New Testament Survey
The third book in the New Testament is Luke. Luke contains twenty-four chapters. It is one of the longest books of the New Testament. The books of Luke and Acts go together. Luke records all that Jesus began both to do and to teach (Acts 1:1) during His ministry upon the earth. Acts continues the account by relating what Jesus did through His apostles after He ascended back to Heaven.
The human author of the book of Luke is not mentioned in the book which bears his name. However, it has been the universal belief of all faithful Bible students from the very beginning that Luke wrote both Luke and Acts. The Muratorian Canon, written about 170 A.D. says: "The Gospel of Luke stands third in order, having been written by Luke, the physician, the companion of Paul, who, not being himself an eyewitness, based his narrative on such information as he could obtain, beginning from the birth of John." Luke and Acts are both addressed to Theophilus (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1). The first chapter of Acts simply begins where the last chapter of Luke stops.
Luke is mentioned by name three times in the New Testament (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 24; and 2 Timothy 4:11). When Paul wrote his last letter, he stated, Only Luke is with me (2 Timothy 4:11). Luke was a physician. He was a Greek and the only Gentile who was inspired to write a part of the New Testament. Luke traveled with Paul on his second and third missionary journeys. He joined Paul at Troas (Acts 16:10) and traveled with him until Philippi (Acts 16:40). He rejoined Paul on Paul's third missionary journey (Acts 20:5). Luke remained with Paul after that. He went with Paul when Paul was taken as a prisoner to Rome (Acts 27:1 ff.). He was with Paul during this last Roman imprisonment (2 Timothy 4:11). In Acts, we can know when Luke was with Paul for he includes himself by saying "we." When he says "they," we know he was telling what happened to Paul and others when he was not present.
It is commonly accepted that Luke wrote the book which bears his name while Paul was in prison in Caesarea (Acts 23:23-32). This places the time of writing about the year 61 A.D. At Caesarea, Luke had opportunity to visit the places where Jesus had lived, and to speak with eyewitnesses who had known Jesus on the earth.
Luke emphasizes that Christ is the Savior of the whole world (Luke 2:32). He traces the family lineage of Jesus all the way back to Adam (Luke 3:38). He mentions Gentiles more than Matthew, Mark or John. Only Luke records the references to the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian (Luke 4:25-27). Only Luke records the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and the story of the Samaritan leper who alone thanked Jesus for healing him (Luke 17:12-19).
Luke contains much which is not found in Matthew, Mark or John. Only he records the birth of John the baptist (Luke 1) and the birth and early life of Jesus (Luke 2). Only in Luke are found the parables of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10), the rich fool (Luke 12:13-21), and the lost sheep, lost coin, and Prodigal Son. Luke is also the only inspired writer who tells of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16) and the thief on the cross who believed in Jesus (Luke 23:39-43).
The book of John is the fourth inspired account of the life of Jesus. John wrote with everyone as his intended audience. He presented Jesus as God who became flesh and lived among men (John 1:1-18). John's account of the life of Jesus is very different from the earlier accounts by Matthew, Mark and Luke. He had a different purpose in writing. They had written to relate the facts of Christ's life on earth. He wrote to show us the nature of Christ. John also wrote many years after Matthew, Mark, and Luke had written their books. He does not record the genealogy of Jesus. He does not record such events as Jesus' birth, childhood, baptism, or temptation. He makes no reference to the Sermon on the Mount.
John does include a number of events which Matthew, Mark and Luke left out. These include the first miracle at Cana (John 2:1-11); the conversations with Nicodemus (John 3:1-21) and with the Samaritan woman (John 4:4-42); the raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-44); the washing of the disciples' feet (John 13:1-17); and Thomas' confession of faith (John 20:25-29).
John was the brother of James and the son of Zebedee and Salome (Matthew 4:21; 20:20, 21; 27:55, 56; Mark 15:40, 41). He was a partner in a fishing business with his brother, father, Peter and Andrew (Luke 5:10). John, along with James and Peter, was very close to Jesus (Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 5:35-43; Matthew 26:36, 37). He referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. This indicates he was a special friend of Jesus (John 13:23; 19:26; 21:20). When Jesus was dying on the cross, He committed the care of His mother, Mary, to John (John 19:25-27).
After Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. John lived in Ephesus. He remained there until his death except for the time when he was imprisoned by Rome on the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9). Besides the book of John, John also was inspired to write the letters of First, Second, and Third John and the book of Revelation.
John's account of the life of Christ has been called "The Gospel of Belief." The miracles of Jesus prove He was a teacher who came from God (John 3:2). John recorded the miracles of Jesus to cause readers to believe. To support his claim that Jesus is God, John records seven miracles in addition to Christ's resurrection. These miracles are: turning water to wine (John 2:1-11); healing the son of the nobleman (John 4:46-54); feeding the five thousand (John 6:1-13); walking on the water (John 6:16-21); healing the man born blind (John 9:1-7); raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-46), and the draught of fish (John 21:1-8). John said Jesus did many other miracles besides the ones which were written in the book. Those which were recorded were to prove that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (John 20:30, 31).
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