The author is characteristically concerned with social ethics, the poor, women, and other oppressed groups. Certain popular stories on these themes, such as the prodigal son and the good Samaritan, are found only in this gospel. This gospel also has a special emphasis on prayer, the activity of the Holy Spirit, and joyfulness. D. Guthrie stated, “it is full of superb stories and leaves the reader with a deep impression of the personality and teachings of Jesus. The introductory dedication to Theophilus, states that "many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word", and that the author, "after investigating everything carefully from the very first has decided to compose an orderly account "so that [Theophilus] may know the certainty of the things [he has] been taught". Thus the author intended to write a historical account bringing out the theological significance of the history. The author's purpose was to portray Christianity as divine, respectable, law-abiding, and international. Scholarship is in wide agreement that the author of Luke also wrote the Acts of the Apostles.
Jesus' birth and boyhood
Jesus' baptism and temptation
Jesus' ministry in Galilee
Jesus' teaching on the journey to Jerusalem
Jesus' Jerusalem conflicts, crucifixion, and resurrection
The composition may follow the two-source hypothesis, that the text is based in part on the Gospel of Mark and a now lost document (commonly referred to as Q). However, this hypothesis is also consistent with the author's declaration that Luke is written after widely investigating eyewitnesses and other accounts. A single author may have intentionally drawn upon Mark as part of this investigation.
Early tradition, witnessed by the Muratorian Canon, Irenaeus (c. 170), Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Tertullian, held that the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles were both written by Luke, a companion of Paul. The oldest manuscript of the gospel (ca. 200) carries the attribution “the Gospel according to Luke”. Early Christian testimony concerning the gospel's authorship is in full agreement, although "some scholars attach little importance to it". The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles were written by the same author The most direct evidence comes from the prefaces of each book. Both prefaces are addressed to Theophilus, possibly although not certainly the author's patron, and the preface of Acts explicitly references "my former book" about the life of Jesus. Furthermore, there are linguistic and theological similarities between the two works, suggesting that they have a common author. Both books also contain common interests. Linguistic and theological agreements and cross-references between the books indicate that they are from the same author. Those biblical scholars who consider the two books a single, two-volume work often refer to both together as Luke-Acts. It should be noted that Acts of the Apostles (1:1-2)says, "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day He was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen."(NIV)
The text is internally anonymous. One of the two oldest surviving manuscripts P75 (circa 200), has the attribution According to Luke . The other P4 which 'is probably to be dated earlier than P75 ...' has no such (surviving) attribution. Tradition holds that the text was written by Luke the companion of Paul (named in Colossians ) but scholars are divided on this issue.
Given this, the internal evidence of the Acts of the Apostles concerning its author pertains to the authorship of the Gospel. This evidence, especially passages in the narrative where the first person plural is used, points to the author being a companion of Paul. As D. Guthrie put it, of the known companions of Paul, Luke is “as good as any… [and] since this is the traditional ascription there seems no reason to conjecture any other.” There is further evidence from the Pauline Epistles. Paul described Luke as “the beloved physician”, and some scholars have seen evidence of medical terminology used in both the Gospel and Acts, though others dispute this argument.
The traditional view of Lukan authorship is “widely held as the view which most satisfactorily explains all the data.” The list of scholars maintaining authorship by Luke the physician is lengthy, and represents scholars from a wide range of theological opinion. But there is no consensus, and the current opinion concerning Lukan authorship has been described as ‘about evenly divided’. on who the author was.
Arguments for a date between 37 AD and 61 AD for the Gospel note that Luke is addressed to "Most Excellent Theophilus," almost certainly a reference to the Roman-imposed High Priest of Israel between 37 AD and 41 AD, Theophilus ben Ananus. This reference would date the original copy of Luke (now long since lost) to within 4 to 8 years after the death of Jesus.
Moreover, the writer states that it is written from eyewitness accounts of Jesus and an investigation "from the very beginning," indicating that it was written while eyewitnesses of Jesus' life, ministry, death, and resurrection were still living, and certainly before they were scattered by the Roman sack of Jerusalem in 68-70 AD. The author's reference to investigation "from the very beginning" suggests that the writer himself claims to have been a witness of these events, curious about Jesus, from the very start.
The internal contents strikingly make no mention of the destruction of the Jewish temple by the Roman Empire in 68 to 70 AD, despite mentioning prominently Jesus' prophecy that the temple would be destroyed. Luke 21:5-30. This prophecy, providing no detail of how or by whom the temple would be destroyed, is presented as perplexing the hearers. Who will destroy the temple is not mentioned.
Indeed, Mark -- which scholars believe formed a basis for Luke -- clearly indicates that the hearers believed that Jesus was saying that God or Jesus Himself would supernaturally destroy the temple: Mark 15:28-29 "Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!" There is no indication in Luke of an awareness that the temple would be destroyed by the Romans, rather than by the hand of God. This lingering mystery about the prophesy indicates it had not yet taken place when Luke was written. A later writer would have taken the opportunity to emphasize that Jesus' prophesy had come true.
Scholars conjecture that Luke collected much of his unique material during the imprisonment of Paul in Caesarea, when Luke attended to him. Paul mentions Luke, in passing, several times as travelling with Paul.
The consensus is that Luke was written by a Greek or Syrian for gentile or non-Jewish Christians. The Gospel is addressed to the author's patron, Theophilus, which in Greek simply means friend of God or (be)loved by God or loving God, and may not be a name but a generic term for a Christian. The Gospel is clearly directed at Christians, or at those who already knew about Early Christianity, rather than a general audience, since the ascription goes on to state that the Gospel was written "so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught" ().
Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus are 4th-century codices of the Greek bible that are the oldest manuscripts that contain Luke. Codex Bezae is a 5th- or 6th-century Western text-type manuscript that contains Luke in Greek and Latin versions on facing pages. This text-type appears to have descended from an offshoot of the main manuscript tradition, departing from more familiar readings at many points. Verses are omitted only in Codex Bezae and a handful of Old Latin manuscripts. Nearly all other manuscripts including Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus and Church Fathers contain the "longer" reading of Luke 22:19 and 20. Verse 22:20, which is very similar to , provides the only gospel support for the doctrine of the New Covenant. Verses are found in Western text-type. But they are omitted by a diverse number of ancient witnesses and are generally marked as such in modern translations. See Bruce M. Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament for details.
According to Farrar, "Out of a total of 1151 verses, Luke has 389 in common with Matthew and Mark, 176 in common with Matthew alone, 41 in common with Mark alone, leaving 544 peculiar to himself. In many instances all three use identical language." Mark is widely considered a principal direct source, and Martin Hengel has made the more controversial argument that Luke also made use of Matthew.
There are 17 parables peculiar to this Gospel. Luke also attributes to Jesus seven miracles which are not present in Matthew or Mark. The synoptic Gospels are related to each other after the following scheme. If the contents of each Gospel are numbered at 100, then when compared this result is obtained: Mark has 7 peculiarities, 93 coincidences. Matthew 42 peculiarities, 58 coincidences. Luke 59 peculiarities, 41 coincidences. That is, thirteen-fourteenths of Mark, four-sevenths of Matthew, and two-fifths of Luke describe the same events in similar language. Luke's style is more polished than that of Matthew and Mark with fewer Hebrew idioms. He uses a few Latin words (Luke ; ; ; ; and ), but no Syriac or Hebrew words except sikera, an exciting drink of the nature of wine but not made of grapes (from Heb. shakar, "he is intoxicated"; Lev ), perhaps palm wine. According to Walter Bauer's Greek English Lexicon of the NT, in Aramaic (שכרא) it means barley beer, from the Akkadian shikaru. This Gospel contains 28 distinct references to the Old Testament.
Many words and phrases are common to the Gospel of Luke and the Letters of Paul; compare:
Compared to the other canonical gospels, Luke devotes significantly more attention to women. The Gospel of Luke features more female characters, features a female prophet and details the experience of pregnancy ().
When Jesus is baptized, many early witnesses attest that Luke's gospel had the Father say to Jesus, "This day I have begotten you." In orthodox texts (and thus in most modern Bibles), this text is replaced by the text from Mark. Ehrman concludes that the original text was changed because it had adoptionist overtones.
When Jesus prays in the garden of Gethsemane, the text refers to his being comforted by an angel and sweating drops like blood (verses 43-44 in ). These two verses disrupt the literary structure of the scene (the chiasmus), they are not found in all the early manuscripts, and they are the only place in Luke where Jesus is seen to be in agony. Ehrman concludes that they were inserted in order to counter doceticism, the belief that Jesus, as divine, only seemed to suffer. While probably not original to the text, these verses reflect first-century tradition.