Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt
Bible Passage: Luke 1:1-4, 2 Timothy 4:11
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
- For the unbeliever, agnostic or atheist, the two books of Luke, The Gospel of Luke and The Acts of the Apostles, are a good place to start your investigation into the reliability of the Bible as a source of information and into the possibility that you may need to reconsider Jesus as a real person in history. Why, because the author, Luke, is neither a Christian (follower of Christ) nor a Jew (the primary source for Jesus’ disciples). He is a Gentile, a physician, an accomplished writer and well versed in the Greek language. He has no preconceived notions about his study. He is about to begin an exhaustive investigative biography of Jesus so that his patron can be assured that he has the correct information regarding his claimed authenticity.
- His audience too is neither Christian or Jew, he is the “Most Excellent Theophilus”, a Greek in the Roman government and apparently a patron of Luke who is paying for his personal research into this man Jesus. He must make certain that information given him in the past regarding Jesus and the Christians is true. Understanding the story clearly will determine his ability to continue service under Caesar and possibly how to stay alive if he does so.
- Luke’s work is written within 60 years of Jesus life on earth and his research technique, as a doctor, is well suited for the task. He will start at the beginning, using first person interviews with eye witnesses or people that knew them and not move on to the next period in Jesus’ life until he has exhausted the evidence of the period being studied.
One Couldn’t Help But Ask…
- How do you know that what the author has written is true? In other words, what criteria do you use to determine something as true?
- How would Luke being a Gentile give him a different prospective than Jews or Christians?
- We know that Luke is a physician. What would you expect from the writings of a doctor?
- What kinds of questions do you imagine Theophilis would want Luke to answer in his writing?
- How does Like’s careful investigation make you more confident in reading the book of Luke?
- Luke had to research and discover Jesus for himself in order to share him effectively with others. Think back to when God became more than a word to you — when you discovered He wanted a personal relationship with you. What first got your attention? How did you know it was true?
Note: A sermon on the same subject was given on October 15th, 2017. Here is a link to that audio sermon and sermon notes. Click here.