Theophilus

The man’s name meant, “One Who Loves God.”
Dr. Luke addressed this, the longest book in the New Testament canon, to a man named Theolphilus. He called him, “most excellent,” indicating the possibility that he was a man of means, or perhaps one possessing an official standing.

Setting
Quite possibly, Luke was a Gentile, yet he numbered himself as a full-fledged member of the Christian fellowship when he referred to the Jesus Story as things fulfilled “among us.” In fact, his version of the Gospel is addressed to Gentiles and places the Jesus Story in a universal context. It is set against the backdrop of Rome, not just Jerusalem.

Sources
His Gospel was not written in a vacuum; it was one of many versions, authorized and otherwise, of the Jesus Story. Part of his mission was to tell an authentic version that could be relied upon for those who read it. Scholars believe that he used the Gospel of Mark as a primary source. It is also believed that just as Mark wrote his version of the story from the preaching of Peter, Luke relied upon the preaching of Paul for his. There are events in this Gospel that are found nowhere else, so other sources are believed to have been available to him. His sources were

“…eyewitnesses and ministers of the word…”

An Orderly Account
In the light of all the manuscripts competing for the attention of the church, Dr. Luke’s intention is clearly stated:

“…it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account…”

As revealed in the book of Acts, the second historical account written to Theolphilus, Luke was often a traveling companion of the Apostle Paul and was called by him, a “beloved physician.” Many speculate that this Greek doctor became a believer through the ministry of Silas when he led a team that included Paul early in the ministry of the Apostle. It should not surprise us to find that this indeed is “an orderly account.” One would expect no less from the trained mind of a physician and the precise observations of a historian.

God’s Saving Actions in the World
The theme of Dr. Luke’s history is nothing less than God saving the world. He is the Savior of mankind and the redeemer of the individual. In Luke’s account, we see the way of salvation as Jesus, the Son of Man, invades a fallen world to make a way for the lost to be found, the sinner to be saved, and the wrong to be made right.

“One Who Loves God.”
It is for us to take on the role given in the meaning of the name of Theolphilus—Each of us must become one who loves God as we read each day. Along the way, the reliability of the ancient sources will ring true to us with new force. We will know the certainty of those things in which we have been instructed.

Scriptures:
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, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 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, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I am not ashamed of Your Gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.  This power is found in no other narrative.  The power of the  Holy Spirit rests upon Your story for in it I find You!  You are not a figure of history—You are “God with us!”—God with me!  I am not worthy of such grace, but Your story is not for the worthy but for the worthless!  Those ruined by sin or headed for destruction.  Through the truth of Your story, I find worth and value and mission and a destiny of eternal joy.  Thank You, Jesus! Amen.

Song:
Tell Me the Story of Jesus

Words: Fanny J. Crosby; Music: John R. Sweney

1. Tell me the story of Jesus, write on my heart every word;
tell me the story most precious, sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels, in chorus, sang as they welcomed His birth,
“Glory to God in the highest! Peace and good tidings to earth.”

Refrain:
Tell me the story of Jesus, write on my heart every word;
tell me the story most precious, sweetest that ever was heard.

2. Fasting alone in the desert, tell of the days that are past;
how for our sins He was tempted, yet was triumphant at last.
Tell of the years of His labor, tell of the sorrow He bore;
He was despised and afflicted, homeless, rejected and poor.

Refrain

3. Tell of the cross where they nailed Him, writhing in anguish and pain;
tell of the grave where they laid Him, tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender, clearer than ever I see:
stay, let me weep while you whisper, love paid the ransom for me.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

3 thoughts on “June 1, 2018 “Theophilus”

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