Luke, a Syrian doctor, was converted to Christianity when the first missionaries left the Jerusalem and Caesarea communities to take the Gospel beyond the borders of the Jewish country. Luke then left his homeland to accompany the Apostle Paul.
He arrived in Rome, the capital of the then known world, where he stayed for at least two years. There he met Peter and Mark who were preaching among the Christians in Rome.
When he wrote his Gospel, various texts containing deeds and miracles of Jesus were available to him, the same texts which Mark and Matthew had used. In his travels, he had also picked up other stories that came from Jesus’ first disciples. These stories were preserved in the oldest churches of Jerusalem and Caesarea.
On this we have the witness of his first paragraph (1:1-4): he was concerned with finding the testimonies of the first ministers of the Word, this is the apostles.
Then it would be wrong to think that Luke wrote long after the events, as some people say, and elaborates on things he doesn’t know. Though the last corrections to his gospel were done about the year 70, the bulk is much older. This is the case specially for the first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel telling us about Jesus’ infancy. They are the translations almost word to the word of a Hebrew or Aramaic writing from the first Christian generation based on information which his mother Mary must have supplied.
Luke’s cultural background was Greek and he was writing for Greek people. He omitted several Marcan details, dealing with Jewish laws and customs which would have been hard for his readers to understand.
Luke saw in the Gospel the power reconciling people with God and with one another. Therefore, he was concerned about giving us the parables of mercy and the words condemning money – a divisive factor between people. Likewise, Luke showed the very natural way Jesus treated women, who were completely marginalized by the world.
The Gospel of Luke has three sections (see Introduction to the New Testament):
– Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, 3:1–9:56;
– the journey to Jerusalem, 9:57–18:17;
– the arrival in Jerusalem and the passion, 18:18–23.
The last chapter on the apparitions of the risen Jesus will serve as an invitation to read the Book of Acts, which is a continuation of Luke’s Gospel.