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The Gospel of Luke




Chapter 1


Chapter 2


Chapter 3


Chapter 4


Chapter 5


Chapter 6


Chapter 7


Chapter 8


Chapter 9


Chapter 10


Chapter 11


Chapter 12


Chapter 13


 Chapter 14


Chapter 15


Chapter 16


Chapter 17


Chapter 18


Chapter 19


Chapter 20


Chapter 21


Chapter 22


Chapter 23


Chapter 24




The Synoptic Gospels

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are usually known as the Synoptic GospelsSynoptic comes from two Greek words, which mean to “to see together”, and literally means “able to be seen together”.  (William Barclay – Daily Study Bible, Matthew, page 1) 

These three gospels have many similarities.  In fact, many of the passages in them are word-for-word identical.  Each has its particular emphasis and some unique sayings and events, but overall their similarity far overshadows their differences.   

When looking at the three synoptic gospels closely, Bible scholars note that there seem to be two main sources of material: 

  1. The Markan source.  Most Bible scholars believe that Mark is the earliest of the four gospels.  It was probably written between 60-70 A.D.  It is based on an oral tradition that emphasized EVENTS in the life and ministry of Jesus. 

  1. The Q Source.  This source focused more on the TEACHINGS of Jesus rather than events. 

Most Bible scholars believe that Matthew and Luke used material from both the Markan and Q sources.  Matthew, for example, reproduces 606 of Mark’s 661 verses…and Luke reproduces 320 of the 661.  In addition, however, there are more than 200 verses that are common to both Matthew and Luke that appear nowhere in Mark.  These verses – mostly SAYINGS of Jesus – are probably from the Q source.   

We need to understand that the gospel writers were basically editorialists.  Each wanted to tell the story of Jesus, but from their own unique perspectives and with the purpose of emphasizing the aspects of Jesus’ ministry that they felt were most important.  Using the Markan and Q traditions, plus some occasional other stories and sayings, each synoptic gospel writer wrote a gospel that has its own special outlook.   

The Gospel According to Luke

Unlike Matthew and Mark, Luke’s gospel is the first of a two-volume composition.  The Acts of the Apostles is the continuation of Luke’s gospel after Jesus ascends into heaven.  Together, “Luke-Acts” comprises almost one quarter of the entire New Testament! 

Tradition has always believed that Luke was the author of “Luke-Acts”, and almost all Biblical scholars today still affirm that tradition.  As William Barclay notes in his Daily Study Bible commentary, in the ancient world it was a regular practice to attach books to famous names – no one thought it to be wrong.  Luke, however, was never one of the “famous” figures of the early Church – and if he had not written the gospel, no one would have attached it to his name.  Luke was a Gentile; and he has the unique distinction of being the only New Testament writer who was not a Jew.  By profession, he was a doctor – Paul refers to him as the “beloved physician” in Col. 4:14.   

The book was written to Theophilus (Lk. 1:3, Acts 1:1).  “Theophilus” literally means “lover of God” – and scholars are divided whether this was an actual person or perhaps the title refers to anyone who might read this work.   

Most scholars today believe that the four canonical gospels were written in the following order:  

  • Mark – A.D. 65 (probably originally written to Christians in Rome);

  • Matthew – A.D. 80 (probably originally written to Jewish-Christians in the area of Antioch, Syria – about 10 years after the fall of Jerusalem during the Jewish rebellion around A.D. 70 and dealing with the reality that Pharisaic Jews were excommunicating their community from the synagogue);

  • Luke-ActsA.D. 85 (written mainly for Gentiles – because that is what more and more Christians now were – Luke stresses the salvation of Jesus for all people).

  • John A.D. 100 (probably written in Ephesus – details a different tradition that those used for the synoptic gospels – one of John’s major concerns appears to be refuting the heresy of Gnosticism.)

Some Themes Emphasized by Luke: 

  1. Luke wished to show the Roman authorities that Christianity was not a subversive sect.  During the first few decades of its history, Christianity was regarded as a Jewish sect by Roman officials.  This was helpful, because Judaism was a tolerated religion by the Romans.  However, due to the evangelizing activity of Christians and in light of the fact that more and more Gentiles were embracing the faith, Roman attitudes began to change.  Christianity increasingly was being seen as an illegal religion.  Luke, therefore, wanted to emphasize that the Romans had nothing to fear from Christianity – that it did not in any way call for the overthrown of the Roman Empire.  Luke also often seems to go out of his way to portray Roman authorities in a positive light (see the faith of the Roman centurion in Lk. 7:1-10; the rather positive portrayal of Pilate in Lk. 23:13-25; the Roman centurion as the first Gentile convert in Acts 10:1-8, 22-48; the positive portrayal of the Roman tribune Claudius Lysias who saved Paul’s life from Jewish conspirators in Acts. 23:16-35; etc.).

  1. Luke wished to support the claim that the Church was the true Israel.  This is most clearly shown at the end of his work in Acts 28:23-28 – where Paul explains his evangelism to the Gentiles as being the result of the Jews rejection of Jesus as the Messiah.

  1. Luke was eager to stress that Christianity was a world religion that recognized no racial limitations.  Examples of this include: Luke’s genealogy of Jesus (Lk. 3:23-38) went all the way back to Adam rather than just to Abraham as in Mt. 1:1-17); the prophet Simeon proclaiming the infant Jesus to be a “light for revelation to the Gentiles” (Lk. 2:32a); Jesus’ positive portrayal of Samaritans (Lk. 10:29-37 and 17:11-19); Peter’s statement to Cornelius that “Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34-35); Paul’s statement of universal religion in his speech in Athens (Acts 17:26-28).

  1. Luke emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit.  As compared to six references to the Spirit in Mark and twelve in Matthew, there are seventeen in the gospel of Luke and fifty-seven in Acts.  Luke especially mentions the Spirit in the first two chapters of his gospel: the angel Gabriel informs Zechariah that his son John (the Baptist) would be “filled with the Holy Spirit” from before his birth (Lk. 1:15); and Mary is informed that “The Holy Spirit will come upon you…” (Lk. 1:35), and that the Holy Spirit rested upon the prophet Simeon (Lk. 2:25-26).  And in the book of Acts, beginning with Pentecost, the Spirit is mentioned constantly!

  1. Luke emphasizes the prayer life of Jesus and in the early church.  We note that in Luke’s gospel, his practice of prayer is what led the disciples to ask him to teach them to pray - and that is what led Jesus to teach them the “Lord’s Prayer.”  In Acts, prayer is constantly emphasized before every major decision that the apostles make.

  1. Luke, more than any other New Testament writer, emphasizes the role of women in the gospel tradition and in the early Church.  Examples in the gospel include his emphasis upon Mary the mother of Jesus; Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist; the prophetess Anna; his description of Mary Magadelene, Joanna, and Susanna and many other women as providers for Jesus (Lk. 8:1-3); as well as specifically mentioning the women who were the first witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection (Lk. 24:1-11).

  1. Luke, more than any other synoptic gospel writer, tells about post-resurrection appearances to his disciples.

  1. Luke has a special concern for the poor.  The birth narrative stresses Jesus’ humble origin; John the Baptist teaches that men should share their possessions with the needy; and Jesus in his version of the Beatitudes (Lk 6:20-26) says that the poor (rather than the “poor in spirit”) and hungry (rather than “hunger and thirst for righteousness”) are blessed.

  1. Luke stresses the proper stewardship of wealth in both his gospel and in Acts.  In the gospel especially, Jesus’ parables of the rich fool, of the dishonest steward, and of the rich man and Lazarus are examples of this – all these parables are unique to Luke.  In Acts, it is mentioned that all who believed had things in common – and that they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. (Acts 2:44-46).

  1. Finally, Luke especially shows Jesus as the friend of outcasts and sinners.  Examples (unique to him) include the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair (Lk. 7:36-50); Zachaeus (Lk. 19:1-10); the Penitent Thief (Lk. 23:43); and the prodigal son and the loving father (Lk. 15:11-32).

To sum up, Luke is a gospel that for many people is especially beautiful – for it especially shows the LOVE and the FORGIVENESS that God came to bring us through Jesus!


George R. Karres,

Pella Lutheran Church

418 W. Main Street

Sidney, MT 59270