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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO
INTRODUCTION. « CONCERNING this Evangelist (says Mr. Horne), we have but little certain information; from what is recorded in the Scriptures, as well as from the circumstances related by the early Christian writers, the following particulars have been obtained.
“According to Eusebius, Luke was a native of Antioch, by profession a physician, and for the most part a companion of the Apostle Paul. The report first announced by Nicephorus Callisti, a writer of the fourteenth century, that he was a painter, is now justly exploded, as being destitute of foundation, and countenanced by no ancient writers. From his attending Paul in his travels, and also from the testimony of some of the early fathers, Basnag,e Fah icius, and Dr. Lardner have been led to conclude that this Evangelist was a Jew; and Origen, Epiphanius, and others, have supposed tbat he was one of the seventy disciples : but this is contradicted by Luke's own declaration that he was not an eye-witness of our Saviour's actions.* Michaelis is of opinion that he was a Gentile, on the authority of Paul's expressions in Col. iv, 10, 11. 14. The most probable conjecture is that of Bolten, adopted by Kuinöel; viz, that Luke was descended from Gentile parents, and in his youth had embraced Judaism, from which he was converted to Christianity. The Hebraic Greek style of writing, observable in his writings, and especially the accurate knowledge of the Jewish religion, rites, ceremonies, and usages, every where discernible both in his Gospel, and in the Acts of the Apostles, sufficiently evince that their author was a Jew; while his intimate knowledge of the Greek language, displayed in the preface to his Gospel, which is composed in elegant Greek, and his Greek name (Loukas) evidently show that he was descended from Gentile parents. This conjecture is farther supported by a passage in the Acts, and by another in the Epistle to the Colossians. In the former (Acts xxi. 27), it is related that the Asiatic Jews stirred up the people, because Paul had introduced Gentiles into the temple ; and ju the following verse it is added, that they had before seen with him in the city, Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul bad brought into the temple. No mention is here made of Luke, though he was with the Apostle. Compare Acts xxi. 15, 17, where Luke speaks of himself among the companions of Paul. Hence we infer, that he was reckoned among the Jews, one of whom he might be accounted, if he had become a proselyte from Gentilism to the Jewish religion. In the Epistle to the Colossians (iv. 11, 14), after Paul had written the salutations of Aristarchus, Marcus, and of Jesus, surnamed Justus, he adds,' who are of the circumcision. These only, he contioues, are my fellow-workers (meaning of the circumcision) unto the kingdom of God.' Then in the 14th verse he adds, 'Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, salute you.' As the Apostle in this passage opposes them to the Christians who had been converted from Judaism, it is evident that Luke was descended from Gentile parents.
* We conceive this to be somewhat doubtful. Many think that his proem only implies that he was not "an ege-witness from the beginning;” that is, not an Apostle , so Lardner,
"The first time that this Evangelist is mentioned in the New Testament, is in his own history of the Acts of the Apostles. We there find him (chap. xvi. 10, 11) with Paul at Troas : thence he attended him to Jerusalem ; continued with him in his troubles in Judea; and sailed in the same ship with him, when he was sent a prisoner from Cæsarea to Rome, where he stayed with him during his two years' confinement. As none of the ancient fathers have mentioned his suffering martyrdom, it is probable that he died a natural death.” (Critical Introd. vol. iv. pt. 2. ch. ii. §. 4.)
of the authenticity of this Gospel, there is no reasonable doubt, it being quoted by four of the apostolical fathers; by Justin Martyr, Irenæus, Tertullian, Origen, and host of later writers.” But some attempts have been made of late years to impugn the authority of the first two chapters, as containing an account of the miraculous concep. tion; and it has been said that Marcion, the heretic, rejected them on that account, as he did also the third and part of the fourth. But if we listen to such objections, there are but few chapters of the New Testament that have not been objected to by some heretic or other. Many of the most eminent modern critics, as Griesbach, Marsh, and others, are of opinion that he rejected the whole, and not St. Luke's only, but all the other three, using only a compilation of his own. This objection is therefore not worthy of any serious attention.
It has, indeed, been intimated to us, that in the introduction to our first volume (p. iv.) we have spoken too strongly of the inspiration of the Evangelists, particularly Mark and Luke, neither of whom were Apostles, nor perhaps numbered among the seventy, nor even eye-witnesses of the facts which they relate. If they were not inspired, we frankly confess that we think they deserve but little credit. For what credit can we give to the relation of facts and discourses upon the authority of persons unknown, unless the relator be endowed with such extraordinary powers as may enable him to distinguish certainly between truth and error; that is, unless he be inspired ?
Farther, as many private individuals had already drawn up narratives of these events, what occasion was there for Luke to write upon the subject, unless he had the means of being either more full or more correct? Or how should the faith of Theophilus be rendered certain by the narrative of one who wrote merely on the evidence of others, without being inspired, and that too in the age of inspiration ?
Various other considerations are mentioned in Dr. Doddridge's “ Dissertation on the Inspiration of the New Testament," appended to his Exposition, which argue the necessity of admitting that Luke wrote by inspiration. He particularly quotes Origen, who reckons the four gospels in the order in which we have them, and places them in the number of those writings “ which were received as divine by all the churches of God, and were the elements of the church's faith.” He also declares that if a man would not confess himself to be an infidel, he must admit the inspiration of the Scriptures; among which, we have seen, he includes the Gospels. So that it is difficult to allow any man to be a Christian who rejects the inspiration of the four commooly received Gospels; and we believe there are few who do this, that do not equally reject the inspiration of the New Testament in general.
The date of this Gospel is uncertain. Dr. H. Owen places it in A. D. 53; others at late as 63 or 64, which is the opinion of Dr. Lardner, who cites on the same side Mr Jer. Jones, Estius, Mill, Dodwell, and Basnage. (Sup. to Cred. vol. i. p. 79.) It is gene rally supposed to have been written chiefly for the use of Gentile converts to Christianity
An angel appears]
he executed the Priest's office before CHAP. I.
God in the order of his course,
9 According to the custom of the FORASMUCH as many have taken Priest's office, his lot was to burn in
in hand to set forth in order a de- cense when he went into the temple of claration of those things which are the Lord. most surely believed among us,
10 And the whole multitude of the 2 Even as they delivered them unto people were praying without at the us, which from the beginning were time of incense. eyewitnesses, and ministers of the 11 And there appeared unto him word;
an angel of the Lord standing on the 3 It seemed good to me also, hav- right side of the altar of incense. ing had perfect understanding of all 12 And when Zacharias saw him, things from the very first, to write he was troubled, and fear fell upon unto thee in order, most excellent him. Theophilus,
13 But the angel said unto him, 4 That thou mightest know the cer- Fear not, Zacharias : for thy prayer is tainty of those things, wherein thou heard ; and thy wife Elisabeth shall hast been instructed.
bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his 5 THERE was in the days of name John.
- Herod, the king of Judea, a 14 And thou shalt have joy and certain Priest named Zacharias, of the gladness; and many shall rejoice at course of Abia : and his wife was of his birth. the daughters of Aaron, and her name 15 For he shall be great in the was Elisabeth.
sight of the Lord, and shall drink 6 And they were both righteous neither wine nor strong drink; and he before God, walking in all the com- shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, mandments and ordinances of the even from his mother's womb. Lord blameless.
16 And many of the children of 7 And they had no child, because Israel shall he turn to the Lord their that Elisabeth was barren, and they God. both were now well stricken in years. 17 And he shall go before him in
8 And it came to pass, that while the spirit and power of Elias, to turn
NOTES CHAP. I. Ver. 1. To set forth in order-Doddr. tion; which Mark indeed mentions, but Luke only To compose the history;" Camp. " a narrative:" describes. From the very first. Some render the so Boothroyd. Of those things that are most Gr.(anothen) “ from above," and found thereon an surely believed - Doddr, "Have been confirmed an argument for Luke's inspiration : but as the among us with the fullest evidence;"-Camp. and term is equivocal, we think, with Doddridge, it is Brotbr. * Which have been accomplished ;”-Park too weak authority to support an inference so imburst, “ Fully proved," or " confirmed with the portant. fullest evidence.
Ibid. Most excellent Theophilus.-Some consider Ver. 2. Ministers of the word-Gr. “The Logos," this an epithet denoting the character of the person which term St. John, in the preface to his Gospel, named; others as an honorary title, in which sense applies personally to Christ; but as the same term is it is applied to Felix and Festus, when governors. by all the Evangelists applied to the Gospel, either See Acts xxiii. 26 ; xxiv.3; xxvi. 25. See Camp. preached or written, we think it would be wrong here Ver. 5. Herod, the king of Judea-that is, "Herod to restrict its meaning.
the Great." _ Zacharias, of the course of Abia.Ver. 3. Haring had perfect understanding This was one of the 24 courses into which David diDoddr, and Camp. “ Having accurately (or exactly) vided the priests, and that of wbich Abia, or Abijah traced all things from the first, or from their origin. was the head. Comp. I Chron xxiii. 6; xxiv. 10.
It seemed good to me also.... to write unto thee Ver. 15. Even from his mother's womb. See ver.41. in order_Camp. " A particular account;" Doddr. Ver. 17. To turn the hearts, &c.-This is a quota"An orderly account." From this expression, some fion from Mal. iv. 6, which see. The only doubt have understood that St. Luke meant to pay parti remaining in the text seems to be, whether the pascolar altention to the order in which the several sage should be rendered as in our translation, which events occurred; this, however, does not appear to implies reconciliation and harmony among the peo. bave been the case in every instance; but he cer ple; or, as Doddr, renders it, to " convert the hearts tainly gives a longer series of events, beginning from of the fathers with the children," which implies the "the very first," the vision of Zacharias, and con- preparation of the people for Messiah. As these tinuing his narrative to the ascension of our Saviour senses are not inconsistent, the question is not im. into heaven, which neither Matthew nor John men portant.
(struck speechless. the hearts of the fathers to the chil- 21 And the people waited for Zadren, and the disobedient to the wis- charias, and marvelled that he tarried dom of the just ; to make ready a peo- so long in the temple. ple prepared for the Lord.
22 And when he came out, he could 18 And Zacharias said unto the not speak unto them: and they perangel, Whereby shall I know this? ceived that he had seen a vision in the for I am an old man, and my wife well temple : for he beckoned unto them, stricken in years.
and remained speechless. 19 And the angel answering said 23 And it came to pass, that, as unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in soon as the days of his ministration the presence of God; and am sent to were accomplished, he departed to his speak unto thee, and to shew thee these own house. glad tidings.
24 And after those days his wife 20 And, behold, thou shalt be Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself dumb, and not able to speak, until the five months, saying, day that these things shall be perform- 25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with ed, because thou believest not my me in the days wherein he looked on words, which shall be fulfilled in their me, to take away my reproach among
were believed. The facts fully bore out (or (A) Ver. 1—25. Luke, after a short pre- fulfilled) the Old Testament predictions, to face, relates the parentage and conception which most of the New are made answerof John the Baptist.-Who the many here able. Observing in these, however, many referred to were, who had set forth decla. things omitted which himself had received rations or narratives of the transactions from eye-witnesses of the event, or divinely here referred to, it is impossible to ascer- accredited “Ministers of the word,”St. Luke tain. It is most probable that Luke had thought it his duty to compile the gospel neither seen the gospel of Mark nor the now before us, in which he takes a wider Greek of Matthew, which if written, con- range, and traces a longer succession of sidering the slow process of transcribing, events than either of the other Evangelists could hardly be got into circulation before beginning with the conception of John the this was written. Nor could he refer to Baptist, and proceeding to the ascension o any of the Apocryphal Gospels now exist- our Lord to heaven, which he alone de ing, few or none of which appear to bave scribes. been written until after the canon of Scrip- This Gospel is addressed personally to ture was completed. We must therefore friend of the name of Theopbilus, whos suppose the reference to have been made to
rank in society intitled him to the stilec the narratives or memoranda of private most excellent, or noble; and who at th Christians, which though in the main true same time had been early instructed il and honest, were not written by eye-wit- Christianity. nesses of the facts, nor under the guidance We come now to the narrative, whic of inspiration.
begins with the parentage, conception, an When our translators speak of these facts birth of John the Baptist. His parent as “most surely believed," we rather con- were two pious Jews, among that selet ceive, with the authorities cited below, that few who waited for the Messiah, havin the Evangelist refers to the certain evidence some (tolerably) correct ideas of the na with which they were attended, rather than ture of his kingdom. Zacharias was to the strong confidence with which they priest, who officiated in his turn in th
NOTES-Chap. I. Con. Ver, 19. I am Gabriel - The same as appeared his week, during which he was not allowed to leat to Daniel (chap. viii. 16; ix. 21).-That stand in the precincts of the temple. the presence of God-which implies high rank. See Ver. 24. And after those days that is, when Note on Matt. xviii. 10.
returned to his own house. And hid herself Ver. 22. Speechless - evidently both deaf and
meaning, lived a very retired life, her husband beil dumb; for when the father came to the circum.
deaf and dumb; and not disclosing her situation, pr cision, instead of asking verbally by what name he
bably, to any one, till she received the visit of h should be called, they • made signs” to him.
Ver. 26. To take away my reproach - that is, Ver. 23. The days of his ministration that is, barrenness.
An angel appears]
[to the Virgin Mary. 26 ( And in the sixth month the 33 And he shall reign over the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto house of Jacob for ever; and of his a city of Galilee, named Nazareth; kingdom there shall be no end.
27 To a virgin espoused to a man 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, whose name was Joseph, of the house How shall this be, seeing I know not of David ; and the virgin's name was a man? Mary.
35 And the angel answered and 28 And the angel came in unto her, said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall and said, Hail, thou that art highly come upon thee, and the power of the favoured, the Lord is with thee: Highest shall overshadow thee; thereblessed art thou among women. fore also that holy thing which shall
29 And when she saw him, she was be born of thee shall be called the Son troubled at his saying, and cast in her of God. mind what manner of salutation this 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisashould be coz
beth, she hath also conceived a son in 30 And the angel said unto her, her old age: and this is the sixth Pear not, Mary: for thou hast found month with her, who was called favour with God.
barren. 31 And, behold, thou shalt con- 37 For with God nothing shall be ceive in thy womb, and bring forth a impossible. son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 38 And Mary said, Behold the
32 He shall be great, and shall be handmaid of the Lord; be it unto called the Son of the Highest : and me according to thy word. And the the Lord God shall give unto him the angel departed from her. (B) throne of his father David :
39 | And Mary arose in those days,
EXPOSITION. temple, and whose work as such was to people ; but by his signs, they understood burn incense (within the sanctuary] while that he had seen a vision. After bis allotted the multitude were in the act of prayer in time of service was over at the temple, the outer court. What a striking illustra- Zacharias returned home; and at length tion we have bere of the Christian economy, John was born, wben his father's speech even in the type ! How delightful the idea, was restored ; and being filled with the that while thousands of congregations of Holy Ghost, he burst forth into a divine the faithful are praying in the outer courts rapture, going back to ancient prophecies below, Jesus is gone into heaven itself, and of the blessings of Messiah's reign, and exthere offers the incense of his own merits. ultiug in what God was now about to do for
“The prayers of the multitude in the his people. In these divine strains we find outer court continued, it seems, during the him describing the work of his son, as the whole time of the offering of incense. forerunner of Christ; using allusions which But on this day, when the birth of the Bap- show that he expected from the Messiah tist was announced, Zacharias stayed much higher blessings than any of a political nalonger in the sanctuary] than usual, and ture, Elisabeth also, being filled with the the people marvelled that he tarried so Holy Ghost, was inspired like Zacharias, long. But he had seen an angel, and had and congratulated her relative (as we shall been detained to hear tidings of a son, and see in the next section] in the most pious some distant tidings of the long-expected and affectionate strains." (Rev. W. Ward's Saviour himself. Not paying that credit to Reflections, &c. p. 191.) the message from leaves that he ought to have done, he was struck dumb; and when (B) Ver. 26–38. The angel Gabriel unhe came out, he could not speak to the nounces the pregnancy of the Virgin Mary.
NOTES. Ver. 28. Highly favoured-Margin, “Graciously the angel have evidently a referer.ce to various proaccepted." The Lord is with thee, &c.-Camp. phecies of the Old Testament, particularly Ps. lxxii. 'The Lord (be) with thee, thou happiest of women.” Ver. 35. That holy thing - this, though literal
Ver. 29. She was troubled-doubtless alarmed at enough, is mean. A noun is evidently to be underSeeing a stranger in her apartment, and not less so, if stood : Doddr. supplies “offspring,” and Campbell the splendour which attended him (as is probable) “ progeny;" but the simple term "child” is more marked him to be a messenger from heaven.
in harmony with the style of Scripture. Ver. 32, He shall be great, &c.-These words of