Thursday, January 06, 2005

Luke 1:1-4

Investigation: Lk.1:1-4

“Luke opens his Gospel with a single resounding sentence in the delicately balanced style of classical rhetoric.” [1]

"The preface consists of . . . perfectly constructed Greek. This literary crafting stands in sharp contrast to the rather Jewish-sounding Greek that immediately
follows. Indeed, Luke does not devote the same attention again to forming a sentence until Acts 28:30-31." [2]

“The prologue is primarily the preface for the Gospel, but Acts is probably also in view. [3]

“Luke . . . used more than half of Mark's Gospel (356 out of 661 verses), and has followed his general plan of arrangement. . . . Besides this large use of Mark,
Luke has about 235 verses, mainly the teachings of Jesus, which are found also in Matthew's Gospel. . . . Almost half of Luke's Gospel (about 548 out of 1149 verses) is unique . . .” [4]

"The problem lies in whether Luke is referring here to one or two groups of persons ["eyewitnesses and servants of the word"]. . . . The choice is difficult; I prefer the latter interpretation." [5]

"Chronological order is not necessarily implied in . . . [orderly], but merely arrangement of some kind. Nevertheless, he probably has chronological order chiefly in view. In the NT the word is peculiar to Luke (8:1; Acts 3:24; 11:4; 18:23) . . ." [6]

"The preface reminds us to keep the date within a generation of eyewitnesses." [7]

“Was Theophilus a Christian, an influential non- Christian, or a God-fearer? It is almost impossible to answer this question with certainty.” [8]

". . . most excellent is an honorific title. It may be used loosely and imply no more than that Theophilus was socially respected and probably well-to-do, or it may
indicate some kind of official status. Luke elsewhere uses 'most excellent' only in address to Roman procurators (Acts 23:26; 24:3; 26:25), which may encourage us to find an official use here." [9]

“. . . Luke was claiming a place for Christianity on the stage of world history. . . . the likelihood is that earlier Christian literature was produced for church purposes. Luke also had in mind the non-Christian world.” [10]

1. Caird, G.B., The Gospel of St. Luke (Seabury Press: New York, 1963), 43. Cited hereafter as Caird.

2. Nolland, John, Luke 1:1-9:20 (Word, 1989), 10. Hereafter cited as Nolland.

3. Ellis, E. Earle, The Gospel of Luke (Eerdmans, 1983 reprint), 64. Cited hereafter as Ellis.

4. Miller, Donald G., The Gospel According to Luke (John Knox Press, 1982), 19-20. Cited hereafter as Miller.

5. Fitzmyer, Joseph A., The Gospel According to Luke I-IX (Doubleday, 1981), I:300. Cited hereafter as Fitzmyer-Luke. A unique proposal of late by Richard H. Anderson proposes that Theophilus was the high priest (Evangelical Quarterly, 69:3, 1997, 195-215). His article is available online at:

6. Plummer, Alfred, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. Luke (T & T Clark, 1981 reprint), 4. Cited hereafter as Plummer.

7. Craddock, Fred, Luke (John Knox, 1990), 19. Cited hereafter as Craddock.

8. Fitzmyer-Luke, I:294.

9. Nolland, 10.

10. Marshall, I.H., The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Eerdmans, 1979 reprint), 40. Cited hereafter as Marshall-Luke.