For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2001 James Melough

It is clear that others besides Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John had prepared written accounts of the things which now constitute the four Gospels, but in His sovereignty God has chosen to preserve in the canon of Scripture only what these four wrote.

Not only does the Lucan account differ from the others in that it dwells largely on the perfect manhood of the Lord Jesus Christ, but the words “in order” of verses 1 and 3 may indicate that it is also chronologically more exact.  This does not imply that the others are inferior, for the Bible is not primarily a history book.  The Holy Spirit isn’t bound by the limitations of strict chronology, and sometimes His purposes are better accomplished by ignoring chronological order.  Luke’s Gospel isn’t chronologically perfect.  The order obviously is moral rather than factual.

What Luke was preparing to write was neither new, nor was it the first orderly account (see verse 1) of the things accepted by the believers, but obviously the difference between it and these other non-canonical accounts was that it was Divinely inspired, as is attested by its having been  preserved in the canon of Scripture.  Again, this does not imply inaccuracy in these other accounts.  Luke himself in verse 2 refers to the writers as having been “eyewitnes­ses, and ministers of the word,” and in verse 1 he speaks of what they had written as “those things which are most surely believed among us.”  The integrity of these other writers is not in question.  It is clear, in fact, that in compiling his own account Luke had made use of what they had written.  All of this reminds us that many may have a part in God’s great work without their names being preserved, or they themselves given any special recognition, the Bema being the place for such acknowledgment.  No one should be discouraged because he has been called to an obscure sphere of service.  Nothing will be obscure at the judgment seat of Christ.  It may well be in fact that some whose service brought them into prominence on earth, will be awarded positions of less distinction in eternity.

Another thing to be noted is that a man’s having been chosen to be the Holy Spirit’s amanuensis, didn’t necessarily exempt him from work relative to the preparation of the material.  Luke very obviously had spent much time sifting carefully through the writings of others before compiling the Gospel which now bears his name.  The gift of teaching, for example, doesn’t relieve the teacher from the need to study.

The purpose of Luke’s writing was that Theophilus “might know the certainty of those things, wherein (he had been) instructed.”  This is one of the primary purposes of Scripture, as it ought to be also of the study of Scripture - to confirm the believer’s faith.

Virtually nothing is known of Theophilus, except that his name means friend of God; and his being addressed as “most excellent” would indicate that he was a man of high rank.  That he was a particularly earnest believer seems to be implied in Luke’s having prepared this document and also the book of Acts, specially for him, see Ac 1:1.

Luke and Acts, as far as is known, are the only New Testament books written by a Gentile, and both are believed to have been written between AD 60 and 62.  Others have also suggested that this Gospel is addressed more directly to Gentiles than are the other three, and this would be appropriate having regard to the time of writing.  Israel’s day of grace was almost ended.  The Gentiles were about to be made the recipients of even better blessings than those rejected by Israel.

[Luke 1]



     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough