A Tale of Two Bodies – Introduction


Early Christian writers, including Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen and Eusebius, state that Luke, the evangelist and companion of Paul, wrote the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. Luke was a gentile, and well educated, as evidenced in his literary style. Most scholars agree that the man who wrote Acts also wrote the Gospel of Luke. Both books are dedicated to Theophilus, probably a Christian who contributed financial support to Luke while he was writing. Both books show an understandable interest in medical details, as Luke was a physician (Col 4:14).
Scholars debate whether this gospel account was written early, before the destruction of Jerusalem, or later. The book of Acts ends in the early 60s with Paul imprisoned in Rome. Since the Gospel of Luke was the first of the two volumes, it appears that it was written early—about A.D. 55-62. It may have been revised by Luke at a later date.
Setting and purpose:
Luke writes primarily to a non-Jewish readership. For example, rather than using the Jewish term rabbi, Luke uses the Greek term meaning master (5:5; 8:24, 45; 9:33, 49; 17:13). He also finds it important to explain Jewish law and tradition for his audience (1:9; 2:23, 24).  Luke’s purpose is to show that the work of Jesus rests firmly on historical evidence. Jesus is the Savior of the world (2:11; 4:16-19). Jesus is the divine light to the gentiles (2:32).
Distinctive features:
Luke’s Gospel is the most comprehensive Gospel. He includes accounts that do not appear in the other Gospels. However, Luke appears to have used Mark’s account as the basis for his book. Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts correspond with parallel wording in 350 of the 661 verses in Mark; Luke further uniquely parallels Mark in another 24 verses. Luke’s
account parallels another 200 verses in Matthew, perhaps from a common source. This leaves about 575 verses that are unique to Luke.
More parables are given in Luke than in any other Gospel, with unique accounts of the Good Samaritan, Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, Lost Son, Unjust Judge and the Pharisee and the Tax Collector . Luke records the role of women in Jesus’ ministry, more so than is mentioned in Matthew or Mark. Luke reflects on the work of the Holy Spirit and how He prepared the way for Jesus and his ministry. Luke emphasizes that the kingdom has come to earth in the life of Jesus and will be fully established with the return of Jesus (19:11-12).
While the text of Acts does not identify its author, most scholars agree that the person who wrote Acts also wrote the Gospel of Luke. Both are dedicated to Theophilus, probably a Christian who financed Luke’s efforts in writing the books. Both books have a similar polished style and emphasis. Early Christian writers, including Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen and Eusebius state that Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts.
About the author:
Luke was a gentile doctor (Col 4:14). He was well educated, as seen in the quality of his literary style. He was a co-worker of the apostle Paul (2Ti 4:11). Luke went with Paul on the apostle’s second missionary journey. Luke was also a historian. His contact with the apostles enabled him to research the story of the early church.
Acts ends in the early 60s A.D. with Paul imprisoned in Rome. It does not mention his death (before the fall of Jerusalem
in AD 70), so it appears that the book was written in the mid-60s.
In his Gospel, Luke identified the purpose of Jesus’ ministry as bringing salvation to the poor, the prisoners, the blind and the oppressed (Lk 4:18-19). Luke picks up his story in Acts after the resurrection of Jesus. In anticipation of his ascension to heaven, Jesus instructs his disciples to continue his ministry. This sets the stage for the rest of the book.
Acts was written as a narrative of major events of the work of the Holy Spirit in the early church. Although it is traditionally entitled The Acts of the Apostles, it focuses primarily on the ministries of Peter and Paul. Peter provided early leadership in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, whereas Paul was the main tool God used to bring the gospel to Asia Minor, Greece and Rome. Peter worked mainly with Jewish Christians, while Paul took the gospel to the gentiles.
Distinctive features:
Speeches, sermons and legal defenses comprise about 20 percent of the book. The rest is narrative, highlighting events in the early development of the church.


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