Lectionary Calendar
Friday, July 19th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
Take your personal ministry to the Next Level by helping StudyLight build churches and supporting pastors in Uganda.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
Luke 1

Gann's Commentary on the BibleGann on the Bible

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verse 1

Luke 1:1

Book Comments

Walking Thru The Bible



The Gospel of Luke is generally regarded as a literary masterpiece among New Testament books. Here one finds some of the finest Greek in the New Testament. While the Gospels have much in common, almost a third of the Gospel according to Luke is peculiar to itself, including six miracles, eighteen parables, and a great deal of discourse material.

AUTHOR: The two books attributed to Luke (Luke and Acts) make up about 28% of the Greek New Testament. Luke, the "beloved physician" and the traveling companion of the apostle Paul, is not mentioned by name in either book. The only places where his name occurs in the New Testament are in Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11; and Philemon 1:24. Luke also referred to himself directly in the "we" sections of Acts (Acts 16:10-17; Acts 20:5-21; Acts 27:1 - Acts 28:16). Just when he became a Christian is unknown. See the RSV on 2Cor. 8:18, is this a refernce to Luke?

Luke seems to have been the only Gentile writer of the New Testament. Paul wrote that, of his fellow-workers, Aristarchus, Mark and John were the only ones who were Jewish. The others (Epaphras, Luke, and Demas) were therefore probably Gentiles. Paul referred to Luke as a physician (Colossians 4:14), and evidence from passages in Luke and Acts seem to corroborate this.

BACKGROUND: Luke was a historian who carefully researched his material (Luke 1:1-4). He consulted eyewitnesses for information (Luke 1:2). He may have gathered certain details, such as facts on Jesus’ birth and youth from Mary herself (cf. Luke 2:51). Luke also seemed to have had contacts with the Herodian court (cf. Luke 3:1, Luke 3:19; Luke 8:3; Luke 9:7-9; Luke 13:31; Luke 23:7-12). All of Luke’s writing was done under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.


Key Verse: Luke 19:10

Key Word: "Son of Man"

The term "Son of man" is used 26 times. It speaks of more than just the Lord’s humanity in contrast to His deity, "Son of God." It means He is the perfect, ideal Man, the true representative of the whole human race.

Other characteristics of Luke that set it apart from Matthew and Mark would include:

1. Additional information concerning the virgin birth narrated from Mary’s point of view. Luke along tells the story of the visit of the Shepherds. Luke tells how Jesus was subject to Joseph and mary and of his visit to the temple when he was twelve years old.

2. In presenting the manhood of Jesus, we are told that he toiled with his hands, wept over the city, kneeled in prayer, and knew agony and suffering.

3. Luke emphasizes the miracles of healing, he alone tells of healing Malchus’ ear.

4. Luke is the gospel for the outcast on earth. He tells of the Good Samaritan; the Publican; the Prodigal Son; of Zacchaeus, and the thief on the cross.

5. Luke has been called the "Gospel of Womanhood," he has much to say and immortalized certain women associated with Jesus in his ministry. He shows Jesus’ compassion upon the many women and children.

6. Luke’s is the gospel of Jesus praying, and his parables concerning prayer. (Luke 3:21; Luke 5:16; Luke 6:12; Luke 9:28-29; Luke 11:14; Luke 22:31-32; Luke 22:41-42; Luke 23:46.)

7. Luke’s gospel has a domestic tone. Jesus is often pictured as being in a home.

8. The gospel is noted for its praise and thanksgiving, a very poetic book.

a. Mary’s song, Luke 1:46-55.

b. Song of Zacharias, Luke 1:68-79

c. The Song of the Angels, Luke 2:8-14

9. Luke emphasized the universal message of the gospel more than the other Gospel writers and gives the reader a more comprehensive grasp of the history of the period than the other gospels. He presented more facts about the earthly life of Jesus than did Matthew, Mark, or John.

DATE. It is believed that Luke wrote his gospel about the years AD 58-60, while Paul was in prison in Caesarea; and followed it with the book of Acts during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome the next two years. The two books are in a sense, two volumes of one work.

The book covers about a 35 year span from the annunciation of the birth of John the Baptist to Zacharias to the ascension of our Lord.

PURPOSE: Luke was able to achieve several accomplishments in writing the book:

1. He was able to present an accurate account of the facts about the life of Christ, and confirm to Theophilus that his faith in Christ rested on firm historical fact (Luke 1:3-4).

2. Luke presented Christ as the perfect God-Man, who after a period of perfect ministry provided a perfect salvation for sinful humanity.

3. He presented a universal Christ. The gospel is not anti-Jewish, but it does aim to confirm the faith of Greeks.

4. Others have suggested secondary purposes such as: (a) to give a defense of Christianity; (b) to prepare a brief for use in Paul’s trials; (c) to prepare a gospel account for missionary purposes.

THE RECIPIENTS. The book along with Acts of Apostles is addressed to Theophilus (meaning "lover of God" or "loved by God") Luke 1:3. Evidently he was a high official because of the title "most excellent" (compare Acts 23:26; Acts 24:3; Acts 26:25). The Gospel was, of course, meant for more than just his private reading. Luke wrote for a Greek audience.


Several lines of evidence point to the conclusion that Luke wrote primarily for Gentiles.

(1) Luke frequently explained Jewish localities (Luke 4:31; Luke 8:26; Luke 21:37; Luke 23:51; Luke 24:13). This would be unnecessary if he were writing primarily for Jews.

(2) Luke traces Jesus’s genealogy (Luke 3:23-38) all the way back to Adam (rather than to Abraham, as in Matthew’s Gospel). The implication is that Jesus was representing all mankind rather than just the Jewish nation.

(3) Luke referred to Roman emperors in designating the dates of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:1) and of John preaching (Luke 3:1).

(4) Fourth, Luke used a number of words which would be more familiar to Gentile readers than the comparable Jewish terms found in Matthew’s Gospel. An example is Luke’s use of the Greek "didaskalos" rather than "rabbi" for "teacher".

(5) Luke used the Septuagint when quoting from the Old Testament. He has relatively few direct quotations, though the book is filled with allusions.

(6) Little is said about Jesus’ fulfilling prophecies because that theme was not as important to Gentile readers as it was to Jewish readers. Luke has only five direct references to fulfillment of prophecy and all but one (Luke 3:4) are found in the teaching of Jesus to Israel.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Verse Comments

See the RSV wording for 2Cor 8:18, some scholars think this man famous for the preaching of the gospel was Luke.

Verse 2

Luke 1:2

eyewitnesses ... Also the Greek word of autopsy. Luke indeed performs an autopsy on the Christian evidence. He dissected it.

Verse 3

Luke 1:3

most excellent -- An address for officials (cf. Acts 23:26; Acts 24:2; Acts 26:25) and people of high social standing.

Most excellent Theophilus -- It is probable that during Paul’s two year imprisonment at Caesarea that Luke had all this time and opportunity to meet and interview the eye-witnesses of whom he speaks. For instance, in Acts 21:16 we met Mnason who undoubtedly was one of the earliest Christian. (Some translate the description of him to mean "An original disciple" "a charter member".) Paul lodged with him in Jerusalem, and Luke was with this party. We know, for example, that he met Philip (Acts 21:8), who was undoubtedly one of Luke’s sources.

It is believed that Luke gathered some information for his Gospel and Acts from this eye-witness Luke 1:2. Apparently among those interviewed were Mary the mother of Jesus Luke 2:19; Luke 2:33; Luke 2:51; and many others who were close to Jesus personally.

If Luke wrote his Gospel during this two year period (AD 56-58) we should date it about AD 58.

It is probable that Luke then used the two year period (AD 59-61) during Paul’s Roman imprisonment Acts 28:30 to write his account of Acts about AD 61 before the the outcome of Paul’s trial could be revealed. (This has caused some to speculate that Luke wrote both volumes as a legal brief for Theophilus Acts 1:1; Luke 1:3 who was either Paul’s lawyer or the official who heard his case for Nero’s court. One can note the number of times Paul comes in contact with government officials and no Roman ever found Paul guilty; Felix, Festus, Gallio, Sergius Paulus, and one could add the time at Philippi, the city officials at Ephesus, Roman soldiers at Jerusalem and aboard Paul’s ship to Rome, as well as King Agrippa, etc.

Orderly ... refers to logical orderliness (cf. Acts 11:4).

Verse 4

Luke 1:4

know ... The reason for writing. How can we know? From the testimony.

Theophilus ... He was in the positionj we are in, didn’t see Jesus, etc., but he can know!

Verse 5

Luke 1:5

division [course]of Abijah -- According to 1 Chron. 24. the priests were divided into twenty-four classes, of which the class of Jehoiarib was the first, the class of Abia the eighth.

Each class accomplished a ministry of one week, always from the first day of the week to the end of the Sabbath. This order, too, was observed after the Captivity (Josephus, Antiq. vii. 14, sec. 7)

See A CHRONOLOGICAL AND GEOGRAPHICAL (INTRODUCTION to the LIFE OF CHRIST) by CH. ED. CASPARI, From the Original German Work, Revised by the Author translated, with additional notes, by MAURICE J. EVANS, B.A. ; EDINBURGH: T. & T. CLARK, 38 GEORGE STREET, mdccclxxvi, p. 57 (Logos resource) for documentation on the time the course of Abia served and possible date for birth of John and Jesus.

Also see Revelation 12:1 and Colin Nicholl’s The Great Christ Comet: Revealing the True Star of Bethlehem, for another study on the possible date for the birth of Jesus.

Verse 17

Luke 1:17

spirit and power of Elijah ... Matthew 17:11; Matthew 11:14; Elijah - the reason why John’s preaching had the impact it did. Thought John did no miracle, he spoke by inspiration.

Verse 19

Luke 1:19

Gabriel ... the messenger angel. Note the use of an angel in providence.

Verse 26

Nazareth -- Because Jesus was brought up in this place, and there passed His youth, He is also called the Nazaræan, or Nazarene Mark 1:24.

The name Nazareth does not occur in the O. T. It is nevertheless in the highest degree probable that this name is only a later dialectic transformation of Sared, ùÒøéã, the border city of Zebulon.

Verse 35

Luke 1:35

Luke 1:35

Luke 1:35

The Holy Spirit ... The language is not of conception, but of creation (cf. Genesis 1:1-2) for the physical body of Jesus, who was God Incarnate.

Verse 70

Luke 1:70

INSPIRATION - 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21, 1 Corinthians 14:37, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Galatians 1:11-12, Matthew 17:5, Luke 1:68-70,

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Luke 1". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/luke-1.html. 2021.
Ads FreeProfile