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most probable opinion seems to be, that he was a proselyte to the Jewish religion, though descended of Gentile parents. For this opinion two reasons may be assigned, of some weight. 1st. He was intimately acquainted, as appears by the Gospel and the Acts, with the Jewish rites, customs, opinions, aud prejudices; and he wrote in their dialect, i. e. with much of the Hebrew phraseology, in a style similar to the other evangelists: from which it appears that he was accustomed to the Jewish religion, and was probably a proselyte. Yet the preface to his gospel, as critics have remarked, is pure classic Greek, unlike the Greek that was used by native Jews; from which it seems not improbable that he was by birth and education a Gentile. 2d. In Acts xxi. 27, it is said that the Asiatic Jews excited the multitude against Paul, because he had introduced Gentiles into the temple, thus defiling it. In verse 28, it is said that the Gentile to whom they had reference, was Trophimus, an Ephesian. Yet Luke was also at that time with Paul. If he had been regarded as a Gentile, it is probable that they would have made complaint respecting him, as well as Trophimus. From which it is supposed that he was either a native Jew, or a Jewish proselyte.
But, again, in the Epistle to the Colossians, ch. iv. 9-11, we find Paul saying that Aristarchus, and Marcus, and Barnabas, and Justus, saluted them," who are," he adds, "of the circumcision," i. e. Jews by birth. In verse 14, he says that Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas also saluted them; from which it is inferred that they were not of the circumcision, but were by birth Gentiles.
Most writers suppose that Luke, the writer of this Gospel, was intended in the above place in Colossians. If so, his profession was that of a physician. And it has been remarked that his descriptions of diseases are more accurate, and circumstantial, and have more of technical correctness than those of the other evangelists.
Luke does not profess to have been an eye-witness of what he recorded. See ch. i. 2, 3. It is clear, therefore, that he was not one of the seventy disciples, nor one of the two who went to Emmaus, as has been sometimes supposed. Nor was he an apostle. By the fathers he is uniformly called the companion of the apostles, and especially of Paul.
If he was not one of the apostles, and if he was not one of those expressly commissioned by our Lord, to whom the promise of the infallible teaching of the Holy Ghost was given, the question arises, by what authority his Gospel and the Acts have a place in the sacred canon, or what evidence is there that he was divinely inspired?
In regard to this question, the following considerations may give satis faction. 1st. They were received by all the churches on the same footing as the first three Gospels. There is not a dissenting voice in regard to their authenticity and authority. The value of this argument is this -that if they had been spurious, or without authority, the fathers were the proper persons to know it. 2d. They were published during the lives of the apostles, Peter, Paul, and John, and were received during their lives, as books of sacred authority. If these books were not inspired, and had no authority, they could easily have destroyed their credit, and we have reason to think it would have been done. 3d. It is the united testimony of the fathers, that this Gospel was submitted to Paul, and received his express approbation. It was regarded as the substance
of his preaching. And if it received his approbation, it comes to us on the authority of his name. Indeed, if this is the case, it rests on the same authority as the epistles of Paul himself. 4th. It bears the same marks of inspiration as the other books. It is simple, pure, yet sublime; there is nothing unworthy of God; and it is elevated far above the writings of any uninspired man. 5th. If he was not inspired-if, as we suppose, he was a Gentile by birth and if, as is most clear, he was not an eye-wit ness of what he records; it is inconceivable that he did not contradict the other evangelists. That he did not borrow from them is clear. Nor is it possible to conceive that he could write a book, varying in the order of its arrangement so much, and adding so many new facts, and repeating so many recorded also by the others, without often having contradicted what was written by them. Let any man compare this Gospel with the spurious gospels of the following centuries, and he will be struck with the force of this remark. 6th. If it be objected, that not being an apostle, he did not come within the promise made to the apostles of inspiration; we reply, that this was also the case with Paul; yet no small part of the New Testament is composed of his writings. The evidence of their inspiration is to be judged, not only by that promise, but by the early recep. tion of the churches; the testimony of the fathers as to the judgment of inspired men when living; and by the internal character of the works Luke has all these, equally with the other evangelists.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE.
CHAPTER I. NORASMUCH as many have ta
a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, 2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning
a Jno.15.27. He.2.3. 1 Pe.5.1. 2 Pe.1.16. 1 Jno.1.1.
1. Forasmuch as many. It has been doubted who are referred to here by the word many. It seems clear that it could not be the other evangelists. For the Gospel by John was not yet written, and the word many denotes clearly more than two. Besides, it is said that they undertook to record what the eye-witresses had delivered to them, so that the writers did not pretend to be eyewitnesses themselves. It is clear, therefore, that other writings were meant than the gospels which we now have; but what they were is a matter of conjecture. What are now known as spurious gospels were written long after Luke wrote his. It is probable that Luke refers to fragments of history, or to narratives of detached sayings, acts, or parables of our Lord, which had been made and circulated among the disciples and others. His doctrines were original, bold, pure, and authoritative. His miracles had been extraordinary, clear, and awful. His life and death had been peculiar; and it is not improbable indeed it is highly probable that such broken accounts and narratives of detached facts would be preserved. That this was what he meant, appears further from ver. 3; where Luke professes to write "in order;" i, e. to give a regular, full, and systematic account. The others were broken, and incomplete. This was to be regular and full. ¶ Taken in hand. Undertaken, attempted. ¶ To set forth in order. To compose a narrative. It does not refer to the order or arrangement, but means simply to give a narrative. The word rendered here, in order, is different from that in the third verse, which has reference to order,
were eye-witnesses and mit isters of the word;
3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
b Ro.15.16. Eph.3.7. 4.11,12. c Ac.11.4.
or to a full and fair arrangement of the principal facts, &c., in the history of our Lord. A declaration. A narrative-an account of. Which are most surely believed among us. Among Christians-among all the Christians then living. Here remark, 1st. Tha Christians of that day had the best of all opportunities of knowing whether those things were true. Many had seen them, and all others had had the account from those who had witnessed them. 2d. That infidels now cannot possibly be as good judges in the mat ter as those who lived at the time, and who were thus competent to determine whether these things were true or false. 3d. That all Christians do most surely believe the truth of the gospel. It is their life, their hope, their all. Nor can they doubt that their Saviour lived, bled, died, rose, and still lives; that he was their atoning sacrifice; and that he is God over all, blessed for ever.
2. As they delivered them. As they narrated them. As they gave an ac count of them. From the beginning. From the commencement of these things; that is, from the birth of John. Or perhaps from the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. Eye-witnesses. Who had seen themselves, and who were therefore proper witnesses. ¶Ministers of the word. The term word, here means the Gospel. Luke never uses it, as John does, to denote the second person of the Trinity. These eye-witnes ses and ministers, refer doubtless to the seventy disciples, to the apostles, and perhaps to other preachers who had gone forth to proclaim the same things.
3. It seemed good. I thought it best, or I have also determined. It seemed
to be called for that there should be a full, authentic, and accurate account of these matters. Having had perfect understanding, &c. The literal translation of the original would be having exactly traced every thing from the first.' Or having, by diligent and careful investigation, followed up every thing to the source, to obtain an accurate account of the matter.' This much better expresses the idea. Luke did not profess to have seen these things; and this expression is to show how he acquired his information. It was by tracing up every account till he became satisfied of its truths. Here observe, 1st. That in religion God does not set aside our natural faculties. He calls us to look at evidence, to examine accounts, to make up our own minds. Nor will any man be convinced of the truth of religion who does not make investigation, and set himself seriously to the task. 2d. We see the nature of Luke's inspiration. It was consistent with his using his natural faculties; his own powers of mind, in investigating the truth. God, by his Holy Spirit, presided over his faculties; directed them; and kept him from error. In order. This word does not indicate that the exact order of time would be observed; for that is not the way in which he writes. But it means distinctly, particularly, in opposition to the confused and broken accounts to which he had referred before. Most excellent Theophilus. The word Theophilus means a friend of God, or a pious man; and has been supposed by some that Luke did not refer to any particular individual, but to any man that loved God. But there is no reason for this opinion. For significant names were very common, and there is no good reason to doubt that this was some individual known to Luke. The application of the title "most excellent," further proves it. It would not be given to an unknown man. The title, most excellent, has by some been supposed to be given to express his character, but
Judea, a certain priest named Za charias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
c1 Ch.24.10. Ne.12.4,17.
it is rather to be considered as denoting rank or office. It occurs only in three other places in the New Testament, and is there given to men in office-to Felix and Festus. Acts xxiii. 26; xxiv. 3; xxvi. 25. These titles express no quality of the men, but belong to the office; and we may hence learn that it is not improper for Christians, in giving honor to whom honor is due, to address men in office by their customary titles-even if their moral character be altogether unworthy of it. Who Theophilus was is unknown. It is probable that he was some distinguished Roman, or Greek, who had been converted; who was a friend of Luke; and who had requested an account of these things. It is possible that this preface might have been sent to him as a private letter with the Gospel, and Theophilus chose to have them published together.
4. The certainty. Have full evidence, or proof of. Been instructed. By the preachers of the gospel. The original word is the one from which is derived our word catechism-been catechised. But it does not here denote the manner in which the instruction was imparted, as it does with us; but simply the fact that he had been taught those things.
5. In the days of Herod. See Matt. ii. 1. Of the course of Abia. When the priests became so numerous that they could not at once minister at the altar, David divided them into twenty. four classes or courses, each one of which officiated for a week. 1 Chron. xxiv. The class, or course, of Abia, was the eighth in order. 1 Chron. xxiv. 10. Compare 2 Chron. viii. 14. The word course means the same as class, or order. The Greek word Abia is the same as the Hebrew word Abijah. ¶ His wife was of the daughters of Aaron. A descendant of Aaron, the first high priest of the Jews; so that John the Baptist was descended, on the father's and the mother's side, from priests. Our Saviour was not on either side. John would have been legally entitled to a place, and employment among the