” I, in my turn, after carefully going over the whole story from the beginning, have decided to write an ordered account for you.” (Luke 1:3)
The opening chapter of Luke’s gospel is described by scholars as containing the most elegant greek in the New Testament. The gospel is the first book in a two volume story which continues in the Acts of the Apostles. Both are dedicated to the same person, Theophilus, (whose name in English means lover of God). In Acts, Luke tells us that his earlier work covered all that Jesus began to do and teach “until the day he was taken up” (1:2). Luke/Acts combined is by far the longest work in the New Testament, tracing the story from the birth of Jesus through to the development of the Spirit-filled Church of the apostolic age.
Luke writes primarily for gentile (non-Jewish) early converts to Christianity. He shows that the preaching and teaching of the representatives of the early church are grounded in the words and actions of Jesus, who during his historical ministry prepared his specially chosen followers and commissioned them to be witnesses to his resurrection and to everything else he did. This continuity between the historical ministry of Jesus and the ministry of the apostles is Luke’s way of guaranteeing the fidelity of the Church’s teaching to the teaching of Jesus.
Throughout the gospel, Luke calls upon the Christian disciple to identify with Jesus, who is caring and tender towards the poor and lowly, the outcast, the sinner, and the afflicted; who reaches out to all who love God, righteous and sinner alike. He stresses the mercy and compassion of Jesus in stories unique to his gospel – the healing of the Centurion’s servant, the good Samaritan, the parable of the prodigal Son – and encourages us to imitate Jesus’ example of care and concern for others in our own day.