The Gospel of Luke

Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. Both books were addressed to “Theophilus”, a real person whose name in the Greek means “lover of God” (Luke 1:3-4; Acts 1:1-2). Because the longest book in the New Testament is systematically and “consecutively ordered” (Luke 1:1, 3; cf. Tenney 1985:173-175), its material may be arranged chronologically, interlaced with specific historical details (1:5; 2:1-3; 3:1-2). Luke is the beloved physician (cf. Colossians 4:14) who sometimes travelled with Paul. This explains some of the “we” sections in Acts (16:10-40; 20:5-21, etc.).


Since Luke 21:12-24 warns believers to flee Jerusalem when they see it surrounded by armies, the book must be dated before AD 70. The Gospel of Luke was written before the Book of Acts (cf. Acts 1:1). Since the Book of Acts ends abruptly with Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, it must also have been written before that time (Tenney 1985:179). The Gospel of Luke may be dated AD 58-62.

Structure or Outline

Martin (1983:201-202) provides the following Lukan outline: The prologue and purpose of the Gospel (1:1-4); The birth and childhood of John and Jesus (1:5-2:52); The preparation for Jesus’ ministry (3:1-4:13); The ministry of Jesus in Galilee (4:14-9:50); The journey of Jesus toward Jerusalem (9:51-19:27); The ministry of Jesus in Jerusalem (19:28-21:38); The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (chapters 22-24).


Why was this Gospel written? Luke wrote it “so that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (Acts 1:3-4). Theophilus — as well as all lovers of God after him — was to be assured by knowing the reality of what happened to Jesus.

Content and Central Message

Matthew can be described as the Gospel of the King and the kingdom; Mark presents the Gospel of the Servant of Jehovah; and John, the Gospel of the Son of God. The Gospel of Luke, however, presents Jesus Christ as the perfect Man.

We borrow much from Constable’s (2017:10-16) excellent summary of the message of the Gospel of Luke. Constable (2017:10) highlights that Luke focuses on Jesus as Saviour and the salvation that He provides. Regarding Jesus as Saviour, Luke presents Jesus as (1) The firstborn of a new people; as (2) The older brother in a new family; and as (3) The Redeemer of a lost humanity.
By tracing Jesus’ genealogy back to Adam, Luke shows that Jesus is truly human (3:23-38). Unlike the first Adam, however, Jesus is the firstborn that never sinned. Jesus never committed any acts of sin even though he was tempted (4:1-13). Also, Jesus neither inherited the first Adam’s sinful nature nor was Adam’s sin imputed to Christ, because Jesus’ conception was of God the Holy Spirit (1:35). Jesus is thus the firstborn of a new people.

Luke also presents Jesus as the older brother in a new family (Constable 2017:12). The Second Person of the Trinity is from eternity God, but at a certain stage in history, Christ took on humanity in addition to his divine nature. We know within this wonderful one Person, two natures reside, divine and human. Nevertheless, Luke stresses the sense in which Jesus is like us, fully human. He is a real man. He is attractive because he is so compassionate. Unlike the pantheon of ‘superhuman’ but unreal Greek ‘gods’, Jesus is a human being we can identify with, albeit he is without sin. So, Luke emphasises Christ’s birth, his growth as a child (2:40, 41-52), his prayer life and his reliance on God the Father. We identify with Jesus but Jesus so identifies with us, as he shows in his concern and sympathy for the broken-hearted, the sick, the mistreated and the bereaved. Jesus identifies with those that society may push away, be they woman, children, or outcasts.

Jesus is also presented in Luke as the kinsman-Redeemer of a lost humanity (Constable 2017:13). Jesus is not only willing and able to save us, but a next of kin because he became a man. Salvation is indeed of the Jews but this perfect Son of Man provides redemption not only for Jews but also for non-Jews: “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save the lost” (19:10). Luke speaks of salvation more than any other New Testament book (1:69, 71, 77; 19:9), resulting in the joy of salvation (the lost son/sheep/coin – chapter 15). Luke teaches what it means to become part of the new redeemed people of humanity who again has a relationship with God through Christ.


How is this new redeemed human people to live? Luke focuses on the practical side of things (for example money: Luke 12, 16) and highlights numerous truths via 20 parables nowhere else found. The new redeemed human people is to follow Jesus in accordance with his instructions regarding discipleship (e.g. 14:26-14:35). We conclude with this quote from Constable (2017:15-16):

To the church, Luke says: “Be witnesses!” “You are witnesses of these things” (24:48). We are to be so in view of the relationship that we now enjoy with the Son of Man. We should be witnesses for three reasons: we have experienced redemption, we enjoy His fellowship, and we have a future as members of a new race. We are also to be His witnesses in view of the lost condition of mankind. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. Our fellowship with Jesus requires participation in His mission to seek and to save the lost. We can do this for three reasons: He has transformed our lives, He will open people’s eyes with His Word, and He has empowered us with His Spirit (cf. ch. 24). To the world Luke says: “You are lost, but the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.” A Redeemer has come. A Brother is available. A new life is possible. Behold the Man! He understands you. Yet He is different from you. And He will receive you”.



Constable, T.L. 2017, Notes on Luke, 2017 edition, Sonic Light.

Martin, J.A., 1983, ‘Luke’, in J.F. Walvoord & R.B. Zuck (eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, pp 199-265, David C Cook, Colorado Springs.

Tenney, M.C., 1985, New Testament Survey, revised edition, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids.

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