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Verses 3-4

Luke 1:3-4. It seemed good to me also That is, I have judged it to be my duty; Luke, doubtless, was moved by the Holy Ghost to write his history, as he was also to write in the manner he has done; but in both he was moved as a reasonable creature, and not as a machine: having had perfect understanding of all things Greek, παρηκολουθηκοτι ανωθεν πασιν ακριβως , having accurately traced all things from their first rise: “Luke might have this thorough knowledge by intimate conversation with the apostles, and particularly with Paul, whose companion he was for a long time; or perhaps he was present himself at a number of transactions which he has recorded. The assurance with which he speaks of his own knowledge of these things, leads us to think that he was an eye-witness of some of them. On this supposition, his reasoning in this preface will be more conclusive than on any other, and will stand thus: Seeing many have written from the information of the eye-witnesses and ministers, I, who from the very first have had perfect knowledge of all things, both by conversing with the eye-witnesses, and by being present myself at many of the transactions of Jesus, have thought it incumbent on me to write his history, for the more certain information of mankind.” To write unto thee in order Greek, καθεξης σοι γραψαι , to write an orderly account to thee. So Dr. Doddridge; who observes, “It is chiefly on the authority of this clause that Le Clerc, and many other modern harmonizers (of the gospels) have thought, as Beza also did, that all the other gospels are to be reduced to the order of Luke wherever they differ from it: a conclusion which I apprehend to be an occasion of many errors, and particularly injurious to the character of Matthew. The foundation of it is very precarious; since it is evident this evangelist might, with great propriety, be said to have given an orderly account of the history of Christ, as the leading facts [such as his conception, birth, childhood, baptism, preaching, miracles, passion, resurrection, ascension] are placed in their due series, though some particulars are transposed.” Most excellent Theophilus As the word Theophilus signifies lover of God, some have thought it is not a proper name here, but a general title, applicable to every true Christian. But, as Dr. Campbell justly observes, if the evangelist meant to address his discourse to all pious Christians, and had no one individually in view, he would certainly have put his intention beyond all doubt, by using the plural number, and saying, κρατιστοι θεοφιλοι , most excellent lovers of God. Besides, to have addressed all true Christians under the appearance of bespeaking the attention of an individual, does not seem agreeable to the simplicity of style used in the gospel; and must have appeared to the writer himself as what could not fail to be misunderstood by most readers, proper names of such a form as Theophilus, and even this very name, being common in Greek and Latin authors. The word is, therefore, undoubtedly the proper name of a person: and the title, κρατιστε , most excellent, is given him, not to describe his character, although doubtless he was a truly pious and excellent Christian, but on account of his office or rank in civil society, the same title being commonly given to persons in high stations of life; and particularly to the Roman governors. Accordingly Paul uses it in addressing Felix and Festus. This Theophilus, as the ancients inform us, was a person of eminent quality at Alexandria. In Acts 1:1, Luke does not give him this title. He was then probably a private man. The evangelist, by inscribing his two books to him, bestowed on him a fame which will last while Christianity subsists. That thou mightest know More fully and circumstantially; the certainty The exact and certain truth; of those things in which thou hast been instructed Namely, formerly, by those who had been made the instruments of initiating him into the Christian faith. The word κατηχηθης , here used, doth with great accuracy express the instructions given to those who were training up for admission to the Christian Church, whose name of catechumens was, as it is well known, derived from hence, and applied without any particular regard to the age of the persons concerned. Compare Acts 18:25. We are not to suppose that Luke had the edification of Theophilus merely in view, in writing his history; he also doubtless meant it for the instruction of persons of all nations and ages into whose hands it should fall.

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