Luke was the only Gentile author of any part of the New Testament. He was the “beloved physician” (Col. 4:14), a close friend and companion of the Apostle Paul. We don’t know anything about his younger life or conversion…but we do know that he was not an eyewitness of the life of Jesus (:1:2). Luke wrote both this Gospel and the book of Acts. He accompanied Paul on his missionary journeys and was with him at the time of his martyrdom (2 Tim. 4:11). We have no details on his later life.
Luke tells us that he was motivated to write this Gospel by the writings of others…so that they might know the “exact truth about things” (1:4). He carefully consulted with others for the information (:2), and wrote in chronological order (:3)…under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (:4) so that he could adequately instruct others (:4), in particular, Theophilus (his name means: “dear to God”, or “friend of God”…he is unknown, but the form of the address to him suggests that he was a person of high rank).
There are several distinctives of Luke’s Gospel: 1-it is written with Gentiles in mind; 2-it includes many medical matters (4:38; 7:15; 8:55; 14:2; 18:15; 22:50); 3-it gives much attention to the birth of Christ; 4-there is an emphasis on prayer (3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18,28-29; 10:21; 11:1; 22:39-46; 23:34,46); 5-women are given a prominent place (1; 2; 7:11-13; 8:1-3; 10:38-42; 21:1-4; 23:27-31,49); 6-its theme is “Christ, the Son of Man”, giving emphasis to the humanity of Christ, His compassion for mankind and His provision of salvation to the whole world (19:10).
It was probably written around 60 A.D., possibly in Caesarea during Paul’s two-year imprisonment there (Acts 24:27).
Luke 1:1-4-Here we find Luke’s greeting to Theophilus…his explanation for why he wrote and how he went about it. Luke wants to write a detailed account of what transpired during the earthly ministry of the life of Jesus so that those that read it can have confidence in its accuracy and authenticity.
Luke 1:5-This is Herod the Great.
NewTestament Political Rulers
Roman Emperor Rulers of Palestine
Herod the Great
Judea Galilee & Perea Other Provinces
Augustus Ceasar Archelaus Herod Antipas Herod Philip
29 BC-AD 14 (these are the three sons of Herod the Great)
4 BC-AD 6 4 BC-AD 39 4 BC-AD 34
Annius Rufus (Roman)
Tiberius Ceasar Valerius Gratus (Roman)
14 BC-AD 37 AD15-26
PontiusPilot (Roman) Herod Agrippa II
AD26-36 (Herod the Great’s great-grandson)
Caligula Marcellus(Roman) AD 34
AD 37-41 AD 37
Herrod Agrippa I
(Herod the Great’s Herod Agrippa II
grandson) (Herod the Great’s great-grandson)
AD 37-44 AD 39
Claudius Cuspius Fadus (Roman)
AD 41-54 AD 44-46
Tiberius Alexander (Roman)
Ventidius Cumanus (Roman)
Nero M. Antonius Felix (Roman)
AD 54-68 AD 52-60
Porcius Festus (Roman)
Clodius Albinus (Roman)
Gessius Florus (Roman)
The Jewish Revolt (against Rome)
AD 66-73 (Temple destroyed AD 70, Judea
becomes the Roman province of Syria-Palestine)
Galbo, Otho & Vitellius
Luke 1:5-23-The announcement of the birth of John the Baptist
Luke 1:5-Zacharias was a priest (cf. Lev. 8 for information about the priesthood) who served in the “division of Abijah”. All of the priests were divided into groups that had specific responsibilities of service in the Temple. Their division was named after the priest who was in charge of that division. Zacharias was married to Elizabeth, who was also a member of a family that was of the priestly lineage of Aaron.
Luke 1:6-7-Zacharias and Elizabeth were “righteous in the sight of God”. They were an older couple (:18) who had no children.
Luke 1:8-10-Zacharias was chosen to burn the incense in the Temple. This was a great privilege and a priest was only allowed to do so one time during his life (Ryrie).
Luke 1:11-17-An angel appears to Zacharias while he is burning the incense. Evidently, Zacharias had been praying for his wife to have a child because the angel said, “your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son.” They are to name him John. John will bring them great joy…because “he will be great in the sight of the Lord”. He will not drink wine or strong drink…which signified that he would be a Nazarite…a person who takes a vow of commitment and dedication to serve the Lord.
(cf. Num. 6:3; for additional information on Nazarites alsosee: http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/smiths-bible-dictionary/nazarite.html
God was going to use John to prepare the hearts of the people for the coming of Jesus. He would minister in the “spirit and power of Elijah” (cf. Matt. 11:13-14; 17:10-13; Mk. 9:11-14)…meaning that his ministry would bear the same characteristics as that of Elijah (a message of repentance).
Luke 1:18-20-Zacharias can hardly believe what is happening. He tells the angel that he and his wife are old, past the age of childbearing. How will he know for sure that what the angel has said will come true? He is probably thinking that when he leaves the Temple people are going to question him concerning why he took so long to burn the incense. He wants to tell them that an angel appeared to him and told him that he and Elizabeth were going to have a child. But he didn’t want to appear foolish to them. What if he told them that, but then it didn’t come true? How could he know for sure? The angel told him because he did not believe what he had been told he would be given a sign. He would not be able to speak until the date the child was born. This is not so much a rebuke for unbelief as it was a sign to give him confidence. The angel identifies himself as Gabriel (Gabriel means “man of God”, cf. Dan. 8:16; 9:21)
For additional informationabout angels see:
Zacharias would recognize this name from the Old Testament and realize that this was one of God’s angels that had been used in the past to deliver messages concerning God’s plans.
Luke 1:21-23-When Zacharias came out of the Temple the people were anxious because he had been in there so long. They tried to question him, but he could not speak. After his time of service at the Temple was completed, he and Elizabeth returned to their home in the hill country of Judah (:39).
Prayer: Lord, please help me to be righteous in Your sight. Of all things that might be said about a person…this is perhaps the best…because righteousness seems to include all other aspects of a life that is pleasing to You.