Introduction to the Gospel According to St. Luke

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Why study this book?

The book of Luke provides an additional witness of many truths recorded by Matthew and Mark and also contains unique content. The Gospel of Luke can deepen students’ understanding of the teachings of Jesus Christ and help them more fully appreciate His love and compassion for all mankind, as manifested during His mortal ministry and through His infinite Atonement.

Who wrote this book?

Luke is the author of this Gospel. He was a physician (see Colossians 4:14) and “a messenger of Jesus Christ” (Joseph Smith Translation, Luke 1:1 [in Luke 1:1, footnote a]). Luke was one of Paul’s “fellowlabourers” (Philemon 1:24) and Paul’s missionary companion (see 2 Timothy 4:11). Luke also wrote the book of Acts (see Bible Dictionary, “Luke”).

When and where was it written?

Although it is not known exactly when Luke wrote his Gospel, it was likely written in the second half of the first century A.D. Luke’s sources were people who “from the beginning were eyewitnesses” (Luke 1:2) of the Savior’s mortal ministry and Resurrection. We do not know where the Gospel of Luke was written.

To whom was it written and why?

Luke intended his Gospel to be read primarily by a Gentile audience, and he presented Jesus Christ as the Savior of both Jews and Gentiles. Luke specifically addressed His gospel to “Theophilus” (Luke 1:3), which in Greek means “friend of God” or “beloved of God” (see Bible Dictionary, “Theophilus”). It is apparent that Theophilus had received previous instruction concerning the life and teachings of Jesus Christ (see Luke 1:4). Luke hoped to provide further instruction by offering a systematic account of the Savior’s mission and ministry. He wanted those who read his testimony to “know the certainty” (Luke 1:4) of the Son of God—His compassion, Atonement, and Resurrection.

What are some distinctive features of this book?

Luke is the longest of the four Gospels and the longest book in the New Testament. Some of the most well-known stories of Christendom are unique to the Gospel of Luke: the circumstances surrounding the birth of John the Baptist (see Luke 1:5–25, 57–80); the traditional Christmas narrative (see Luke 2:1–20); the story of Jesus as a 12-year-old boy in the temple (see Luke 2:41–52); parables such as the good Samaritan (see Luke 10:30–37), the prodigal son (see Luke 15:11–32), and the rich man and Lazarus (see Luke 16:19–31); the story of the ten lepers (see Luke 17:11–19); and the account of the resurrected Lord walking beside His disciples on the road to Emmaus (see Luke 24:13–32).

Other unique features are Luke’s inclusion of teachings of John the Baptist not found in the other Gospels (see Luke 3:10–14); his emphasis on the prayerfulness of Jesus Christ (see Luke 3:21; 5:16; 9:18, 28–29; 11:1); and his inclusion of the calling, training, and missionary labors of the Seventy (see Luke 10:1–22). Moreover, Luke is the only Gospel writer to record that the Savior shed His blood in Gethsemane and that an angel ministered to Him (see Luke 22:43–44).

Because Luke’s Gospel begins and concludes at the temple, it also signals the temple’s importance as a principal location of God’s dealings with mankind (see Luke 1:9; 24:53).

Outline

Luke 1–3 The births and missions of John the Baptist and of Jesus Christ are foretold. Witnesses testify that the infant Jesus is the Messiah. At 12 years of age, Jesus Christ teaches at the temple. John the Baptist preaches repentance and baptizes Jesus Christ. Luke records a genealogy of Jesus Christ.

Luke 4–8 Jesus Christ is tempted in the wilderness. In Nazareth He proclaims Himself as the Messiah and is rejected. Jesus Christ chooses Twelve Apostles and teaches His disciples. He forgives sins and performs many miracles.

Luke 9–14 The Twelve Apostles are sent to preach and to heal. Jesus Christ feeds five thousand and is transfigured on a mountain. He calls the Seventy and sends them forth to teach. Jesus Christ teaches about discipleship, hypocrisy, and judgment. He relates the parable of the good Samaritan.

Luke 15–17 Jesus Christ teaches in parables. He teaches about offenses, faith, and forgiveness. He heals ten lepers and teaches of His Second Coming.

Luke 18–22 Jesus Christ continues to teach in parables. He heals a blind man and teaches Zacchaeus. He rides triumphantly into Jerusalem, weeps for the city, and cleanses the temple. Jesus Christ foretells the destruction of Jerusalem and speaks of the signs that will precede His Second Coming. He institutes the sacrament, teaches His Apostles, and suffers in Gethsemane. He is betrayed, arrested, mocked, smitten, and interrogated.

Luke 23–24 Jesus Christ is tried before Pilate and Herod, crucified, and buried. Angels at the tomb and two disciples on the road to Emmaus testify that Jesus Christ has been resurrected. The Savior appears to His disciples in Jerusalem, promises His Apostles they will be given power from God, and ascends into heaven.