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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. LUKE.
PREFACE TO ST. LUKE'S HISTORY,-PARENTS OF
JOHN THE BAPTIST.
LUKE i. 1-7.
It is not certain whether the author of this Gospel was personally a follower of our Lord during his ministry, like John and Matthew: or whether, like Mark, he wrote not what he had seen or heard, but what was delivered to him by others, and especially by St. Paul, whom he accompanied in his travels. We know that he was not one of the Twelve ; but many suppose that he was one of the Seventy, whom Christ appointed to assist in making the gospel known. This cannot be determined : but it is certain that he was the favourite companion and helper of St. Paul, who calls him “the beloved physician, and who, after mentioning some who had departed from him, so as to disappoint his expectation, when
1 Acts xvi. 10; xxvii. 1, 2 ; xxviii. 7-10; Col. iv. 14 ; 2 Tim. iv. 11; Philemon 24.
2 His name, which is not of Hebrew origin, is opposed to this idea.
he was prisoner at Rome, proceeds to say, “ Only Luke is with me.”
In whatever way he came to the knowledge of the things which he has related, he wrote under the guidance of the Spirit of God. Under the influence of the same Spirit, may the gospel which he has delivered to us contribute to make us “ wise unto salvation, through faith that is in Christ Jesus.”
St. Luke opens his history by declaring to a Christian named Theophilus, the reason which induced him to compose it.'
1. Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
2. Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eye-witnesses, and ministers of the word ;
3. It 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,
4. That thou mightest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed.
This passage explains to us more clearly than any other, the original composition of the gospel histories.
The most important things said and done by Jesus Christ, were recorded by those who, from the beginning, were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word. Such things, it is natural to suppose, would be taken down by the converts from the mouth of those who had heard them, and kept both for their own use, and that they might be communicated to
3 The Acts of the Apostles are addressed to the same person. Acts i. 1.
others. After some time, it was seen fit that Matthew, one of these original eye-witnesses, should write a connected history for the use of the Jewish converts. St. Mark did the same, under the especial direction of St. Peter, another eye-witness from the beginning.
Still there were many important things which these had not inserted. And Luke, as he was preaching the gospel among the Gentiles, was not satisfied with the means of information which they already possessed, and wrote this history for their use and further instruction, under the advice, as is commonly believed, of St. Paul, in whose company he was travelling. Forasmuch, he says, as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, it seemed good to me also to do the same. He does not here make a distinction between the impulse of his own mind, and the suggestion of the Holy Spirit. But God, who had contrived a mighty plan to redeem the world, would surely provide that the world should be correctly and fully acquainted with all that concerned that redemption. And therefore his Spirit “ brought to the remembrance ” of the apostles the things which they had heard, and “ guided them into all truth” 4 in relating them: and directed by the same Spirit, the Evangelists selected the scattered discourses, and de tached histories which were handed about among Christians, and put them into such order as the use of the church required. So St. John acquaints us, that “ many signs did Jesus in the presence of his
4 John xiv. 16; xvi. 14.