There is no reason to doubt the tradition transmitted by the church historian Eusebius that the third gospel was written by Luke. This evangelist, whom Paul calls the "beloved physician," Col. 4,14, was a heathen by birth, Col. 4,11 who was born and grew up in Antioch, Acts 6,5; 11,19-28. There are many evidences of his profession in the gospel as well as in the Acts, Luke 4, 38; 5,12; 6,6; 7,2; 8,42; 10,30-37; 16,20-22; Acts 28,8. He had received a good education and wrote in an easy, flowing, elegant style, a fact which gives his books a high rank also as literature. Luke had not known Jesus personally, but seems to have been converted in Antioch, probably by Paul, with whom he was connected in a lifelong, intimate friendship. The great apostle esteemed him very highly as a companion and assistant, Col. 4, 14; Philemon 24; 2 Tim. 4, 11. On Paul's second journey, Luke joined him at Troas and accompanied him to Philippi, Acts 16, 10-17. On the third journey, Luke was again among the companions of Paul, going with him from Philippi to Jerusalem, Acts 20, 5-21, 18. Afterwards, Luke made the voyage from Caesarea to Rome with Paul, the captive, and was with him in Rome, Acts 27, 1-28, 16. During the second captivity Luke was again with Paul, for which the apostle was duly thankful, 2 Tim. 4, 11. Outside of these facts nothing is known concerning Luke, either of the circumstances of his life or of the time and manner of his death.
Luke was a historian of the first order, to whom even unbelieving critics yield a high rank as regards trustworthiness. This is evident even in his gospel, chapter 1, 1-4. According to the testimony of early writers, Luke was, in a way, the interpreter of Paul, as Mark was of Peter. His writings plainly show that influence, especially in the expressions concerning the justification of a sinner before God, Luke 18, 14; Acts 13, 38. 39. The Gospel is dedicated to the "most excellent Theophilus," who evidently was a man of high station, not a former Jew, but a Gentile who lived in Italy. There are indications throughout the gospel that Luke wrote for a public ignorant of Palestine, its customs, and its language, but familiar with the surroundings of Greek and Roman life in the great cities of the empire, chapter 5, 17-20. He explains to his readers Semitic names and terms; he describes the situations of Nazareth and Capernaum as cities of Galilee, of Arimathea as a city of the Jews, of the country of the Gadarenes as over against Galilee, and he even tells the distance of the Mount of Olives and of Emmaus from Jerusalem. That Luke had Gentile Christians in mind is evident also from the fact that he does not emphasize the Messianic character of Jesus, as Matthew does, but that he emphasizes the fact that Jesus is the Savior of the whole world, the Redeemer also of the Gentiles, Luke 2, 10. 31. 32, and that the Gospel should be preached to all nations. He pictures Jesus as the Friend of the poor and needy, both in a spiritual and in a physical sense, chapter 1, 52. 53; 2, 7. 8; 4,18.19; 6,20; 12,15-21; 16,19-31. Luther says: "Luke goes back farther and^ purposes, as it were, to make Christ the common property of all nations. For that reason he carries His genealogy back to Adam. In this way he wishes to show that this Christ is not only for the Jews, but also for Adam and his posterity, that is, for all people in all the world." 1)
In accordance with the purpose of the gospel, there are several distinguishing features which should be noted, especially the accuracy of the medical descriptions, the preservation of the inspired hymns (those of the angels at the birth of Jesus, that of Elizabeth, of Mary, of Zacharias), and the prominence given to women, 8, 2. 3; 10, 38-42; 23, 27. 28.
The gospel of Luke was surely written before the year 70 A. D., since there is no reference to the destruction of Jerusalem, concerning which the author gives the complete prophecy of Jesus, chapter 21. From the introduction of the book it has been inferred that Luke wrote after Matthew and Mark, that is, about 67 or 68. Some commentators have assumed that Luke returned to Antioch about this time and wrote his gospel there, but the common assumption is that it was written in Italy, and in Rome, Acts 28, 16. 30. 31; Col. 4, 14; Philemon 24; 2 Tim. 4, 11.
The outline of Luke's gospel is, in general, that of the other synoptic gospels. His introduction concerning the forerunner of Christ and the birth and childhood of Jesus is divided into three sections, marked off by starting-points in secular history. He next gives a full account of the prophetic ministry of Christ in Galilee. Then comes a full account of the parables and discourses which were called forth by the necessity of teaching Christ's disciples and of reproving the Pharisaic enemies. Finally Luke narrates the story of Christ's last journey to Jerusalem and of His sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension.2)