Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Vision (6/7/12): The Preface to Luke's Gospel and the Reliability of Scripture

Note:  Last Lord’s Day morning we began a new series in the Gospel of Luke at CRBC by meditating on Luke’s unique preface to his work (Luke 1:1-4).  Below are my notes from the exposition of Luke 1:2.
KJV Luke 1:2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

In v. 2 Luke tells us more about the sources he has used in compiling his Gospel.  First, he notes that the information he has used in compiling his Gospel was “delivered…unto us.”  The verb here is from paradidomi.  It is the verb used for handing down a tradition.  It is the verb Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 11:23 when he describes the right practice of the Lord’s Supper:
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
It is also the same verb Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 15:3 ff. when he describes the gospel he has preached and taught the Corinthians:
15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
Some skeptics would want you to believe that the Gospel writers and the scribes who copied the scriptures were haphazard, that the transmission of the Gospel truths was like a game of “Chinese whispers” of “telephone” where the original message gets confused and fuzzy as it is passed from one person to another.  But this is not the notion we get from the way Luke writes.  This was not just any information that was being conveyed.  This was sacred and inspired truth about the Lord Jesus Christ.  And it was to be handled carefully and passed on intact.
Luke stresses that this information was also pure and accurate from the sources, from the very tap.  It came from those who “from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word.”  The word for eyewitnesses here is autoptai.  It is the same root as for the English word “autopsy.”  When there is an autopsy there is a call for a close and thorough clinical post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death.  We have here that same sense of a determined and thorough study being done.  Luke is, of course, referring to the fact that the sources he is using to write this Gospel come from the eyewitnesses (autoptai) to the life of Jesus.  Namely, the come from Christ’s own apostles, men like Thomas who touched the wounds of Christ (John 20:27-28), Peter who had been there on the Mount of Transfiguration (cf. 2 Peter 1:16-18), and John who witnessed and had intimate contact with Christ (cf. 1 John 1:1).
Luke is declaring to us that we can trust the accuracy of all that he will tell us of Jesus, because it comes from those who witnessed the life and deeds of Christ firsthand.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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