The ... of St Luke


The Gospel and The Acts of the Apostles

It is generally recognised that St Luke wrote a two part work with the Gospel followed by The Acts of the Apostles. Whilst it has long been accepted that the evangelist wrote both the Gospel and Acts, it is less than a hundred years since they have been seriously read together as two volumes of the same work. For convenience, the combined work is commonly refered to as Luke-Acts. Together, as I noted on the previous page, the two volumes form about a quarter of the New Testament in terms of length.

However, not only have the two books been read separately in the past but also in the traditional arrangement of the New Testament they are separated by the Gospel of John. As a result, they need to be considered as complete works on their own even though neither can really be read separately from the other. As we read the Gospel of Luke, we will also be making reference to the Acts of the Apostles.
As an example, we can compare Luke 23,46 with Acts 7,59.
Think about the conclusion we can draw from this comparison and then have a look at my response

Luke and the Gospels

Traditionally, the four Gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and they are presented in that order in the New Testament. However, along with the majority, I take it that all the evidence shows that Mark was the first Gospel to be written. This is evident because it is easy to see how Mark's Gospel story was taken over by Matthew and Luke and then adapted by them in different ways.

In outline, the Gospel of Mark tells a story which begins with Jesus being baptised in the Jordan (Mk 1,2-14) and then going to Galilee for a time of preaching and teaching (Mk 1,15-8,26). After a turning point in the story at Caesarea Philippi (Mk 8,27-9,2), Jesus makes the journey to Jerusalem (Mk 9-10). After another period of ministry in and around the Temple (Mk 11-12) and a discourse on the Mount of Olives (Mk 13), there follows his passion and his resurrection (Mk 14-16). If you have not already done so, it is good to read through Mark's Gospel in order to follow this story. Knowing the story as told by Mark will be a good preparation for our reading of Luke's Gospel because we need to see how Luke has adapted Mark.
The Gospel of Matthew keeps close to Mark's story. His main addition to the story is the five great teaching discourses of the Gospel. Luke as we will see makes a much greater adaptation of the story of Mark.

The similarities between these three Gospels though are such that traditionally they are known as the Synoptic Gospels, "syn-optic" comes from Greek meaning "with one eye". For a good reading today, we need instead to be alert to the dissimilarities between these three Gospels rather than to their similarities. Our aim is to find the distinctive presentation of the story of Jesus as told by each Gospel.

The fourth Gospel, that of John, takes a different approach and tells a different story of story of Jesus to that of the other three. In John's story, Jesus makes several visits to Jerusalem instead of just the one visit which forms the climax of the other Gospels.

The Gospel Story

The best way for us to explore the story of Luke will be to follow his geography and see where Jesus goes in the Gospel story. This geography will show us the outline of the story of the Gospel. We will then continue and follow his geography through the Acts of the Apostles so that we are aware of the overall story that Luke tells in his two volumes.