Luke’s Letter To Theophilus

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Questions of absolute historicity cast temporarily aside, Luke was probably somewhat of a thinking man, an analytical person who operated on known and demonstrable fact rather than whimsical allegory.

The opening of his gospel, which was written to a man named Theophilus and quite possibly never intended for general reading, records, “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us…Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:1-4)

There is much to infer from these verses. Generally, Luke speaks as an articulate, educated person. He is very calculating and precise. There is much less heated emotion in his recording of things than, say, John’s. In matters of factual reporting, Luke’s writing is strong. I get the impression from Luke’s writing that he was somewhat reserved or skeptical and that he weighed and measured everything that transpired during those years with the utmost consideration. William Mitchell Ramsay, (1851-1939) noted archaeologist of Asia Minor, wrote that, “Luke’s history is unsurpassed in respect of its trustworthiness,” and Luke himself said he had, “carefully investigated everything from the beginning.” Of course that doesn’t make Luke’s claims about Jesus automatically true or absolutely historically accurate, but it certainly inspires one to wonder why such a calculated account would reference something as intellectually contradictory as resurrection, unless it either actually happened or there was some motive in the pretense of it actually happening.

Also of interest was the personal nature of his presentation. It was apparently intended for a man named Theophilus, and the prefix, “most excellent” implies this person was either a close friend of Luke’s or somebody Luke held in high regards for whatever reason. I infer that Luke did not write his account of things for a general audience. This is just my inference; in no way do I present it as historically valid. Whether Luke intended to write for a mass audience or not, this particular piece was intended for a friend or superior of his. A third observation is the closing statement, which is seemingly revelatory of Luke’s intent. He says, “…so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” This implies a desire for the preservation of historical fact and overall truth. There is concern for truth in that statement. Again, if Luke or later copyists were lying, then this statement was born of a complex, calculated desire to deceive.

Who would he want to deceive about Christ? And why? It got him and his friends ridiculed and killed. What if Christianity was one big lie? First of all, socially and culturally speaking, lies are usually constructed to advance an agenda. What type of agenda could the early Christians be charged with having? There were definitely zero benefits to being a Christian in Roman-ruled Judea during the first century.

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