Series of Teachings based on Luke’s First Treatise to Theophilus: Part One
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, 2Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; 3It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, 4That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed. Luke 1:1-4
The order of history of the things in which Luke and Theophilus were taught is an order of facts although human and developed on earth, they respond to divine designs sent from heaven as good news with which the good Will of the Creator is established over Adam’s generation. It is therefore the divine order that establishes teaching to walk in the faith of Jesus.
It is not the fantastic story of extraordinary and supernatural events; its greatness consists in the simplicity of the actions of those who understand that they are protagonists of divine history; that is why Luke does not pretend to emphasize the knowledge (details) of the stories but the faith under which they act.
Luke writes fighting with each of his writings the Greek philosophy that he knows very well, and which he decided to renounce. The motivation for writing his first treatise is to “remind” Theophilus of the certainty of the experiences under which they both knew Jesus, and how they were both led by the Holy Spirit to know the mystery of the Grace of the Gospel.
Luke is concerned that the influence of the religious philosophy of the Epicureans and Stoics might upset Theophilus’ faith, and he writes to warn him of the danger of paying attention to the knowledge of words. The use of the term know επιγνως, is used with the force of, that you be aware of, appealing to Theophilus’ faith and not to his reasoning.
Luke has discovered, accompanying Paul in his travels, that the greatest enemy faced by faith communities that have not had enough time to know about the work of Jesus, his crucifixion and resurrection, is the mixture of doctrines that present a “gospel” nuanced with pagan philosophy and Pharisaic Judaism. Luke warns in his treatises that there is a fear that many of these communities will collapse before these mixtures of doctrines; to some extent, Luke also realize that Theophilus is exposed to such doctrines. The apostle Paul points out the doctrinal conflict that has arisen in the community of Galatia promoted by those who believe that Gentile communities should also be circumcised as the Law demands,
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Galatians 1:6
Luke has realized, and therefore writes, that there are many who have tried to put the history of things in order, and in his acknowledgement it reads that such attempts have only served to upset the faith of some.
Luke refers in his treatises to the circulation of quasi-doctrinal knowledge that is threatening different communities. By the time of Paul’s first apostolic journey, Luke reports that there were already those who preached that it was necessary to circumcise them, and command them to keep the law of Moses. Through the relationship with Paul Luke also knows what the apostle reports in his second epistle to Timothy, that there are those who have strayed from the truth, saying that the resurrection is already done, and upset the faith of some. Paul also writes to Titus and commends him to rebuke harshly all those who attend Jewish fables that separate the faithful from the truth.
So, confronted by all this and knowing that his former companion is exposed to this influence, Luke adopts a unique style of writing, with which with each story he presents the certainty of things and at the same time overthrows philosophical arguments, and distorts the value of reasoning by the word. For Luke it is not only a matter of telling the story of things; it is more important to establish the veracity of the history in which they have been taught.
The certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed is called Jesus, there is no more; it is about Him that the Hebrew Scriptures speak:
Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (24:25-27)
To know the certainty of those things is reduced to knowing Jesus; Luke’s task in writing to Theophilus is to complete the knowledge of Jesus that he lacked to know Theophilus when both were exposed to the Revelation of Him; but to know Him, of course, from the correct vision, which the Scriptures certify as true.
Each account is a testimony of the greatness of the Creator who works alongside man to establish in each fact his Grace, his wisdom, his mercy, his love, his forgiveness, his care. Against this testimony of Greatness philosophy becomes inoperative: For with God nothing shall be impossible. (1:37)
It is also the testimony of faith of the human party involved. God operates on the basis of faith of those who become co-protagonists of Revelation. It is not only the wondrous work of the Creator; it is also the intervention of those who have decided to be righteous. In the account of the angel Gabriel’s manifestation to Zechariah, Luke emphasizes above all the value of the decision of Zechariah and his wife to remain righteous before the Lord, a decision that according to the same account, not everyone in the people live according to this character:
There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. (1:5-6)
The same happens in the account of Gabriel’s manifestation to Mary, Luke emphasizes that Mary is above the condition of righteousness of the girls of her region,
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. (1:30)
Luke presents God interacting with man. In the account of the angel Gabriel’s manifestation to Zechariah, the first thing that stands out is, But the angel said unto him, Zechariah, fear not; for thy prayer is heard (1:13). What is going to happen, part of it is due to your request, what can pagan philosophy do against this? Nothing, philosophy is distorted.
However, although Luke presents and emphasizes human participation, he emphasizes that none of them operate by themselves, but by the divine intervention of God’s Spirit, who fills and inspires to speak (prophesy), who guides, who empowers, who strengthens, who inspires, who sustains.
Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men. (1:25)
And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. (1:46-47)
And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, 68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, (1:67-68)
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel. (1:80)
Luke presents Jesus and does so together with the announcement of John’s birth to show that both are part of a divine project of redemption for Israel; neither of them stands out by and for themselves, their actions are not isolated actions, they belong to the mandate of God so that with each of their actions is activated the prophetic model of life established in the Law, in the prophets and in all the Scriptures:
For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. (22:37)
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. (24.44)
Luke is careful to avoid presenting Jesus as a demigod, and although he emphasizes his humanity when acting, he emphasizes that his actions respond to his divine nature. This care of Luke for the way he presents Jesus disrupts the conception of the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers about the Greek mythological gods.
However, Luke acknowledges that in Jesus operate all the rights to act as savior (Jesus). Israelite by nature (the genealogy of Jesus that Luke presents serves to show that Jesus is a true Israelite), which constitutes him as heir to the promise of God to Abraham, from the tribe of Judah, where the legislator would come from, from the house and family of David, which constitutes him as a son of the promise of God to David, but above all, that Jesus is God manifested in the flesh: Luke extends the genealogy to God: which was the son of God.
And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.(4:32)
And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out. (4:36)
And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ. (4:41)
And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? (5:21)
And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? (7:49)
And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. (6:5)
And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him. (8:25)
Luke, however, recognizes that although Jesus is God manifested in the flesh, not everything He did was done by His capacity as God, but in His capacity as a man redeemed by Grace and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, using expressions of the apostle Paul, emptied Himself (of His condition as God), and took the form of a servant, made in the likeness of men; so that his executions are carried out and developed in direct dependence on the Father, He is the One who empowers Him to operate in the supernatural form in which He does so. Luke never presents Jesus acting on an individualistic basis, isolated from the Father.
Luke does not present Jesus as a “child-God,” with all the power, strength, and wisdom of God encapsulated in Jesus, and who by such virtues stands out even from the wise men of His day. Luke presents Jesus subjected to a process of natural creation as any other human being, only that unlike all others, consecrated by obedience to the Father’s commandment, dedicated to complete the work of redemption for which He was sent; all that Jesus does He does in the Virtue of the Holy Spirit in direct dependence on the Father: I and my Father are one.
Luke takes care not only to narrate the facts, but more, to establish the doctrinal element of the facts in Jesus’ process of acquiring conscience about His presence on earth, so that whoever reads them understands that such facts are presented to them as a route of salvation to escape from this perverted generation: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. In Luke this is clearly seen in the account of Jesus’ birth, of his presentation in the Temple, and in the account of His meeting with the doctors of the Law at the age of twelve.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (2:7)
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (2:21-22)
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. (2:40)
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. (2:52)
Knowing the certainty of things is reduced to knowing Jesus; Luke’s task in writing to Theophilus is to complete the knowledge of Jesus that he lacked to know Theophilus when both were exposed to the Revelation of knowing him as the Christ; but to know him, of course, from the correct vision, which the Scriptures certify as true.
Well, now you have a broader picture of how Luke’s gospel was formed, and what were his real motivations for writing it. The most important thing about this lesson is that you understand that God establishes purposes through the different scenarios in which He leads a man or woman of faith. It is not only about proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, but also about learning about the teachings we receive from each experience, and where they lead us.
All biblical quotations are taken from the King James Version.
Pastor Pedro Montoya
 Acts 15:5
 2nd. Timothy 2:18
 Titus 1:14
 Genesis 22:18
 Ídem 49:10
 Luke 2:4
 1 Kings 8:25
 Luke 3:38
 1st. Timothy 3:16; 2nd. Corinthians 4:11
 Philippians 2:7
 John 10.30
 John 14.6