LUKE - ACTS
LUCAN SOURCES - INCLUDING THE OLD
As a second-generation Christian Luke depends on sources for his Gospel
data. This is plainly stated in Luke 1:1-4, which form the
preface to the Gospel, and perhaps to Luke-Acts as a two-volume
work. The verses warrant careful study.
As well as looking to historical witnesses and oral and written
traditions, Luke's awareness and use of the Old Testament (OT) is very
obvious. No study of Luke's work would be complete without
looking into this subject of fulfilled Scripture.
1. A STUDY OF LUKE 1:1-4
I.H.Marshall observes that unlike the other evangelists, "Luke
begins his Gospel with a brief preface in excellent Greek such as one
would find in the work of a secular writer".  L.Morris agrees,
calling it a "literary opening" and deduces from this that the work is
meant for circulation. 
Many have undertaken to draw up
an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us.
Luke gives no indication as to whom the previous writers were.
The two-documentary hypothesis postulates that Mark was the first
Gospel to be written and that Luke made use of this together with a
document that contained mostly sayings of Jesus, designated as "Q" .
 The word "fulfilled" links the NT with the OT. The early
Christians had a deep conviction that in Jesus and his church the
purposes of God were being worked out - that the promises contained in
the Scriptures were being fulfilled (cf. Mt.1:22-23; Lk.4:21; Acts
M.C.Tenney infers from this: 
In the time of the writer a number of works were extant
only a partial, or possibly a garbled account of Jesus' life and
The author would not have written a Gospel of his own had he been
satisfied with any of those that he knew.
These accounts had attempted some systematic arrangement
of available facts ("to draw up a narrative" - 1:1).
These facts were well known to the Christian world and
independently of the narratives. They "have been fulfilled among
The author felt himself at least as well informed as the
others and as capable of writing an account of his own responsibility
("it seemed good to me also" - v.4).
Just as they were handed down
to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the
Luke's reference is to the apostles and their immediate circle.
"Handed down" indicates authoritative tradition (cf. 2 Thess.2:15;
3:6). The apostles were eyewitnesses of Christ and his
resurrection (Acts 1:21-22). Christianity is a historical faith based
on people and events in history. "Servants of the word" (unique
to Luke's Gospel) may be taken to indicate "preachers" or "servants of
Christ" who is the Word (Jn.1:1f.; 1 Jn.1:1f.). The Christian
faith is based on a person. John the Baptist may also be in mind
M.C.Tenney further observes:
Therefore, since I myself have
carefully investigated everything from the beginning it seemed good
also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent
Luke states that he has personally "followed all things closely"
(RSV). The verb parakoloutheō
("to follow near") is to be taken
figuratively in the sense of "tracking down" or "investigating". 
Luke may be saying that he had acquired such familiarity with the facts
and had so kept in touch with them that his witness is practically
contemporary witnesses. His information is reliable. "From
the beginning" means "from the first" (Gk. anōthen, cf. Acts
26:5). It traces the commencement of the Gospel account to John
the Baptist. "Orderly account" (Gk. kathexēs)
is original to Luke. It
may signify "chronological order" or better here "orderly narrative".
Theophilus is unlikely to be a symbolic name (despite its meaning,
"lover of God"). It points to a real person who, as Luke's
patron, would probably have met the costs of publishing the book.
The epithet "most excellent" probably indicates a person of rank (cf.
Acts 23:26; 24:3; 26:25), though the possibility remains that it is
only a courtesy title.  B.H.Streeter conjectured that this person of
rank was a governor of a province, perhaps Achaia, and that Luke wrote
his two volumes to him as an apologia for Christianity to the Roman
aristocracy. He further suggested the name of FlaviusClemens,
heir to the throne, whose wife, Domitilla, was a Christian. The
literary opening, however, may indicate that the Gospel was meant for
circulation. Some scholars take Theophilus to indicate any reader
who loves God.
M.C.Tenney further comments:
He was conversant with the facts, either by observation or
and he was certainly a contemporary of the main course of action in the
sense that he lived in the generation of those who had witnessed it.
Luke's knowledge covered all the major facts. His
Gospel contains many
particulars that do not appear in the others and is the most generally
representative life of Christ.
He professed to write accurately and in logical
order. His use of the
term "in order" does not necessarily presuppose chronological order,
but it does mean that he had a definite plan of procedure and that he
intended to adhere to it.
Luke's addressee was probably a man of the upper class who
may be called here by his baptismal name, Theophilus.
so that you may know the
certainty of the things you have been taught.
This may indicate that Theophilus was a believer or inquirer. The
verb "taught" (Gk. katēcheō,
inform, instruct, teach) is used of
converts or inquirers (cf. Acts 18:25; 1 Cor.14:19). Luke is portraying
himself as a historian. According to I.H.Marshall, "Luke is to be
regarded as claiming to write history and attaching importance to the
accurate reporting of the crucial events associated with Jesus". 
2. THE FULFILMENT OF SCRIPTURE
R.N.Longenecker says that the Gospel evangelists' use of the
OT is to be seen in the arrangement of their narratives (where they
parallel certain OT features), in their emphases (where certain OT
themes are highlighted), and their employment of biblical language, but
especially in their editorial comments when using OT material (e.g.,
Lk.2:23-24; 3:4-6).  He says the Lucan birth narratives (Lk.1-2)
clearly "anchor the birth of Jesus Christ in the faith and piety of
Israel, in the Hebrew Scriptures, and thus in the plan and purpose of
God". The passages "indicate the author's concept of the gospel's
continuity with and fulfilment of the prophetic message to Israel of
The plan of God
The overall impression given by Luke's recognition of fulfilled
Scripture is that God is working out his plans and purposes. He
speaks of "God's purpose" (tēn boulēn
tou theou, 7:30), and of the
Father's will (22:42). Luke has a strong sense of Heilsgeschichte
(salvation history). L.Morris says:
Luke saw God as working out a great plan in human affairs...
This purpose is seen supremely in the cross (Acts 2:23; 3:13; 5:30,
etc.). Luke also brings it out with his many references to the
fulfilment of prophecy (Lk.4:21; 24:44, etc.). He was clear that people
do not defeat God.
According to J.A.Fitzmyer, Luke has more instances of fulfilled
Scripture in his Gospel than any other evangelist as he seeks to link
events in the life and ministry of Jesus with OT precedents.  He
also points out that the impersonal verb dei ("it is necessary" is used
28 times in Luke-Acts. This term gives a very strong sense of
purpose and mission to Jesus' life and ministry (see Lk.2:49; 4:43;
9:22; 17:25; 19:5; 22:37; 24:7; 24:44).
Fulfilment and the early church
Luke shares the awareness that as Scripture was fulfilled in the life
and ministry of Jesus, so it was being fulfilled in the life and
ministry of the church (Acts 2:16,17). The apostles were
conscious of the counsel of God (Acts 2:23; 4:28) and the fact that
events took place in accordance with the prophetic scriptures (Acts
3:18; 13:27-33). 
The Lord Jesus and the Old
Luke pictures Jesus illustrating his person and ministry by reference
to the OT. For example, Jesus speaks of fulfilling the Scripture
(Lk.4:21; 18:31; 22:37; 24:44), and he compares himself with OT
characters such as Elijah (4:26) and Jonah (11:29-30). Luke takes
OT characters to be types of Christ (the antitype).
J.M.Dawsey argues that Luke may set out to answer the question Who is
Jesus? and in doing so counters misconceptions as to who Jesus really
is. He demonstrates that Luke compares Jesus with Elijah, Moses
and David and says he is like - but not like - these. There is
something paradoxical about the Lucan Jesus – "Jesus both meets and
breaks expectations". 
"Fulfilment" and Heilsgeschichte
are Lucan motifs or themes that relate
to his eschatology - a subject that we will deal with separately.
3. TEXTUAL STUDY OF LUKE AND THE OLD TESTAMENT
Luke's extensive use of OT books like Isaiah invites detailed
study. The evangelist makes use of the Greek translation of the
OT (LXX), but his work contains a number of Semitisms (e.g., kai
egenetō, "it came to pass"). This idiom is smoothed out by
NIV, but is generally reserved by the AV (e.g., Lk.1:23,41,59;
Three books recommend themselves as an introduction to this area of
G.L.Archer & G.C.Chirichigno, Old Testament Quotations in the New
Testament - A Complete Study, Chicago, Moody, 1983.
G.K.Beale & D.A.Carson (eds.), Commentary on the New
Testament Use of the Old Testament, Baker/Apollos, Grand
W.C.Kaiser, The Uses of the Old Testament in the New, Chicago,
The Jewish and Old Testament
background to Luke-Acts
The opening chapters of R.Stronstad's The
Charismatic Theology of Luke
 will make the student aware of the nature of Luke's work and of
the rich Jewish and OT background to Luke-Acts. He describes
charismatic activity in OT times and fills in the intertestamental
period in respect to the Spirit and prophetic activity. Stronstad
also introduces Septuagintal terminology and OT charismatic
motifs. These include: the transfer motif, the sign motif, and
the vocational motif and include OT characters such as Moses, Joshua,
Elijah, Elisha, Saul, David, Aaron, Gideon, Samson, and others.
1. How does the Third Gospel refer to, and use, the Old
2. What importance did the Lord Jesus place on the Old
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