Luke’s Gospel, like all of the Gospels, tells the story of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke’s Gospel is often said to have been written for a more Gentile audience, though it is important to recognise that the author knew a lot about Jewish traditions and Scripture. The story of Luke begins and ends in the Temple in Jerusalem, first with Zechariah’s encounter with the angel and finally with the disciples praising God there. The intervening chapters tell of the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, the life and ministry of Jesus and then his death, resurrection and ascension into heaven. One striking characteristic of Luke is his storytelling style, in which he takes particular care to weave stories together in the most effective way possible.
'My soul magnifies the Lord, 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, 48for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed.' (Luke 1.46–48)
29'Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; 30for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.' (Luke 2.29–32)
18'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour. (Luke 4.18–19)
This Gospel, like the other three, is anonymous. The name Luke was only associated with it by later Christian tradition. Due to similarities of style and theology, it's thought likely that the same person wrote both Luke’s Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Many modern scholars would argue that when writing his Gospel the author had Mark’s Gospel (and/or a hypothetical document they call Q, which may have contained the earliest traditions about Jesus) in front of him, as well as a store of his own stories.
Traditionally it was widely believed that the author of the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles was Luke, a physician and a companion of Paul (mentioned in Philemon 1.24, Colossians 4.14 and 2 Timothy 4.11). Tradition identifies his birthplace as Antioch, but the place where he lived, when not travelling with Paul, as Troas.
There is much discussion about whether Luke was a Gentile or not. He certainly knew, and was able to quote from, the Jewish Scriptures. This might suggest that he was a God-fearer, a Gentile who observed the Jewish law.
From his writings we can tell that he was a keen historian; he laid out both the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles in a style reminiscent of the historical accounts of his day.
Many scholars would date Luke’s Gospel to around the AD 80s.
There is very little in Luke’s Gospel to indicate how the first recipients might have been feeling at the time.
There will be lots of names you will not know; don’t worry if you can’t place them all. The key ones are given below.
Antioch, Troas, Judea, Nazareth, lake Gennesaret, Capernaum, Galilee, Gennesaret, Jerusalem, Judah, Judea, Lake of Gennesaret, Mount of Olives, Nazareth, Samaria, Sidon, Sodom, Syria, Tyre
Theophilus, Herod of Judea, Augustus, Quirinius, Tiberius, Pontius Pilate, Herod Antipas, Philip ruler of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias ruler of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas, Asher, Beelzebul, Elijah, Enoch, Herod Philip I, Herod Philip II, Isaac, Israel, James brother of John, James son of Alphaeus, John the Baptist, John brother of James, Judas, Levi, Levites, Matthew, Moses, Pontius Pilate, Sadducees, Samaritans
God-fearer, Passover, Festival of Unleavened Bread, Sanhedrin, High Priest, Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, Hades, Altar, Beatitudes, disciples, Gentiles, Hades, Hell, lampstand, Passover, Pharisees, priest, Q, scribes, synagogue, threshing floor, tithe