Gospel of Luke ~ Christian Bible Study
The author’s name does not appear in the book, but much unmistakable evidence points to Luke. This Gospel is a companion volume to the book of Acts, and the language and structure of these two books indicate that both were written by the same person. They are addressed to the same individual, Theophilus, and the second volume refers to the first (Acts 1:1). Certain sections in Acts use the pronoun “we” indicating that the author was with Paul when the events described in these passages took place.
Luke was probably a Gentile by birth, well educated in Greek culture, a physician by profession, a companion of Paul at various times from his second missionary journey to his final imprisonment in Rome, and a loyal friend who remained with the apostle after others had deserted him (2 Timothy 4:11).
Recipient and Purpose
The Gospel is specifically directed to Theophilus (1:3), whose name means “one who loves God” and almost certainly refers to a particular person rather than to lovers of God in general. The use of “most excellent” with the name further indicates an individual, and supports the idea that he was a Roman official or at least of high position and wealth. He was possibly Luke’s patron, responsible for seeing that the writings were copied and distributed. Such a dedication to the publisher was common at that time.
Theophilus, however, was more than a publisher. The message of this Gospel was intended for his own instruction (1:4) as well as the instruction of those among whom the book would be circulated. The fact that the Gospel was initially directed to Theophilus does not narrow or limit its purpose. It was written to strengthen the faith of all believers and to answer the attacks of unbelievers. It was presented to displace some disconnected and ill-founded reports about Jesus. Luke wanted to show that the place of the Gentile Christian in God’s kingdom is based on the teaching of Jesus. He wanted to commend the preaching of the gospel to the whole world.
Luke, the longest book in the New Testament and the most comprehensive of the four Gospels, presents the works and teachings of Jesus that are especially important for understanding the way of salvation. Its scope is complete from the birth of Christ to his ascension, its arrangement is orderly, and it appeals to both Jews and Gentiles. The writing is characterized by literary excellence, historical detail and warm, sensitive understanding of Jesus and those around him. It is the only Gospel in chronological order.
Bible Study on Luke
I have arbitrarily divided the 24 chapters of Luke into 50 sections for discussion. At the rate of one per week, it takes just about one year to go through. I have found that in small groups (6 to 20 people) each unit takes about 45 minutes to go through. I generally give the group members the handout the week before, although with one group I simply handed it out at the time of the study. The discussion questions are slightly different from traditional Bible studies in that they emphasize the application of the book to your life today. Unlike some of my other studies, there are no Leader's Guides except in a few cases. Many of the questions are designed to be a springboard to further discussion and there is often no truly right or wrong answer. If you have questions or comments, please use the "Contact Me" button on the menu below. I guarantee that I will read your comments, however, as this web site gets more than 3,000 visitors per day, I can't possibly answer every one.
In response to your requests, these studies are in Adobe PDF format, so they can easily be printed out. Also, one (or more pages) provides the actual scripture verses, usually NIV. For the Bible studies that I lead, I print the scripture verses on one side of a sheet and the discussion questions on the other side. However, if saving paper is not a consideration, print them on two sheets so people can refer to both the verses and the questions without excessive flipping over. If you cannot read PDF files, click to download Adobe Reader.
Some discussion questions are borrowed or adapted from the book New Testament Lesson Maker from NavPress (ISBN 0-89109-688-4). I highly recommend this book, which is available from CBD as well as most large Christian bookstores.