Why You Should Study Luke-Acts?

Why You Should Study Luke-Acts? May 18, 2017

Luke-Acts is a highly significant double work within the New Testament. First, it is the largest sub-corpus of the New Testament. Luke-Acts makes up a whopping 28% of the New Testament, whereas Paul’s letters comprise only 24%, and the Johannine corpus covers a mere 20% (and that’s assuming the authenticity of the authorship of all the writings attributed to Paul and John which is disputed). Second, Luke is both an Evangelist and the first church historian. He has his own unique depiction of Jesus as the ‘Lord’s Messiah’ and he narrates the beginnings of the church with an emphasis on the ministries of Peter and Paul. In fact, Luke’s two-volume work is something of a New Testament in miniature, telling the story of Jesus and the apostles in one continuous narrative.[1] Third, Luke is the literary artist of the New Testament. He writes with the most elegant and well-polished Greek of the New Testament authors, the scope of his work is truly epic in telling a story that begins in Nazareth and ends in Rome, and the narrative contains an exciting mix of tragedy, comedy, and drama.[2] Fourth, Luke-Acts contains some very distinctive materials. What stands out is Luke’s depiction of Jesus as the prophetic Messiah, his emphasis on the Holy Spirit, the beginnings of the church, women disciples, prayer, the poor, wealth and riches, as well as on mission. In Luke-Acts we find some of the most memorable parts of the New Testament like Mary’s Magnificat (Lk 1.46-55), Jesus’s sermon in Nazareth (Lk 4.16-31), the parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15.1-11-32), the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24.13-35), the ascension (Lk 24.50-53; Acts 1.9-11), the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2.1-47), and the Jerusalem council (Acts 15.1-31). Luke-Acts is a corpus that cannot be neglected.

[1] C.K. Barrett, ‘The First New Testament?’ Novum Testamentum 38: 94-104. 1996.

[2] A good example of Luke’s flair for the dramatic is his account of Paul’s shipwreck on the coast of Malta in Acts 28.39-44.

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