info All commentaries are written by volunteers, readers, or supporters of our Bible translation project. These are not official views of our project; we are not a religious denomination and we do not establish doctrine. These commentaries reflect a variety of views and some disagree with each other.
Notice that the Gospel of Luke starts out by addressing the same man that is addressed at the beginning of the book of Acts… Someone with the Greek name (or title of) TheoPhilus. So because of this, we have good reason to believe that the person who wrote the book of Acts also wrote the Gospel of Luke (and about the same time), ‘the beloved Physician,’ Luke.
Who was Luke?
The Bible doesn’t tell us much about him, other than that he was a regular traveling companion of Paul.
Notice that throughout the book of Acts he writes that ‘we’ did this or that.
So Luke was likely someone that was also assigned to preach to gentiles.
And though there is no record of him being an eye-witness to the events of the life of Jesus, that isn’t true of the events recorded in the book of Acts, because the accounts there show that he was an eye-witness to most of the journeys of Paul. And because he ended Acts with the imprisonment of Paul in Rome, we must assume that he did all of his writing around the year 62-CE, which is almost thirty years after Jesus’ death.
Luke was quite a chronicler, since according to his own words, the book of Luke in particular was a compilation of things he had researched. And something that only a translator would notice, is that quite a bit of Luke’s Gospel is directly borrowed from Matthew’s Gospel, although it doesn’t follow in the same chronological order.
There is nothing wrong with him quoting from the Gospel of Matthew, because he wasn’t there;
So he admits that his was a compiled account, and Matthew’s writing was just one of the sources that he used. (See the link, ‘Augustinian Hypothesis‘).
Also, if you look at his writing style , you can see that he likely wrote some of the epistles that are attributed to Paul. For it appears as though Paul may have told him what to write, because Paul eyesight was very poor.
So Luke occasionally served as Paul’s secretary.
The reason why Luke prepared the Gospel bearing his name was, as he said, to set matters straight when it came to all the stories that were being told about Jesus at that late date.
Notice what he wrote at Luke 1:1-3:
‘Since many others have already taken on the job of putting together a statement of the facts of the things we believe as they were given to us by those that were eyewitnesses from long ago and by caretakers of the message; It seemed good for me to trace everything accurately from the start, then write them to you in the order that they happened, mighty Theophilus, so you can feel confident about the things you’ve been taught by word of mouth.’
However, you will notice that there are a number of places where Luke’s Gospel disagrees with Matthew’s Gospel (yes, there really are). Yet that is simply to be expected when several people tell the same story from different points of view. So, while some have tried to discredit the Bible because of the differences, these differences prove that the accounts are authentic.
Also, Luke listed many of the things that Jesus said and did in a different order than you will find in Matthew’s Gospel.
And this could be:
· Because Jesus said the same things on other occasions
· Because (as he said) Luke was more concerned with the exact order of events than was Matthew, who appears to have used a more topical or theme-driven style of writing.
However, because Luke’s Gospel was written much later than Matthew’s, and because the content shows that he was quite familiar with what Matthew wrote;
Most of the differences are likely conscious clarifications to what was written in Matthew.
Yet, there are still some very significant differences between Matthew’s account of what Jesus said and what Luke quoted him as saying. The primary reason for this is that the book of Matthew appears to have been more corrupted through the years as it was being translated and copied.
For just a few examples;
Notice the linked document, ‘Coming, Presence, or Nearness?‘ and the Note titled ‘In the Name Of.’
You will also notice that Luke gives an entirely different genealogical list of Jesus’ ancestors than did Matthew (see the First Chapter of Matthew and the Third Chapter of Luke). This could be because Matthew listed Jesus’ ancestors through Joseph’s line, while Luke listed his ancestry through Mary’s line.
Yes, for some, that may sound backward;
But for more information, see the Note,
‘The Missing Ancestor of Jesus.’
So is Luke’s Gospel more accurate than Matthew’s Gospel?
Well, he did have a second look at what Matthew wrote, which usually provides an edge when it comes to accuracy. And the extensive use of the poetry of Jesus’ words in Luke’s account does seem to indicate a better recollection of exactly how things were said.
Because Luke’s Gospel appears to have been originally written in Greek (so it didn’t have to be translated like the book of Matthew, which early Christians tell us was originally written in Hebrew), and because it has always been treated as secondary in importance to the book of Matthew by most Christians; It doesn’t appear to have been corrupted as much by later translators or copyists who wished to slant the wording to represent their own private beliefs (which is still being done today by Bible translators). So, wherever we find major difference between the accounts, we have learned to defer to and trust the words of Luke.