The Truth is in Luke…

The Luke who wrote this book also wrote the book of Acts (Luke 1:3, Acts 1:1), leading Search the Scriptures to say:

The most probable explanation of the abrupt ending to Acts is that Luke brought that book up to date, and that Paul was still in his first imprisonment at Rome when Acts was finished. This would give a date of about AD 62 for Acts, and a year or two earlier as the latest date for the Gospel.
– Search the Scriptures p32

This means that the events recorded in this book took place between 60 and 30 years (or less) before it was written. There is an arguement that by this point no one would have a good memory of the events so the text is unreliable – after all, who can remember what they were doing on the 3rd of June last year, let alone 60 years ago! On the other hand, significant events do tend to stick in the mind. When we hear those who lived through the second world war talking about the terrible things they saw we don’t think that they have been deceived by time, but we believe them. I take it that anyone who had an angel visit them (1:11, 1:26-28, 2:9, 24:4) or saw a dead person walking around (7:15, 24:15, 24:36) would remember that for the rest of their life.

Luke was not an eyewitness to the events he has recorded in his gospel, but he makes it clear in the first four verses that he has looked into things carefully to come up with an orderly account which is to be considered authoritative. We learn in Colossians 4 that Luke is a doctor (v14) which comes across in his detailed accounts of Jesus’ healing miracles. He is also a gentile (v11), so his gospel seems to emphasize that salvation through Jesus is open to all nations. John Stott comments:

All four evangelists refer to the ministry of John the Baptist and quote from Isaiah 40 about ‘a voice of one calling in the desrt’, but only Luke continues the quotation to include the statement that ‘all mankind will see God’s salvation’ (3:6).
– The Incomparible Christ p32

Refering to the different portraits of the one Christ across the four gospels, Stott goes on:

I find it helpful to detect in the four evangelists four dimensions of the saving purpose of God: it’s lenght, depth, breadth and height… In Luke it is the breadth of God’s purpose which emerges, for he depicts the Saviour of the world who looks round in mercy to the broadest possible spectrum of human beings.
– The Incomparible Christ p40

Apparantly the early church fathers had a different way of doing it. The four faces – human, lion, ox, eagle – of the ‘living creatures’ in Ezekiel 1:10 and Revelation 4:7 are each used to symbolise one of the depictions of Jesus.

Luke’s Jesus resembles an ox (because he is the strong, patient bearer of the burdens of the poor, the needy and the outcasts).
– The Incomparible Christ p41

Yes, I’ve been reading a book by Stott! But while it’s very interesting and he’s clearly a great thinker it’s not the Bible, so I’m going to get stuck into that instead.


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