Survey of Luke

Book Type: The third book of the four gospels; the third book of the New Testament; the forty-second book of the Bible.

Author: Luke's methods are noted in Luke 1:1¬–4, but his name is not explicitly used as the author of the book. However, the New Testament figure of Luke is mentioned in Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11, and Philemon 1:24. Early church traditions universally credit both this Gospel and the book of Acts to Luke.

The biblical Luke is described as a Gentile, as well as a doctor. These traits seem to influence the writing of the Gospel of Luke, which prominently features healings, the plight of women and children, a scholarly style, and a consistently non-Jewish perspective on places and events.

Audience: Luke is most likely the only Gentile (non-Jewish) author of New Testament writing, emphasizing God's plan for all people. He wrote to Theophilus (Luke 1:1¬–4), likely an early Christian who supported Luke's written work. As a Gentile as well as a doctor prior to becoming a Christian missionary, Luke's writing is very detailed, based on many eyewitness accounts, with a particular emphasis on healings and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Date: Many dates have been suggested for Luke. Luke is part of a two-part work with the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–5), which ends with Paul in Rome in approximately AD 62. This suggests it was completed anytime after that. Likewise, since it makes no mention of Paul's death in the mid-AD 60s, it was complete before that time. A date between AD 60—65 is most likely.

Overview: Luke is one of the larger books in the New Testament, with 24 chapters covering five major themes. Its express purpose is to provide fact-checked information about Jesus Christ.

The first major section includes the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, along with Christ's boyhood, baptism, and temptations (Luke 1:1—4:13). After a brief introduction, Luke chronicles the account of Zacharias and his vision in the temple, the announcement to Mary of the coming virgin birth of Jesus, and her visit to Elizabeth and her song. Luke 2:1¬–20 describes the birth of Jesus, followed by His dedication at the temple (Luke 2:21–38). The description of Jesus' childhood includes His being raised in Nazareth (Luke 2:39–40, 51–52) and His time in the temple at age twelve (Luke 2:41–50). Years later, the preaching of John the Baptist begins, pointing toward the coming Messiah. Jesus is baptized, His genealogy is given, and He is tempted for forty days in the desert (Luke 3:1—4:13).

The second section includes Jesus' ministry in Galilee (Luke 4:14–9:50). He preaches in Nazareth (Luke 4:14–30) and Capernaum (Luke 4:31–44); calls disciples (Luke 5:1—6:16); and teaches on a plateau (Luke 6:17–49), in cities (Luke 7:1—8:25), and throughout Galilee (Luke 8:26—9:50) where He confirms His teachings with signs and healings.

The third major section covers His journey to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51—19:27). Jesus travels through Samaria (Luke 9:51—10:37), Bethany and Judea (Luke 10:38—13:35), and Perea (Luke 14:1—19:27).

The fourth major section covers the Passion Week (Luke 19:28—23:56). Jesus enters the city in triumph (Luke 19:28¬–40), weeps over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41–44), cleanses the temple (Luke 19:45–46), teaches, argues with opponents, is betrayed, and celebrates the Last Supper with His followers (Luke 19:47—22:38). Jesus is then arrested, placed on trial, crucified, and buried (Luke 22:39—23:56).

The fifth and final section focuses on the resurrection and ascension of Jesus (Luke 24). His resurrection is announced (Luke 24:1–12), He appears to two men on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13–35), appears to His disciples (Luke 24:36–49), and finally ascends to heaven to conclude the book (Luke 24:50–53).

Key Verses (ESV):

Luke 2:4–7: "And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn."

Luke 3:16: "John answered them all, saying, 'I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.'"

Luke 4:18–19, 21: "'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, \ because he has anointed me \ to proclaim good news to the poor. \ He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives \ and recovering of sight to the blind, \ to set at liberty those who are oppressed, \ to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor'…And he began to say to them, 'Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.'"

Luke 18:31–32: "And taking the twelve, he said to them, 'See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon.'"

Luke 23:33–34: "And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' And they cast lots to divide his garments."

Luke 24:1–3: "But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus."