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Luke 1:1

Forasmuch as (epeidhper). Here alone in the N.T., though common in literary Attic. Appears in the papyri. A triple compound (epei = since, dh = admittedly true, per = intensive particle to emphasize importance). Many (polloi). How many no one knows, but certainly more than two or three. We know that Luke used the Logia of Jesus written by Matthew in Aramaic (Papias) and Mark's Gospel. Undoubtedly he had other written sources. Have taken in hand (epeceirhsan). A literal translation of epiceirew (from ceir, hand and epi, upon). Both Hippocrates and Galen use this word in their introduction to their medical works. Here only in the N.T., though a common literary word. Common in the papyri for undertaking with no idea of failure or blame. Luke does not mean to cast reflection on those who preceded him. The apocryphal gospels were all much later and are not in his mind. Luke had secured fuller information and planned a book on a larger scale and did surpass them with the result that they all perished save Mark's Gospel and what Matthew and Luke possess of the Logia of Jesus. There was still room for Luke's book. That motive influences every author and thus progress is made. To draw up, a narrative (anataxasqai dihghsin). Ingressive aorist middle infinitive. This verb anataxasqai has been found only in Plutarch's Moral. 968 CD about an elephant "rehearsing" by moonlight certain tricks it had been taught (Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary). That was from memory going regularly through the thing again. But the idea in the word is plain enough. The word is composed of tassw, a common verb for arranging things in proper order and ana, again. Luke means to say that those before him had made attempts to rehearse in orderly fashion various matters about Christ. "The expression points to a connected series of narratives in some order (taxi), topical or chronological rather than to isolated narratives" (Bruce). "They had produced something more than mere notes or anecdotes" (Plummer). Dihghsi means leading or carrying a thing through, not a mere incident. Galen applies this word some seventy-five times to the writing of Hippocrates. Which have been fulfilled (twn peplhrwporhmenwn). Perfect passive participle from plhroporew and that from plhrh (full) and perw (to bring). Hence to bring or make full. The verb is rare outside of the LXX and the N.T. Papyri examples occur for finishing off a legal matter or a financial matter in full. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, pp. 86f.) gives examples from the papyri and inscriptions for completing a task or being convinced or satisfied in mind. The same ambiguity occurs here. When used of persons in the N.T. the meaning is to be convinced, or fully persuaded ( Romans 4:21 ; Romans 14:5 ; Hebrews 6:11 ; Hebrews 10:22 ). When used of things it has the notion of completing or finishing ( 2 Timothy 4:5 2 Timothy 4:17 ). Luke is here speaking of "matters" (pragmatwn). Luke may refer to the matters connected with Christ's life which have been brought to a close among us or accomplished. Bruce argues plausibly that he means fulness of knowledge "concerning the things which have become widely known among us Christians." In Colossians 2:2 we have "fulness of understanding" (th plhroporia th sunesew). In modern Greek the verb means to inform. The careful language of Luke here really pays a tribute to those who had preceded him in their narratives concerning Christ.

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