Major themes in Luke’s Gospel

Each of the four Gospels have their own unique, multiple points of emphasis. With our upcoming study of Luke’s Gospel in mind (set to begin in most of the adult classes the first Sunday in December), here is a list of twenty-five themes (in no particular order) that are emphasized in Luke. Many of these same themes occur in volume two of Luke’s writing as well, of course – the Book of Acts. I’ve included a reference or two (of the many that could be given on each!) from the passages unique to Luke’s Gospel with each item.

Children – 1:57-66; 2:1-7; 7:11-17
Correction – 11:27-28; 16:14-15
Faith & trust – 24:13-35,36-44
Fatherhood of God – 15:11-32; 23:46
Forgiveness – 1:77; 24:45-48
Gospel’s universal nature; the good news is for all – 19:1-10
Grace & mercy – 2:40; 19:9-14
Gratitude, joy, adoration & praise – 1:46-55; 17:11-19
Holy Spirit – 1:15,35,41,67
Humility – 17:7-10
Jerusalem & the temple – 1:8-22; 19:41-44; 21:20,37-38
Jesus as a Prophet – 17:11-17
Jesus’ innocence – 23:6-12,13-16,47
Lordship / Kingship of Jesus – 2:11; 4:18; 19:39-40
Material possessions & money – 12:13-21; 16:1-13
Prayer – 11:1-13; 18:1-8
Purpose & plan of God – 1:26-38; 9:51; 12:49-50
Repentance & conversion – 13:1-5; 14:28-33
Rich and poor – 16:19-31
Salvation – 2:25-32
Social outcasts & the disreputable – 10:29-37
Table fellowship / banquets and hospitality – 14:7-14
Temptation – 21:34-36; 22:3,31-33
Witness – 23:48
Women – 1:39-45; 8:1-3; 10:38-42; 23:56

Now what can you do with this knowledge? Try this – select a handful of the themes listed above and as you read through Luke’s Gospel, watch closely for their appearance. Notice how these themes develop with each additional discussion of them. And you’ll find that these themes are typically intertwined within a single account.

Take for example Luke 7:36-50. Here a sinful woman expressing her gratitude for, and adoration of, Jesus is forgiven by him during a banquet. During their encounter, Jesus tells a story of money and debt to a Pharisee who needs his attitude corrected. All of this leads to a question – “Who is this who even forgives sins?” – which broaching the subject of the Lordship of Jesus.

Incidentally, if you’re looking for a good book on the themes in Luke’s Gospel, you’d be hard-pressed to surpass John Navone’s Themes of St. Luke, though it might be a bit difficult to obtain a copy.

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