Of the four Gospel writers, I can relate to Luke the best.
1) He’s a Gentile just like me.
2) He practiced “Relational Evangelism” (my favorite method).
3) He was not an eyewitness to Christ.
4) He did his homework.
Luke is the only Biblical author who is traditionally thought not to be a Jew. This tradition is based on what Paul describes at the end of his letter to the Colossians:
“Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him), and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.” I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.”
Notice that Paul describes Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus as “the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God.” In other words, of those traveling with Paul, these three are the only ones who are fellow Jews. Paul then goes on to describe Epaphras “who is one of you,” (the Colossians were not Jews) and then he mentions Luke and Demas. Epaphras, Luke, and Demas were not listed with Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus who were working with Paul and identified as, “the only men of the circumcision.” Therefore, we can conclude that Luke was most likely not a Jew.
Being a non-Jew myself, I did not grow up being exposed to the Old Testament as part of my upbringing, nor was it the grounding for my worldview. It was the complete opposite. I was raised agnostic, so I am as “Gentile” as one can be.
Luke’s Gospel and the Book of Acts are each personal letters written to another Gentile, Theophilus. Now, scripture doesn’t tell us much about Theophilus, but I think it’s kinda neat how Luke personally wrote to him regarding the things of God. In his first letter to Theophilus, Luke opens:
“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”
Such is an example of relational evangelism. Luke is personally concerned about Theophilus becoming certain of what he has already been taught. I think it’s a great example to us all (Christians), as to how we can share Christ with others.
So, what did Luke do to personally evangelize Theophilus?
He compiled a “narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus.”
Luke cared enough about Theophilus to put in the time and the effort to compose a detailed narrative regarding the timeline of events he had experienced with Paul. He also interviewed eyewitnesses, and then compiled all of this information into an “orderly account”. Remember, this was at a time when travel was hazardous, and communication was not like it is today. Also, information was mostly gained by word of mouth. This endeavor was most challenging, yet, Luke thought that it was worth it. We can can learn a lot from his example of evangelizing relationally.
Of all the Gospel writers, Luke was not an eyewitness of Christ. Matthew and John were of the original twelve disciples, and it is speculated that John Mark or Mark was the young man at the garden of Gethsemane during the betrayal of Jesus (Mark 14:51-52). So, assuming that this speculation is true, Luke is the only Gospel writer to have never seen Jesus in person. Therefore, anything he had learned about Christ, he had to hear about Him just like you and I, through someone else. That alone makes Luke the easiest of the four to relate to.
Because Luke was not a direct eyewitness in any way to Christ’s three year ministry, he had to do his homework in finding out about who Jesus is and what He did. As he described in his first letter to Theophilus, “just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past,” in order to get to the bottom of the Gospel message, Luke conducted interviews, compiled information, and remained diligent for many years gathering knowledge about the birth of Christianity. His works are considered to be some of the most reliable historical documents from antiquity, and we are most blessed to have them.
There are many reasons why we should look up to any of the four Gospel writers, but for me, Luke is the one that I can best relate to. He wasn’t a Jew, he evangelized relationally, he too had to get the Gospel message from others, and he dug deep to get the details regarding the things of God.
We can learn a lot from our brother Luke…
Godspeed, to the brethren!
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