Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
In contrast to Matthew’s Gospel, which was written to all people but specifically to Jews, Luke writes to an individual – Theophilus. It is clear from verse 4 that Theophilus was already aware of who Jesus was, and what all had transpired years earlier, but Luke makes is a point to give him this ‘orderly’ account for his certainty on the matter. Theophilus was most likely a Roman official of high rank, as indicated by the title ‘most excellent’. His name means ‘lover of God’. While no one knows exactly who he was, it is thought that this person was a convert to Christianity and in charge of distribution or publication of Luke’s writings.
Luke was a doctor (Colossians 4:14), a fellow worker in advancing the Gospel (Philemon 24), and Paul’s companion before his martyrdom (2 Timothy 4:11). Luke was also somewhat of a historian, writing not only the book that carries his name, but also the book of Acts which details the beginnings of the church. Both of Luke’s books/letters are addressed to Theophilus. Luke spent time traveling with Paul, listening to him teach the Jews and the Greeks about who Jesus was, where He came from, and how He related to the Scriptures (the Old Testament at the time). He also was with Paul during his imprisonment in Rome (Cesarea, only 60 miles from Jerusalem) where he would have had ample opportunity to get firsthand, accurate information from the original companions of Jesus, including Mary and James, Jesus’ mother and brother.
In verse 1 we see the reason behind Luke’s writings. He says that many have already written, and that he also wants to write the things down which happened, according to eyewitness accounts and in chronological order. Luke’s emphasis in his writings is Jesus’ humanity. He wanted to make certain the reader realized that Jesus was a man even though He was also the Son of God. Luke showcases Jesus’ kindness towards the weak, suffering, and outcast. Luke includes references to various classes of people and identifies women and children more than any of the other Gospels.
To appeal to the thoughtful, cultured, philosophic Greek mind, Luke, in a complete, orderly, and classical story, depicts the glorious beauty and perfection of Jesus, the ideal, universal man. – Henry H. Halley