[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]
The Gospel of Luke
A) About the author of the chapter:
Louis Berkhof “graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1900 …
In 1902 he went to Princeton University for two years earning a B.D. degree …
In 1906 he was appointed to the faculty of Calvin Theological Seminary. He assumed the presidency of the seminary in 1931 …” 
B) Chapter Summary:
“Like the contents of the previous Gospels we may also divide those of Luke’s into five parts:
I. The Advent of the Divine Man, 1:-4:13 …
II. The Work of the Divine Man for the Jewish World, 4:14 – 9:50 …
III. The Work of the Divine Man for the Gentiles, 9:51 – 18:30 …
IV. The Sacrifice of the Divine Man for all Mankind, 18:31 – 23:49 …
V. The Divine Man Saviour of all Nations, 24.”
“1. In point of completeness it surpasses the other Synoptics, beginning, as it does, with a detailed narrative of the birth of John the Baptist and of Christ himself, and ending with a record of the ascension from the Mount of Olives. In distinction from Matthew and Mark this Gospel even contains an allusion to the promise of the Father, 24: 29, and thus points beyond the old dispensation to the new that would be ushered in by the coming of the Holy Spirit. The detailed narrative of Christ’s going to Jerusalem in 9: 51-18:14 is also peculiar to this gospel.”
“2. Christ is set before us in this Gospel as the perfect Man with wide sympathies. The genealogy of Jesus is trace back through David and Abraham to Adam, our common progenitor, thus presenting him as one of our race.”
See 2:40-52; 3:21; 9:29.
“3. Another feature of this gospel is its universality. It comes nearer than other Gospels to the Pauline doctrine of salvation for all the world, and of salvation by faith, without the works of the law.”
See 4:25-27; 7:2-10; 9:52-56; 10:30-37; 17:11-19
“4. More than the other evangelists Luke relates his narrative to contemporaneous history and indicates the time of the occurrences.”
See 1:1, 26; 2:1; 2:2; 3:1, 2
“5. Luke writes a purer Greek than any of the other evangelists, but this is evident only, where he does not closely follow his sources. The Greek of the preface is of remarkable purity, but aside from this the first and second chapters are full of Hebraisms. Of the rest of the Gospel some parts approach very closely to classical Greek, while others are tinged with Hebrew expressions.”
“Irenaeus asserts that “Luke, the companion of Paul, put down in a book the Gospel preached by him.” With this agrees the testimony of Origen; Eusebius, Athanasius, Gregory, Nazianze, Jerome, e. a.”
“In 1882 Dr. Hobart published a work on, The Medical Language of St. Luke, showing that in many instances the evangelist uses the technical language that was also used by Greek medical writers, as παραλελυμἐνος, 5:18, 24 (the other Gospels have παραλύτικος);συνεχομένη πυρετῷ μεγαλλῳ 4 :38; ἔστη ἡ ῥύσις τοῦ ἅιματος 8 :44 (cf. Mt. 5 :29) ; ἀνεκάθισεν, 7 :14, Luke carefully distinguishes demoniacal possession from disease, 4:18; 13: 32; states exactly the age of the dying person, 8:42; and the duration of the affliction in 13:11. He only relates the miracle of the healing of Malchus ear. All these things point to Luke, “the beloved physician.”
“The question must be asked, whether Paul was in any way connected with the composition of the third Gospel. The testimony of the early Church is very uncertain on this point.
Tertullian says: “Luke’s digest is often ascribed to Paul. And indeed it is easy to take that for the master’s which is published by the disciples.” According to Eusebius, “Luke hath delivered in his Gospel a certain amount of such things as he had been assured of by his intimate acquaintance and familiarity with Paul, and his connection with the other apostles.” With this the testimony of Jerome agrees. Athanasius states that the Gospel of Luke was dictated by the apostle Paul.
In view of the preface of the gospel we may be sure that the Church fathers exaggerate the influence of Paul in the composition of this Gospel, possibly to give it apostolic authority. Paul s relation to the third Gospel differs from that of Peter to the second; it is not so close. Luke did not simply write what he remembered of the preaching of Paul, much less did he write according to the dictation of the apostle, for he himself says that he traced everything from the beginning and speaks of both oral and written sources that were at his command. Among these oral sources we must, of course, also reckon the preaching of Paul. That the great apostle did influence Luke s representation of “the beginning of the Gospel,” is very evident. There are 175 words and expressions in the gospel that are peculiar to Luke and Paul. Cf. Plummer p. LIV.”
“1. Readers and Purpose. The Gospel of Luke was first of all intended for Theophilus, who is addressed as “most excellent Theophilus” in 1: 3, and is also mentioned in Acts 1:1.
We have no means of determining who this Theophilus was. It has been supposed by some that the name was a general one, applied to every Christian, as a beloved one or a friend of God. But the general opinion now is, and rightly so, that it is the name of an individual, probably a Greek. The fact that he is addressed by Luke in the same manner as Felix, 23:26, 24:3, and Festus, 26:25 are addressed, led to the conclusion that he was a person of high station.
Baljon thinks he was undoubtedly a Gentile Christian, while Zahn regards him as a Gentile who had not yet accepted Christ, since Luke would have addressed a brother differently. It is generally agreed, however, that the Gospel was not intended for Theophilus only, but was simply addressed to him as the representative of a large circle of readers.
Who were these first readers of the gospel? Origen says that the third gospel was composed “for the sake of the Gentile converts ;” Gregory Nazianze, more definitely: “Luke wrote for the Greeks.”
Now it is quite evident from the gospel itself that the evangelist is not writing for the Jews. He never gives the words of Jesus in the Aramaeic language; instead of ἀμὴν λέγω he has ἀληθώς λέγω, 9:27; 12 :44; 21:3; for γραμματεῖς he uses νομικόι, διδάσκαλος, 2:46; 7:30; 10:25; 11:45; and of many places in Palestine he gives a nearer definition. It is very probable that that Gospel of Luke was intended for the Greeks, because Paul labored primarily among them, Theophilus was in all probability a Greek, the preface of the gospel is in many respects like those found in Greek historians, and the whole Gospel is remarkably adjusted to the needs of the Greeks.”
“It is his desire to present clearly the truth of all Gospel facts. In order to do this, he aims at fulness of treatment; traces all things from the beginning; writes an orderly account of all that has happened, recording the sayings of the Lord in their original setting more than the other evangelists do, thus promoting definiteness and strengthening his representation of the reality of things; mentions the names not only of the principal actors in the Gospel history, but also those of others that were in any way connected with it, 2:1, 2; 3:1, 2; 7:40; 8:3; brings the Gospel facts in relation with secular history, 2:1, 2; 3:1, 2; and describes carefully the impression which the teachings of Christ made, 4:15, 22, 36; 5:8, 25; 6:11; 7:29; 8:37; 18:43; 19:37.”
“2. Time and Place. Tradition tells us very little regarding the time, when Luke wrote his Gospel. According to Eusebius Clement of Alexandria received a tradition from presbyters of more ancient times “that the Gospels containing the genealogies were written first.” Theophylact says: “Luke wrote fifteen years after Christ’s ascension. The testimony of Euthymius is to the same effect, while Eutichius states that Luke wrote his Gospel in the time of Nero. According to these testimonies the evangelist composed his Gospel possibly as early as 54, and certainly not later than 68 A. D.”
“Both Zahn and Weiss are of the opinion that Luke wrote after the destruction of Jerusalem, but not later than the year 80 A. D. Zahn settled on this terminus ad quem, because he considers it likely that Luke was a member of the Antiochian congregation as early as the year 40 A. D., and would therefore be very old in the year 80 A. D.; Weiss, since the evangelist evidently expected the second coming of Christ in his time, which was characteristic of the first generation after Christ. The great majority of conservative scholars place the composition of this Gospel somewhere between 58 and 63 A. D. The main arguments for this date are: (1) it is in harmony with ancient tradition; (2) it best explains the total silence of Luke regarding the destruction of Jerusalem; and (3) it is most in harmony with the dating of Acts in 63 A. D., which offers a good explanation of Luke s silence with respect to the death of Paul.”
“As to the place, where the Gospel of Luke was written tradition points to Achaia and Boeotia. We have no means of controlling this testimony, however, so that it really leaves us in ignorance. Some of the modern guesses are, Rome, Caesarea, Asia Minor, Ephesus, and Corinth.”
“3. Method. In view of the preface of Luke’s Gospel we have reason to believe that in the composition of it the evangelist depended on both oral tradition and written sources. In present day theories the emphasis is mainly placed on written sources, and the most prevalent hypothesis is that he employed the Gospel of Mark, either in the present form or in an earlier recension; the apostolic source Q or some διήγησις containing this (from which two sources he derived mainly the matter that he has in common with Matthew and Mark); and a third main source of unknown character and authorship, from which he drew the narrative of the nativity, chs. 1, 2, and the account of the last journey to Jerusalem, contained in 9: 51 18:14.”
“It seems to us that it is impossible to determine exactly what sources Luke used; all we can say is: (1) Having been an associate of Paul for several years, part of which he spent in Palestine, where he had abundant opportunity to meet other apostles and eyewitnesses of the Lord’s works, he must have gathered a large store of knowledge from oral tradition, which he utilized in the composition of his gospel. This accounts for a great deal of the matter which he has in common with Matthew and Mark. (2) During the time of his research in Palestine he also became acquainted with a goodly number of διηγήσεις narratives of the Gospel facts, of which we can no more determine the exact nature, and drew on them for a part of his material. One of these probably contained the matter found in chs. 1 and 2, and in 9: 51 18:14. (3) It does not seem likely that Luke read either the Gospel of Matthew or that of Mark, and classed them or either one of them with the previous attempts, on which he desired to improve. Oral tradition in connection with the guidance of the Holy Spirit is quite sufficient to explain the resemblance between these Gospels and that of Luke.”
v) Canonical Significance
“The canonicity of this Gospel is well attested. Says Alexander in his work on the Canon p. 177: “The same arguments by which the canonical authority of the Gospels of Matthew and Mark was established, apply with their full force to the Gospel of Luke. It was universally received as canonical by the whole primitive Church has a place in every catalogue of the books of the New Testament, which was ever published is constantly referred to and cited by the Fathers as a part of sacred Scripture and was one of the books constantly read in the churches, as a part of the rule of faith and practice for all believers.” There are in all 16 witnesses before the end of the second century that testify to its use and general acceptance in the Church.”
“The gospel of Luke presents to us Christ especially as one of the human race, the Seed of the woman, in his saving work not only for Israel, but also for the Gentiles. Hence it pictures him as the friend of the poor and as seeking sinners, emphasizes the universality of the Gospel blessings, and distinctly bespeaks a friendly relation to the Samaritans. Its permanent spiritual value is that it reminds the Church of all ages that in every nation he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him; and that we have a great High Priest that was touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and was in all parts tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”