Luke

These are all of the chapters of the book of Luke. Clicking on a chapter will show you the text of that chapter of Luke in the Bible (New International Version).

Book of Luke

Who Wrote the Gospel of Luke?

The Gospel of Luke is well known for its detailed, yet poetic style dedicated to presenting a fully credible description of the life, work, and resurrection of Jesus. Scholars believe this gospel was written by a physician and Christ-follower named Luke, traveling companion of the apostle Paul. While none of the four gospel accounts lists an author, early church leaders attributed this account to Luke, and he is identified by name as among Paul’s “fellow workers” with Mark, Aristarchus, and Demas (Philemon 24 NIV). As the Gospel of Luke is a companion volume to the Book of Acts and is written in the same style and structure, scholars also believe Luke authored that work.

A dedicated disciple, Luke stayed at Paul’s side when the controversial apostle was incarcerated (2 Timothy 4:11). While his heritage is not mentioned, scholars think he was likely a Gentile; Paul often listed Luke last, after naming the Jewish Christian workers with him. Because of his command of the Greek language and his detailed descriptions of Antioch, it is likely he was a native of that ancient Greek city.

Context and Background of Luke

Because it draws on the Gospel of Mark, scholars believe the Gospel of Luke was written around 60-80 A.D., probably soon after the events occurred. While the account is addressed to the “most excellent Theophilus,” its painstaking detail, length, and comprehensive gospel message was presumably intended for a far wider audience—Jews and Gentiles throughout Asia Minor.

Theophilus was probably a man of high social standing, possibly a Roman officer and financial supporter of Luke’s work. Acts was also addressed to Theophilus. Given Luke’s statement that he was writing “so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught,” it is thought Theophilus was either experiencing doubt about his faith or under some pressure to renounce Christianity.

The gospel is thought to have been written in Rome for people not completely familiar with the Holy Land, given the detailed descriptions of setting.

Main Theme and Purpose of Luke

Written in a high literary style that devotes much attention to detail and credible accounting, the Gospel of Luke was intended to present a full historical record of Jesus from his birth and ministry to his death and resurrection. The key focus is to emphasize the gospel and help people understand Jesus’s critical message of salvation. 

Luke’s account is unique in that it gives far more in-depth information about the birth of John the Baptist, whom the angel Gabriel said would “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:14-17). It also offers a comprehensive account of the annunciation to the virgin Mary, including her song of joy (1:46-55). An elaborate account of the birth of Jesus is also offered, as is his presentation in the temple and his boyhood. Also, many often-cited parables are found only in the Gospel of Luke, including the story of the prodigal son and the good Samaritan.

In a linear, chronological, highly organized structure that relies on setting and meticulous narrative to make his points, Luke begins with the conceptions of John the Baptist and then Jesus, followed by their respective births (Luke 1-2). Right away, Jesus is identified as “the Messiah” (Luke 2:11).

John’s ministry and baptism of Jesus comes next, followed by Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness. Then comes Jesus’s rejection in Nazareth and his initial teaching and miracles, including driving out demons and healing sickness (4:31-44).

Luke 5 begins with the calling of Jesus’s first disciples, followed by more miracles and the calling of the rest of the 12 disciples (6:13). Next come Jesus’s well-known discourses, including the Beatitudes, loving one’s enemies, and judging others. The story of the centurion’s great faith is included, as is Jesus’s anointing by the sinful woman, who pours out expensive, precious perfume upon his feet in gratitude for the salvation he offers (7:36-50). 

The next chapters relate more of Jesus’s ministry, miracles, and teachings, including the Parable of the Sower, his calming of the storm, feeding the 5,000, and resurrection of the dead girl. It also recounts his revelation that he would be rejected, killed, and “on the third day be raised to life” (Luke 9:22).

Jesus’s journey to Jerusalem comes next, along with the account of the opposition he faces, his great healings and other miracles, his teachings on prayer and repentance, and his warnings about hypocrisy. This section also includes the several parables.

Chapter 19 through 23 recount his triumphant arrival in Jerusalem as king, his betrayal, his last supper, his fervent prayer on the Mount of Olives, and his arrest, crucifixion, and death.

The final chapter of Luke tells how the women—Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and others—went to prepare Jesus’s body in the tomb, but he had resurrected.

The gospel account ends with Jesus sharing a meal with his disciples, helping them understand Scripture and promising God would soon send what was promised: the Holy Spirit. Then Jesus ascends to heaven. 

What Can We Learn from Luke Today?

The organized manner in which Luke explains the life and importance of Jesus is helpful for many Christians today. Even those who have grown up in the church get confused about the stories or need reassurance, like Theophilus, of the certainty of the things we have been taught.

But another key aspect of Luke’s gospel is the importance he gives to groups of people typically in the lower caste of society: women, Gentiles, tax collectors, prostitutes, people with leprosy, and others with low status.

For instance, Luke repeatedly recounts Jesus’s respectful and honorable interactions with women, who in that day were much like property and belittled, subordinate to men, and not permitted to testify in court or engage in commerce. But Jesus spoke openly and publicly to women in many accounts of his ministry. Several female disciples, including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna, accompanied and supported Jesus. He healed several women and defended their value. And after his resurrection, he appeared to a group of women first.

People matter, Luke indicates—a key lesson for today.

Our Favorite Verses from Luke

There are many noteworthy verses from Luke. Among our favorites are the following:

 Luke 6:30-31 - “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Luke 6:46 - “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

Luke 10:2 - “He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’”

Luke 19:10 - “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Luke 23:34a - “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’”

Sources

New International Encyclopedia of Bible Characters, Copyright 2001

NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible, Copyright © 2019 by Zondervan.

NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, Copyright © 2016 by Zondervan.

Essential Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 2011 by Zondervan.

Photo credit: ©Sparrowstock


Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, and a member of the Wholly Loved Ministries team. Learn more at http://jessicabrodie.com.