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Luke 1:1-4

Context
Explanatory Preface

1:1 Now 1  many have undertaken to compile an account 2  of the things 3  that have been fulfilled 4  among us, 1:2 like the accounts 5  passed on 6  to us by those who were eyewitnesses and servants of the word 7  from the beginning. 8  1:3 So 9  it seemed good to me as well, 10  because I have followed 11  all things carefully from the beginning, to write an orderly account 12  for you, most excellent Theophilus, 1:4 so that you may know for certain 13  the things you were taught. 14 

1 tn Grk “Since” or “Because.” This begins a long sentence that extends through v. 4. Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence and the tendency of contemporary English style to use shorter sentences, the Greek sentence has been divided up into shorter English sentences in the translation.

2 tn This is sometimes translated “narrative,” but the term itself can refer to an oral or written account. It is the verb “undertaken” which suggests a written account, since it literally is “to set one’s hand” to something (BDAG 386 s.v. ἐπιχειρέω). “Narrative” is too specific, denoting a particular genre of work for the accounts that existed in the earlier tradition. Not all of that material would have been narrative.

3 tn Or “events.”

4 tn Or “have been accomplished.” Given Luke’s emphasis on divine design (e.g., Luke 24:43-47) a stronger sense (“fulfilled”) is better than a mere reference to something having taken place (“accomplished”).

5 tn Grk “even as”; this compares the recorded tradition of 1:1 with the original eyewitness tradition of 1:2.

6 tn Or “delivered.”

7 sn The phrase eyewitnesses and servants of the word refers to a single group of people who faithfully passed on the accounts about Jesus. The language about delivery (passed on) points to accounts faithfully passed on to the early church.

8 tn Grk “like the accounts those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word passed on to us.” The location of “in the beginning” in the Greek shows that the tradition is rooted in those who were with Jesus from the start.

9 tn The conjunction “so” is supplied here to bring out the force of the latter part of this Greek sentence, which the translation divides up because of English style. Luke, in compiling his account, is joining a tradition with good precedent.

10 sn When Luke says it seemed good to me as well he is not being critical of the earlier accounts, but sees himself stepping into a tradition of reporting about Jesus to which he will add uniquely a second volume on the early church when he writes the Book of Acts.

11 tn Grk “having followed”; the participle παρηκολουθηκότι (parhkolouqhkoti) has been translated causally.

12 sn An orderly account does not necessarily mean that all events are recorded in the exact chronological sequence in which they occurred, but that the account produced is an orderly one. This could include, for example, thematic or topical order rather than strict chronological order.

13 tn Or “know the truth about”; or “know the certainty of.” The issue of the context is psychological confidence; Luke’s work is trying to encourage Theophilus. So in English this is better translated as “know for certain” than “know certainty” or “know the truth,” which sounds too cognitive. “Certain” assumes the truth of the report. On this term, see Acts 2:36; 21:34; 22:30; and 25:26. The meaning “have assurance concerning” is also possible here.

14 tn Or “you heard about.” This term can refer merely to a report of information (Acts 21:24) or to instruction (Acts 18:25). The scope of Luke’s Gospel as a whole, which calls for perseverance in the faith and which assumes much knowledge of the OT, suggests Theophilus had received some instruction and was probably a believer.



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