ImmerseMessiah NLT - Page 13



IMMERSED IN LUKE–ACTS
T H E L O N G E S T S T O R Y I N T H E N E W T E S TA M E N T —one
that fills a quarter of
its pages—was originally addressed to one person. The author dedicates this two-volume series, covering the life of Jesus and the early
church, to the “most honorable Theophilus.” This Greek name shows
that he was a Gentile (non-Jewish), and his title suggests he was likely
a Roman official.
This history of the early Christian movement was written in the mid60s ad, right around the time when the Roman government first became hostile to Jesus’ followers. Theophilus may have been facing
pressure to forsake his allegiance to Jesus. At the same time, some
Jewish believers were questioning the place of Gentiles in a movement
devoted to a Jewish Messiah. So Theophilus would no doubt welcome
the reassurance that what he’d heard about Jesus was genuine and that
the Good News really was intended for Gentiles like himself.
Luke was in a unique position to answer these questions. He had
worked closely with Paul, who brought the message of Jesus to Gentiles living throughout much of the Roman Empire. Luke was able to
tell important parts of the story from firsthand experience. And since
he was educated and literate, he could also research and record the
movement’s history.
The Good News of Jesus invited Jews and Gentiles to unite into a
single new family. So believers from all backgrounds benefited from
Luke’s account of God’s story of salvation for the whole world, which
had come to surprising fulfillment in Jesus.
The first volume—Luke—begins with a prologue about the remarkable
circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth and early days. From its start,
the story shows how Jesus was sent as both the long-promised King of
Israel and the Savior of the whole world.
After the introduction, Luke is divided into three main parts:
The first section describes Jesus’ early ministry in Israel’s northern
region of Galilee, where he announces “the Good News of the Kingdom of God.”
Luke then portrays Jesus taking the journey south toward Jerusalem,
where he fulfills his calling and destiny. Along the way, Jesus continues
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