Sunset - Larnaca

Sunset - Larnaca

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Luke's Gospel

Luke explains the growth of Christianity amongst the Gentiles. His Gospel assures his readers ( who were probably not Gentile Christians)  that their leader was no political threat to the empire, and that God had kept His promises in the Old Testament. Furthermore, Luke emphasises that the incorporation of Gentiles into the new movement was all part of the Divine plan from the very beginning.

Who was Luke? 
The Gospel writer was a companion of Paul, a Doctor ( Col 4.10-14). Internal evidence shows that he was an educated man, probably Gentile, though steeped in Jewish Scriptures and had great respect for Jewish institutions. Luke was probably righting especially for Gentile Christians. The Gospel is expected to have been written around 70-90CE.

Purpose:
The Gospel is certainly written for non-Christians, to commend Christianity to them. Luke ties in events in early Christian history, with events on the world stage - emphasising that this faith is true and the faith of all nations. 

Luke-Acts

Gospel : Centres around the spread of Christianity to Jerusalem, where as Acts centres around the spread to Rome. The Gospel begins in the Temple, therefore a very Jewish opening. Overall, Luke tells us that the Holy Christian mission will be successful, however there are hints that Jews will not ultimately accept Jesus ( which is of course true )
Jews demand Jesus' death, although it seems that they repent when they see what they have done (23.48). 

Acts concentrates on two leaders - first Peter, then Paul. The period of the Jerusalem church is presented as a golden age, as Peter and Paul as well as other disciples preach, gain converts, and everyone share possessions. God Has been faithful to His people it seems, although the opposition is still there ( Jewish leaders and Jerusalemites, 6.9-12) 
Paul dominates second half; leading the role in taking faith around the Mediterranean; missionary journeys. Acts 15 allows Gentiles to be admitted without keeping the laws as long as they are given a set of rules to stick to. Finally, the true heirs to the promises in the Jewish scriptures are no longer Jews, but Christians ( the renewed faith in Christ ).

Other Distinctive Features of Luke's writings:

Luke's portrait of Jesus is that of a Prophetic Messiah, often compared to Moses, Elijah and Elisha. In addition the Lord is seen as an innocent Martyr, a model of compassion and forgiveness, and more importantly dies forgiving his enemies and the whole world.
There is also a great interest in the poor and marginalised. Furthermore, there is a prominence of women, particularly in the Birth stories, Mary and Martha ( 10.38-42) as well as parables involving women. The will of God and the prominence of the Holy Spirit is clear; Every development is spirit led, both in the Gospel and in Acts. The relationship with Christianity and Rome is also reflected, as he shows Christianity as a respectable faith, peaceful and law-abiding. Christ's followers therefore and not guilty of any crime against Rome.

Genealogy: 
Luke takes us back to Adam, and so he stresses that God's salvation is for the whole world. 

Rejection:
Luke's Gospel is largely orientated towards showing how this salvation comes to be rejected by the people of God; and this is quite unique.

Temple:
The Temple plays a significant part in the whole process of Luke's Gospel and message. Characters repeatedly emphasise how the beginning of Jesus' story is associated with the Temple, and perhaps this is linked with the idea of the Jews being the first to receive the message of salvation - the capital of Judea. The birth of John the Baptist is announced in the Temple, and Christ is brought here eight days after His birth to be circumcised. Whilst there, He is recognised as the Messiah.

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