Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.
– Luke 1:1-4
This is how Luke begins his gospel. It’s fitting that he gives an explanation because he was an assistant of Paul’s and not an apostle himself. Moreover, Luke was the only Gentile author in the Bible – having written this gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Luke-Acts can be considered a two-volume work: 1) what Jesus said and did, and 2) what His apostles said and did. Because Luke compiled these writings in his work with Paul, it carries apostolic authority – that is, Paul’s authority as an apostle (“sent one”) of Jesus.
Though Luke was not himself an eyewitness of Jesus, his gospel is a compilation of eyewitness testimony he collected and organized into a cohesive narrative. That said, having been a co-worker with Paul, there are places in the latter half of the book of Acts where the text reads “we” went here and “we” stayed there. Those are obviously occasions where Luke was an eyewitness to the events narrated.
Luke’s perspective is particularly welcome to us because he, like most of us, comes from the world of Gentiles. He did not know Jesus up close and was eager to investigate the details of what the messianic life actually looked like. Luke could go to Peter to learn about many of the things Jesus did, but he would have had to go to Mary to learn about Jesus’ birth. And so on. Luke doesn’t clutter his gospel with the source of each episode of the gospel – rather, he presents a seamless narrative, just as the other gospels do.
“Theophilus” means “lover of God,” so rather than referring to a specific individual it may be that Luke wrote his account of Jesus for anyone who loves God. Like all the other books of the Bible, this book was written not that we might know the Bible, but that we might love Jesus.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord, teach me from the Bible the truth about Yourself..(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)