« PreviousContinue »
Gospel of Mark is at least as precious to him as any of the others ; serving an end, and filling a void, which could not without spiritual detriment be left uncared for,
OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE.
1. Although the Author of this Gospel plainly enough speaks of himself in his Introduction, and in that to the Acts of the Apostles, we are left to gather his name from tradition. Here, however, as in the case of Mark, there seems to be no reasonable ground of doubt. It has been universally ascribed to Lucas, or Luke, spoken of Col. iv. 14, and again Philem. 24, and 2 Tim. iv. 11.
2. Of this person we know no more with any certainty than we find related in the Acts of the Apostles and the passages above referred to. From Col. iv. 11, 14, it would appear that he was not born a Jew, being there distinguished from “ those of the circumcision.” It is, however, quite uncertain whether he had become a Jewish proselyte previous to his conversion to Christianity. His worldly calling was that of a Physician ; he is called “the beloved Physician” by Paul, Col. iv. 14. A very late tradition, generally adopted by the Romish Church, makes him also to have been a painter; but it is in no respect deserving of credit. His birthplace is said by Eusebius and Jerome to have been Antioch, but traditionally only, and perhaps from a mistaken identification of him with Lucius, Acts xiii. 1. Tradition, as delivered by Epiphanius, Theophylact, Euthymius, &c., makes him to have been one of the seventy, Luke x. 1; but this is refuted by his own testimony, in his Preface,where he by implication distinguishes himself from those who were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word. It seems to have arisen from his Gospel alone containing the account of their mission.
3. Luke appears to have attached himself to Paul during the second missionary journey of the Apostle, and at Troas (Acts xvi. 10). This may perhaps be inferred from his there first making use of the first person plural in his narrative; after saying (ver. 8) “ they came down to Troas,” he proceeds (ver. 10), “immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia.” He thence accompanied Paul to Macedonia, remaining perhaps at Philippi (but see below, $ iv. 3) until Paul returned thither again at the end of his second visit to Greece, after the disturbance at Ephesus. Thence (Acts xx. 5) we find him again accompanying Paul to Asia and Jerusalem (xxi. 17); being apparently with him at Cæsarea during his imprisonment (xxiv. 23); and travelling with him to Rome (xxvii. 1-xxviii. 16). There we also find him remaining with the Apostle to a late eriod, very nearly till his martyrdom. (See 2 Tim. iv. 11.)
4. Of the time and manner of his death nothing certain is known, and the traditions are inconsistent one with another : some alleging him to have suffered martyrdom, while the general report is that he died a natural death.
1. A plain statement of the origin of this Gospel is given us by the Author himself, in his preface, ch. i. 1-4. He there states that many had taken in hand to draw up a statement, according to the testimony of those who were from the beginning eye-witnesses and ministers of the word, of the matters received (or fulfilled) among Christians; and that it therefore semed good to him also, having carefully traced the progress of events from the first, to write an arranged account of the same to his friend (or patron) Theophilus.
2. From this we gather, (1) that Luke was not himself an eye-witness, nor a minister of the word from the beginning; (2) that he compiled his Gospel from the testimony of eye-witnesses and Apostles, which he carefully collected and arranged. For (1) he implicitly excludes himself from the number of the "eye-witnesses and ministers of the word,” and (2) by the “to me also” he includes himself among the “many” who made use of the testimony of eye-witnesses and of Apostles.
3. I have before proved generally that the Gospels of Matthew and Mark cannot have been among the number of these narratives of which Luke speaks. I may now add to those proofs, that if Luke had seen and received, as of apostolic authority, either or both of these gospels, then his variations from them are, on his own shewing, unaccountable; if he had seen them, and did not receive them, his coincidences with them are equally unaccountable. The improbabilities and absurdities involved in his having either or both of them before him and working up their narratives into his own, I have before dealt with, in the general Introduction to the Three Gospels. 4. Judging entirely from the phænomena presented by the Gospel
itself, my conclusion with regard to its sources is the following -that Luke, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, drew up his Gospel independently of, and without knowledge of, those of Matthew and Mark ; —that he fell in with, in the main, the same cycle of apostolic teaching as the writers of those Gospels placed on record, viz. that which embraced principally the Galilæan life and ministry of our Lord, to the exclusion of that part of it which passed at Jerusalem before the formal call of the twelve Apostles ;—but that he possessed other sources of information, not open to the compiler of Matthew's Gospel, nor to Mark.
5. To this latter circumstance may be attributed his access to (I believe, from its peculiar style and character) a documentary record of the events preceding and accompanying the birth of the Lord, derived probably from her who alone was competent to narrate several particulars contained in it:-his preservation of the precious and most important cycle of our Lord's discourses and parables contained in that large section of his Gospel, ch. ix. 51–xviii. 15, which is mostly peculiar to himself:-numerous other details scattered up and down in every part of his narrative, shewing information from an eye-witness and, lastly, his enlarged account of some events following the Resurrection, and the narration, by him alone, of the circumstances accompanying the Ascension.
6. A tradition was very early current, that Luke's Gospel contained the substance of the teaching of Paul. Irenæus states : “ Luke, the follower of Paul, set down in a book the Gospel preached by that Apostle ?." See also Tertullian. But this is contradicted by the implicit assertion of the Evangelist himself in his preface, that the Gospel was compiled and arranged by himself from the testimony of those who, from the beginning of our Lord's ministry,' were eye-witnesses or ministers of the word. Among these it is not, of course, possible to reckon Paul.
7. It is however an interesting enquiry, how far his continued intercourse with the great Apostle of the Gentiles may have influenced his diction, or even his selection of facts. It is a remarkable coincidence, that the account of the institution of the Lord's Supper should be nearly verbatim the same in Luke xxii. 19, and in 1 Cor. xi. 23,—and that Paul claims to have received this last from the Lord. For we know, that to compensate to Paul in his apostolic office for the want of the authority of an eye-witness, and to constitute him a witness to the truth of the Gospel, a revelation was made to him,—to which he refers, Gal. i. 12: Eph. iii. 3: 1 Cor. xi. 23; xv. 3,-embracing at least
7 Origen, Eusebius, and Jerome go so far as to understand the expression “my Gospel,” Rom. ii. 16, of the Gospel of Luke. But this is contrary to the usage of the word “Gospel ” in the New Testament: see the true meaning in notes there.
the leading facts of the evangelic history. And this circumstance may have acted imperceptibly on the mind of Luke, and even shaped or filled out some of his narratives, in aid of direct historic sources of testimony.
8. There is very little trace of Paul's peculiar diction, or prominence given to the points which it became his especial work to inculcate in the Gospel of Luke. Doubtless we may trace a similar cast of mind and feeling in some instances; as e. g. Luke's carefulness to record the sayings of our Lord which were assertive of His unrestricted love for Jew and Gentile alike: Luke iv. 25 ff. ; ix. 52 ff.; x. 30 ff. ; xvii. 16, 18. We may observe too that in Luke those parables and sayings are principally found, which most directly regard the great doctrine of man's free justification by grace through faith : e. g. ch. xv. 11 ff. ; xvii. 10; xviii. 14, in which latter place the use of “justified” (see note there) is remarkable. These instances, however, are but few,and it may perhaps be doubted whether Commentators in general have not laid too great stress upon them. It would be very easy to trace similar relations and analogies in the other Gospels, if we were bent upon doing so.
FOR WHAT READERS AND WITH WHAT OBJECT IT WAS WRITTEN.
1. Both these questions are formally answered for us by the Evangelist himself. He states, ch. i. 3, that he wrote primarily for the benefit of one Theophilus, and that he might know the certainty of those accounts which had formed the subject of his catechetical instruction.
2. But we can hardly suppose this object to have been the only moving cause to the great work which Luke was undertaking. The probabilities of the case, and the practice of authors in inscribing their works to particular persons, combine to persuade us that Luke must have regarded his friend as the representative of a class of readers for whom his Gospel was designed. And in enquiring what that class was, we must deal with the data furnished by the Gospel itself.
3. In it we find universality the predominant character. There is no marked regard paid to Jewish readers, as in Matthew, nor to Gentiles, as in Mark; if there be any preference, it seems rather on the side of the latter. In conformity with Jewish practice, we have a genealogy of our Lord, which however does not, as in Matthew, stop with Abraham, but traces up his descent even to the progenitor of the human race. Commentators have noticed that Luke principally records those sayings and acts of our Lord by which God's mercy to the Gentiles is set forth : see ch. xv. 11 ff.; xviii. 10; xix. 5 (but see notes there); x. 33 ; xvii. 19; ix. 52–56 ; iv. 25—27. Such instances, however, are not much to be relied on ;—see above, ch. i. § ii. 6;-to which I will add, that it would be easy to construct a similar list to prove the same point with respect to Matthew or John°;—and I therefore much prefer assigning the above character of universality to this Gospel, which certainly is visible throughout it. That it was constructed for Gentile readers as well as for Jews, is plain ; and is further confirmed from the fact of its author having been the friend and companion of the great Apostle of the Gentiles.
4. I infer then that the Gospel was designed for the general use of Christians, whether Jews or Gentiles; and, subordinately to this general purpose, for those readers whose acquaintance with Jewish customs and places was sufficient to enable them to dispense with those elucidations of them which Mark and John have given, but which are not found in Matthew or Luke.
5. The object of the Gospel has been sufficiently declared in Luke's own words above cited,—that the converts might know the certainty of those things in which they had received oral instruction as catechumens; in other words, that the portions of our Lord's life and discourses thus imparted to them might receive both permanence, by being committed to writing, -and completion, by being incorporated in a detailed narrative of His acts and sayings.
AT WHAT TIME IT WAS WRITTEN.
1. We are enabled to approximate to the time of the publication of this Gospel with much more certainty than we can to that of any of the others. The enquiry may be thus conducted. We may safely assume
Matthew relates the visit of the Magi, ch. ii. 1 ff.; refers to Galilee of the Gentiles seeing a great light, ch. iv. 15, 16:- Many shall come from the East and West,' &c. ch. viii. 11—'Come unto me all ye that labour,'ch. xi. 28: the Syrophoenician woman (not related by Luke), ch. xv. 21 ff.; "The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation,' &c. ch. xxi. 43 (omitted by Luke): “The elect from the four winds of heaven' (not in Luke), ch. xxiv. 31 : “The judgment of all the nations,'ch. xxv. 31–46 : •Make disciples of all the nations,'ch. xviii. 19.–Again, John relates the visit to the Samaritans, ch. iv.; The other sheep not of this fold,' ch. x. 16: 'not for that nation only, but that he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad,' ch. xi. 52: “The request of the Greeks at the feast,' ch. xii. 20, &c. &c. See the view, that Luke wrote for Greeks principally, ingeniously illustrated in the lecture prefixed to this Gospel in the first volume of Dr. Wordsworth's Greek Testament: which however, like the other notices of this learned and estimable writer, is written far too strongly in the spirit of an advocate, who can see only that which it is his aim to prove.