Jul 20 2008

9- THE GOSPEL acc. to St. LUKE

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The Gospel according to Saint Luke

General Introduction:

The gospel was written by St. Luke as a message to a friend named Theophilus who is thought to be a man of high position in the Roman Empire because St. Luke addresses him as “the most excellent.” It seems that Theophilus heard about Jesus and wrote to his friend Luke asking about Jesus.

According to tradition, St. Luke is a gentile from Antioch by birth and a physician by profession. He accompanied St. Paul in his missionary trips according to what was written in the book of Acts. St. Luke also wrote the book of Acts as a second message to his friend Theophilus. The gospel of St. Luke was written in the Greek language, and there is a possibility that St. Luke wrote it from Greece or Asia Minor around 70 or 80 A.D.

Characteristics of the Gospel of St. Luke:

1. Historic Accuracy in detailing events and relating them to history of the Roman Empire.

2. St. Luke wrote his gospel to the gentiles and to the entire world. For this reason he did not mention any of the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus in contrast to St. Matthew who wrote his gospel to the Jews in particular. Also, St. Luke exchanged many of the Hebrew names with the corresponding Greek names like Simon the Cananite to Simon the Zealot (Luke 6:15) and Golgotha to Calvary (=skull, Kranion in Greek, Luke 23:33). In mentioning the lineage of Jesus according to the flesh he traced it all the way back to Adam the father of all humans, whereas St. Matthew traced it only to Abraham. He presents Jesus as the Messiah of the entire world who
(1) Destroyed the partitions between Jews and Samaritans (Luke 9:51-56, 10:30-37, and 17:11-19),
(2) Commended the widow of Sidon and Naaman the Syrian who are gentiles (Luke 4:25-27), and
(3) Accepted the gentiles in His Kingdom: “They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God” (Luke 13:29).

3. In his Gospel, St. Luke witnesses to the Love of Jesus to the sinners that repent. Examples are:

(1) The sinful woman who anointed the Lord’s feet with fragrant oil in Simon the Pharisee’s house (Luke 7:36-50),
(2) Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector (Luke 19:1-10), and
(3) The thief crucified at the Lord’s right hand (Luke 23:43).

Also, two of the three parables of repentance in Luke 15 are unique to the Gospel of St. Luke.

4. The Gospel of Prayers and Praise: The gospel of St. Luke contained more “Praise” than the rest of the New Testament books combined.

(1) The Gospel starts by mentioning the sacrifices, offerings and burning of incense (Luke 1:8-13). Then it proceeds to the praise of St. Mary (Luke 1:46-55), praise of Zacharias the priest (Luke 1:67-79), praise of Simeon the devout elder (Luke 2: 7-35) and the praise of Anna, the prophetess (Luke 2:36-38).

(2) In his description of the ministry of Jesus Christ, St. Luke highlighted the Lord’s prayers:
(i) After His baptism from John (Luke 3:21),
(ii) How Jesus [often] withdrew into the wilderness and prayed. (Luke 5:16),
(iii) He used to spend all night in prayers (Luke 6:12),
(iv) He used to pray with His disciples (Luke 9:18),
(v) Before the transfiguration He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray (Luke 9:28),
(vi) Before He taught His disciples how to pray Jesus was in a certain place praying (Luke 11:1),
(vii) He prayed for Simon to strengthen his belief (Luke 22:33),
(viii) He requested from His disciples to always pray lest they enter into temptation, then He knelt down and prayed (Luke 22:41),
(ix) In the middle of His suffering He asked the Father to forgive them their sins “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34), and
(x) When salvation was being fulfilled on the cross “Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, and said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” (Luke 23:46).

(3) St. Luke concludes his gospel with praise, in the same way as he started it. Thus, he describes the disciples kneeling and praising God: “And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God.” (Luke 24:52,53).

5. St. Luke emphasized the work of the Holy spirit:

(1) In the Virgin Mary when the angel said to her “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,” (Luke 1:35),
(2) In Zacharias the priest: “Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: Blessed [is] the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us” (Luke 1:76),
(3) In Simeon the devout elder “the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”(Luke 2:25-35),
(4) After Jesus was baptized the heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him (Luke 3:21,22),
(5) Jesus returned from the Jordan river filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1),
(6) After the temptations and before He started His service, “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee,” (Luke 4:14),
(7) In the beginning of His preaching as Isaiah said: “The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me, Because He has anointed Me” (Luke 4:18),
(8) When the seventy apostles returned from their first ministry, “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit” (Luke 10:21), and
(9) Before His ascension, He promised His disciples that He will send the Holy Spirit from on high (Luke 24:49)

6. St. Luke diligently mentioned blessed women, returning to women their dignity that was lost under the prevailing Jewish tradition at that time, and that was corrupted by the pagan worship.

(1) The gospel of St. Luke starts with the angel’s annunciation to the Virgin Mary, the Jewish girl that was full of grace (Luke 1:26-38),
(2) Then the story of Elizabeth the “righteous” woman, the wife of Zacharias the priest, and the first to believe in St. Mary as the mother of God (Luke 1:40-45),
(3) And Anna, the “prophetess” who “did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day” (Luke 2:36-38).
(4) Also, the gospel of St. Luke mentioned the Lord’s praise of the actions of the sinful woman that anointed His feet with fragrant oil (Luke 7:37-50),
(5) Witnessed to the service and love of Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus (Luke 10:38-42),
(6) And to Mary Magdalene who eye-witnessed the risen Christ and declared His resurrection to the disciples (Luke 24:10).

Outline of the contents:

(1) Chapter 1,2: The angel’s declarations to Zakaraias and to the Virgin Mary, followed by the birth of John the Baptist and of Jesus Christ.

(2) Chapter 3-4:13: Preaching by John the Baptist and the proclamation, baptism and temptation of Jesus Christ.

(3) Chapter 4:14-9:50: The ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ in Galilee.

(4) Chapter 9:51- 18:30: The ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ in Judea.

(5) Chapter 18:31-24:53: The last days in the ministry of the Lord, His sufferings, His resurrection and His ascension.

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Saint Mark’s Orthodox Fellowship urges you to study the Bible and encourage others to do the same. Please feel free to make any copies from these notes and distribute them to your relatives and friends. The fellowship welcomes any questions, comments or additional references, whether for publication in these “Short Notes” or in private correspondence.

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