Historic Jesus

Directors Notes
History and Culture

Prologue, Purpose, Annunciation, Gabriel, Nazareth, Mary, Holy Spirit
(John 3:16-17; Luke 1:1-4, 26-48)


"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through Him".
(John 3:16,17, New American Standard Bible).


Luke is believed to be a Gentile physician who composed the third Gospel. It is called the "historical" Gospel because of its similarity in style to Greek historiography. Luke states his intention at the beginning of his writing. He desires to produce an accurate, orderly account of the life of Jesus.

He writes to the "most excellent Theophilus" which literally means "lover of God." This designation may simply be a pseudonym and could be referring to those Gentile Christians who loved and were devoted to God, or the "most excellent" reference could mean it is addressed to one person who was probably a high-ranking Roman officer. However, Luke certainly had a broader audience in mind than one person when he composed his Gospel. He was a Gentile writing to a Gentile audience.
(William Benton, Pub., The New Encyclopedia Britannica in 30 Volumes, S.V. "Biblical Literature" by R.M.A. Everett Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity, 2nd Edition Grand Rapids, Michigan, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987, 483-4. James Hasting. D.D. ed. Dictionary of The New Testament: Christ and The Gospels, S.V. "Pharisees" by H. M. Scott.)

Luke conveniently states one of his main purposes for writing his Gospel in its first few verses. Though not an eyewitness himself, he "carefully investigated" the events surrounding the life of Christ in order to present "an orderly account," so that the "certainty" of them may be known. Therefore, from Luke we have a "theological history"--an accurate historical account of the life of Christ written so as to express its theological significance.
(Marshall, I. Howard, The Gospel of Luke, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1978, 35.)

While Matthew's account focuses on Jesus as the messianic King, Mark's on Jesus as servant, and John's on Jesus as the Son of God, Luke's Gospel focuses on the humanity of Jesus, the Son of Man and the universal offer of salvation to all mankind.
(Guthrie, Donald, New Testament Introduction, InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, 1990, 102ff.)

Luke, a Gentile, and a close traveling companion of the apostle Paul (Colossians 4:10-14; 2 Timothy 4:11), seems to have aimed his account toward a Gentile audience. (Walvoord, John F. and Roy B. Zuck, eds., Bible Knowledge Commentary (New Testament ed.), s.v., "Luke," by John Martin, Victor Books: Wheaton, 1983.) See also the "we" passages in the book of Acts in the Bible, which was also written by Luke, where he associates himself with Paul: Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1-28:16. Thus, he was in a good position to glean rich information about Jesus by investigating the traditions surrounding Him. Furthermore, the tradition of the early church is strong and consistent in attributing the third Gospel to Luke.
(Carson, D. A., Douglas J. Moo and Leon Morris, An Introduction to the New Testament, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1992, 113; Marshall, I. Howard, The Gospel of Luke, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1978, 33-34.)

Whether speaking historically, linguistically or literally, biblical scholars are impressed with Luke's writing. We can be confident that the text as we possess it today is essentially as Luke first wrote it.
[Carson, Moo and Morris, 122]

Which language was used?

Luke writes in excellent Greek, adopting different styles for different portions of the book. Throughout he uses a literary style carefully crafted to better communicate his intended purposes.
[Ibid., 115; Guthrie, 131; Ryken, Leland and Tremper Longman III, eds., A Complete Literary Guide to the Bible, s.v. "Luke", by Michael Travers, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 1993]



(Luke 1:26)
Nazareth lies in a basin with the southern most range of Lower Galilee. It is about ten miles from the plain of Esdraelon. Because it lies in a basin, from within it, one cannot see any of the surrounding country. If, however, one climbs to the edge of the basin, the sights are astounding. The battlefields of Esdraelon lie before you. These were the sights of victory for Barak and Gideon. Saul and Josiah suffered defeat and the Maccabees struggled for freedom here. One can also see Naboth's vineyard; the place of Jehu's revenge upon Jezebel; the house of Elisha; Carmel; and the place of Elijah's sacrifice. The valley of Jordan, the range of Gilead and the Great Sea are in plain view. In all, one can see thirty miles in three directions.

The name of the present-day village is en-NÉzirah and it is near Cana.
(Merrill F. Unger, Unger's Bible Dictionary, Moody Press, Chicago, Illinois, 1974, 779.)