John ends his gospel by telling us his purpose for writing it (20:31). Luke begins his with that same intent (1:4).
There is something Luke wants us to know.
Luke is, as we say today, the man… and something of a man of mystery. He wrote a sizeable piece of the NT (the gospel bearing his name as well as the book of Acts) and is the only gentile to have been on the human side of the authorship of any book of Scripture. He was clearly an intelligent man, his writing style testifies to this.
Theophilus was likely a Roman, and therefore a convert from Roman paganism. He had been taught the rudiments of Christian teachings after his conversion (Luke says so in verse 4). But Luke makes it clear, he isn’t just writing to give Theophilus more information.
Luke dedicated both his works to his friend Theophilus… but he wrote them for us.
What then is his intent? Just why did he write this gospel? We don’t have to guess – he tells us.
Luke gives us this in the prologue of the gospel bearing his name(vs 1-4) when he tells his friend “… I decided to write an orderly account for you [the gospel of Luke], most excellent Theophilus, …
Luke wanted to tell his friend… and us… that we can embrace the Message with confidence.
Man, are we in need of this.
A fact we’re rapidly losing today is that everything that Christianity is and claims to be relies on this very thing Luke mentions right at the outset of his gospel – the reliability of the Message.
At the risk of sounding professorial, with postmodernism (and now post-postmodernism, as its been termed) and its accompanying elevation of individualistic authority, the importance of what Scripture says has been marginalized for many Christians today.
Hermeneutics (the science of interpretation) has been replaced with her-meneutics or him-meneutics. That is, what Scripture says on the important topics of life is marginalized… if even considered… and one’s own feelings and thoughts on a matter become the voice of ultimate authority.
I wonder what Luke would make of all this?
Here is a first century gentile believer who was so concerned that his dear friend Theophilus know the truth that he composed two lengthy systematic treatises to him (again, Luke and Acts).
And more specifically, he says at the outset of the first – the gospel account that bears his name – that he is writing so that Theophilus may know the certainty of the Message.
We live in a strange age.
The idea that there is such a thing as Truth gives people the heebie-jeebies… at least any idea that extends beyond the above-mentioned authority of the individual.
Some time back my son and I attended a lecture by a renowned philosopher and writer who was a Holocaust survivor. The man’s writings had influenced my life so I was looking forward to hearing him. He talked extensively about his experience in a Nazi death camp.
And then in the Q&A session that followed his presentation he made the following statement in reply to a question a member of the audience asked him: I believe in questions… I just don’t believe in answers.
With all due respect to a great man now deceased – that’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard an intelligent person say.
But such is the climate of the times.
That this is the tenor of our society is not surprising. That’s it’s nearly just as true for many Christians is disturbing.
It goes a long way in explaining why distinctions are increasingly blurred.
Truth is not a simplistic topic – and it’s unfortunate that a large segment of the Church acts as though it is. Many believer’s act as if they know the answer to everything.
This attitude hacks me off as a believer. I can only imagine how it would hit me as an unbeliever!
We demean and trivialize Scripture when we use it as a place to hide our fears and a tool for suppressing our neuroses.
We don’t know everything about anything… let alone everything about everything.
Honestly, the longer I live the less I seem to know.
But we can rest in Luke’s statement to his dear friend Theophilus. We can know in our hearts the certainty of the Message. And we can find our way by that compass.
And who knows what others truths we will find for our journey as we steep ourselves in the Message.
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