LUKE - ACTS
THE MINISTRY OF JESUS
With the account of the synagogue reading and sermon, Luke sets forth
Jesus as the one who will be mighty in word and in deed (Lk.4:14-44;
cf. Acts 1:1; 10:38). 
Jesus announced the nature of his ministry by choosing his reading from
the prophecy of Isaiah and saying, as the one anointed by the Spirit,
"Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing" (v.21). The
nature of his mission is further expressed in his reference to two OT
prophets, Elijah and Elisah. Both of these classical prophets
ministered kindness into peoples' lives by miraculous acts.
Elijah provided food for a widow (1 Kgs.17:7-24), and Elisha healed the
Syria Naaman of leprosy (2 Kgs.5:1-19). Both ministered to
non-Jews - an application that upset Jesus' audience.
1. THE FIRST MIRACLES OF JESUS
The Gospel miracles may be divided into four groups or
classes: healing miracles, exorcisms, raisings (restorations) from the
dead, and nature miracles. Luke records an example of the first
two in 4:33-39. They may be indicative of Lucan interests and themes,
commencing with that of conflict with Satan depicted in an
exorcism. Although he is said to have left Jesus "for a time"
(achri kairou) in 4:13, the
struggle continued by way of his agents or
demons. The final conflict came at the time of the cross
The exorcism (4:31-37; cf.
Luke uses Mark's first miracle story - an exorcism (which Matthew
chooses not to use). The verbal agreement is not close, but without a
doubt the same story is being recounted. The closest parallel is
found in the words between the demoniac and Jesus. Mark's
characteristic word euthus
(immediately) is omitted by Luke.
Characteristic to Luke is his mention of "the word" (ho logos houtos,
cf. NIV which renders "his message") of Jesus "having authority"
(v.32), and the combination of the words dunamis and exousia
(v.36). Luke describes the "evil spirit" as pneuma daimonion
akathapton (evil or unclean spirit) and adds the detail that it
out without injuring the man (v.35). The two accounts of the
exorcism compare with other fuller Synoptic accounts. 
There is a description of the demonised person (v.33;
The deliverer (Jesus) is recognised (v.34; Mk.1:24)
Jesus addresses the demon reducing it to silence (v.35;
The demon is expelled with a word (v.35; Mk.1:26)
Evidence is given of the demon's expulsion (v.35; Mk.1:26)
The audience's reaction is recorded (v.36; Mk.1:27).
Study the Lucan stories of healing and deliverance. Ask
yourself the question:
Do they have a literary pattern or framework?
The healing of Peter's
This short story recounts how Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law of a
fever (cf. Mk.1:30-31; Mt.8:14-15). It is of interest from Luke's
point of view on two counts. First, in the way it compares with
the parallel accounts: Matthew records, "He touched her hand and the
fever left her"; Mark writes, "So he went to her, took her by the hand
and helped her up". Luke tells of no touch, but pictures Jesus
rebuking the fever as though he is rebuking a demon (cf. v.35).
The story compares with the fuller story of the healing of the crippled
women in chapter 13, where again sickness is rebuked. The
theological point may be raised as to whether Luke believed sickness as
well as demonisation should, or could, be attributed to the devil - and
if so - in what way?
The second point of interest is the way that Luke alone adds the detail
that the healed woman was rehabilitated so that she "began to wait on
them". As a salvation motif it pictures service following
deliverance - a point made in the Mary and Martha story peculiar to
Luke (10:38-42). A.Plummer comments: "The etetimēsen of v.35 does
not show that the use of the same word here is meant to imply that the
fever is regarded as a personal agent. But compare 13:11,16;
A summary statement (4:40-44)
In this summary statement Luke underlines the fact that Jesus has
demonstrated that he can heal diseases of both mind and body.  The
christological significance of Jesus' healing and deliverance ministry
is indicated by the demons' confession: "You are the Son of God"
(v.41). Further, a stress is placed on preaching as Jesus says, "I must
preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also,
because that is why I was sent" (v.43). Miracles are taken as
part of the proclamation of the good news. There is no
self-aggrandisement about the miracles of Jesus. They are
supernatural, while naturally being an integral part of the person and
ministry of Jesus. 
This opening chapters of Luke's Gospel introduce a number of
observations. First, that Jesus' authority and power was due to
the Spirit; second, that the ministry of Jesus fulfilled Scripture;
third, that the mission of Jesus involved miracles and teaching. 
2. SIGNS OF THE KINGDOM
Jesus' statement in the Beelzebub controversy: "But if I drive
out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to
you" (11:20) clearly teaches that the mighty works of Jesus are
miracles of the kingdom of God.  Here note: Mt.12:28 = Lk.11:20, Q.
The miracles of Jesus are viewed by Luke as acts of God, and as
messianic signs, or signs of the in-breaking of the kingdom of
God. Jesus' first and central message was that the kingdom of God
was at hand, and that men must repent - submit to the rule of God
(Mk.1:15). The deeds of Jesus indicated that the kingdom of God
was among people - that the reign of
God was in operation: "The kingdom
of God is in the midst of you" (17:21, RSV). J.Kallas sees both
the miracles and words of Jesus centring on the kingdom of God. 
Salvation and the kingdom of God
The term basileia tou theou
indicates God's dynamic activity.  In reference to the deeds and
words of Jesus, it becomes a comprehensive term for all that his
messianic salvation included.  The total ministry of Jesus in the
Gospels is seen meeting the whole person, that is, meeting needs -
including physical ones - and imparting truth. But even the
miracles themselves are vehicles of teaching - enacted parables which
say something about Jesus and the kingdom of God.
The disciples were privileged to see the works of the kingdom (Lk.10:23
= Mt.13:16, Q). "It is clear that Jesus thought that the kingdom
was present in himself and his ministry, but was also future in the
sense that it was to be consummated by God".  A.Richardson comments
on this saying: "All Christ's healings may be regarded as fulfilments
of the Isaianic signs, but especially the healings of the blind and
Exorcisms - a tale of two
The conflict of the kingdom of God with the kingdom of Satan is
especially see in the exorcisms of Jesus. These were not wrought
by magic or thaumaturgy (working of wonders). They were acts of power
and authority that demonstrated the kingdom of God. The exorcisms
of Jesus compare with those performed by "charismatic" Jewish exorcists
(Lk.11:19; Acts 19:13-14). Jesus' exorcisms were signs of the
kingdom of God. 
J.Kallas argues that in all the Gospels (commencing with Mark) the
kingdom of God as seen in the mission of Jesus is in real conflict with
the kingdom of Satan. The driving out of demons is a sign of the
coming of the kingdom. So also is the healing of diseases.
The cases of Peter's mother-in-law (4:38-39) and the crippled woman
(13:10-17) are seen to support the view "that Satan rules his captured
realm through diseases". His comment on the words mastix
(disease, lit. plague) and sōzein
(to save) lead him to say: "Jesus
destroyed the holds of Satan by driving out demons and healing many of
their plagues".  This opinion needs to be criticised, because
sometimes Luke can record miracles without any reference to the
devil. For example, in Lk.7:21: "At that time Jesus cured many
who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many
who were blind".  It is one thing to see sickness as a result of
mankind's condition apart from God (i.e., man's fall through Satan's
activity: Gen.3), it quite another to see them as a result of Satan's
activity in people's lives at the time of Jesus' ministry.
Reading Kallas, it is obvious that close attention must be given to the
story of the crippled women in Lk.13:10-17 when one studies the Lucan
miracles. Morris views healing of the woman as an act of
The refusal to show signs on
It is noticeable that Jesus refused to show signs of the kingdom of God
to those who demanded them, or would not understand them. He does
not work miracles for their own sake - either as exhibitions of power
or as spontaneous deeds of compassion. The working of miracles is
a part of the proclamation of the kingdom of God. Such a refusal
is noted by Luke in 11:29 (cf. Mt.12:39, Q). But the sign that
Jesus does offer is that of Jonah: "As Jonah was a sign to the
Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation"
(11:30). Matthew interprets this to refer to the resurrection of
Jesus, a miracle which was yet future (Mt.12:40). As the Messiah,
Jesus avoided any conformity to the image of a wonder-worker.
3. ACTS OF SALVATION
Every aspect of the ministry of the Lord Jesus has to be
viewed in terms of salvation, as I.H.Marshall reminds us:
The central theme in the writings of Luke is that Jesus offers
salvation to men. If we are looking for a text to sum up the
message of the Gospel, it would undoubtedly be Luke 19:10: "For the Son
of man came to seek and to save the lost"... the saying of Jesus,
therefore, stands at the climax of his evangelistic ministry and sums
up its significance: Jesus came to save. 
A collation of the two formative passages Lk.4:18-19 (Q) and 7:22 (Q)
gives the view that Jesus' mission would be one of salvation. The
age of the kingdom was to be the age of salvation. So Jesus gave
sight to the blind (Lk.7:21; 18:35-43), restored the lame (5:12-16),
cleansed the lepers (5:12-16; 17:11-19), made the deaf hear (not found
in Luke, but see Mk.7:31-37; 9:25), raised the dead (7:11-17; 8:40-56)
and preached the good news to the poor (cf., 6:20). The two main
signs, it could be said, were healings and preaching to the poor.
Deliverance from Satan
We have already stressed this aspect of the Lord's saving work.
The Tempter (Lk.4:2) resisted the salvation-work of Jesus and his
disciples, but Jesus overcame him.  The success of the mission of
Jesus and his disciples is portrayed by the story of the mission of the
Seventy (or Seventy-two), when it was reported, "Lord, even the demons
submit to us in your name" (10:17-18). At that time, the
narrative tells us, Jesus "saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven"
The fall of Satan has been associated with the fall of Lucifer
(Isa.14:12-15), e.g., by E.Schweizer.  An alternative
interpretation of etheopōun ton
Satanan, however, could be that Jesus
knew that Satan was being overcome by the mission of his
disciples. "In the defeat of the demons he saw the defeat of
their chief".  The saying is unique to Luke. I.H.Marshall comments
that Lk.10:18f. undermines H.Conzelmann's view that the central section
of Jesus' ministry was Satan-free. 
Healing and salvation from sin
The redemptive nature of the healing ministry of Jesus is seen in his
use of the parabolic saying, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor,
but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners
to repentance" (Lk.5:31-32). A powerful commentary on the saying
is found in the story of the sinful woman, whose sin is forgiven on the
basis of faith (7:36-50).
The nature of this "saving-faith" is also seen in the healing of the
paralytic (Lk.5:17-26). In response to his friends' faith Jesus
said to the handicapped man, "Friend, your sins are forgiven"
(v.20). It is important to observe that the faith exhibited in
the miracles of Jesus is not that of "faith-healing" or "faith cures" -
the healing is possible because "the power of the Lord was present to
heal the sick" (v.17). Another thought attracts the attention
here, What is the connection between healing and forgiveness?
E.E.Ellis comments that, "Your sins are forgiven" is interpreted
variously. Three points here:
Christ is making a connection between the paralytic's
sickness and sin (cf. Jn.5:14).
He assumes the popular view of such a connection (cf.
He affirms the generic, although not necessarily personal
between sickness and sin and thereby points to the true "sign"-ificance
of his healing. 
Ellis takes the last view to be the most likely. "Both
Jewish and the apostolic writings", he says, "recognise the close
relationship of sin and sickness, healing and forgiveness".  The
miracle becomes a teaching method, an enacted parable, a sign 
"that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to
Salvation from sickness
The healing of the woman with the chronic haemorrhage (Lk.8:43-48)
provides a good example of deliverance from sickness (cf. Mk.5 25-34;
Mt.9:20-22). For A.Richardson:
The Christian picture of Jesus as the Good Physician, the
Saviour of both body and soul, is derived from the miracle-story
tradition, which makes use of the healing narratives to convey
spiritual teaching concerning salvation. 
The Lucan interest in dunamis
is seen again in the statement, "I know
that power has gone out from me" (v.46). Faith is rewarded by a
saving act.  But public confession is involved in the healing of
the woman, and precedes faith.  The "faith" that saves is a trust
in Jesus and his ability to heal, as in the case of the ten lepers
(17:12-19). The one who was cleansed and healed returned to thank
Jesus, and received the word, "Your faith has made you well". 
Salvation from death
Luke's two stories of the raising of the dead are salvation stories
illustrating Jesus' power over death.  Death is man's last enemy,
showing no respect of persons (Lk.7:11-17; 8:49-56).
C.H.Dodd uses the story of the raising of the widow's son (7:11-17)
together with those of the crippled woman (13:10-17), the healing at
Bethsaida (Jn.5:1-8), the man with the withered hand (Mk.3:1-6) and the
man with dropsy (14:1-6) to demonstrate a fundamental pattern in the
Gospel miracle stories. 
This story of deliverance is shaped on the Elijah story of 1 Kings
17:8-24, and represents Jesus as the prophet (v.16)  and the
"author of life" (Acts 3:15).  Here, significantly, Luke refers to
Jesus as ho kurios, the Lord
(v.13). A.Plummer comments: "It is
the Lord of Life meeting sorrow and death".  The way that Jesus
addressed the dead reflects Acts 9:40 where the same verb is used.
Enacted parables of mercy and
The miracles of Jesus convey the love and mercy of God to men and women
in need. Although Luke omits the use of the word splanchna
(compassion, pity) in reference to Jesus, the evidence is present for
all to see. For example, in the unique account of the raising of
the widow's son, we are told, "When the Lord saw her, his heart went
out to her and he said to her, 'Don't cry'" (Lk.7:13). Care and
compassion are clearly illustrated. V.Taylor sees such a story
supported by Acts 10:38 to infer that the miracles are "primarily works
of compassion and power".  Van der Loos speaks of the priestly
aspect of Jesus' activities finding expression in the love and devotion
to others which reached its climax at the cross. 
G.H.R.Horsley has drawn attention to the belief that charis (grace) is
seen by some scholars as a Lucan term for power. The dynamic
nature of charis as "a power
capable of becoming immanent in a person
and of producing very tangible outworkings of its presence" is given
strong support by the work of G.P.Wetter (1913). 
In Luke there are only two scriptures which use the term charis in
reference to Jesus, and they are in the infancy narratives: "And the
child grew and became strong, he was filled with wisdom, and the grace
of God was upon him" (2:40, cf. v.52). Luke notes the "gracious words"
(tois logois tēs charitos)
used at the commencement of the public
ministry of Jesus (4:22). Here charitos is a characterising genitive or
genitive of quality. 
Luke may be picturing the activity of God's grace in the teaching and
miracles of Jesus. Such "grace" in word and in deed may compare
with the OT Torah - in the words of the Fourth Gospel, "For the law was
given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ"
(Jn.1:17). A comparison may be made with Acts 4:33 where "great
grace was upon them all" may mean that the grace of God worked
powerfully through the disciples (Acts 6:8; Lk.2:40).
4. OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST
Prayer, obedience and discipleship have a bearing on the study
of miracles in Luke.
Prayer is one of Luke's favourite subjects, and can be seen to be part
of the discussion on faith, for in the Gospel tradition the person of
faith is often pictured coming to Jesus for help and healing (e.g.,
Lk.4:38; 7:3; 8:41). The prayer of the leper takes the form of a
plea, and is full of faith "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me
clean" (5:12). This viewpoint recognises the need of divine initiative
in miracles. 
R.Bultmann, in his existential approach to the Gospel tradition, sees
obedience as central to the gospel of Jesus.  Obedience to the law
must be based on a reference to God himself, with whom there is only
the Either-or, not
Both-and. To apply what Bultmann says, the
people who encountered Jesus and experience healing had to exercise
obedience in order to know that healing. For example, the commands,
"Take your mat and go home" (5:24), "Bring your son here" (9:41), and
"Go, show yourselves to the priests" (17:14) all call for action.
Such obedience is the evidence of faith.
Miracles may be a means of arousing faith - a point made by Van der
Loos, who notes that the OT repeatedly states that the Israelites were
moved to believe or were strengthened in their belief by miraculous
deeds (e.g., Ex.4:30-31; 14:31; Num.14:11). So Jesus could regard
miracles as publicity for his message, especially in Galilee. 
The link of healing and discipleship is made in the story of the
healing of the blind man (Lk.18:35-43). In this story Jesus invites
faith with the question, "What do you want me to do for you?".
When the man received his sight at the word of Jesus he "followed
Jesus" (v.43). Discipleship was not a condition of healing, but
was the natural response of gratitude for the beggar "followed Jesus,
praising God" (v.43). Compare this account with the story of
Bartimaeus who, after his healing, "followed Jesus along the road"
(Mk.10:52; note Jn.14:6).
The observation makes links with Moses and Elijah. Signs were the
credentials of Moses' ministry (see Ex.4:8,9,17.; 8:23; 10:1-2).
The widow of Zarephath was convinced of Elijah's mission by the
restoration of her son (1 Kings 17:24; cf. 18:39; 2 Kings 5:15).
Luke gives examples of those who followed Jesus after a miracle
There is joy in believing as in the case of Mary (Lk.1:47). The
Philippian jailer's family "was filled with joy, because they had come
to believe in God" (Acts 16:34). There is also joy in mission, as
when the Lord sent the Seventy or Seventy-two out to share the good
news of the kingdom. "At that time Jesus, full of joy through the
Holy Spirit, said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and
revealed them to little children'" (Lk.10:21). Notice the involvement
of the Holy Spirit here.
The temple in Jerusalem
It is important to notice how Luke gives a prominent place to Jerusalem
and its temple. His Gospel opens and closes with events involving
the temple (Lk.1:8-23; 24:50-53. The gospel is broadcasted from
Jerusalem (Lk.24:47; Acts 1:8). The earliest church was the
Jerusalem church (Acts 2:42-47). Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of
Isaiah when he ministered in the temple (Lk.21:37-38 with Isa.2:2-3).
God wanted the nation of Israel to be a missionary nation, so that from
Jerusalem and the temple the reality of God and his care for mankind
would be broadcast. (God wanted all the nations to be blessed
through Abraham (Gen.12:1-3)). But the Jews kept the knowledge of
God and his ways to themselves and, as a result, became isolated and
bigoted. The book of Jonah judges Israel for its isolation and
failure to be a missionary nation. Luke makes the point that what
Israel failed to do, Jesus and his church accomplished.
A PROJECT PAGE
This quotation is supplies for your reflection and criticism:
R.H.Gundry notes Luke's emphasis on the Holy Spirit in his works.
[Luke] tells us that John the Baptist was to be filled with
the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb (1:15). The Holy
Spirit comes to Mary in order that she may miraculously give birth to
the Son of God (1:35). When Mary visits Elizabeth, Elizabeth is
filled with the Holy Spirit to say, "Blessed are you among women, and
blessed is the fruit of your womb" (1:41-42). When John the Baptist is
born and then named, his father Zecharias (Zechariah) is filled with
the Holy Spirit and prophesies (1:67). The Holy Spirit rests on
Simeon, informs him that before dying he will behold the Christ, and
leads him to the temple to see the Christ child (2:25-27). After
receiving the Spirit at his baptism, Jesus is "full of the Holy Spirit"
and "led by the Spirit" in the wilderness (4:1). Following his
temptation, he returns to Galilee "in the power of the Spirit" (4:14).
When the seventy-two disciples return from their successful mission, he
rejoices "in the Holy Spirit" (10:21). And before his ascension he
promises that the Spirit will clothe the disciples "with power from on
high" (24:49). Consequently, the gospel of Luke (as later the book of
Acts) throbs with the thrill of an irresistible movement of God's
Spirit in human history. Luke writes with supreme confidence in
the inevitably successful advance of the gospel inaugurated by Jesus
"the Lord" (a favorite [sic] designation of Jesus in Luke) and carried
on by his disciples in the energy of the Holy Spirit.
R.H.Gundry's analysis of the
Acts of the Apostles
Subsequent to this awareness, Gundry analyses the Acts into two parts:
The Acts of the Spirit of Christ in and out from Jerusalem
The Acts of the Spirit of Christ far and wide through the
Apostle Paul (Acts 13:1-28:31). 
Reflections on the quotation
Gundry supports the view that Luke chapters 1-3 provides an
introduction to Luke-Acts. He also acknowledges that Luke's
interest in the Person and work of the Holy Spirit is to be found in
both works, providing not only an interesting link, but a theological
one. The sense of continuity promoted by the relationship of the
Holy Spirit with the Lord Jesus and his disciples challenges reflection.
Click here for