Text: Luke 1:1-4
Some controversy exists about when the book of Luke was originally written, but it was probably written around AD 60-63 or so.
Who was Luke? Interestingly, Luke was not one of the twelve disciples, and was in fact not an eyewitness of Jesus’ ministry at all. Luke was a Gentile. Luke was a doctor, a physician. He was familiar with Greek, as is evidenced by his writing style, a style of Greek written by the educated for the educated.
Luke wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. They may be seen as a set, and this text serves as an introduction to them both.
One key point Luke makes in his introduction is that he was not an eyewitness. He identifies his sources as eyewitnesses and “servants of the word”, probably corresponding to the Gospel of Luke and Acts, respectively. Luke had contact with the original sources. His detailed account of Christ’s birth would indicate that He had contact with Mary. We know that he was one of Paul’s traveling companions.
Luke states that he has carefully investigated everything in this book and identifies what he has written as “the exact truth”. The word translated “exact truth” might be rendered “infallible truth.” He is reminding the reader that the things written herein are truthful and that they are the Word of God. This is a story that really happened and it changes lives because it is the story of Christ.
The things in this book are things “accomplished” (v.1) or fulfilled. Luke contains many examples of fulfilled prophecies: that the Messiah would be from Judah, from the seed of Isaac, and born in Bethlehem. He details the time of Christ’s birth, as foretold in Daniel.
This book was written to “Theophilus”. These things were written to give him knowledge and certainty. Luke’s objective was that Theophilus would have both factual understanding (“head knowledge”) and real relational, experiential knowledge of the things of God.
Who is Theophilus? To whom did Luke write? It’s generally accepted that he was writing to a real person. Luke uses the title, “most excellent” in referring to him, the same title was was used for Roman governors Felix and Festus. So Theophilus is thought by many to have had some relation to the government. The word “Theophilus” means “lover of God” or “one loved by God”. Luke is writing to someone who has been instructed in the Word of God and want to know more of Him. We can put ourselves, then, in the place of “Theophilus” because this describes all the children of God, and we have also been made to be “most excellent” members of a royal priesthood through Christ’s death and resurrection!