Luke, Gospel according to - was written by Luke. He does not claim to have been an eye-witness of our Lord's ministry, but to have gone to the best sources of information within his reach, and to have written an orderly narrative of the facts (Luke 1:1-4).
The authors of the first three Gospels, the synoptics, wrote independently of each other. Each wrote his independent narrative under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Each writer has some things, both in matter and style, peculiar to himself, yet all the three have much in common. Luke's Gospel has been called
- "the Gospel of the nations, full of mercy and hope, assured to the world by the love of a suffering Saviour;"
- "the Gospel of the saintly life;"
- "the Gospel for the Greeks;
- the Gospel of the future;
- the Gospel of progressive Christianity, of the universality and gratuitousness of the gospel;
- the historic Gospel;
- the Gospel of Jesus as the good Physician and the Saviour of mankind;"
- the "Gospel of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man;"
- "the Gospel of womanhood;"
- "the Gospel of the outcast, of the Samaritan, the publican, the harlot, and the prodigal;"
- "the Gospel of tolerance."
The main characteristic of this Gospel, as Farrar (Cambridge Bible, Luke, Introd.) remarks, is fitly expressed in the motto, "Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil" (Acts 10:38; comp. Luke 4:18). Luke wrote for the "Hellenic world." This Gospel is indeed "rich and precious."
"Out of a total of 1151 verses, Luke has
- 389 in common with Matthew and Mark,
- 176 in common with Matthew alone,
- 41 in common with Mark alone,
- leaving 544 peculiar to himself.
- In many instances all three use identical language."
There are seventeen of our Lord's parables peculiar to this Gospel. Luke also records seven of our Lord's miracles which are omitted by Matthew and
The synoptical Gospels are related to each other after the following scheme. If the contents of each Gospel be represented by 100, then when compared this result is obtained:
- Mark has 7 peculiarities, 93 coincidences.
- Matthew 42 peculiarities, 58 coincidences.
- Luke 59 peculiarities, 41 coincidences.
- thirteen-fourteenths of Mark,
- four-sevenths of Matthew, and
- two-fifths of Luke
are taken up in describing the same things in very similar language.
Luke's style is more finished and classical than that of Matthew and Mark. There is less in it of the
Hebrew idiom. He uses a few Latin words (Luke 12:6; 7:41; 8:30; 11:33; 19:20), but no Syriac or
Hebrew words except sikera, an exciting drink of the nature of wine, but not made of grapes (from
Heb. shakar, "he is intoxicated", Lev. 10:9), probably palm wine.
This Gospel contains twenty-eight distinct references to the Old Testament.
The date of its composition is uncertain. It must have been written before the Acts, the date of the composition of which is generally fixed at about 63 or 64 A.D. This Gospel was written, therefore, probably about 60 or 63, when Luke may have been at Caesarea in attendance on Paul, who was then a prisoner. Others have conjectured that it was written at Rome during Paul's imprisonment there. But on this point no positive certainty can be attained.
It is commonly supposed that Luke wrote under the direction, if not at the dictation of Paul. Many
words and phrases are common to both; e.g., compare: