Background for Luke/Acts

Luke 1:1-4 – Researched, orderly account.

Audience/Recipient – who is Theophilus?  Target Audience – Greeks (3:38)

Author – Anonymous; historically Luke the doctor, companion of Paul.  See Acts 20:5, etc.

Date – 85 AD or 63 AD?

Last of the Synoptics

Acts of the Apostles, or perhaps Acts of Peter and Paul

Audience/Author/Date: Same as above

Covers roughly the 30 years from Jesus’ ascension to Paul’s imprisonment in Rome.

Outline of Luke/Acts


  1. Introduction: Infancy and Boyhood of Jesus (1-2)
  2. Preparation for Ministry (3-4:13)
  3. Ministry in Galilee ( 4:14-9:50)
  4. Journey to Jerusalem (9:51-19:27)
  5. In Jerusalem: Ministry and Passion and Resurrection (19:28-24)

Acts – Acts 1:8

  1. Introduction/Preparation for Ministry (1)
  2. Ministry in Jerusalem (2-8:1)
  3. Missions to Samaria and Judea (8:1b-12)
  4. Missions of Barnabas and Paul (13-15:35)
  5. Mission of Paul to the Ends of the Earth (15:36-28:31)

Major Themes for Luke/Acts

  1. Economic Liberation (poverty vs. riches) – Luke 1:52-53, 4:18, 6:20-26, 12: 13-21, 12:33, 18:22.  Also, Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-5:11.
  2. God who seeks – Luke 15, but also 7:36-50, 19:1-10, etc.  Luke 19:10 as a key verse.  Becomes the job of the church.
  3. Centrality of Jerusalem – Luke 9:51, Acts 1:8, Acts 15, etc.
  4. Parables and Luke 19:11-27.  Distinct from Matthew’s account.
  5. The Holy Spirit, Pentecost, and the church – Acts 2:1-4, 19:1-7
  6. Must Christians be Jews?  Acts 10:34-5, 44-48, Acts 15
  7. Salvation history in three stages: Israel à Jesus à Church.  Luke 1-2, Acts 1, 2, 7, etc.

Reflection Questions

In the Gospel of Matthew, many of the beatitudes are “spiritualized” while in Luke they are more straightforward.   For example, Matthew says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” while Luke says “Blessed are the poor.”  Which of those expressions is most challenging for you?  Why do you think the Spirit preserved BOTH in our NT?

How do you respond to Jesus’ message of economic liberation? 

Have you experienced God as the “one who seeks”?

Consider the promise that God lives within you in the Person of the Holy Spirit.  How does this shape or change your theological understanding of your faith?