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Books of the New Testament

Class Notes - St. Luke's Gospel

The following notes are intended to supplement, not replace, the readings from the Bible and the text book.
Comments or questions should be sent to: Dr. Rollinson.

Luke's Gospel

Luke (or Lucas) was a Gentile companion of St. Paul, rather than a Jew. He wrote this Gospel, and also the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, and addressed them to "Theophilus" - a Greek name meaning "lover of God". Theophilus could have been an individual person, or the name could mean that the books are addressed to anyone who loves God and wants to know more about Him. The books could also have been intended as part of the defense for Paul, when he went to trial in Rome, as a way of testifying to the judges about Jesus, and showing that Christians were not enemies of the Roman Empire.

Luke was evidently a highly educated man - he writes in a very polished style of Greek, and Paul refers to him as "the beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14). He was with Paul when Paul was in prison in Rome towards the end of his life (II Timothy 4:11). Luke's Gospel was probably written ca. AD 80-85, and made use of earlier written material and eyewitness accounts - Luke himself had not been with Jesus in Palestine, but tells us that he interviewed those who had (Luke 1:1-3).

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the "Synoptic Gospels" (roughly translated "seeing together") because of the great similarities that there are between many passages in these three Gospels. It appears that Mark's Gospel was the first to be written, and that then both Matthew and Luke used material from Mark, as well as other material from a written source (which scholars refer to as "Q"), as well as some independent material from other sources. This is referred to as "the Two-Source Hypothesis" (referring to the two major sources, Mark and Q)

Material which only occurs in Luke includes

  • the account of the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-25, 57-80)
  • the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38)
  • the Angels and shepherds at Jesus' birth (Luke 2:1-20)
  • the baby Jesus being taken to the Temple (Luke 2:25-38)
  • Jesus as a boy in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52)
  • the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37)
  • the Parable of the Prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32)
  • the Parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)
  • the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:9-14)

Structure of Luke's Gospel :

  • Dedication : Luke 1:1-4
  • The Birth and Childhood of Jesus : Luke 1:5 - 2:52
  • John the Baptist and Jesus : Luke 3:1 - 4:13
  • Jesus in Galilee : Luke 4:14 - 9:17
  • Peter's Declaration that Jesus is the Christ, and the Transfiguration of Jesus : Luke 9:18-50
  • Jesus' journey to Jerusalem : Luke 9:51 - 19:44
  • Jesus in Jerusalem : Luke 19:45-21:38
  • The Last Supper : Luke 22:1-38
  • The betrayal and trials of Jesus : Luke 22:39-23:25
  • The Crucifixion and burial of Jesus : Luke 23:26-49
  • The Resurrection and subsequent events : Luke 24:1-53


Luke 1:3 - "Theophilus" in Greek means "lover of God"
Luke 1:5 - The Herod referred to here was Herod the Great
Luke 1:17 - Elias is the Greek form of the Hebrew name for Elijah. See Malachi 4:5-6
Luke 1:26 - "in the sixth month" - when Elisabeth was 6 months pregnant
Luke 1:28 - this verse gives us the words of the "Hail, Mary", or in Latin, the "Ave Maria"
Luke 1:46-55 - this passage is known as "the Song of Mary", or in Latin, the "Magnificat"
Luke 1:68-79 - this passage is known as "the Song of Zachariah", or in Latin, the "Benedictus"
Luke 2:1 - Augustus was originally named Gaius Octavius (Octavian). He was the nephew of Julius Caesar, and was adopted by him. After the murder of Julius Caesar, Octavian became one of the three co-rulers of Rome (the Triumvirs), along with Mark Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus. Octavian fought and defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII of Egypt at the sea battle of Actium (in Greece) in 31BC, and then made himself emperor of Rome, taking the name of Augustus. Augustus was emperor from 30BC to AD14
Luke 2:4 - David had been born and raised in Bethlehem (see I Samuel 16:13)
Luke 2:14 - this verse gives us the words of the "Gloria in Excelsis"
Luke 2:21 - see Genesis 17:9-13, 21:4
Luke 2:22-24 - see Leviticus 12:1-8
Luke 2:23 - see Exodus 13:11-15
Luke 2:29-32 - this passage is known as the "Song of Simeon", or in Latin, the "Nunc Dimittis"
Luke 3:1 - Tiberius became Caesar in AD 14, and was emperor until AD 37. The fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar would be around AD 29. Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor of Judea from AD26-36. Herod (Herod Antipas), the tetrarch (quarter-ruler) of Galilee, and Philip (Herod Philip), tetrarch of Ituraea and Trachonitis, were sons of Herod the Great. Herod the Great could not bear the thought that anyone after himself might reign over a large region, so split his kingdom into four parts, and divided it between some of his sons. Herod Antipas was tetrarch of Galilee 4BC-AD39
Luke 3:4-6 - see Isaiah 40:3-5
Luke 3:19 - Herod Antipas divorced his own wife, and "married" Herodias, who was already married to Herod Antipas' half brother (who was also named Herod). Herodias was a daughter of one of Herod the Great's sons who had been murdered, along with his mother and another brother, by his father on suspicion of treachery (nice family).
Luke 3:23-38 - there are differences between the genealogy given here, and that given in Matthew 1:1-16. It may be that Matthew gives the "legal" genealogy of Jesus through Joseph, and Luke the "human" genealogy through Mary; or it may be that the Nathan mentioned in v.31 was the son of David and Bathsheba who died in infancy (see II Samuel 12:15-25) and that another son, or one of Solomon's sons, was counted as his heir. By Jewish law, if a man died without a son, one of his brothers was supposed to marry the widow and produce an heir for the dead man.
Luke 4:4 - see Deuteronomy 8:3
Luke 4:8 - see Deuteronomy 6:13
Luke 4:10-11 - see Psalm 91:11-12
Luke 4:12 - see Deuteronomy 6:16
Luke 4:18-19 - see Isaiah 61:1-2; Esaias is the Greek name for Isaiah.
Luke 4:25-26 - see 1 Kings 17:8-24; Elias is the Greek name for Elijah.
Luke 4:27 - see 2 Kings 5:1-27; Eliseus is the Greek name for Elisha.
Luke 4:40 - the people waited until the Sabbath was over (at nightfall) before coming for healing - by the strict Jews, healing was counted as work, and was forbidden on the Sabbath.
Luke 5:14 - see Leviticus 14:1-32
Luke 5:27 - Levi is another name for Matthew
Luke 6:2 - Rubbing the corn to remove the husk was counted as work, and so was forbidden on the Sabbath
Luke 6:3-4 - see 1 Samuel 21:1-6 and Leviticus 24:5-9
Luke 7:19 - John the Baptist was in prison at the time, and could not go to Jesus himself; see Matthew 11:2-6
Luke 7:22 - this was the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy by Isaiah (Isaiah 29:18-19, 35:4-60
Luke 7:27 - see Malachi 3:1, 4:5-6
Luke 9:54 - see i Kings 18:30-39
Luke 10:20 - Sodom had been destroyed because of the wickedness of the people there; see Genesis 18:20-19:29
Luke 10:13 - Tyre and Sidon were cities of the Phoenicians, on the sea coast to the north of Israel. They were infamous for child-sacrifice and other pagan practices. The wicked queen Jezebel had been a princess of Sidon; 1 Kings 16:30-33, 10:1-2, 21:1-16, 21:25, & 2 Kings 9:21-37
Luke 10:27 - see Deuteronomy 6:4-5 & Leviticus 19:18
Luke 10:29 - the lawyers had strict definitions for everything, and certainly did not think of the Samaritans as their neighbors
Luke 11:15 - Beelzebul, Beelzebub, or Baalzebub - the term came originally from the name of one of the gods worshipped by the Philistines; Baal or Bel mean Lord in Semitic languages. We no longer know the original form of the name, which would have meant "Lord of . . ." because the Hebrews changed it slightly, so that it became "Lord of flies" (Baal-zebub) or "Lord of dung" (Baal-zebul). Jews used it as a name for the devil.
Luke 11:29-30 & 32 - see the Book of Jonah in the Old Testament
Luke 11:31 - "the Queen of the South" refers to the Queen of Sheba - see I Kings 10:1-13
Luke 11:38 - refers to the ritual washing which Jews did on many occasions, rather than to washing dirt off the hands before eating
Luke 13:35 - see Psalm 118:26
Luke 16:11-13 - "mammon" was an Aramaic word for money and riches
Luke 16:16 - refers to John the Baptist
Luke 16:17 - a "tittle" was the small curved stroke, similar to the serif of English letters, which was used in writing Hebrew
Luke 17:14 - According to the Old Testament Law, a leper went to show himself to the priests when he was already healed - see Leviticus 14:2
Luke 17:26-27 - see Genesis 6:6 - 9:17
Luke 17:28-29 - see Genesis 18:20 - 19:29
Luke 17:32 - see Genesis 19:26
Luke 18:10 - Publicans were tax-collectors. They collected taxes for Rome, and were often corrupt and extorted money from people for themselves.
Luke 18:20 - see Exodus 20:1-17 & Deuteronomy 5:1-22
Luke 18:25 - The "Eye of a Needle" is believed to reger to the small gate for pedestrians, which was usually built beside the main gates of a city
Luke 18:32 - see, for example, Isaiah, chapter 53
Luke 19:38 - see Psalm 118:38 & Luke 2:14
Luke 19:43-44 - In AD70 the Roman army besieged Jerusalem, set the city on fire, and threw all the stones of the Temple into the valley alongside it (there is no valley there any more - it was completely filled in by the Romans. The (ex)valley is now the plaza beside the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. The remaining stones (of the Western Wall) were part of the wall which was built to make a firm platform for the Temple.
Luke 20:17 - see Psalm 118:22-23
Luke 20:18 - see Isaiah 8:14-15, Daniel 2:1, 31-45
Luke 20:22 - Jesus' opponents thought that they had him trapped - if he said yes, it was lawful to pay taxes to Rome, then the Jews would disagree with him, and stop following him; if he said no, it was not lawful to pay taxes to Rome, then they could go to Pilate and accuse him of starting a rebellion.
Luke 20:28 - see Deuteronomy 25:5-10
Luke 20:37 - see Exodus3:6. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had been dead for about 400 years when God spoke to Moses
Luke 20:42-43 - see Psalm 110:1
Luke 21:5-6 & 21:20 - see note on Luke 19:43-44
Luke 21:24 - when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem they enslaved and deported the Jews, cut all the trees down, and dug salt into the ground, so that no-one could grow anything there for years to come. Denuding the land of trees altered the whole pattern of winds and rainfall, resulting in dry desert conditions. It was only in the 20th century that the Israelis started intensive re-planting of trees, and irrigation to reclaim the land.
Luke 22:1 - see Exodus 12:1-50
Luke 22:37 - see Isaiah 53:8-12
Luke 23:26 - Cyrene was a land to the west of Egypt, on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa
Luke 23:56 - see Exodus 12:16 and 20:8-11
Luke 24:6-7 - see Luke 9:22
Luke 24:27 - see, for example, Genesis 3:15, Deuteronomy 18:15, Psalm 2:7-8, Psalm 110:1, Psalm 118:22-23, Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, 11:1-5, 40:9-11, 42:1-7, 49:1-9, 53:1-12 , 61:1-3, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Ezekiel 34:23, Daniel 9:24-27, Malachi 3:1
Luke 24:43 - this proved to the disciples that Jesus was not a ghost
Luke 24:46 - see Isaiah 50:6, Hosea 6:2
Luke 24:49 - see Acts 1:4-5, 2:1-4
Luke 24:53 - this is not really the ending of Luke's account. He continues with the account of what happened after the Resurrection, in the Book of Acts

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