The extended narrative of Luke-Acts is one of my Bible favorites. It covers the earthly ministry of Jesus (Luke), and the beginnings of the ministry of His church (Acts). I’m working my way through these books once again, and thought I’d make my reflections available to anyone who would like to follow along.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture is from the NKJV. Numbers in parentheses following a Greek or Hebrew word refer to the Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionaryreference number for that word.
Let’s get started.
Luke 1:1-4 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.
set in order: Greek verb anatassomai [an-at-as’-som-ahee] (4135), which means “arrange in proper order.”
narrative: Greek noun diegesis [dee-ayg’-es-is] (1335), meaning “an orderly description of facts, events, actions, or words, narrative, account” (http://www.jesuswalk.com/lessons/1_1-4.htm)
fulfilled: Greek verb plerophoreo [play-rof-or-eh’-o] (4135). Thayer’s Greek Lexicon gives several shades of meaning: to bear or bring full, to make full; to cause a thing to be shown to the full; to fulfill the ministry in every part; to carry through to the end, accomplish; to make one certain, to persuade, convince one; to be persuaded, fully convinced or assured.
Luke declares his intention to give an accurate narrative, verified by the eyewitness accounts of the apostles, and arranged in proper order. His purpose is that Theophilus – and we – may have “certainty” concerning the events we have been taught about.
As I began to read Luke 1, my attention was first drawn to the word fulfilled (plerophoreo). Most translations say “fulfilled” rather than “believed,” as in the KJV. Some versions say “accomplished.” The word suggests to me the fulfilling of God’s plan. These accounts of the ministry of Jesus are not things that just happened – they are the fulfillment of what God shaped the whole course of history to accomplish.
Luke wants to make clear that he is writing of things that are certainly known to have been accomplished among the believers. We can be sure of them because they were delivered to us by eyewitnesses and ministers of the word who were there. So, it is not just that these things are believed to have occurred – it’s much stronger than that. They are fully accepted, beyond doubt. Because of the standing of those through whom the events are related to us, these things are knownby the believers to have been fulfilled. In that sense, they are “believed.” But the emphasis is on the sureness of that belief.
Luke 1:1-4 (AMP) SINCE [as is well known] many have undertaken to put in order and draw up a [thorough] narrative of the surely established deeds which have been accomplished and fulfilled in and among us, 2 Exactly as they were handed down to us by those who from the [official] beginning [of Jesus’ ministry] were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word [that is, of the doctrine concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God], 3 It seemed good and desirable to me, [and so I have determined] also after having searched out diligently and followed all things closely and traced accurately the course from the highest to the minutest detail from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,4 [My purpose is] that you may know the full truth and understand with certainty and security against error the accounts (histories) and doctrines of the faith of which you have been informed and in which you have been orally instructed.
Luke’s reason for writing is that readers may know the certainty of the things in which they have been instructed. It is clear that these early believers were not only told these things as gospel stories, but were instructed in them. Having a knowledge and understanding of these events was very important in the training of believers. These stories of the ministry of Jesus are central to the gospel message.