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The Gospel of Luke: Different than Other Two Synotic Gospels

The Gospel of Luke is unique or different from other two synoptic gospels. He is the only non-Jew writer in the New Testament. He was probably a Greek. Only this gospel has a sequel – the Acts – in the New Testament. Luke is the longest gospel that covers twenty-five percent of the entire New Testament.

One of the big and controversial differences it has is the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Luke seems to have followed the lineage of Mary, the mother of Jesus, as he writes that Heli is the father of Joseph which contradicts with the account of Matthew who has Jacob as the father of Joseph (Luke 3:23). If we look into these genealogies side by side, we find only two names in common in the genealogy are Shealtiel and Zerubbabel (Matthew 1:12; Luke 3:27). The disparity between Matthew and Luke quite suggests that Luke might have interviewed Mary to write down about the supernatural virgin birth and inserted her lineage into the genealogy which is quite unusual in the Jewish culture in Jesus’ time.

Worship is the central point in the hymns Luke records in the Gospel. Mary’s song of praise is one of them (1:46-55). Luke also sheds some light on Jesus’ private prayer life. So, it is more like a gospel of prayer.

Luke’s presentation of Jesus is largely focused on the humanity and compassion for the outcasts of society. His gospel, in this sense, is the gospel of the poor and of social justice. Jesus in the Gospel of Luke is the one who has entered into the world as the Savior of all mankind. Luke, the author is as identified as a doctor and historian, also puts physiological (5:12, 6:6, 9:39-42) and geographical details of Samaria (9:52; 17:11) and Judea, en route to Jerusalem (18:35; 19:1, 11, 18) in plain words.

Worship is the central point in the hymns Luke records in the Gospel. Mary’s song of praise is one of them (1:46-55). Luke also sheds some light on Jesus’ private prayer life. So, it is more like a gospel of prayer.

Luke features marginalized people over and over in the story. Only Luke has the parable of the Good Samaritan (10:25-37) and the story of ten lepers being cured and cleansed, but only the Samaritan leper returning to Jesus to thank him (17:11-19). Luke also consists of 18 unique parables that are only found in the Luke: the Good Samaritan, the Lost Sheep, and the Prodigal Son are only found in the book of Luke (Luke 10:25-37, 15:4-7, 15:11-32).

He also makes references about women and their stories forty-five times in his Gospel. The birth narratives of Jesus and John the Baptist are told from the women’s perspective – Mary and Elizabeth respectively (chapters 1-2). Women received special attention in Luke’s Gospel. He records about women disciples in different occasions. The texts in Luke 8:1-3 also indicates that women were monetarily supporting Christ’s ministry. Luke does not forget to mention those women who followed Jesus from the court to the Cross (23:49). The most spectacular remarking about women in the Gospel is Jesus’ first appearance to women (24:1-10).

Luke also takes some time to give special interest in poor, crippled, and shepherds. He heals them, and some of his teachings have strongly emphasized to love and care the poor, weak, and crippled who are overlooked by their families, friends, and society. He himself healed them and loved them (14:21). Mary, a humble is exalted; shepherds who are lowly and insignificant people are exalted and they are the one to see the glory of God when the Word became flesh (Luke 1:30; 2:14-20). The outcasts – the Samaritans, tax-collectors, and women – are seated into the place of honor.

The abundance of food is also portrayed in the Luke. Some of Jesus’ parables have setting of banquet and feasts. He makes altogether nineteen references to food or meal and thirteen of them are very exclusively only into his gospel. The number of references also shows the significance of gathering together and having meal together. Jesus took opportunity of every feast or meal time that is mentioned in the gospel to reveal who he is and what is his teaching all about. He uses these times to communicate really something very important. The punch line is, he is disclosing his divine identity that he is the only source of both spiritual and physical life. In addition, Luke also emphasizes how Jesus communicates about his kingdom with his people. The kingdom is a full of forgiven sinners – outcasts, unclean, and poor.

And also portrayal of community can be found in this gospel. In other words, community is the key aspect of the Kingdom of God – church. He has a very serious ecclesiological concern.

Luke has presented Jesus in a very distinctive way that we find him as a verifiable historic person too. The historical figures Luke recorded and the events can be corroborated even today, as he makes datable references to events and characters (Luke 1:5, 2:1-2, 3:1-2). For this reason, the gospel of Luke is not though utterly atypical; yet it stands as a different gospel than other two synoptic gospels.