There’s always more truths and application from a passage of Scripture than what time allows to be actually preached on Sunday. Sometimes there’s more “minor” point from the text that are good devotional observation for my own life as I think about apologetics and evangelism, that won’t fit into the main point of my sermon. As we approach the Christmas season, I wanted to share some of these observation from Luke chapter 1-2 which is often called the Infancy Narrative, that has implications for the Christian who is conscious about evangelism, apologetics and worldview. This series will be tagged under the category “Devotional for the apologist.”
We will look today at Luke 1:1-4, which is the prologue not just for the infancy narrative but for the entire gospel of Luke:
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us,2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.
Here Luke desire to pursue careful and accurate historical investigations. It’s evident with his choice in use of certain Greek terms.
Words used showing Luke’s care for truth and historical investigation and it’s accurate presentation of it:
- “account” (v.1)– Where we get our modern English word “Digest.” Often used in classical and Hellenistic Greek to refer to historical writing (Fitzmyer, 292).
- “accomplished” (v.1) –Literally is “to bring to full,” that is to fulfill or accomplish in full. Is there an allusion to Biblical prophecies being “fulfilled” here as well?
- “eyewitnesses” (v.2)– The Greek being αυτοπται, the root word is where we get the English word “Autotopsy.” There is an emphasis of this word, with it being nuance since it appears before the verb though it’s the object.
- “those who from the beginning“–Luke’s emphasis from the beginning can be seen in that the first two chapters of Luke has 132 verses concerning the beginning that is new information not covered as detailed in other Gospels (Hendriksen, 17).
- “having investigated” (v.3)–Has the meaning of investigating and following up as used by Josephus (Fitzmyer, 297). The use of the perfect tense for this participle indicates that the action of Luke’s investigation was all done and completed prior to him every writing. That is, he did his homework before writing!
- “everything” (v.3)–Shows completeness of what Luke into.
- “carefully” (v.3)– Adverb that suggests the quality of Luke’s investigation.
- “consecutive order” (v.3)–A word that describes what happens next is what is being said next (Hendriksen, 56). Luke wants to write history here.
What do these notes means for the Christian apologist? I realize that Luke was divinely inspired when he wrote his gospel but nevertheless, in light of the fact that Scripture has a human aspect to it, I see some implications for the one who wishes to develop and live out a Christian worldview:
1.) First off, Christians can go to the Gospel of Luke (and the rest of Scripture) “so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught” (v.4). Test all things you heard about Jesus to the Word of God. A Christian must not forsake the authority of the Word of God just because he’s doing apologetics.
2.) Secondly, if Luke, being guided by God, is interested and concern with history, so should we as Christians. History is not just another boring subject, something trivial, useless or something we pretend to be interested in it so that our boring senseless teacher will give us an A in school. There is a place for Church history, historical theology, historical apologetics and studying the historical background that is the milieu in which Scripture was written through disciplines such as archaeology, Ancient Near East studies, etc.
3.) Thirdly, Christians ought to acknowledge and synthesize other data correctly. Note that Luke acknowledges others have written on Christ in verse 1. There is an absence here of him saying that these accounts were wrong. This sort of confirm that there is such thing as “Perspectivalism” or Symphonic theology as expressed in John Frame’s and Vern Poythress’ work, provided they are not truly contradictory or against Scripture. We can emulate Luke’s acknowledgement of other sources before he writes by also starting with what God’s Word has to say about any given subject and it’s implication first whenever we study any particular issues in-depth.
4.) Fourthly, the Christian ought to study things with care and sharpness if we want to emulate Luke. Can you say with a clear conscience, that your studies have reasonably “investigated everything carefully“? This glorifies God when we do this, knowing that He’s a God of truth.
5.) Fifthly, the Christian ought to present the things he studied with equal care and sharpness (like the way he ought to study) if we want to emulate Luke.
6.) Last but not least, Christians engaged in historical apologetics, who are students of history or pursuing studies and teaching in general are doing it to serve other believers and nonbelievers, just as Luke also can give a purpose clause for why he was doing what he was doing in verse 4. So choose your specialization carefully. Think of how you can bless and be a benefit to others with what you learned, rather than just to puff up one’s ego.
Are there also other implications you can see from Luke 1:1-4?