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by James Martin Gray
Luke, like Mark, wrote for the Gentiles, but of a different class than he. While Mark had the Romans in mind, the writers of the first three centuries testify that Luke wrote for the Greeks, and this is corroborated by the internal evidence of the book itself.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE GREEKS
We have seen that the Romans represented the idea of activity or power, but the Greeks that of reason and culture. While the Roman ideal was military glory, that of the Greek was wisdom and beauty. The Roman felt his mission to be that of government, but the Greek that of education. The Greek was seeking the perfect, the ideal man, and as illustrating this fact they made their gods in the likeness of men.
How Luke’s Gospel Meets this Need
The God of Luke meets this need of the Greeks by presenting Jesus as the perfect, the ideal, or universal man. Dr. D. S. Gregory in his excellent book, Why Four Gospels? sums up the reasons for this opinion in the following way:
Luke himself was a Greek, though a proselyte to the Jewish religion. He was moreover, a cultivated man as is indicated in the general style of his writing. And he was a travelling companion of Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, especially the Greeks.
His gospel is the most orderly history of the sayings and doings of Jesus, and evidently prepared for a thoughtful and philosophic people.
Speaking further of style, it is remarkable for its poetry, song, eloquence and for the depth and sublimity of its thought. Differing from Mark it abounds in the discourses of Jesus, as though the people for whom it was intended were accustomed to think and meditate.
This Gospel also omits the distinctively Jewish portions of the record found in the other Gospels, and also the distinctively Roman features such as the vivid pictures and the activity associated with Mark.
Furthermore, it gives those incidents in the life of our Lord which more especially demonstrate his interest in the whole race. For example, the genealogy of Jesus is traced through Adam to God, and the sending out of the seventy is mentioned as well as the twelve, for the former were not limited in their work to Israel. Also a good deal of space is given to the ministry of Jesus among the Gentiles beyond the Jordan (9:51-18:30). The parable of the good Samaritan, and the healing of the ten lepers are also recorded, both of which are peculiar to Luke, and especially cheering to the Gentiles.
This Gospel contains peculiar marks of the humanity of Jesus (Luke 10:21 ; Luke 22:43-44 ; Luke 23:46 ; Luke 24:39 ), although Luke emphasizes His Deity as do all the evangelists.
1. For what class of Gentiles did Luke write?
2. How does he present Jesus as distinguished from Matthew and Mark?
3. Describe the Greeks as distinguished from the Romans.
4. How is Luke personally distinguished from other evangelists?
5. How does the plan of his Gospel compare with theirs?
6. Describe the style of his Gospel.
7. How do the omissions and additions of Luke’s gospel bear on the thought that he was writing for the Greeks?
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14