The Gospel According to Luke:
The writer of the third Gospel account was not
He was anxious it seems —
Luke wrote with warmth and feeling, and he also wrote in a very elevated style of sophisticated polished Greek. He was highly educated.
In this all too inadequate introduction to Luke’s Gospel, we wish to focus on two very special features:
This is a word passing rather quickly from our vocabulary today. Perhaps we hear more of “mercy” which for our purposes, can be taken as meaning the same. The renowned Biblical scholar R B Girdlestone in the 19th century wrote “ ...the two aspects of mercy, its reception and its exercise, are wonderfully blended in Scripture. The right and wholesome effect of the enjoyment of God’s lovingkindness is the exhibition of the same spirit towards our fellows. God is everywhere described as delighting in mercy ‘his mercy endureth for ever’ but he requires that those to whom he shows it, in their turn and according to their opportunities, ‘love mercy’…”.
The same scholar tells us that consistently throughout the Bible the way the word for mercy or lovingkindness (Hesed) is used indicates that the persons who exercise this disposition belong in a special sense to God. “In a word mercy is the main characteristic of God’s dealings with man, and hence it is to be looked for as the distinguishing mark of every child of God… The ‘godly’ are those who, having received mercy from Him, are exercising it for Him and as His representatives”. He further notes that via Greek and Latin, this word re-emerges in English as ‘saint’ or ‘godly’.
This can be no surprise, for the great Jewish teachers, such as Moshe Chayim Luzzatto, were just as emphatic as we read:
“The practice of lovingkindness is of central importance to the saintly, for ‘Saintliness’ itself derives from ‘lovingkindness’. And our Sages of blessed memory have said, “The world stands on three things” one of which is lovingkindness. They have numbered it among those things whose fruits a man eats in this world and whose essence endures for his reward in the World to Come. And they have said:
This rather solid block of focused study is presented at the commencement of this study of Luke’s Gospel account, for it has to be remembered that he was a close friend and companion of St Paul the Apostle. There can be no doubt that Paul’s strong Jewish background played a significant part in helping Luke focus on Christ’s example and teaching of the mercy and lovingkindness of God.
St Isaac represents one of the most advanced Christian cultures ever to have existed. Syria was one of the first countries to be evangelised by the Apostles. It became a model for its enthusiastic adoption of the Christian faith which produced many great teachers and missionaries.
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