For more information, see Gospel of Luke.
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
It then commences the narrative with John the Baptist, Jesus' older cousin who preached about Jesus' coming, and continues with some details of Jesus' birth. The book then jumps to an incident when Jesus was twelve years old, then relates more of John's preaching. This is followed by a genealogy of Jesus. Unlike Matthew's genealogy which was intended for Jews and traces Jesus' ancestry via his adoptive father Joseph back to Abraham, Luke's is intended for gentiles and traces it via his biological mother Mary back to "Adam, the son of God".
Another jump takes the narrative to the beginning of Jesus' ministry in the last few years of his life, and records various teachings, events, miracles, and parables. This concludes with his account of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, followed by a post-resurrection appearance to his disciples, and Jesus' ascension into heaven.
For more information, see Acts.
Luke's second book takes up where his first book leaves off, again beginning by addressing Theophilus:
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.
The book of Acts then documents the events of the early church and Paul's missionary journeys.
Luke as historian
Luke includes a large number of very specific details in his books, which can potentially be checked against extra-biblical sources, including archaeological research. On a number of occasions Luke was thought to have provided incorrect details including incorrect titles of officials, but time after time further discoveries have shown that Luke was correct. That some of these titles were only used in particular locations for short periods of time demonstrates that Luke was closely acquainted with the events and circumstances he describes.
Cases like these have led archaeologists to acknowledge that Luke was an excellent historian. Sir William Ramsay wrote:
Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy; ... this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.
- Ramsay, William M., Luke the Physician.
- Miller, W. R., Archaeologists of the Christian Faith: Ancient Evidence for the Bible … in Spades
- ↑ Ramsay, pp. 177-79, 222, quoted by Miller