Kenneth S. Wuest
The Greek Historian
WAS a Greek, educated in the Greek schools, prepared for the
medical practice which was held in high regard as a
profession, and among the Greeks had attained to a place of
eminence among the nations of the world. Greek doctors of
medicine were in attendance upon many of the royal families
of other nations. The Greeks were by nature and training, a
race of creative thinkers who pursued their studies in a
scientific manner. Their sense of what really constituted
scientific accuracy and method in the recording of history
was well developed.
The writings of Luke, both his Gospel and The Acts,
demonstrates Luke's training as an historian. He writes his
Gospel to a Gentile friend, Theophilus. The name means "a
god-lover," or "god-beloved," and may have been given him
when he became a Christian. The words "most excellent"
according to Ramsay, were a title like "Your Excellency,"
and show that he held office...Luke wrote the Gospel for
Theophilus to use as a standard whereby to judge the
accuracy of the many inspired accounts of our Lord's life
which were written in the first century.
The facts he records were most surely believed by the first
century church. Luke arranges the facts of our Lord's life
in historical order as they occurred. The other Gospels do
not claim to do that. The arrangement of events was dictated
by the purpose which each author had in writing his account.
The sources of Luke's information were oral and written,
from eye-witnesses of the events recorded.
He as a trained historian would carefully check over these
accounts, investigating and verifying every fact. And this
is what he has reference to when he uses the words "having
had perfect understanding of all things from the very
first." The words "having had perfect understanding" are
literally, "having closely traced." The verb means "to
follow along a thing in the mind." The word was used for the
investigation of symptoms. Thus it speaks of a careful
investigation of all sources, oral and written, which
purport to be accounts of our Lord's life.
Luke had the historian's mind, a thing native to the
educated Greek. Herodotus, the father of Greek history,
exhibited the Greek determination to get at the truth no
matter how much work it required, when he travelled to
central Africa to verify the account of the annual rise and
fall of the Nile River. In those days this was a long and
difficult journey. Sir William Ramsey said, "I regard Luke
as the greatest historian who has ever lived, save only
Thucydides." Thus we have no doubt but that Luke made a
personal investigation of all the facts he had recorded. He
interviewed every witness, visited every locality. If Mary
was still alive, he, a doctor of medicine investigated the
story of the virgin birth by hearing it from Mary's own
lips. And as Professor John A. Scott, a great Greek scholar
has said, "You could not fool Doctor Luke."
But Luke was not dependent alone upon his personal
investigations for the accuracy of his record. He says that
he closely traced all things from above. The words "from
above" are from a Greek word translated "from the very
first," in the Authorized Version. The word occurs in John
3:31; 19:11; James 1:17; 3:15, 17, and is in every instance
translated "from above." It is used often in contrast to a
word which means "from beneath." Paul had doubtless heard
the account of the institution of the Lord's Supper from the
eleven, but he also had it by revelation from the Lord (I
Cor. 11:23). He had received his gospel by direct revelation
in Arabia, and this was his check upon the gospel he heard
at Jerusalem from the apostles.
So Luke claims to have closely investigated the facts he had
received, and to have done so through the inspiration of the
Holy Spirit, which fact guarantees the absolute accuracy of
the record (Luke 1:1-4)."
Wuest, "Word Studies In The Greek New Testament" (Grand
Rapids, MI: Eerdmans 1979) pp. 52-54