Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Luke's Gospel - Book Group Notes

For what they're worth. Not that we followed them slavishly. And drawing on Dr Bock:

Parish Book Group Notes on LUKE’S GOSPEL

I’ve got some questions up my sleeve and some things I thought we might talk about, but have you got any comments or questions or anything you wanted to raise?

Anything you found especially striking?

(some of my questions are quite hard so if we haven’t got anything to say about them we can move on and maybe come back to them later)

(the longest gospel – see Bock p1

(date – early to mid 60s – Bock p18

(where written – anyone’s guess! – Bock, p18

Why do you think Luke wrote this book?


(Luke a companion of Paul – the ‘we’ sections of Acts – 16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1-28:16)

‘Despite the wide selection of potential candidates available as companions of Paul [who might have written this gospel], the tradition of the church gives attention to only one name as the author of these volumes – Luke. That tradition was firmly fixed in the early church by AD 200 and remained so without any hint of contrary opinion’ (Bock p5) – e.g. 1 & 2 Clement, Justin Martyr

The Muratorian Canon ca. 170-80 calls Luke the author of the Gospel, a doctor and a companion of Paul

Let’s look at Luke’s introduction (1:1-4).

Where do you think we see evidence of Luke’s careful investigation? (What do you think of Luke as an historian?)

In what sense is this an “orderly account” (v3)?

How does the gospel encourage us to “know the certainty of the things we have been taught” (v4)?

How might Theophilus be reassured by reading this gospel?

What do you think the main things Luke wants us to grasp are?

Given that we have 4 gospels in the New Testament, 3 of which are pretty similar to each other, what do you think we would miss out on if we didn’t have Luke’s gospel?

LUKE’S GOSPEL – A Summary & An Outline from D. Bock

Bock’s summary:

‘Luke’s gospel is pastoral, theological, and historical. The reality of God’s plan influences how individuals see themselves and the community to which they belong. Old barriers of race are removed. New hope abounds. There is to be no doubt that the message of Jesus is one of hope and transformation. Anyone, Jew or Gentile, can belong. At the centre is Jesus, the promised Messiah-Lord, who sits at God’s right hand exercising authority from above. He will return one day and all will be accountable to him. His life, ministry, resurrection, and ascension show that he has the ability to be trusted. He can bring God’s promises to completion, just as he has inaugurated them. In the meantime, being his disciple is not easy, but it is full of rich blessings that transcend anything else this life can offer. This is the reassurance about salvation that Luke offers to Theophilus and others like him.’ (p43)

Bock’s outline:

  1. Luke’s preface and the introduction of John and Jesus (1:1-2:52)
  2. Preparation for ministry: anointed by God (2:22-40)
  3. Galilean ministry: revelation of Jesus (4:14-9:50)
  4. Jerusalem journey: Jewish rejection and the new way (9:51-19:44)
  5. Jerusalem: the Innocent One slain and raised (19:45-24:53)

Darrell L. Bock, Luke: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 1994)

LUKE’S GOSPEL’s particular emphasis / compared to the other Gospels

The 4 gospels have some material in common.

Matthew, Mark and Luke have quite a lot in common. (They are sometimes known as the ‘synoptic’ gospels because they see things (optic) broadly from a similar (syn) point of view).

Matthew and Luke also share some material in common. Some scholars claim that Matthew and Luke may have shared a source which is known as ‘Q’ from the German word ‘Quelle meaning ‘source’ which contained some sayings of Jesus, but there is no physical evidence that such a thing ever existed. No one has ever found a copy of this supposed source ‘Q’.

No one really knows whether any of the gospel writers knew and used each other’s books, though scholars have their rival theories.   

About 42% of Luke’s Gospel might be said to be unique to him (Bock, p12).

The following material is unique to Luke’s Gospel:


The Good Samaritan (10: 29-37)

The Importunate Friend (11:5-8)

The Rich Man who built bigger barns (12:16-21)

The Fig Tree (13:6-9) -- transformation of fig tree episode in Mark and Matthew.

The Prodigal Son (15:11-32)

The Crafty Steward (16:1-9)

The Rich Man and Lazarus (16:19-31)

The Unscrupulous Judge (18:1-8)

The Publican and the Sinner (18:9-14)


Warning about greed (12: 13-15)

Suffering not linked to guilt (13:1-5)

Places of honour at table (14:7-14)

Costs of discipleship (14: 25-35)

Necessity of a purse and a sword (22:35-38)

Narrative episodes:

Entire infancy narrative: birth of John the Baptist, birth of Jesus, presentation in temple, his encounter in temple with teachers of the Law (Chapters 1 and 2)

Miraculous draft of fish (5:1-11)

Widow's son at Nain (7:11-17)

Woman who bathes Jesus' feet with tears (7:36-50)

The women who accompany Jesus (8:2-3)

Sending of the seventy-two (10:1-2)

Martha and Mary (10:38-42)

Healing of a crippled woman on the Sabbath (13:10-13)

Healing of a dropsical man on the Sabbath (14:;1-6)

The Samaritan leper (17:11-19)

Repentance of Zachaeus (19:1-10)

Jesus weeps over Jerusalem (19:41-44)

Jesus before Herod (23:6-16)

Meeting with "daughters of Jerusalem" (23:26-32)

The good and bad thieves (23-39-43)

Appearance on the road to Emmaus (24:13-35)

(list cut and pasted from the internet!)

What did you make of Jesus (as Luke presents him)?

What would Luke say about:

  1. Who Jesus was? (9v19ff)
  2. Why Jesus came? (9v22)
  3. What it might mean to follow Jesus? (9v23ff)

    Were there any characters in the gospel you identified with? Why?

    Would you agree that Luke has a particular concern for outsiders / the marginalised? How does that come across in the gospel? What examples come to mind?
    1v51-53 -  ‘He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.’
    The Nazareth Manifesto – poor, prisoners, blind, oppressed – 4v14ff
    Jesus’ description of his ministry for John’s disciples – 7v22
    Not taking the best seats and whom to invite to your dinner parties – 14v7ff

    (Women, gentiles / Samaritans – see below)

    The sick and demon-possessed

    Touching the leper – 5v12ff
    tax collectors – Zacchaeus – 19v1; 3:12, tax collectors baptised by John the Baptist; Levi – 5v27ff – 7v29 – 15v1 – tax collectors and ‘sinners’, v7
    the thieves on the cross – 23v39ff
    Barabbas – 23v18f

    Samaritan – 9v51ff
    Good Samaritan – 10v25ff
    Samaritan leper – 17v11ff – v18 – “foreigner”
    Samaritans claim descent from the Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (two sons of Joseph) as well as from the priestly tribe of Levi, who have links to ancient Samaria from the period of their entry into the land of Canaan

    The poor
    6vv20-21 - "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.’
    The dangers of riches – the rich fool – 12v13ff
    12v33 – give to the poor
    the parable of the rich man and Lazarus – 16v19ff

    Luke may be the only Gentile (non-Jewish) Bible writer. Do you think his gospel would be of special interest to Gentiles? Why? How?
    See Bock p6
    Samaritans (above)
    2v32 – a light for revelation to the gentiles
    The widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian – 4v26f
    7v1ff – the centurion whose servant is sick esp. v9
    10v13 – Tyre and Sidon
    The Ninevites and the Queen of the South (Sheba) – 11v29ff
    The parable of the fig tree about judgement on Israel – 13v6ff and the parable of the tenants in the Vineyard – 20v9ff
    13v29 – ‘people will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God’
    The parable of the banquet – 14v15ff – the original guests the people of Israel?
    The centurion at the cross – 23v47

    Luke is often said to show a particular concern for women too. Did you notice that? What did you make of the women in the gospel?
    The birth account in Matthew might be said to concentrate on Joseph’s perspective; in Luke’s gospel we seem to have more of Mary’s point of view
    Elizabeth – 1v39ff
    Anna the prophetess – 2v36ff
    The healing of Simon Peter’s mother in law – 4v38ff
    The sinful woman – 7v36ff
    8vv2-3 – women who followed Jesus
    The dead girl (Jairus’ daughter) and the sick woman with the bleeding – 8v40ff
    Mary & Martha – 10v38ff
    Crippled woman – 13v10ff
    Woman who lost coin (parable) – 15v8
    The persistent widow (parable) – 18v1ff
    The widow’s offering – 21v1ff
    21v23 – “How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers)
    23v55 – ‘The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it.’

    (13:34 – Jesus likens himself to a hen with her chicks)

    Forgiveness and salvation are also identified as themes of this gospel. Did that stand out for you? How so?

    Luke was possibly a slave or former slave. In Colossians 4:14, Paul speaks of ‘Our dear friend Luke, the doctor’. Does the gospel reflect these things?
    Special interest in healing miracles?
    (medical vocabulary sometimes claimed but not especially convincing)

    What difference does it make to think of Acts as the second volume of Luke-Acts?

    How would you sum up this gospel and the effect it’s had on you?

    What would you right for the blurb?

    Would you recommend it to a friend and why?

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