Investigation & petition: Luke 1:1-4


“Luke opens his Gospel with a single resounding sentence in the delicately balanced style of classical rhetoric.” [1]

“The preface consists of . . . perfectly constructed Greek. This literary crafting stands in sharp contrast to the rather Jewish-sounding Greek that immediately follows. Indeed, Luke does not devote the same attention again to forming a sentence until Acts 28:30-31.” [2]

“The prologue is primarily the preface for the Gospel, but Acts is probably also in view.” [3]

“Luke . . . used more than half of Mark’s Gospel (356 out of 661 verses), and has followed his general plan of arrangement. . . . Besides this large use of Mark, Luke has about 235 verses, mainly the teachings of Jesus, which are found also in Matthew’s Gospel. . . . Almost half of Luke’s Gospel (about 548 out of 1149 verses) is unique . . .” [4]

“The problem lies in whether Luke is referring here to one or two groups of persons [“eyewitnesses and servants of the word”]. . . . The choice is difficult; I prefer the latter interpretation.” [5]

“Chronological order is not necessarily implied in . . . [orderly], but merely arrangement of some kind. Nevertheless, he probably has chronological order chiefly in view. In the NT the word is peculiar to Luke (8:1; Acts 3:24; 11:4; 18:23) . . .” [6]

“The preface reminds us to keep the date within a generation of eyewitnesses.” [7]

“Was Theophilus a Christian, an influential non-Christian, or a God-fearer? It is almost impossible to answer this question with certainty.” [8]

“. . . most excellent is an honorific title. It may be used loosely and imply no more than that Theophilus was socially respected and probably well-to-do, or it may indicate some kind of official status. Luke elsewhere uses ‘most excellent’ only in address to Roman procurators (Acts 23:26; 24:3; 26:25), which may encourage us to find an official use here.” [9]

“. . . Luke was claiming a place for Christianity on the stage of world history. . . . the likelihood is that earlier Christian literature was produced for church purposes. Luke also had in mind the non-Christian world.” [10]

1. Caird, G.B., The Gospel of St. Luke (Seabury Press: New York, 1963), 43. Cited hereafter as Caird.

2. Nolland, John, Luke 1:1-9:20 (Word, 1989), 10. Hereafter cited as Nolland.

3. Ellis, E. Earle, The Gospel of Luke (Eerdmans, 1983 reprint), 64. Cited hereafter as Ellis.

4. Miller, Donald G., The Gospel According to Luke (John Knox Press, 1982), 19-20. Cited hereafter as Miller.

5. Fitzmyer, Joseph A., The Gospel According to Luke I-IX (Doubleday, 1981), I:300. Cited hereafter as Fitzmyer-Luke. A unique proposal of late by Richard H. Anderson suggests the possibility that Theophilus was the high priest (Evangelical Quarterly, 69:3, 1997, 195-215).

6. Plummer, Alfred, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. Luke
(T & T Clark, 1981 reprint), 4. Cited hereafter as Plummer.

7. Craddock, Fred, Luke (John Knox, 1990), 19. Cited hereafter as Craddock.

8. Fitzmyer-Luke, I:294.

9. Nolland, 10.

10. Marshall, I.H., The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Eerdmans, 1979 reprint), 40. Cited hereafter as Marshall-Luke.


Heavenly Father, you are wisdom and love! For you have seen ahead and provided exactly what my mind and life need – guidance as to your truth and how your will works out in life. You care for my soul and seek to steer me in an uncertain world to places of certainty and confidence.

I thank you for raising up faithful servants through the ages, especially those who have had a direct hand in passing on your will to me. I thank you that your story has been told again and again. My world is filled with you word, and I thank you.

Father, bless all who labor in your word still today; those whose hard work I too easily take for granted. Bless those who have translated your word into words I understand. Bless those who have sacrificed much and laid much on the line that your word might be conveyed to others. Bless and enrich their lives and their work for the glory of your name and for the praise of your goodness.

And Father in heaven, give me eyes to see those around me who could use a reassuring word as to the certainty of your word. Give me drive and strength to help those you enable me to see. Equip me to ever work, and work well, in your word and with it for my own blessing and the blessing of others. May your word never return void to you from my life and may the beauty and certainty of your truth always be seen in me. Forgive me when I doubt you, I pray and when I do, send someone with your word and confidence to me.

For I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.