If it Had Not Been for… Luke

Nov 26, 2023

The power of ONE voice—to an audience of ONE.

We are well familiar with the third book of the New Testament, the Gospel of Luke. But, who was Luke? He certainly wasn’t one of The Twelve. Though he likely had a close relationship with at least some of His eyewitnesses, it’s very possible that he never even met Jesus.

Luke was a Greek physician, thought to be the only Gentile writer of Scripture. There is still some disagreement, but it’s now believed that Luke was likely Jewish, perhaps a convert, who became a Christian. He was certainly a friend of Paul’s and accompanied him on some of his travels. (Col. 4:14, 2 Tim. 4:11, Philemon 24)

Speaking of Paul, many credit him as having written the lion’s share of the New Testament, but if you look at the actual word count in the original languages, it turns out that Luke wrote a lot MORE. Though Paul wrote more epistles/books, Luke is responsible for writing more words. When comparing the most prolific Bible writers, Luke comes in THIRD behind Moses and Ezra, having penned both the longest book in the New Testament—the Gospel of Luke—as well as its sequel, the second longest NT book—The Acts of the Apostles. Together, he recorded 37,932 Greek words, which means he alone wrote more than 6% of the Bible (compared to Paul’s 5%). (See the interesting graphic in the comments. Credit: overviewbible.com)

Luke’s gospel is often grouped with Matthew and Mark as one of the three “Synoptic Gospels” because they seem to be similar in structure and content—yet Luke’s writings are extraordinarily unique. In many ways, Luke stands alone.

If it had not been for Luke, we would know nothing of many essential details not found in any other book of the Bible. For example:

  • We’d not know most of the details of the Christmas story—including the announcement and birth of Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, the angel’s announcement to Mary and her beautiful response, their journey to Bethlehem, the swaddling clothes and the manger, the angels and the shepherds, the trip to Jerusalem for the circumcision and the prophetic words of Simeon and Anna, Jesus talking to the elders in the Temple, and the genealogy of Jesus through Mary.
  • We would not have heard many of the best-loved parables of Jesus, such as the Good Samaritan, the Rich Man and Lazarus, the Prodigal Son, the Unjust Steward, the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, the Friend at Midnight, and more.
  • We’d not know many events of Jesus’ ministry and miracles, such as His discourse and rejection in Nazareth, the story of Zacchaeus, the healing of the ten lepers (and the one thankful Samaritan), the healing of the disabled woman, the raising of the Nain widow’s son, the sending out of the seventy, the dying thief’s confession on the cross, and the details of His ascension from the Mount of Olives.

    Had it not been for Luke, we’d know little to nothing about the Day of Pentecost and the birth of the Church, the ministry and miracles of the Apostles, many details of the conversion of Paul and his missionary journeys, the conversion of Cornelius … and, importantly, the door of the gospel opening to Jews and Gentiles alike. Luke has been considered an “outsider,” but he is the very one who includes other “outsiders”—Samaritans and Gentiles—in the spotlight of Scripture, sharing their plight and illuminating their HOPE.

    “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I thank you because you concealed these things from the sophisticated and educated, yet revealed them to ordinary people.” (Luke 10:21 CJB)

    Had it not been for Luke, we’d lack the key to understanding the message of SALVATION. The New Testament is comprised of THREE mutually-essential sections:

  • the Gospels (life of Jesus)
  • the Acts of the Apostles (the birth and early history of the Church), and
  • the Epistles (letters to the Church).

Without Luke’s book of Acts, we would lack the first presentation of the PLAN of salvation—the center keystone that locks Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection into the timeline from the ancient prophecies through to the birth of the Church Age and the Second Coming of Christ.

An audience of ONE. Unlike Paul who directed his epistles to multiple groups of people, Luke’s designated addressee for both scrolls was just one man, Theophilos. Though this was a common name in the late first century, Josephus recorded that THIS Theophilus was a high priest of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Had it not been for ONE letter writer to ONE man, so much would never be known by all of us.

Luke wrote seamlessly from his gospel right into the sequel, Acts—they may have originally been just one volume. It is apparent, though, that Luke left the sequel unfinished. It’s been said that we, in the modern Christian age, are still writing Acts, making us, in a sense, co-writers with Luke. Once again, us “outsiders” are included!

What is the value of ONE person’s testimony? YOUR testimony? What opportunities for sharing “the gospel according to YOU” can you take advantage of now and in the days to come?

Tell your own story. Even if you feel like an “outsider.” Even if you think it’s been said before, it cannot be given from YOUR unique perspective by anyone but YOU. Don’t be afraid of using your own words. Write it. Speak it. Deliver it. Even if it’s to an audience of just ONE.

Take it from one who knows … “Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!” (Luke 12:3 NLT)

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37 KJV)