Luke was the only Gentile (non-Jew) writer of the New Testament books, who wrote both this gospel and the Acts. In fact, he also was not one of the twelve disciples of the Lord, or one of the seventy that Jesus Christ had sent for the work of the ministry. Luke was a physician (doctor) as mentioned by the apostle Paul in Colossians 4:14. He was one of Paul’s friends and in fact, both this gospel and the Acts was addressed to a particular person called Theophilus, who was also a Greek.
It is good to know a bit about Luke, the writer of the gospel. As mentioned above, he is a doctor (Col 4:14). In fact, during the moment when the Lord Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane, Luke records that a disciple smote the bondman of the high priest and took off his right ear and the Lord healed it. There is no mention of which ear was cut off in the other gospels, but Luke the doctor inserts this and does not point to himself as the physician, but to the Lord Jesus as the Great Physician. In the epistle to Philemon, Luke is described as a fellow labourer of the apostle Paul. In 2 Timothy we learn that Luke was the only one who remained with Paul while the apostle was in prison (2 Tim 4:11). There is a reference from Luke’s gospel to the writings of Paul, found in 1 Timothy 5:18, taken from Luke 10:7 about the labourer being worthy of his reward. No doubt Paul had in mind that Luke was with him and was labouring with him during the apostle’s missionary journeys and was diligently recording the events in the book of Acts.
The gospel was written between 55 and 60 A.D, so it was well over 20 years after the Lord Jesus died, rose again and ascended into heaven. Some researchers assume that Luke wrote his gospel during the two-year imprisonment of the apostle Paul in Caesarea during the time that Luke was with Paul.
The gospel of Luke is the third of the four gospels, and it is unique in some ways. Firstly, it is in the form of a letter addressed to another Greek person. None of the other three gospels are in the form of a letter. In fact, it is as if Luke writes to a friend and then describes the situation that the times was in the days of Herod the king, so it is uniquely different than the other gospels. Luke therefore was not an eyewitness of the events that took place during the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and he confirms this in the first few verses of the gospel. The other gospel writers were eyewitnesses of the events that took place when the Lord Jesus Christ was on earth. As mentioned before, the other unique feature is that Luke was not a disciple of the Lord Jesus and he was also not a Jew. His natural profession, or line of work, was a doctor, a much higher and more respectable profession than the other gospel writers. Matthew was a tax collector, Mark may have been some form of a servant, and John was a fisherman. To the human wisdom, Luke would have been the best qualified person to write a book of the Bible, but God in His wisdom chooses the small things for huge things. Luke also wrote to a man about the perfect Man and God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore he brings before us the thought of the Lord Jesus as the Man dependant on God and as the Man of prayer.
Therefore, Luke brings before us the Lord Jesus Christ as the perfect Man, and the Greeks (Gentiles) wanted a Man in all wisdom and understanding, so Luke presents to the Greeks the One Man in whom is all the wisdom and understanding, yet He depended on God the Father in praying, and at the same time this Man is the Son of God and God the Son! Blessed, glorious thought!
There are differences in the style of writing of Luke compared to the other gospels. The other differences is the events that took place before the birth of the Lord and of John the Baptist, which no other gospel records. For instance, the majority of the first three chapters of Luke are not recorded in any other gospel.
In this outline, I will only draw attention to the characteristic of Luke presenting the Lord Jesus Christ as the Man of prayer with the hope of imitating the character and depending on God always in prayer. Luke records Jesus praying no less than 14 times in his gospel. The following list provides the circumstances in which He prayed and have some lessons for us to learn.
- Lk 3:21-22 His baptism
- Lk 5:15-16 for discernment
- Lk 6:12-13 before calling the disciples
- Lk 9:16-17 giving thanks for food/meals
- Lk 9:18 for disciples to see who He is
- Lk 9:28-29 Transfiguration
- Lk 10:21 rejoicing
- Lk 11:1 model for praying
- Lk 22:17, 19-20 the Passover and the Lord’s Supper
- Lk 22:31-32 for Simon Peter before denial
- Lk 22:41-42 in the garden of Gethsemane
- Lk 23:33-34 on the cross for forgiveness
- Lk 23:46 yielding to His Father
- Lk 24:39 with the two disciples so that they may realise Christ.
The Lord did not need to pray, but the gospel of Luke presents Him as the Man dependant on God in prayer and teaches us that we should also depend on God in prayer and be sure that God will answer our prayers, even if not in our own time, but it will be in His time.
Providing an outline of the gospel in its divisions is a bit tricky due to the overlapping of events and the fact that Luke records the events in a moral order, not in chronological order like the gospel of Mark. The gospel may be divided into 5 sections.
- Luke 1 to 4:13 introduction, the birth, childhood and preparation of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of Man.
- Luke 4:14 to 9:50 Jesus’ service in Galilee.
- Luke 9:51 to 19:27 Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem.
- Luke 19:28 to 23 The completion of Jesus’ service.
- Luke 24 The resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus the Son of Man.
I would like to share with you a section and references from the gospel of a song we sometimes sing with the children about the gospels, this section is Luke’s gospel.
Doctor Luke set down with care – as mentioned previously, Luke was a physician (Col 4:14)
Jesus’ life of praise and prayer. – Luke records the many prayers of Christ as the dependent Man of God.
Told the world that He had come, – chapters 1 and 2.
Loving, serving everyone, – Jesus’ service in Galilee
Calmed down the raging sea, – Luke 8:24
Called Zacchaeus from his tree, – Luke 19:1-6
Shared Martha’s busy home, – Luke 10:39-42
Praised the faith of the man from Rome. – Luke 7:7-9.
Matthew, Mark and Luke and John
Sending news of Jesus on.
This outline is adapted from, but not intended to copy the works of, Arend Remmers and Arno Gaebelein’s notes and outlines of the gospel of Luke. The full outline and notes from the above authors are available on www.biblecentre.org, a website highly recommended and full of rich resources.