Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write an accurate account for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.
These are the opening words from the Gospel of Luke. I find them fascinating because they provide the reason Luke chose to write his Gospel.
What was Luke’s motivation?
Why did he choose to write?
Luke wrote his Gospel so that Theophilus would be certain of the truth about Jesus.
Luke recounts that many people had already written down stories and memories of Jesus’ life. For instance, the Gospels of Mark and Matthew were most likely already in circulation in some form. He acknowledges that some eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life had already shared their memories of Jesus. But Luke felt he had something to add to what had already been written.
Therefore, Luke chose to investigate all that he heard about Jesus and compile that information in his Gospel.
Who was Luke?
Luke was not one of Jesus’ original 12 disciples. Instead, Luke was a close friend of the Apostle Paul. Paul writes about Luke in one of his letters.
Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas.
Luke was a doctor who traveled extensively with Paul. It is likely that Luke interviewed Paul and other early disciples about their experiences with Jesus.
How did Luke put together his Gospel?
To investigate means to examine, explore, study, probe and inspect.
This is how Luke approached the stories of Jesus. He was interested in discovering the truth and was willing to dig into the research by interviewing eye witnesses to figure out what the truth really was.
Are there aspects of faith that confuse you? Take Luke’s story as an invitation to investigate.
I want you to notice that Luke conducted this investigation on behalf of Theophilus. Which begs the question— who was Theophilus??
The answer is— nobody knows (I know, not a satisfying answer!) But there are a couple of main theories.
One theory is that Theophilus was a high up Roman official, and that Luke was writing to him in hopes of lessening the persecution of early Christians.
A second theory has to do with the Greek meaning of the name— Theophilus means dear to God. Could it be that Luke is writing his Gospel, not to one particular person, but to all who are dear to God?
Regardless of the identity of Theophilus, the result is the same. We have a wonderful Gospel that was thoroughly investigated by Luke so that we may come to know the story of Jesus.
Looking for a summer project? Begin reading the Gospel of Luke! You won’t regret it.
Reminder: Dustin Stamey’s reception will be this Sunday at 10:30 am in the Fellowship Hall. This will be our opportunity to thank him for 13 wonderful years of ministry.
See you on Sunday!