The First & Second Epistles of Luke

Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed. Luke 1:1-4

The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach. Acts 1:1

Why are Luke & Acts called “The Gospel According to Luke” and “The Acts of the Apostles” rather than 1 & 2 Luke? Would viewing Luke & Acts as epistles change our view of them in any way? Is it significant at all that, while John wrote both epistles & a gospel account, Luke was used to do both in one work?

I don’t know why these things just came to mind, and I don’t know that they have substantive answers… but curiosity demanded that I ask.

2 thoughts on “The First & Second Epistles of Luke”

  1. You know, that is an interesting point. I don’t know if it would change things if they were changed to epistles. It might, considering that most scholars believe them to be historical records, and not actual letters. I dunno, to me they just don’t have that “letter” feel, even though it is written for someone in particular.

  2. Luke takes the normal overall form of a synoptic gospel that offers a general view of the life of Jesus Christ, while John is notably different in style, showing major variance in the content of what is called a gospel, all four of which are lengthy. Luke’s gospel conforms to the synoptic form, and has no similarity to an epistle other than an opening salutation to Theophilus, which just illustrates minor variance from the synoptic form.

    Epistles are relatively brief letters to churches or individuals, but some are to general or universal audiences. They offer counsel to aid people in Christian living, and are more limited in scope than a gospel. While Acts begins with a salutation, it’s scope is more comprehensive than that of an epistle. It’s mainly an account of the experiences of the apostles in Christian living, and it serves to inform Theophilus of these matters. It is not meant as counsel to Theophilus in the sense of an epistle, but informs him of major events he should understand about early Christian history, likely so he can inform people of the truth when questioned by those who dispute the facts and those who want to be acquainted with the facts as well as possible.

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