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most probable opinion seems to be, that he was a j roselyte to the Jewish religion, though descended of Gentile parents. For this opinion two reasons may be assigned, of some weight. 1st. He was intimately ac quainted, 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 reli gion, 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 cir. cumcision, but were by birth Gentiles.
Most writers suppose that Luke, the writer of this Gospel, was in. tended 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. Ist. They were received by all the churches on the same foot. ing 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 tho lives of the apostles, Peter, Paul, and John, and were received during :heir lives, as books of sacred authority. If these books were not in. spired, 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. I 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, 'f 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, yut 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, an we suppose, he was a Gentile by birth — and if, as is most clear, he was not an eye-witness 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, an 1 repeating so many recorded also by the others, without often having coi tradicted 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 19 the apostles of inspiration ; reply, that this was also the case with Paul; yet no sm ill 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 chara, ter of the works Luke has all thapo, aqually with the other evangelists.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ILUKE
were eye-witnesses and mir isiens F ken in hand to set
forth in order
3 It seemed good to me also, hav. a declaration of those things which ing had perfect understanding of all are most surely believed among us, things from the very first, to write
2 Even as they delivered them unto thee in order, most excellent onto us, which from the beginning Theophilus,
a Jno.15.27. He.2.3. 1 Pe.5.1. 2 Pe.1.16. 1 6 Ro.15.16. Eph.3.7. 4.11,12. Jno.1.1.
1. Forasmuch as many. It has been or to a full and fair arrangement of the doubted who are referred to here by the principal facts, &c., in the history of word many. It seems clear that it could our Lord. TA declaration. A narranot be the other evangelists. For the tive-an account of. Which are most Gospel by Join was not yet written, surely believed among Among and the word many denotes clearly more Christians-among ali the Christians than two. Besides, it is said that they then living. Here remark, Ist. Tha. undertook to record what the eye-wit. Christians of that day had the best of nesses had delivered to them, so that all opportunities of knowing whether the writers did not pretend to be eye- those things were true. Many had seen witnesses themselves. It is clear, there. them, and all others had had the ac. fore, that other writings were meant count from those who had witnessed than the gospels which we now have; them. 2d. That infidels now cannot but what they were is a matter of con possibly be as good judges in the mat jecture. What are
now known as ter as those who lived at the time, and gpurious gospels were written long after who were thus competent to determine Luke wrote his. It is probable that whether these things were true or false. Luke refers to fragments of history, or 3d. That all Christians do most surely to narratives of detached sayings, acts, believe the truth of the gospel. It is or parables of ur Lord, which had their life, their hope, their all. Nor been made and circulated among the can they doubt that their Saviour lived, disciples and others. His doctrines bled, died, rose, and still lives; that he were original, bold, pure, and authori. was their atoning sacrifice ; and that tative. His miracles had been extraor. he is God over all, blessed for ever. dinary, clear, and awful. His life and 2. As they delivered them. As they death had been peculiar; and it is not narrated them. As they gave an ac improbable-indeed it is highly proba count of them. From the beginning. ble—that such broken accounts and From the commencement of these narratives of detached facts would be things; that is, from the birth of Juhu. preserved. That this was what he Or perhaps from the beginning of the meant, appears further from ver. 3; ministry of Jesus. 1 Eye-witnesses. where Luke professes to write “ in or. Who had seen themselves, and who der ;" i. e. to give a regular, full, and were therefore proper witnesses. Min. systematic account. The others were isters of the word. The term word, here broken, and incomplete. This was to means the Gospel. Luke never uses it, he regular and full. . I Taken in hand. as John does, to denote the second perUndertaken, attempted. 1 To set forth son of the Trinity. These eye-witnes. in order. To compose a narrative. It ses and ministers, refer doubtless to the docs not refer to the order or arrange- seventy disciples, to the apostles, and ment, but means simply to give a nar- perhaps to other preachers who had rative. The word rendered here, in gone forth to proclaim the same things order, is different from that in the third 3. Il seemed good. I thought it best, verse, which has reference in order. I or I have also determined. It scomod
4 That thou mightest know the Judea, a certain priest nained Zo certainty of those things wherein charias, of the course of Abia : anu thou hast been instructed.
his wife was of the daughters of 5
THE BHeroase the king of beth.
c1 Ch.24.10. Ne.12.4,17.
to be called for that there should be a it is rather to be considered as denoting full, authentic, and accurate account of rank or office. It occurs only in three these matters. 1 Having had perfect other places in the New Testament, and understarding, &c. The literal trans- is there given to men in office to Felix lation of the original would be having and Festus. Acts xxiii. 26; xxiv. 3; xxvi. exactly traced, everything from the 25. These titles express no quality of first.' Or having, by diligent and the men, but belong to the office ; and careful investigation, followed up every we may hence learn that it is not im. thing to the source, to obtain an accu- proper for Christians, in giving honor rate account of the matter.' This much to whom honor is due, to address men better expresses the idea. Luke did in office by their customary titles-even not profess to have seen these things; if their moral character_be altogether and this expression is to show how he unworthy of it. Who Theophilus was acquired his information. It was by is unknown. It is probable that he tracing up every account till he became was some distinguished Roman, or satisfied of its iruths. Here observe, Greek, who had been converted; who 1st. That in religion God does not set was a friend of Luke; and who had aside our natural faculties. He calls us requested an account of these things. to look at evidence, to examine ac- It is possible that this preface migh counts, to make up our own minds. have been sent to him as a private letter Nor will any man be convinced of the with the Gospel, and Theophilus chose truth of religion who does not make to have them published together. investigation, and set himself seriously 4. The certainty. Have full evidence, to the task. 2d. We see the nature of or proof of. 1 Been instructed. By the Luke's inspiration. It was consistent preachers of the gospel, . The original with his using his natural faculties; his word is the one from which is derived own powers of mind, in investigating our word catechism — been catechised. the truth. God, by his Holy Spirit, But it does not here denote the manner presided over his faculties; directed in which the instruction was imparted, them; and kept him from error. 1 In as it does with us; but simply the fact order. This word does not indicate that he had been taught those things. that the exact order of time would be 5. In the days of Herod. See Matt observed; for that is not the way in i. 1. Of the course of Abia. When which he writes. But it means 'dis. the priests became, so numerous that tinctly, particularly, in opposition to they could not at once minister at the the confused and broken accounts to altar, David divided them into twenty. which he had referred before. Most four classes or courses, each one of eccellent Theophilus. The word The- which officiated for a week. · 1 Chron. ophilus means a friend of God, or a xxiv. The class, or course, of Abia, pious man; and ii has been supposed was the eighth in order. 1 Chron. xxiv. by some that Luke did not refer to any 10. Compare 2 Chron. viii. 14. The particular individual, but to any man word course means the same as ciass, that loved God. But there is no rea- or order. The Greek word Abia is the son for this opinion. For significant same as the Hebrew word Abijah. Hu names were very common, and there wife was of the daughters of Aaron. is no good reason to doubt that this was a descendant of Aaron, the first high some individual known to Luke. The priest of the Jews; so that John the application of the title “ most excellent," Baptist was descended, on the father's further proves it. It would not be given and the mother's side, from priests. to an unknown man. The title, most Our Saviour was not on either side. excellent, has by some been supposed John would have been legally entitled to be given to express his character, but I to a place, and en ployment among the