The Expository Files

The Purpose of Luke’s Gospel

Luke 1:1-4

“Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.”

In this brief introduction to the Gospel of Luke, please notice three points of interest. There may be more, yet if we center our thoughts on these three, our understanding of the gospel and our study activity will become more focused.

First of all, Luke writes to us explaining that in the early days, many people took up the task of setting in order a narrative of the life of Jesus, the Son of God. It would seem by this statement that besides the inspired accounts of Matthew, Mark and John, there were also uninspired writers who “set in order” the events of Jesus’ life either for themselves or for the benefit of their family and friends. The very idea that many people would write about the life of one man indicates that His deeds were worth remembering.

Secondly, Luke indicates that it was good that he himself should write an account of Christ’s life. He makes this observation based upon certain qualifications that other writers did not have. For instance, he had been in the company of eyewitnesses who had accurately told him the details of the events and again another qualification which appears to go hand in hand with the first; Luke “had a perfect understanding of all these things from the very first” that is to say that Luke had accurately followed the events of Jesus’ life from the start. Following this line of reasoning, Luke declares that an “orderly account” should be written for “Theophilus” (one who loves God).

The final point I should declare from the opening words of Luke concern the reason behind the written gospel; “That you may know the certainty.” Luke understood that an accurate knowledge of the earthly life of Christ would strengthen the faith of Christians everywhere. When you become well acquainted with good people, you learn to trust them and you are apt to follow their instructions if you know they have your best interest at heart. Now see the application: The clear evidence of Christ’s life gives us reason to follow the instructions of the apostle’s doctrine. Why? Because their doctrine was based upon the facts of Jesus being the Son of God, His perfect fulfillment of God’s will, and His love for us.

Now, what should we learn from these facts declared? First and foremost we should learn to pray with thanksgiving that God inspired men such as Luke to accurately record for us a narrative of the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Secondly, if we are sincere in that prayer, then we owe it to ourselves to personally study the events of the gospel. Finally, having armed ourselves with godly knowledge, we are better prepared to serve God, others, and ourselves by living according to the things by which we have been instructed. Give yourself a test. Sit down one evening with pen and paper at a time and place where there are no distractions. Then set about to record the events of the life of Christ as best you know them. You may be surprised to realize the fullness or the scarcity of your own knowledge! 

By Kenneth R. Peden
From Expository Files 10.6;  June, 2003