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Bible Commentaries

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

- Luke

by Paul E. Kretzmann

The Gospel According to Saint Luke


There is no reason to doubt the tradition transmitted by the church historian Eusebius that the third gospel was written by Luke. This evangelist, whom Paul calls the "beloved physician," Colossians 4:14, was a heathen by birth, Colossians 4:11 who was born and grew up in Antioch, Acts 6:5; Acts 11:19-28. There are many evidences of his profession in the gospel as well as in the Acts, Luke 4:38; Luke 5:12; Luke 6:6; Luke 7:2; Luke 8:42; Luke 10:30-37; Luke 16:20-22; Acts 28:8. He had received a good education and wrote in an easy, flowing, elegant style, a fact which gives his books a high rank also as literature. Luke had not known Jesus personally, but seems to have been converted in Antioch, probably by Paul, with whom he was connected in a lifelong, intimate friendship. The great apostle esteemed him very highly as a companion and assistant, Colossians 4:14; Philemon 1:24; 2 Timothy 4:11. On Paul's second journey, Luke joined him at Troas and accompanied him to Philippi, Acts 16:10-17. On the third journey, Luke was again among the companions of Paul, going with him from Philippi to Jerusalem, Acts 20:5-21. Afterwards, Luke made the voyage from Caesarea to Rome with Paul, the captive, and was with him in Rome, Acts 27:1-44; Acts 28:1-16. During the second captivity Luke was again with Paul, for which the apostle was duly thankful, 2 Timothy 4:11. Outside of these facts nothing is known concerning Luke, either of the circumstances of his life or of the time and manner of his death.

Luke was a historian of the first order, to whom even unbelieving critics yield a high rank as regards trustworthiness. This is evident even in his gospel, Luke 1:1-4. According to the testimony of early writers, Luke was, in a way, the interpreter of Paul, as Mark was of Peter. His writings plainly show that influence, especially in the expressions concerning the justification of a sinner before God, Luke 18:14; Acts 13:38-39. The Gospel is dedicated to the "most excellent Theophilus," who evidently was a man of high station, not a former Jew, but a Gentile who lived in Italy. There are indications throughout the gospel that Luke wrote for a public ignorant of Palestine, its customs, and its language, but familiar with the surroundings of Greek and Roman life in the great cities of the empire, chapter 5:17-20. He explains to his readers Semitic names and terms; he describes the situations of Nazareth and Capernaum as cities of Galilee, of Arimathea as a city of the Jews, of the country of the Gadarenes as over against Galilee, and he even tells the distance of the Mount of Olives and of Emmaus from Jerusalem. That Luke had Gentile Christians in mind is evident also from the fact that he does not emphasize the Messianic character of Jesus, as Matthew does, but that he emphasizes the fact that Jesus is the Savior of the whole world, the Redeemer also of the Gentiles, Luke 2:10, and that the Gospel should be preached to all nations. He pictures Jesus as the Friend of the poor and needy, both in a spiritual and in a physical sense, Luke 1:52-53; Luke 2:7-8; Luke 4:18-19; Luke 6:20; Luke 12:15-21; Luke 16:19-31. Luther says: "Luke goes back farther and purposes, as it were, to make Christ the common property of all nations. For that reason he carries His genealogy back to Adam. In this way he wishes to show that this Christ is not only for the Jews, but also for Adam and his posterity, that is, for all people in all the world."

In accordance with the purpose of the gospel, there are several distinguishing features which should be noted, especially the accuracy of the medical descriptions, the preservation of the inspired hymns (those of the angels at the birth of Jesus, that of Elizabeth, of Mary, of Zacharias), and the prominence given to women, Luke 8:2-3; Luke 10:38-42.

The gospel of Luke was surely written before the year 70 A. D., since there is no reference to the destruction of Jerusalem, concerning which the author gives the complete prophecy of Jesus, chapter 21. From the introduction of the book it has been inferred that Luke wrote after Matthew and Mark, that is, about 67 or 68. Some commentators have assumed that Luke returned to Antioch about this time and wrote his gospel there, but the common assumption is that it was written in Italy, and in Rome, Acts 28:16; Colossians 4:14; 1 Timothy 4:11.

The outline of Luke's gospel is, in general, that of the other synoptic gospels. His introduction concerning the forerunner of Christ and the birth and childhood of Jesus is divided into three sections, marked off by starting-points in secular history. He next gives a full account of the prophetic ministry of Christ in Galilee. Then comes a full account of the parables and discourses which were called forth by the necessity of teaching Christ's disciples and of reproving the Pharisaic enemies. Finally Luke narrates the story of Christ's last journey to Jerusalem and of His sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension.

The Tabellary Harmony of the Gospel-Story

· The prologue of John's gospel. John 1:1-18.

·Preface of Luke's gospel. Luke 1:1-4.

·Birth of John the Baptist promised. Luke 1:5-25.

·The Annunciation to Mary. Luke 1:26-38.

·The Annunciation to Joseph. Matthew 1:18-25.

·Mary's visit to Elizabeth. Luke 1:39-56.

·Birth of John the Baptist. Luke 1:57-80.

·Birth of Jesus the Christ. Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-14.

·The adoration of the shepherds. Luke 2:15-20.

·The circumcision and presentation of Christ. Luke 2:21-39.

·Simeon and Anna. Luke 2:25-40.

·The wise men from the East. Matthew 2:1-12. The flight into Egypt and the return to Nazareth. Matthew 2:13-23.

·Childhood at Nazareth. Matthew 2:23; Luke 2:39-40.

·The twelve-year-old Christ-child in the Temple. Luke 2:41-52.

·The ministry of John the Baptist. Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-18.

·The baptism of Jesus. Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22.

·The temptation in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13.

·John's testimony before the priests and Levites. John 1:19-34.

·The first disciples of Jesus. John 1:35-51. The marriage at Cana. John 2:1-11.

·The first cleansing of the Temple. John 2:12-25.

·The discourse with Nicodemus. John 3:1-21.

·John the Baptist's last testimony of Christ. John 3:22-36.

·The departure from Judea and the woman of Samaria. Matthew 4:12; Mark 1:14; John 4:1-26.

·The Gospel in Sychar. John 4:27-42.

·Imprisonment of John the Baptist and beginning of Christ's Galilean ministry. Matthew 14:3-5; Matthew 4:12-17; Mark 6:17-18; Luke 3:19-20; John 4:43-45.

·The healing of the nobleman's son. John 4:46-54.

·First rejection at Nazareth. Luke 4:16-30.

·Healing of the sick man of Bethesda. John 5:1-18.

·Testimony of Christ concerning Himself. John 5:19-47.

·Removal to Capernaum. Matthew 4:13-16; Luke 4:31.

·The call of the four. Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11.

·A day of miracles in Capernaum. Matthew 8:14-17; Mark 1:21-34; Luke 4:31-41.

·A preaching tour in Galilee. Matthew 4:23-25; Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:35-45; Luke 4:42-44; Luke 5:12-16.

·The miraculous draught of fishes. Luke 5:1-11.

·The call of Matthew. Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:13-17; Luke 5:27-32.

·The question about fasting. Matthew 9:14-17; Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39.

·The disciples plucking grain. Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5.

·The man with the withered hand. Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11.

·The wide-spread fame of Jesus. Matthew 4:23-25; Matthew 12:15-21; Mark 3:3-12; Luke 6:17-19.

·The choosing of the Twelve. Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-19.

·The Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5:1-48; Matthew 6:1-34; Matthew 7:1-29; Matthew 8:1; Luke 6:20-49.

·The healing of a leper. Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16.

·The centurion's servant. Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10.

·The raising of the widows son at Nain. Luke 7:11-17.

·John the Baptist's last message. Matthew 11:2-19; Luke 7:18-35.

·Anointing of Jesus in the house of Simon the Pharisee. Luke 7:36-50.

·Christ's companions on His second preaching tour. Luke 8:1-3.

·Warnings to the scribes and Pharisees. Matthew 12:22-45; Mark 3:19 b-30; Luke 11:14-36.

·The true kindred of Jesus. Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21.

·The parables by the sea. Matthew 13:1-53; Mark 4:1-34; Luke 8:4-18.

·The stilling of the tempest. Matthew 8:18; Matthew 23:1-39; Matthew 24:1-51; Matthew 25:1-46; Matthew 26:1-75; Matthew 27:1-66; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25.

·The Gadarene demoniacs. Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39.

·The raising of Jairus's daughter. Matthew 9:1; Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56.

·The two blind men and the dumb demoniac. Matthew 9:27-34.

·The third preaching tour continued. Matthew 9:35; Mark 6:6 b.

·The mission of the Twelve. Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:1-6.

·Death of John the Baptist. Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:7-9.

·The feeding of the five thousand. John 6:1-13; Matthew 14:13-23; Mark 6:30-46; Luke 9:10-17.

·Jesus walking on the water. Matthew 14:24-36; Mark 6:45-56; John 6:14-21.

·Discourse on the Bread of Life. John 6:22-71.

·Discourses on commandments of men. Matthew 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23.

·The Syrophoenician woman. Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30.

·Return through Decapolis. Matthew 15:29-31; Mark 7:31-37.

·The feeding of the four thousand. Matthew 15:29-39; Mark 8:1-9.

·The demand for a sign from heaven. Matthew 15:39; Matthew 16:1-12; Mark 8:10-21; Luke 12:54-57.

·The blind man near Bethsaida. Mark 8:22-26.

·Peter's confession. Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21.

·Christ foretells His death and resurrection. Matthew 16:21-28; Mark 8:31-38; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:22-27.

·The transfiguration. Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36.

·The demoniac boy. Matthew 17:14-20; Mark 9:14-32; Luke 9:37-43 a

·Discourse on humility and forgiveness. Matthew 18:1-35; Mark 9:33-50; Luke 9:46-50.

·Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles. John 7:1-52.

·The woman taken in adultery. John 7:53; John 8:1-11.

·Jesus the Light of the World. John 8:12-30.

·Discourse on spiritual freedom. John 8:31-59.

·The final departure from Galilee. Matthew 19:1-2; Matthew 8:19-22; Mark 10:1; Luke 9:51-62.

·The mission of the seventy. Matthew 11:20-30; Luke 10:1-24.

·The good Samaritan. Luke 10:25-37.

·The visit to Mary and Martha. Luke 10:38-42.

·Healing of the man born blind. John 9:1-41.

·The Good Shepherd. John 10:1-21.

·Christ at the Feast of Dedication. John 10:22-42.

·Discourse on prayer. Luke 11:1-13.

·Woes against the Pharisees. Luke 11:37-54.

·Warning against the spirit of Pharisaism. Luke 12:1-59.

·The Galileans slain by Pilate. Luke 13:1-9.

·The woman healed on a Sabbath. Luke 13:10-21.

·The question whether few are saved. Luke 13:22-35.

·Discourse at a chief Pharisee's table. Luke 14:1-24.

·On counting the cost. Luke 14:25-35.

·Three parables of grace. Luke 15:1-32.

·Two parables of warning. Luke 16:1-31.

·Concerning forgiveness and faith. Luke 17:1-10.

·The raising of Lazarus. John 11:1-46.

·The withdrawal to Ephraim. John 11:47-54.

·The ten lepers. Luke 17:11-19.

·The coming of the kingdom. Luke 17:20-37; Luke 18:1-8.

·The Pharisee and the publican, Luke 18:9-14.

·Concerning divorce. Matthew 19:1-15; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 18:15-17.

·Christ and the rich young ruler. Matthew 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30.

·The laborers in the vineyard. Matthew 20:1-16.

·Christ foretells His crucifixion. Matthew 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-34.

·Ambition of James and John. Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 10:35-45.

·The blind men near Jericho. Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43.

·Visit to Zacchaeus. Luke 19:1-10.

·Parable of the pounds. Luke 19:11-28.

·Anointing of Jesus by Mary of Bethany. Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 11:55-57; John 12:1-11.

·The triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19.

·The cursing of the fig-tree. Matthew 21:18-19; Mark 11:12-14.

·Second cleansing of the Temple. Matthew 21:12-17; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48

·The fig-tree withered away. Matthew 21:20-22; Mark 11:20-25.

·Christ's authority challenged. Matthew 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8.

·Three parables of warning. Matthew 21:28-46; Matthew 22:1-14; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19.

·Three questions by the Jewish rulers. Matthew 25:15-40; Mark 12:13-34; Luke 20:20-40.

·Christ's unanswerable question. Matthew 22:41-46; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44.

·The discourse against the scribes and Pharisees. Matthew 23:1-39; Mark 12:38-40; Luke 20:45-47.

·The widow's two mites. Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4.

·Testimony of Jesus concerning His glorification. John 12:20-50.

·Concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world. Matthew 24:1-51; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 21:1-38.

·The ten virgins. Matthew 25:1-13.

·Of the Last Judgment. Matthew 25:31-46.

·The conspiracy against Jesus. Matthew 26:1; Matthew 5:14-16; Mark 14:1-2; Luke 22:1-6.

·Jesus washing the disciples' feet. John 13:1-20.

·The Passover meal and the institution of the Lord's Supper. Matthew 26:17-36; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-30; John 13:1-30.

·Christ's farewell discourses. Matthew 26:31-35; Mark 14:27-31; Luke 22:31-38; John 13:31-38; John 14:1-31; John 15:1-27; John 16:1-33.

·The intercessory prayer. John 17:1-26,

·The agony in Gethsemane. Matthew 26:30-46; Mark 14:26-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1.

·The betrayal and arrest. Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:1-12.

·The trial before the Jewish authorities and the denial of Peter. Matthew 26:57-75; Matthew 27:1-10; Mark 14:53-72; Luke 22:54-71; John 18:12-27.

·The trial before Pilate. Matthew 27:11-31; Mark 15:1-20; Luke 22:1-25; John 18:28-40; John 19:1-16.

·The crucifixion and death of Jesus. Matthew 27:32-56; Mark 15:21-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:16-37.

·The burial of Jesus. Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42.

·The watch at the sepulcher. Matthew 27:62-66.

·Easter morning. Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 23:56; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18.

·The report of the watch. Matthew 28:11-15.

·The walk to Emmaus. Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-35.

·The appearance to the disciples in Jerusalem. Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-31.

·The appearance to seven disciples by the Sea of Galilee. John 21:1-25.

·The appearance to the Eleven on a mountain in Galilee. Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18.

·Christ's final appearance and His ascension from Mount Olivet. Mark 16:19-20; Luke 24:44-53.

·The conclusion of John's gospel. John 20:30-31; John 21:25.

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