
Luke 6:39; with Rom. 2:19.
Luke 9:56; with 2 Cor. 10:8.
Luke 10:8; with 1 Cor. 10:27.
Luke 11:41; with Titus 1:15.
Luke 18:1; with 2 Thess. 1:11.
Luke 21:36; with Eph. 6:18.
Luke 22:19, 20; with 1 Cor. 11:23-29.
Luke 24:46; with Acts 17:3.
Luke 24:34; with 1 Cor. 15:5.
the evangelist, was a Gentile. The date and circumstances
conversion are unknown. According to his own
1:2), he was not an "eye-witness and minister of the
the beginning." It is probable that he was a
physician in Troas,
and was there converted by Paul, to whom he attached
accompanied him to Philippi, but did not there share
imprisonment, nor did he accompany him further after
in his missionary journey at this time (Acts 17:1).
third visit to Philippi (20:5, 6) we again meet with
probably had spent all the intervening time in that
period of seven or eight years. From this time Luke
constant companion during his journey to Jerusalem
He again disappears from view during Paul's
Jerusalem and Caesarea, and only reappears when Paul
for Rome (27:1), whither he accompanies him (28:2,
where he remains with him till the close of his
imprisonment (Philemon 1:24; Col. 4:14). The last
notice of the
"beloved physician" is in 2 Tim. 4:11.
There are many passages in Paul's epistles, as well
as in the
writings of Luke, which show the extent and accuracy
In the preface to his Gospel Luke refers to "many" who
before him had written accounts of what the "eye witnesses"
and "ministers of the word" transmitted. This implies the
"many" were not themselves eye witnesses or ministers of the
word. Matthew's and Mark's Gospels therefore are not
referred to in the term "many." But as the phrase "they
delivered them to us" (paredosan) includes both written and
oral transmission (2 Thessalonians 2:15) Luke's words do not
oppose, as Alford thinks, but favor the opinion that those
two Gospels were among the sources of Luke's information,
especially as Matthew was an "eye-witness," and Mark a
"minister of the word." Luke himself applies" minister"
(Acts 13:5, hufretees) to John Mark. Luke differs from the
"many" in that his work is: (1) "in order," (2) with a"
perfect understanding of all things from the first"
(pareekoloutheekoti anoothen akriboos, "having traced all
things accurately from the remote beginning.")
Luke begins with earlier facts of John the Baptist's
and of our Lord's history than Matthew and Mark, he writes
methodically and in more chronological Order. Ancient
testimony assures us that Paul's teaching formed the
substratum of Luke's Gospel (the Muratorian Fragment;
Irenaeus, Haer. iii. 1,14; Tertullian, Marcion iv. 2;
Origen, Eusebius, H. E. vi. 25; Jerome, Vir. Illustr. 7).
Compare as to the special revelation to Paul 1 Corinthians
11:23; 1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:1; Galatians 1:11-12.
Paul was an "eye-witness" (1 Corinthians 9:1; Acts 22:14-
15); his expression "according to my gospel" implies the
independency of his witness; he quotes words of Christ
revealed to him, and not found in the four Gospels (Acts
20:35). Thus, besides Matthew and Mark, to whose Gospels the
"many" as well as Luke had access, Paul is the chief "eye
witness" to whom Luke refers in the preface. Luke and Paul
alone record Jesus' appearing to Peter first of the apostles
(Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5)...
front Contracted from Lucanus, as Silas is contracted from
Silvanus. A slave name. As Luke was a "physician," a
profession often exercised by slaves and freedmen, he may
have been a freedman. Eusebius (H.E. iii. 4) states that
Antioch was his native city. He was of Gentile parentage
before he became a Christian; as appears from Colossians
4:11,14: "Luke the beloved physician" (one of "my fellow
workers unto the kingdom of God which have been a comfort
unto me") is distinguished from those "of the circumcision."
That he was not of "the seventy" disciples, as
Epiphanius (Haer. i. 12) reports, is clear from his preface
in which he implies he was not an" eye witness"; the
tradition arose perhaps from his Gospel alone recording the
mission of the seventy. His history in Acts is first joined
with that of Paul at Troas (Acts 16:10), where the "we"
implies that the writer was then Paul's companion. He
accompanied the apostle in his journey to Jerusalem and
Rome, at Paul's first Roman imprisonment "Luke my fellow
labourer," Philemon (Philemon 1:24) written from Rome, as
also Colossians (Colossians 4:14); also in Paul's last
imprisonment there, when others forsook him Luke remained
faithful (2 Timothy 1:15; 2 Timothy 4:11 "only Luke is with
me".) His death by martyrdom between A.D. 75 and 100 is